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Old news detailing sports, crime, violence and suffering in Victorian Wigan. All stories taken from The Wigan Observer And District Advertiser, 1860. Material kindly loaned by Paul Byrne.


Friday, June 29, 1860.

RAILWAY COLLISION.
   On Monday last, about half-past twelve o'clock, a railway collision of a very serious character, as far as damage to property is concerned, but which, providentially, did not occasion any personal injury, took place on the London and North-Western Railway, about a hundred yards north of the passenger station. It appears that about the time mentioned, a train of empty coal waggons, belonging to Messrs. Pearson and Co., Springs Colliery, was approaching the station from the north; it was progressing very slowly on account of there being some obstruction on the line, in advance, and the engine of the train had arrived to within a few yards of the bridge over the Wallgate. A train of iron ore, from Ulverston, was also upon the same line, in the rear of the coal train, and owing to there being no signal to stay its advance, it was coming down the incline which exists at this point at a good speed, when the coal train was noticed ahead. But for the existence of this incline and the wet state of the weather, which rendered the rails very slippery, the driver of the train would have been enabled to arrest its progress in time. He did all he could, but so great was the weight behind the engine that even with steam shut off and brakes applied it ran with great force against the break van of the train of coal waggons, with a result of the most disastrous character. Fortunately, before this occurred, the engine-driver and the fireman had jumped from the engine, the breaksman of the coal train had also left the van, and the breaksman of the ore train, after applying the breaks of all the waggons he could reach in time, had also got out of harm's way. Had either of the first-mentioned remained at their posts, it would scarcely have been possible for them to have escaped with their lives. - The engine first came into collision with the break van, the body of this being lifted from its wheels, and thrown in a terribly shattered condition over the engine into the space between the engine and tender, where the men in charge generally stand, breaking the funnel and staving in the boiler as it passed. The next three waggons were thrown a short distance down the embankment, all being more or less damaged, and the wheels of two being separated from the body of the waggons. Two others were thrown off the rails. The engine of the ore train was much injured, the front portion being apparently irretrievably damaged. Two of the waggons of the train were also thrown off the rails, which were ploughed up for nearly twenty yards. A large number of workmen were soon on the spot, and operations were promptly commenced for the clearance of the line. This, however, was no easy job, and its performance occupied the whole of the afternoon. Fortunately, the existence of one shunt, just at the station, and another a short distance above the spot where the accident occurred, prevented the traffic being impeded. The waggons of the coal train which were off the line were first put right; this was only the work of a few minutes. The three or four thrown over and broken were next drawn out of the way; the two waggons laden with ore were emptied of their contents, and then drawn upon the line; and every thing being now taken away but the engine, all exertions were directed towards its removal. This was a feat something akin to the labours of Hercules, for, as said a spectator in our hearing, "They're nowt but a ruck of lumber off t'line." It was after five o'clock before the heavy mass of metal was removed from the spot, and it was nearly six o'clock, or five hours after the collision, before the line could be said to be again opened for traffic.



Friday, June 29, 1860.

WILFUL DAMAGE.
   Bernard McGintey was charged with committing wilful damage. On Monday last defendant was drinking at the Black Swan, Scholes, and becoming disorderly the landlord ejected him from the house, when he pulled his shoe off and threw it with great violence against the adjoining shop window, smashing glass to the value of 4s. - He was ordered to make good the damage he had caused and to pay costs.



Friday, June 29, 1860.

BREACH OF THE BEER ACT.
   Louis Jolley, keeper of the Rose and Crown beerhouse, Scholes, was charged with a breach of the Beer Act. - On Sunday morning last, at a quarter past seven, police-constable Stickley heard a great noise proceeding from defendant's house, and he went and knocked at the door. Defendant answered the knock, and while standing there Stickley heard a person call out "Bring us another gill, Louis." There were four men in the house, and a jug of beer was on the table. - The magistrates imposed a fine of 10s. and costs.



Friday, June 29, 1860.

WILFULLY CUTTING GREEN WHEAT AND GRASS.
   A man named William Bolton, evidently of weak intellect, and two boys, about 14 years of age, named Walter Hardy and John Hartley, were charged with trespassing upon a field in Wigan-lane, in the occupation of Mr. Thomas Whiteside, and wilfully cutting down a quantity of wheat and grass to the value of one shilling. - The bench discharged the two boys, and ordered Bolton to pay the costs.



Friday, June 29, 1860.

A DANGEROUS LARK.
   A young man named Robert Atherton was charged with stealing a scope, the property of the night soil contractor. On Tuesday night, about eleven o'clock, Police-constable St. John saw the prisoner come out of a public house in Queen-street and take up the article in question from a barrow which had been left in the street by one of the contractor's men, and walk off with it. The officer followed the man, and took him into custody. The article was identified, and the prisoner in answer to the bench said he took the scope, but simply for a lark; he was partly drunk at the time. - The bench discharged him with a caution.



Friday, June 29, 1860.

STEALING ALE.
   William Smith, an excavator in the employ of the Local Board of Health, was charged with stealing ale from the Three Crowns Inn, Standishgate. - Mr. Hallam stated that the Local Board of Health were connecting a drain from his cellar with the main sewer in Standishgate, and that morning, about half-past eight o'clock, on going in to the cellar, heard some one say, "Is not your 'tot' empty?" There was no reply to the question, and prisoner again said, as if he was addressing some one on the outside, "You'll keep it till you're catched." Mr. Hallam went down into the cellar, when he saw the prisoner there, and on examining his pockets he found a tin can containing about three gills of ale, which he believed to be his. The police were sent for, and Police-constable Lowe took the prisoner into custody. - The bench after a consultation said they thought it was a case in which it was inexpedient to punish, and discharged the prisoner with a caution.



Friday, July 6, 1860.

POACHING AT HAIGH.
   On Monday last, before the Rev. J. J. Dixon and G. Daglish, Esq., county magistrates, at the Moot Hall, Patrick Hammill, a middle-aged man, was charged with poaching upon the preserves of Lord Crawford, at Haigh. - Mr. Mayhew appeared to prosecute, and Mr. Ashton defended the prisoner. - Charles Alstead, one of Lord Crawford's gamekeepers, stated that he was watching on Sunday morning, between one and two o'clock, in company with William Scholes, near what was called the "Longhurst cover," when they heard a voice say, "Now then, this road." Witness and Scholes divided and went different ways, and in a minute or two the latter was heard to cry out, and Alstead, on going to his assistance, found him scuffling with the prisoner, who was attempting to get through the edge encircling a field rented by one of Lord Crawford's tenants. The man was secured and taken to the Haigh police station, and upon him was found what was called a "net stick." On the ground near where the scuffle took place were found traces of a net which had evidently been recently removed. - Mr. Ashton did not deny that the prisoner was in the field in question, but contended that the Bench could not convict him of poaching within the meaning of the act, inasmuch as no game or implements for taking game were found on him. As to the stick spoken of, his client said he used it because he was lame. - The Bench said the circumstances were very suspicious, but they thought they could not convict the prisoner upon the information laid. If the charge had been one of simple trespass, they would have dealt with it. - Mr. Mayhew then said he was prepared to prefer a charge of trespass, and the Bench accordingly took evidence upon that point, and Hammill was fined the nominal damage and costs.



Friday, July 6, 1860.

INSOLENCE PUNISHED.
   This was an action brought by Mr. Cooper, a grocer, of Millgate, for goods delivered to defendant, and which amounted to 6 4s. 1d. An order was made for 10s. down, and the remainder in a month. - Mrs. Walsh became rather excited as she was leaving the court, and denounced Cooper as "a bigger rogue than any of them. He went to Lancaster to pay his debts. He was a d____d rogue." - This last sentence was uttered as Mrs. Walsh arrived at the door. She was, however, sent for back, and committed to the House of Correction for seven days, the judge saying it was such language as he could not allow to be used in a court of justice.



Friday, July 6, 1860.

A YOUNG BEDOUIN.
   William Bellis, a lad about eleven years of age, was brought up for disposal by the bench, he having gone to the police-office on Sunday and asked for a night's lodgings. He stated that he came here from Liverpool, and was making his way to Tunstall in search of his parents. He also said he had been working in a factory in Liverpool. From his dress it was supposed he had escaped from some workhouse, but he denied that he had ever been in one, yet strangely enough, Sergeant Burton stated that when he asked him if such was not the fact, the lad turned down his jacket and curtly said, "Where's my number if I have been in a workhouse?" - The bench ordered the police to conduct him to the outskirts of the borough, and direct him for Tunstall.


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