Friday, July 05, 2013

Radnorshire Favouritism

Anyone interested in history - and I'm one of those who believe you can't understand the present without knowing a bit about the past - will welcome the ever-expanding coverage of Welsh Newspapers Online.

A couple of stories that caught my eye from the most recent upload were:

A report of two court cases at Presteigne Assizes in 1903 before Mr Justice Phillimore.  First-up a case involving seven Rhayader men accused of viciously assaulting water bailiffs in the employ of the Wye Board of Conservators.  A dangerous job being a bailiff on the upper Wye; and, as so often at Rhayader, the taking of salmon seems to have involved a large crowd acting in broad daylight.  Verdict - Not Guilty, with the judge accepting that in three cases this was fair, but as for the others ......

Next up six Newbridge men also accused of battering employees of the Wye Board - and on Christmas Eve as well.  This time the judge was more forthright in his summing-up, he regretted that the previous jury had either lacked sense or honesty and he hoped that the present jury would not entertain the idea of dismissing the defendants solely on the grounds that they were Radnorshire men.  Suitably warned the jurors withdrew, only to return shortly with another not guilty verdict. They obviously believed the men's story that they were innocent carol singers. This left the judge with nothing much to say, other than to express the wish that such cases no longer be heard in the county.

One lesson we can learn from old court cases such as these is how speedily they were dealt with, nowadays the legal profession would make sure they spent far longer feeding at the public trough. In the interests of justice, of course.

The second story concerns the Festival of Welsh Beauty held at Llandrindod's Albert Hall in 1910 and run by an organization called the International Association of Beauty Queens Ltd.  With travel and accommodation costs paid for, some 29 ladies - the competition was open to any girl of Welsh descent aged over 17 - descended on the resort from all over Wales and beyond.  First prize was a lightweight bicycle worth ten guineas and the promise of a trip to Paris in the company of  the organiser Mr Forsyth.  H'm.

The competition was to be judged  by the votes of the entire audience at the town's Albert Hall and perhaps this was a mistake:  First - Miss Annie Brick of Howey 347 votes, Second - Miss Jackson of Manchester 119 votes, Third - Miss Lily Davies of Llandrindod.  Foul cried the South Wales papers, they blamed local favouritism for the defeat of their local beauties.

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