First Stop' - 100 Years of News Stories
Star of Gwent. 10th January, 1890
The influenza epidemic continues unabated throughout the kingdom and numerous deaths are reported. Years have elapsed since the illness was so prevalent at Newport as it is at the present time. It has pervaded the great majority of homes, and it is feared that the death rate for the quarter will be much above the average. The Mayor has been confined to his room, whilst many leading inhabitants suffering from colds, and fearing an attack of influenza, are deeming it prudent to remain within doors.
Three weeks ago Mr. E. Gadd, a cab proprietor, who had made himself popular while filling the office of secretary of his society, discovered that a valuable horse belonging to him refused to take its food, and daily became more emaciated. The services of a vet were called in, and his professional eye discovered that the tongue of the horse had been cut through, whilst there was a deep gash also upon the roof of the animal's mouth, as though inflicted with a knife, no possible cause for such an outrage can be assigned, but steps have been taken to bring the offenders to justice.
On the occasion of the recent report of an elopement from this neighbourhood, which has excited the proverbial nine day gossip, it was hinted in some quarters that the missing lady was only temporarily absent from her home, and had gone to meet her husband at a distant port. Subsequent events, however, have proved that the suggestion had no foundation in truth. Instead the husband has returned to Newport seeking his errant wife. Traces of her movements are common but are not such as to afford any hope that they would lead to the discovery of her whereabouts, consisting as they almost solely did, of marks of her writing on blotting paper, with numerous repetitions of well known initials, clearly indicating with whom she had been in frequent correspondence. The injured husband, moreover, has ascertained that the house in which he had resided, had been disposed of by his wife before her departure, on the advice of the "candid friend" having been so far listened to, that the deeds had been prepared in her name.
We deeply regret to report the sudden death of Mr. George Reynolds, the head of Reynolds & Co. of Commercial Street, which took place on Tuesday evening. The winter sale at this establishment is in the course of progress, and Mr. Reynolds has been busily engaged for the past few weeks making the necessary arrangements. On Tuesday he was in business, apparently in his usual state of health, and between, five and six o'clock was in his residence in Cardiff Road to partake of tea. He returned at seven o'clock, and as he complained of feeling unwell, he proceeded upstairs to the room of the housekeeper. Here he was suddenly seized with what appeared to be a fainting fit. Dr. A.G. Thomas was sent for, and he speedily arrived, but in a few minutes Mr. Reynolds expired.
The deceased, who was 54 years of age, was highly respected. Formerly he was a draper's assistant, but by dint of industry and perseverance he became a large employer, and for years past has carried on one of the largest and most successful establishments in the town.
Frederick Bowen was charged with being drunk and refusing to pay his tram fare. On Saturday evening defendant got on the tram at the Westgate, but when requested to pay his fare said he had no money. He was not very drunk when he got on the car, and the conductor suggested that the shaking of the tram "shaked him up". Defendant said that when he went to pay his fare he found he had no money. Next morning he found two threepenny pieces in the corner of his pocket, and would gladly have paid his fare to get away. He was let off on a payment of a fine of five shillings.
Yesterday afternoon a most respectably attired lady visitor was discovered in the vicinity of the Railway Station, helplessly drunk. The vultures ever on the look out for prey, took immediate advantage of the lady's condition to rob her wholesale, but a policeman arrived at the spot shortly afterwards. The female was conveyed to the lock-up as being the best place of safety. One or two persons, who are alleged to have robbed her, a female being implicated, were afterwards arrested.
The Newport Magistrates are now like most other ordinary mortals, convinced that the crime of embezzlement in the town has become almost an "epidemic." The frequency with which these cases are being brought before them, is positively alarming. It is to be sincerely hoped and trusted that our young men will take heed of the Magistrate's words. The billiard table, the card room, that wide spread propensity for gambling, which abounds on every side, can have but one result. The salaries paid to young men who resort to such habits are altogether inadequate to feed their passion, and one false step invariably leads on, and that swiftly, to ruin. The friends of Newport's young men should lose no opportunity in speaking timely words of warning.
A little hero lost his life at Newport on Monday evening. Although but a boy of eight summers, he possessed the courage of the Spartan lad. School duties had been concluded in the afternoon; the deceased, accompanied by a younger brother, proceeded to Crindau Pill, where they gambolled by the side of the placid stream. The younger of the two boys fell in, and his brother, without thought of danger, went to his assistance. He rescued the young lad, but lost his own life in doing so, the force of the stream carrying him into deep waters. The occurrence must be a sad one for the parents, but the blow will be chastened by the knowledge of the fact that the deceased died a hero's death.
An amusing story is going the rounds of local circles consisting of persons who are in the "know". Two police officers of the Borough of Newport, were perambulating a fashionable suburb a day or two ago, when they disputed the lengths of the beats being traversed by them. High words speedily led to blows, and the two men, although in front of a police station, engaged in an up and down fight with the "naked 'uns". The Watch Committee have unceremoniously discharged the offending officers, on the principle that policemen are supposed to protect the peace not commit breaches of it.
A very few days ago you gave an instance of the manner in which some persons are allowed to defy the Bye-Laws while others dare not wink. May I ask who is responsible for the instructions given to the police as regards street obstructions? One tradesman may not hang up a pair of boots outside his shop, while another may cause a blockage of the pavement for hours. I have frequently seen two or three respectable young men ordered to "move on"; they have been engaged in talking quietly on the kerb-stones (not on the pavement) in a back street. Yet for the last two Thursday nights, the bottom of Hill Street has been completely blocked by certain persons who imagine they have a gift for street preaching! If those persons are allowed to become a nuisance, as they undoubtedly are, why not let Free Thinkers and Mormons hold forth also? One has as good a right as the other.
About nine o'clock this Wednesday morning a ferocious bull was being driven from Tredegar Place towards the top of Skinner Street, on its way to the Cattle Market, when the beast made its way to the shop door of Mrs. Newman and Son, music sellers, and thrust its head through the handsome plate glass window. The animal was eventually got to the market without doing further damage.
Half an hour later, a second bull was being driven through New Dock Street, when opposite the back entrance of the Town Hall, leading to the Police Court, it suddenly rushed up the steps, and made its way into the Parade Room. Here it turned, and made its exit, proceeding towards the Police Office, but the door happened to be closed, and the animal could not effect an entrance. The beast was driven out, and apparently determined to have some experience of police courts, or at least functionary thereof, it made its way across the timber yard of Messrs Batchelor & Company, chased by three policemen and the two drovers. Finding the door to the office closed, it turned suddenly on two of the policemen, who, in their haste to avoid any direct confrontation, stepped backwards on a piece of timber and fell to the ground, losing their helmets in the process. This wily animal then proceeded to trample, in deep concentration, and with evident glee, the hats of lawful authority into the ground. While thus engaged, one of the drovers, with great courage, threw a halter over the beast's neck and it was led away, probably well satisfied with its morning's work.
The gambling prosecutions on Monday were by no means devoid of humour. For instance nothing but merriment could, of course, have been occasioned by its being pointed out that any man had a perfect right to bet in the public streets, but if it happened to be raining, or if the sun was burning fiercely, and the man accepted an umbrella being held over him, the umbrella constituted a "gambling place".
Mr. Arthur Gould was well deserving of the presentation made to him at the Albert Hall on Saturday evening. For years past he has been a prominent figure in all branches of sport as an all-round man; he is not excelled by any other athlete in the Kingdom. At football he is acknowledged to be one of the finest three-quarters in the country. As a sprinter, he has gained great renown, whilst as a cricketer, he has done useful service for the Newport Club. The qualities displayed by him have spendidly developed themselves over the years, and he has won laurels of which any athlete might well feel proud. As showing the interest he takes in his favourite game of football, it may be noted that during the course of one short season, he travelled between 3000 and 4000 miles to play for Newport, and represented Wales in international matches. He is now about to leave Newport to seek his fortune in foreign lands, and a host of local acquaintances will honestly wish him bon voyage and a safe return.
Henry Saunders, nine years of age was charged with stealing a donkey at Gold Tops, the property of Henry Gummin. - The boy was recently before the court for stealing a horse and trap belonging to Mr. Phillips, butcher, of Caerleon, which he drove to the Forest of Dean. He afterwards attempted to steal a mule from the ballast land, near the Alexandra Dock, and was before the court a week ago, for stealing several balls from the Arcade, but was dismissed on his father promising to take care of him. It had no effect on the lad whose career, considering his age, has been an extraordinary one. On Tuesday last Detective Badger saw the prisoner at Stow Park, leading a mule by a string in the direction of Cardiff Road. The sight of Badger frightened the youth and he ran away. The officer took the mule to the Bridge Hotel stables, where it still remains awaiting an owner. The Magistrates said it was a disgrace to the father, that in spite of previous promises to look after the boy, he was still carrying on with his thieving ways. Saunders replied that unfortunately his wife was rather fond of the drink. The Bench committed the prisoner to Usk for fourteen days to be followed by five years in a reformatory.
The amount of Juvenile crime at Newport is becoming appalling. There is scarcely a sitting of the Police Court but what numerous lads are ordered to be locked up in the cells, from periods of from one to three days, also to be severely birched. Older boys are sent to prison, in some instances the sentence to be followed by incarceration in a reformatory. Kindness and severity have each been tried in turn, but without result, in fact juvenile crime is very rapidly on the increase. Much of this is due to the vitiated and blighting influences and teachings of the parents. It is a well known fact that there are hundreds of children in this town, who are being systematically trained to theft, by parents who should lose no opportunity of impressing upon their offspring, the necessity of leading honest lives, they appear altogether indifferent to the fact that they are training their children for a life of CONVICTS.
Can envy, hatred and all uncharitableness dare to assert in the future that the Corporation of Newport, Monmouthshire is not the most advanced and go ahead municipal body on the face of the globe, or, at all events, in that corner of it called Great Britain.
It appears that Newport is blessed with a Mayor totally unlike any other Mayor that has been invented or dreamed of. The average head of a municipality is a being always supposed to array himself in resplendent robes of office, and enjoy thoroughly the consequent awe which falls upon all who behold. A Mayor without robes is a creature which imagination shrinks at, appalled. Newport, however, in the person of its presiding municipal functionary, has set an example which we hardly trust will not be followed or the deluge may be upon us before we wot of it.
Some new baths built at the public charges have been recently opened in the town. The Mayor determined on that interesting occasion to be, as sportsmen would say, in his finest form. He bethought himself in what manner of ceremony of inaugurating public baths might be rendered more striking than such an occasion has ever been made before. It is not every day, no doubt he pondered with himself, that bathing establishments are opened at a cost of £11,000 from the pockets of the ratepayers; and it was therefore fit and becoming he concluded, that the world should hear about it. The world is likely to hear a good deal about it. For what did this unique local official do? He repaired to the baths clad in all the usual trimmings which clothe a Mayor, even in Wales. All around were a bevy of beautiful ladies dressed in their most summery costumes, accompanied by spruce cavaliers, and at one end, arranged in his support, the Aldermen of the Borough. Before them lay the expanse of water hitherto untroubled by the body of any bather.
First of all there were the usual speeches indispensable on such occasions. The Mayor made his speech, but while the other orators were proceeding, he was observed softly and silently gliding away, followed by the Town Clerk. In a few minutes he issued forth again; but gone were the robes of office, and in their stead the Mayor's manly form was observed to be clad in a sort of "over-all", which devotees of Turkish Baths are well acquainted with. Before the surprise and consternation which such a transformation seemed occasioned had died away, another lightning change took place. The bathing towel was thrown off and the Mayor appeared clad in nothing beyond an ordinary bathing suit. We regret to have to state this fact, which is calculated to cause a shock wherever municipalities exist, and the name and office of mayor are still reverenced.
There was, strange to say, no yell of execration at this unique municipal spectacle. Yet nothing of the kind happened. People of Newport there assembled seemed rather to have enjoyed the novelty of the sight, the Mayor in fact, proceeded without more ado to duck himself. He went to the side of the bath and took a refreshing header into the water. The sight of the Mayor's noble enthusiasm for fresh water seems to have been singularly contagious. His Worship was not left in the solitary enjoyment of the new "Order of the Bath", which he had thus boldly and in defiance of all municipal precedent, conferred upon himself. The bodyguard of local policemen, who no sooner saw the Mayor swimming, than the most extraordinary monomania seems to have seized them too. Without waiting to divest themselves of so much as their helmets, the posse of constables tumbled in after their Chief Officer. Then followed the Alderman. During the absence of the Mayor, these worthies must have got wind of what His Worship intended, and they too, had repaired in haste to the dressing rooms, which form a feature of the new baths. Directly after the simultaneous dive into the water of the dozen or more burly policemen, the Councillors and Town Clerk were observed to pop out of unexpected doors, and make a rush for the scene of watery amusement. The bath was soon aligned with dripping heads amid which the helmets of the police had a rather comical effect. Encouraged by cheers and laughter of the spectators, the Mayor and his attendant satellites, scrambled out, and proceeded to dress themselves. In a short space of time out came the Mayor again clothed and in his ordinary mayoral finery and departed for a ceremonial luncheon which was the next item on the official programme.
Mr. Thomas Beynon, the High Sheriff of Monmouthshire, has proved that the honours which should touch Shrievalty are safe while in his keeping. The Office of High Sheriff, although a thankless one, for it constitutes the holder as public executioner for his county, in the event of no other man being found willing to undertake the duty, is still one regarded as a prize by English gentlemen. Non-acceptance of it involves a fine of £500, whilst on the other hand, the post carries a heavy expenditure without a single shilling of salary attached to it.
It has been said that to give the lower classes better dwellings, they would be benefitted both morally and physically. That is a consummation devoutly to be wished, but it seems very questionable whether it will have that effect in general. Unless the advantages of the use of water and soap are inculcated into the minds of the lower classes, all the nice clean houses ever built hardly will eradicate their inherent love of dirt and squalor, at least in this or the next generation.
To one who walks about the town with an observant eye, it is pitiable in the extreme to see the neglected, filthy, squalid condition of the children. Go in any part of the town one will, in the localities occupied by the wage earning class, the streets seem to be given over to the children as play-grounds. The women revel in dirt, and are to be seen lolling and gossiping on the doorsteps. Here you see a brawny, frowsy-headed matron with breasts exposed, suckling a child. All seem to reek with dirt. Girls of fourteen or fifteen are seen with hardly enough rags on for decency, shoe-less, and stocking-less. The boys are in rags and tatters, and join in the endless rivalry as to who should get into the most dirt. A group of children are quarrelling, making use of the most disgusting language. The only check they receive, an objurgation from their mothers, if they can make it convenient to spare a few words with the children, to "shut up", accompanied, in all probability, by threats of what they will do. The mothers then return to their gossip and the children to their rows. What sort of promise does this give of the coming generation? It is almost too much to hope that with clean dwellings the dirty habits will vanish.
Signed by a Working Man.
The inhabitants of Gold Tops, one of the aristocratic suburbs of Newport, have a sore grievance which stands in need of drastic remedy. The question is one not to be dilated upon without care and consideration, and yet it is a fester which should be cauterised and burnt out, not simply healed by a temporary covering of the wound.
This part of the town after the shades of evening have fallen, is invaded with rampant indecency, and scenes can be witnessed, even at an early hour, highly discreditable. The Superintendent of Police, admitted on Wednesday, that the residents had in regard to this matter, complained to him for months past. This being so, offenders should be accorded heavier punishment than the imposition of fines only amounting to half a guinea. The laws of morality should be strictly enforced, not trifled with.
Kindly allow me, through your valuable paper, to complain of the unfair way we are treated in Caerleon Road. You no doubt remember that Caerleon Road was taken into the Borough last year. What we have to complain of is there is no accommodation in the shape of an hotel, or public house, of any kind; which means that working men coming home from a days work about nine o'clock, have to run or send a mile and a half away, for a drop of supper beer. If too tired to go ourselves, we have to send our children. Hoping that the Justices of the Peace will remedy this sort of thing before long.
I remain etc. a Working Man
In reference to servants' hours, I think it is high time something was done in the matter. Many girls are on from six thirty in the morning until eleven or twelve o'clock at night. I, for one, think we have no life. As the shops are closing early, I think steps should be taken for female servants to be able to get out early, in order to get what they may require, not half past seven or eight o'clock, the same as many do now. I say life is not worth living if things are going on at this rate. Slaves we are called, a more suitable name could not be found. We all ought to strike and strike we will, and let the so called gentry do their work themselves, for us girls mean to stick up for their rights. Trusting I am not intruding on your valuable space -
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First Stop' - 100 Years of News Stories