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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, August 24, 1860.

VAGRANCY.
   Mary Cooper, a tottering old woman, 78 years of age, was brought up charged with being found sleeping in the public streets. - The old woman, in answer to the bench, said that she belonged to Scotland, but had been many years in this country. On Friday she left the Liverpool workhouse with the intention of going to Halifax to join a son of hers who was there. She begged the bench to let her go, and on her promising to leave the town she was discharged.



Friday, August 24, 1860.

LARGE GOOSEBERRY.
   Notwithstanding that all the fine weather seems to have taken its departure from this locality, the age of large gooseberries has not passed away. The other day, Thomas Walworth of Lowton, gathered from a tree in his garden a fine ripe berry of mammoth size, and on being weighed it was found to draw 30 pennyweights and eight grains.



Saturday, August 25, 1860.

COMMITTAL FOR NEGLECT OF WORK.
   William Clayton was summoned by Mr. James Stephen for leaving his work without notice, according to agreement. - Defendant contended that he was the servant of Thomas Hewitt, one of Mr. Stephen's foremen, from whom he received his wages; but the evidence showed that the defendant had made a contract with the complainant, and had received a sovereign on account in advance. - Mr. Lamb (to complainant): Do you wish us to punish this man? - Complainant: I will take him back if he will return. - Mr. Lamb (to defendant): Well, you hear what is said. It is not often a prisoner can decide his own case, but you can do so. If you will return to your work we will allow you; if not, you must go to prison. - Defendant, coolly: Well, you can put it down for prison. - Mr. Lamb: Then you must go for a month. - This sentence seemed to surprise the man.



Friday, August 31, 1860.

A CHILD BURIED IN A SANDPIT AT INCE.
   A boy four years old, named Albert Woods, the son of William Woods, collier, Ince, was missed from his home for a considerable period on Saturday evening last. His parents searched for him in many places, but nothing could be heard of him farther than that some neighbours had seen him near a sandpit, in the vicinity of Broom-street. Thinking the little fellow might have rambled to Wigan his parents got the town crier to go round the borough, but no tidings of him could be ascertained. On Monday morning two carters in the employ of Messrs. Case and Morris went to the sandhole near which the boy had been seen playing, for a load of sand, when one of them, named Michael Rowlands, casually mentioned that there was a child missing, and he wondered if it could be anywhere amongst the sand. His curiosity was excited, and he said he would look, adding that he did not wish to find the child there. He commenced to remove some sand with his hands near to where he had been filling his cart, and after getting a depth of three or four inches he felt some substance underneath, which a further examination revealed was the body of the little boy. The poor little fellow was found with his body doubled up, his face resting upon his knees. The supposition is that he was playing amongst the sand, when some of it gave way and buried him instantly. - An inquest was held on Wednesday, before C. E. Driffield, Esq., when the jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death."



Friday, August 31, 1860.

SERIOUS BOILER EXPLOSION.
   On Tuesday afternoon last, about half-past three o'clock, an explosion of a serious nature occurred at Mr. Tipping's cotton mill, Henhurst Bridge. The mill is worked by an engine to which three boilers are attached, but two of them only are used at once. On the afternoon in question the fireman, a young man about 20 years of age, named Samuel Ball, was engaged cleaning out the fire hole of one of the boilers in use, when the tubs suddenly burst with great force, sending out a dense volume of scalding steam and water. Ball was thrown into the mill yard about a distance of thirty feet, and on being picked up he was found to be fearfully scalded, and suffering the most excruciating agony. The whole of the skin of his arms and legs, and the back part of his person, up to the middle of his back, was torn off, and hung in loose shreds to the flesh. The engine tenter, a man named James Heyes, fortunately for his life was standing some distance from where Ball was, but he was blown four or five yards away, falling upon a heap of coal slack. He was scalded upon the arms and legs, but was able to walk home. Ball was taken to his residence at once, and Mr. Fisher and Mr. Wright were soon in attendance to relieve the sufferings of the poor fellow. We understand he is still alive, but in a most precarious condition, death being almost certain. The damage done to the building by the explosion is considerable. The gable end of the boiler house was knocked completely down, and some yards of the roof carried away. An examination of the boiler revealed that one of the plates at the end nearest the fire hole had given way. Had the explosion occurred at the other end the consequences might have been more serious even they have unhappily been, for separated from the gable end of the boiler-house by about four yards is the scutching room, and such was the force of the explosion that this building would have been inevitably knocked down, and the lives of the persons working there placed in great jeopardy. As it was, however, the bricks and debris of the boiler-house were only sent against the windows, which were smashed. The working of the mill was stopped for the remainder of the day, but was resumed on Wednesday.



Friday, August 31, 1860.

DRINK, DESTITUTION, AND DEATH.
   On Tuesday last an inquest was held before the borough coroner, at the Albion Inn, Millgate, on the body of Henry Caldwell, a man 64 years of age, who was taken into the Police-office on Sunday night, in a most pitiable condition, expiring shortly after his arrival. The deceased, who belonged to Lowton, it appeared was picked up in the streets about ten o'clock on Saturday night, in a helpless state of intoxication, and was conveyed to the lock-ups by an officer, where he was confined till Sunday forenoon, being then liberated. On leaving the Police-office he made his way down Millgate, and was afterwards seen drinking in the Royal Oak, in the neighbourhood of which house he was found about eleven o'clock in the evening, asking permission of the people resident there to be allowed to go into their houses and sit him down. Mr. William Proctor seeing the condition of the man, and believing him to be ill, took him to the Police-office, and gave him in care of the officer on duty. Deceased, however, stayed there only a short time, and on coming out and attempting to reach the street he fell from the office steps into the gutter, where he lay till he was picked up by some men, when being placed upon his legs he managed to crawl into the Wiend. Here, however, he fell again, and Police-constable Hudson coming up, this officer turned his lamp upon the man, whom he found to be dying. Assistance was obtained, and the unfortunate fellow was placed in a cell at the lock-ups. Mr. Heaton, surgeon, was sent for, but on his arrival the man was dead. No money was found upon him, and it is said he got his living by begging. - The jury returned a verdict of "Died from natural causes, death being accelerated by intemperance."



Friday, August 31, 1860.

NARROW ESCAPE OF FOUR CHILDREN FROM SUFFOCATION.
   On Saturday evening last four children, whose ages vary from seven to ten years, had a narrow escape of being suffocated. In the rear of the dwelling houses now erecting at the end of Scarisbrick-street, Wigan-lane, is a piece of ground about seven feet above the level of the road, and portions of this ground have been cut away, in order to get to the bed of sand - which is a large one. The girls who met with the accident were engaged in scooping out the sand at the bottom, and making large cavities, when suddenly the mound gave way, and before the children had time to escape they were buried under about a ton and a half of heavy soil, clay, &c. Fortunately the accident was perceived by some people who were standing near, and efforts were immediately made to extricate the girls. Two of them were got out more frightened than hurt, and walked home; but the others were found to be crushed considerably upon the chest and legs - one of them having received, it is said, a fracture of a rib from the spade which was used to shovel off the soil coming in contact with her body.



Friday, August 31, 1860.

AN EARLY SABBATH MORNING PERFORMANCE.
   George Smith and Susannah Cassidy were charged with riotous and disorderly conduct. - The defendants were found by police-constable Ashton in Bretherton's Row, about five o'clock on Sunday morning, capering about in all manner of fantastic ways; and the male defendant, before he brought his exhibition to a close, quarrelled with his wife and smashed all the furniture in his house, throwing the disabled chairs and tables into the Row. - The bench fined Smith 10s. and costs, in default 21 days' imprisonment; and Cassidy 5s. and costs, in default 14 days' imprisonment.



Friday, August 31, 1860.

STEALING A PAIR OF SHOES.
   James Moore, a native of the Emerald Isle, who said he came here from Sheffield, was charged with stealing a pair of shoes, the property of Henry Holme, Market-place. From the evidence it appeared that the prisoner, about half-past five on Friday last, was standing by Mr. Holme's shop, when he was seen to take a pair of blucher shoes, valued at 12s. from a nail on which they were hanging, and make off with them up the Wiend. He was followed and caught, and given into the custody of police-constable Ashton. When apprehended the prisoner said a man had given him the shoes, but he now pleaded guilty, stating that he had come to go to the harvest, and having a few shillings in his pocket he had "fallen into drink." - The bench committed him to prison for two months.


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