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History With Flynn

One of the more serious charges to be held against a woman was to be convicted of running a disorderly house, or as I like to call it, a brothel.

There was an obvious stigma attached to this kind of woman, "the talk of the wash house", "a fallen woman". "lady of the night" etc but this "profession" still carries on.

This story from the Salford City Reporter, February 1920, tells of two sisters, Mabel Tomlinson and May Brown who appeared at Salford Magistrates Court accused of running a disorderly house and assisting in the management, respectively.

P.C. Lamb, who was a well known and feared beat bobby in Salford had been keeping his beady eye on their house in Treble Street, off Trafford Road, close to Salford Docks, possibly a little too close.

On two separate occasions he had seen the ladies in question escorting gentlemen back to the house, they would go in the front door and the men would be let in by the back door, possibly to avoid detection.

No doubt morally outraged he decided that enough was enough and decided to put a stop to their shenanigans and banged on the door.

Mabel answered the door, he demanded to know who the gentleman was she had just brought home, to which she replied rather cheekily, "you find out".

No doubt enraged by her answer he along with P.C.Walton burst into the house were they saw a Norwegian seaman in the kitchen with May Brown, he asked him if he knew the woman,

"Yes I know the Missus, I met her in a hotel we had a few drinks"

They turned their attention back to Mabel and told her that the police had received numerous complaints about her conduct, she wasn't happy with that,

"I'll bring back as many gentlemen as I like, my husband doesn't keep me"

A stern woman to say the least, talking back to the police like that, I have a grudging admiration for her,

Then for some reason, she rather foolishly offered P.C. Lamb a ten shilling note saying, "take that and say no more about it", he declined her offer as they say, she then offered it to P.C. Walton who also refused to take it.

Our boys in blue had seen enough and chucked the Norwegian seaman out and carted the women off to the police station were they were charged with the above offences.

The ladies had Mr Howard Flint defending them and he asked P.C. Lamb how many men he had seen go into the house, he replied 14 but admitted that he had seen no actual impropriety taking place,

Mabel took the stand and told the court that Mr Tomlinson was her second husband but they were separated and that her younger sister, May was staying with her because she and her husband were not seeing eye to eye.

May was described as being, "a pleasant looking girl" she told the court she and her husband, Albert had agreed to separate because, "they could not agree", -  not sure what that means - but that he did call and see her at her new address.

Alfred Brown for some reason told the court that he still visited his wife and gave her money when he could afford it? not sure what for though.

The Stipendary Magistrate turned his anger on the two women and really blasted into them as he witheringly told them,

"May Brown, do not for a moment think that I disbelieve anything that has been told me by the prosecution, I believe every word of it, but I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt of your husband giving you money.

I hope that you have not gone so far that you cannot turn around and go back home to your husband, You are discharged"

"Mabel Tomlinson, I blame you entirely, I think you are a very immoral woman, unfortunately as I have given your sister another chance, I cannot convict you"

Both women left the court, rather quickly I should imagine if they had any sense just in case he changed his mind, in cases like this it usually carried a custodial sentence,

One thing still puzzles me, Albert Brown giving his wife money, surely not for services rendered!




Tony Flynn


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