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History With Flynn

Dipping my toes in the pages of the Salford City Reporter for October 1920, I came across this little story which was headlined, "Ruffians Ejected From Salford Cinema".

The Rex Cinema on Chapel Street, Salford is a lovely little building, dating from 1846 and became a cinema in 1912, it's frontage being listed as being of architectural importance, but you don't want to know that, you want to hear about the ruffians in question and how they went on at Salford Magistrates Court.

This is how the story unfolded at Court

P.C. Mulraney told the Court  was on duty on Chapel Street, when he was asked to eject two louts from the cinema who had been upsetting the other customers by shouting, whistling and using "objectionable language" during the showing of the film, you have to remember it was a silent cinema then.

The brave P.C. approached the two men and asked them to leave the cinema as there had been complaints about their behaviour, they obeyed his request and followed him onto Chapel Street.

He noticed that they had both been drinking and asked them politely to go on their way and not cause any trouble, they replied in the negative and both attacked him.

"They fought like madmen and struck me several times about the body and head, I blew my whistle for help and P.C.Cannon came to my assistance.

"We attempted to take them into custody at the Town Hall but they became so rough, we had to enlist three of four civilians to help us get them into the station"

One of the arrested men, John Boyce aged 22 admitted being drunk but denied assaulting the policemen, saying, he couldn't remember..

The other prisoner, John Brown aged 19 admitted being drunk and he too denied the assault charge.

The Clerk of the Court asked P.C. Mulrany if he thought that the men had assaulted him on purpose?

"I am quite sure they did" replied the aggrieved P.C.

"One of them said he didn't mind being locked up and was up for it"

P.C. Cannon took to the witness box and told the Magistrate that as soon as he had gone to P.C. Mulrany's assistance he was struck four or five blows without provocation by the accused men.

Detective Smith then took the stand and told the court that both men were Marine Firemen and came from Glasgow, they had arrived at Salford Docks on the Monday evening, the night before they were arrested and werd due to return to Glasgow where they would be paid off.

The Magistrate wasn't having any of it and jailed the ruffians for one month with hard labour thrown in for good measure.

This didn't mean breaking rocks in the hot sun as the song goes, you were given meagre food rations, soup,mainly, one sheet on your bed, no talking to other prisoners on the landings, no visits etc, a short sharp shock.

Once released from Strangeways, the "ruffians" would have had to make their own way back to Glasgow and explain their absence to family and friends. Good luck with that.

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