Jump to content


History With Flynn

Last month I wrote a story about two young Salford lads, Arthur Smith and Cecil Wilkinson who lived at the Height area of Salford, who were charged with causing over £1,000 worth of damage to homes, shops and businesses including the strangulation of a cat whilst burgling a factory.

They were sent to the Assize Courts for sentencing and at the time I had no access to give you what sentence they would receive and what the judge would have to say about their shameful behaviour.

I have found the relevant story from November 1920 and to be quite honest the sentence they received wasn't what I was expecting considering the charges laid against them.

To their credit they pleaded Guilty to the three charges of breaking and entering a private school in Acresfield Road, arson at the Olympia Cinema and damaging motor cars at Messr Carter's motor works, in Trafford Road.

Mr Gilbert Jordan, prosecuting told the court that the boys had broken into properties and at the private school, smashed eggs, threw flour about then tried to light a fire with some scrap paper.

On October 24th they broke into The Olympia Cinema and set fire to it causing damage estimated at  £326 and on the same evening they broke into the motor works causing damage estimated at £150 also strangling the works cat.

Mr J. B. Sandbach defended the boys and said the boys were "respectfully connected", they had excellent school records and their character at work was good and both of the boy's employees wrote them a character reference.

Mr Justice Ashton who was in charge of the proceedings, said, 

" What they really want you know, is a good thrashing, nobody wants to make a gaol bird of boys like these"

Mr Sandbach then went on to offer a possible explanation for the boys behaviour, he said that when they were arrested they were found to have in their possession, what were described as "Penny Bloods", cheap. lurid. comics of the times, he then suggested that the boys were trying to emulate the criminals that were depicted in these comics.

He then added that he, had, the rector of the parish with him, Rev H. Boddington who would tell of the boy's home conditions, to which Justice Ashton suggested that perhaps he could administer the punishment?

Cecil Wilkinson took to the stand and told the court that the only explanation he could offer for his son's behaviour was the reading of the Penny Bloods as he had never given any trouble at home.

Justice Ashton then said, 

"What he wants is the best thrashing a boy ever had, and you are the man to give it to him, will you see that it is done?"

Mr Wilkinson agreed to this.

Arthur Smith's Father told the court he had no answer for his son's behaviour, and was told by Justice Ashton.

"Oh it is perfectly simple, these boys have been reading this disgusting and pernicious literature and from what I have been told your son is the leader"

He then retired into his chambers for a consultation with the Governor of the prison, Mr H. FitzClarence.

The boys were brought back up for sentencing and Justice Ashton said they deserved the biggest thrashing, consistent with humanity.

He then sentenced the boys to be bound over and warned about coming up before him, again and then impressed upon the fathers the need for severity in their thrashings which he left in their hands, and they were free to leave the court.

I can't but wonder if the same sentence would have been handed out if say, the two lads came from an impoverished background and were unemployed, I doubt it very much.

Hopefully the two miscreants went on to live happy, honest and worthwhile lives and reflected upon their close call with imprisonment.

User Feedback

Recommended Comments

There are no comments to display.

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Similar Content

    • By Tony Flynn
      The newspaper, Salford City Reporter for November 1920 carried the following story and rather sensationally called it, "the remarkable story of the life lead by a young girl"
      Ellen Ben Saleh appeared at Salford Magistrates Court charged with the theft of £66 from her mother, a widow who resided at Hancock Street. Pendleton.
      Detective Inspector Mitchell told the court that for some time the mother had been saving up and a portion of the money was a gratuity from the army authorities which she received in consequence of the death of her son, the money along with a small amount of gold was kept in a box in the kitchen of the house.
      When it was discovered missing the police were informed, Detective Sergeant McNee made enquiries and questioned the girl who denied all knowledge of the theft, however the next day she absconded and nothing was heard from her, until her husband returned from the sea and he took her to the police station.
      Initially she told the police she had nothing to with the theft, then admitted it and said,
      "I might as well tell you all about it, I stole the money whilst mother was out and I gave it all to a man who I know"
      She then broke into tears and sobbing asked for another chance.
      Detective Inspector Mitchell then took to the stand and gave a detailed account of the last few months of the girl's life and pretty damning it was too.
      He said the girl's mother had tried to shield her but she seemed beyond control and had been going out with a man who lived in a lodging house, who threatened her if she didn't give him money and he thought that the stolen money was divided between the two of them.
      Seven months ago she had met Ben Saleh in a public house and after only a few days she asked him to marry her, shortly after the marriage Saleh returned to a ship at Salford Docks and went on a six month voyage and only returned on the day when he surrendered his wife to the police.
      She had worked in cafe's in Manchester and as a barmaid in pubs on Cross Lane but had been associating with "loose women" and had got into debt and had stole the money to pay them off, he then added that Ben Saleh was going to leave Salford for ever as soon as this court case was over.
      He finally added,
      "She is a thoroughly bad girl, she is crying now, but no doubt the first thing she will do after leaving this courtroom will be to ask me for a cigarette"
      The Stipendiary Magistrate, Mr P. W. Atkin, promptly sentenced her to four months imprisonment with hard labour.
      The newspaper reported that the poor girl, fainted and had to be carried from the dock and owing to her cries the following court case was halted until she was placed in the prison cells below the court.
      To sum up the girl not only lost her liberty but her husband who no doubt had seen a glimpse of the life he faced if he stayed with her and sailed out of Salford.
      Hopefully she saw the errors of her ways and kept out of the pubs on Cross Lane and led a hard working, sober life, but I somehow doubt it.
    • By Tony Flynn
      Cross Lane in Salford was once a busy, bustling thoroughfare with 18 pubs, three music halls, an Army Barracks, an open market, shops galore and one of the largest open cattle markets in the country, hard to believe if you drive or walk along it today.
      November 1920 and Emily Johnson was helping out at her Grandmother's tripe shop at 26 Cross Lane, James Smith and Samuel Royle came into the shop and ordered some pigs trotters, they stood at the counter and began to eat them, as Emily came out of the kitchen area, she saw Smith leaning over the counter, he asked for some trotters and was served with them.
      Just then a young boy came into the shop to tell her that the coal delivery had arrived and she had to go in to the back so that they could drop the coal in the yard which she did.
      Coming back into the shop she was horrified to see Smith behind the counter tampering with the cash drawer, she rushed to the shop door and asked a passer-by to call the police as she was being robbed, they tried to push her aside but she blocked the doorway.
      They then ran through the kitchen into the yard pursued by Emily, who managed to drag Smith to the ground, after a struggle he managed to escape,  with Royle opening the back door for them to get away.
      However this isn't the end of the story you may be pleased to hear.
      By a simple twist of fate (courtesy of Bob Dylan) the two men were arrested a few days later for attempting to steal a half hundred weight of currants from a parked lorry on Oldfield Road but were seen by a Mrs Ogden who raised the alarm and gave the police such a good description they were arrested the same day and taken to the local police station.
      Who was in the police station? none other than the coal delivery boy who recognised the two men who had stolen the six shillings from the tripe shop and they were charged with this offence as well as the attempted theft of the currants.
      They appeared before Mr. C. C. Goodwin at Salford Magistrates Court and it was revealed that both men had numerous convictions for theft.
      Detective Sgt, Needham told the court that. Smith was 
      "One of the worst characters in Salford, and never does anything but look for trouble and hasn't worked for two and a half years since leaving the army and lives on his pension of £2, five shilling a week"
      This seemed to strike a chord with the Magistrate who said that this matter of his pension would be investigated and then gave them both six months imprisonment with hard labour.
      A harsh sentence, possibly but these two chaps do appear to be petty criminals with not a care in the world, no idea if Smith's army pension was stopped, be the final slap in the face for him if it was.
    • By KARL
      I came across this story from November, 1920 in the pages of the Salford City Reporter and tells of the misfortunes of the doziest thief in Salford.
      Thomas Callaghan, 30 was a seaman from Liverpool appeared at Salford Magistrates Court charged with attempting to cheat or defraud by false pretences, James Clark, which seems a clear cut. case.
      Callaghan was on Trafford Road close to the dock gates, when he approached Mr Clark and asked if he was interested in buying a ring from him, for £1 and going as far to say that the ring came from a jewellers shop that he had burgled in Liverpool, and that he had a few more to sell.
      He gave Clark the ring to examine, who looked at it underneath a street lamp to ascertain if it was genuine, only to be told, "be careful there could be a policeman about"
      Clark said he was interested but only had ten shillings on him but if Callaghan would come home with him, he would give him the full amount, to which he agreed.
      As they walked along Trafford Road, Callaghan was unceremoniously bundled into the Trafford Road, Police Station by Clarke who then revealed his identity as, Dock Police, Superintendent Clarke,,
      I can just imagine the look on Callaghan's face as he realised what a clanger he had dropped.
      The ring was examined  by a local jeweller and found to be a cheap brass and glass copy, a further cheap, brass signet ring was found on Callaghan when he was searched, not looking good for him, is it?
      He appeared at the Magistrates Court the next day after a night spent in the cells, no doubt kicking himself, silly.
      To his credit he pleaded guilty and said the rings were one's he wore himself, then added that he thought Superintendent Clark was an old shipmate and that it was meant as a joke.
      This was met with laughter from the Magistrates bench, but it didn't last long.
      They sentenced the hapless, trickster to three months in prison with hard labour.
  • Latest Jobs In Salford

    Company: Bss
    Type: Full Time

    Company: Cityskills
    Type: Part Time

    Company: Cityskills
    Type: Full Time

    Company: Itv
    Type: Full Time