100-YEARS-AGO: THE SALFORD MAN WHO KICKED P.C. UNCONSCIOUS SAVED FROM PRISON BY PREGNANT WIFE
A new decade and another selection of stories from Salford's colourful past, starting with this somewhat violent and tangled love story.
As I have said many times it must have been hard being a bobby on the streets of Salford, 100 years ago, the newspapers are full of stories of the poor P.C. being punched, kicked, spat at and generally abused by the general public, no wonder they went around in pairs on Cross Lane and Trafford Road.
This story from January 1920 shows yet again what happens when the local policeman gets involved in a neighbourly dispute.
P.C. Harding was doing his rounds in the Broughton area of Salford when he heard shouts and screams coming from a nearby house on Blackfriars Road and went to investigate,
He saw William Wheeldon knocking lumps out of another man and a large crowd had gathered to watch the spectacle, cheering along.
Wheeldon unexpectedly put his arm through a window causing a massive blood loss.
P.C. Harding stepped in to stop the fighting and help staunch the flow of blood from Wheeldon's arm when he slipped on the pavement, possibly in all the blood?
Wheeldon showed his appreciation of the constable's action by booting him twice him in the head, he then collapsed from loss of blood and fell on top of him.
Both men were taken to Salford Royal Hospital for treatment to their injuries.
The next day, Wheeldon appeared at Salford Magistrates Court charged with being drunk and disorderly and assaulting P.C, Harding,
He must have looked a sorry figure in the dock with his arm heavily bandaged and sporting two black eyes received in the fight.
He told the Stipendiary that he had taken quite a few drinks that day and only remembered waking up in the hospital.
Hoping for leniency he added that that he was deeply ashamed of himself and his actions and would like to apologise to P,C, Harding.
Then with a marvellous attempt at emotional blackmail he told the court that his wife was having a baby and was due in the next few days"
This reminds me of the scene in that classic film, Withnail and I when he is being threatened with violence and pleads with his attacker not to him because, "my wife is having a baby"
The Stipendiary rebuffed this plea and said that that this was a serious offence and sent him to prison for seven days with hard labour.
However this isn't the end of the story....
Mrs Wheeldon who was sat in the public gallery, leapt to her feet and shouted out,
"Please don't send him to prison, my baby!"
She then theatrically collapsed and was carried out by the courtroom staff to recover and the case was temporarily halted,
When it resumed shortly afterwards the Stipendiary humanely decided to reduce the sentence to a fine of 15 shillings saying that , "We cannot have your wife distressed like that"
A nice gesture and hopefully the Wheeldons lived happily ever after, but I wouldn't recommend trying that stunt in court today,