Monday, October 11, 2010

The Winter Assizes of 1897

Something not in short supply in late 19C Radnorshire were explosives - the Birmingham waterworks provided a ready souce of pilferred gelignite and detonators for those intent on causing a bang. One such was a tramp, George Jones, who decided to blow the safe at the New Radnor railway station. Having successfully relieved the Great Western Railway Company of £5 and a bottle of ink, Jones made the common mistake of heading for the pub rather than making good his escape - verdict: eight months with hard labour.

The GWR were also the victims in the next case where three local men - Weaver, Clarke and Powell, were charged with stealing twelve bottles of wine and a quantity of onions from Presteigne railway station. Constable Hitchman, who had secured two of the accused in the cells, reported that Clarke had shouted out, "Stand true, Weaver." To which Weaver, no doubt anxious to prove false Radnorshire's reputation of being a land without poets, replied, "Like a bell of brass which never cracks." - Verdict: Powell and Clarke, four months with hard labour; Weaver, three months.

How would these cases be treated today? Well the safe cracker would surely have been looking at a far longer sentence, while the wine thieves would be looking at community service.

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