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History With Flynn

Hopefully you are all aware that Eccles did at one time have a wharf on the Manchester Ship Canal where ships could load and unload their cargo, this was at the bottom of Alma Street/Boardman Street area.

This story from December 1919 concerns this wharf but also tells of the misfortunes of a couple of Japanese seamen who fell foul of the law and and local mob justice.

Trouble had been brewing for several days in Eccles with news that local girls who worked at Nickels and Nagel Starch Works, which later became Brown and Polson's, had to get a ferry from the wharf to get to work and the same return trip back to Eccles.

Japanese seaman were moored there unloading a supply of timber and the girls soon became a focus of their attention.

On the Monday evening two girls had made the trip across the canal and were walking along Barton Lane, towards the town centre at 10.30pm.

They passed a group of the seaman who whistled and shouted at them, one of the girls then was tripped up by them, possibly innocent horseplay, they called the police but they couldn't see any of the alleged assailants.

The next evening, six of the seaman were seen drinking in various public houses in Eccles, word had quickly gone round that these were the men who had offended the girls the previous evening, not only that but were rumoured to be carrying knives and firearms.

P.C. Berry saw saw one of the men, worse for wear with the drink, who was singing and urging people to fight him, he was taken into custody possibly for his own safety as it turns out.

The other sailors dispersed and made their way back to the ship, however one of them wasn't to make it.

He was found on nearby Irwell Grove, bleeding from from the head, with a group of men stood around him, his attackers?

The police took him to Eccles and Patricroft Hospital were he was detained although his injuries were described as being, "not serious" they consisted of a "large bruise to his face, a deep cut on the head and suffering from concussion"

Presumably with that medical diagnosis  if you were in a coma you would be described as being "stable".

Wednesday morning saw the arrested Japanese sailor at Eccles Magistrates Court, charged with drunkeness, on the Bench were Messrs E.C. Adams and G. Brooks.

The man couldn't speak English so the court case was a bit dodgy to start with, however the case went ahead.

Inspector Swaits of the Eccles Constabulary asked the man how much whisky he had drunk, to which he replied in "Good English" as the Eccles Journal reported, 

"No whisky, five beers"

Five pints of Holts or Boddingtons was no doubt a strong pint 100 years ago, and Eccles had quite a few of those pubs, or had he been in the "Stinking Stocking", the Albert Edward to you more refined readers, the pub allegedly got this nickname from the ladies of the night who plied their trade in there, but I digress.

He was fined ten shillings and sixpence or 14 days imprisonment.

There are no further reports of trouble between locals and the Japanese sailors, so they would have to wait until December 1941 before hostilities could begin again.

Tony Flynn


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