Wednesday, July 16, 2014

An Unlit Lamp And The Three Mile Limit : Halifax in July 1914



When Mr McKinnon Wood, Secretary for Scotland, was entering a motor-car at his residence, Portland Place, London, on Wednesday, two suffragettes ran up and one struck him across the chest with a dog-whip. She was seized by Mr Wood's butler, who took the whip from her. The second woman then tried to hit Mr. Wood, but he warded off the blow with his umbrella. Both women were arrested, and at Marlborough Street Police Court later were each fined 20s or 14 days.

The Women's Social and Political Union was founded by Emmeline Pankhurst in 1903 and its supporters - known as suffragettes - were responsible for a range of acts of civil disobedience in this period. In August 1914, Emmeline and her daughter Christabel called for an immediate halt to all suffrage activism and for support to be given to the Government in its war efforts. By the end of her life, Emmeline was standing as a Conservative Party parliamentary candidate.


Before the Mayor (Ald R Thornton), Mssrs W Smith, R Woodhouse and J W Mellor, at Brighouse Borough Court yesterday, Herbert Ellis Hay, chauffeur, Halifax, was charged with failing to illuminate the rear identification plate of a motor car on July 11, on the Halifax Road. Defendant pleaded guilty. P.C. Holmes said that when accosted defendant said the lamp was still warm, but witness felt it and it was cold. Defendant said the car was a taxi cab and the drivers had their own fines to pay. Again, he could not always see whether the lamp was out or not. the lamp was burning when he passed the police at Whitehall, and the lumpy road must have put it out. He had lost a day's work and wages coming there. It being defendant's first offence he was let off with payment of costs, 7s 6d.

Section 2 of the 1903 Motor Car Act introduced vehicle registration for all motor cars and enabled Councils to introduce rules as to how the registration numbers should be displayed. At this time they were often lit by open flame lamps which could easily by blown out.


At the Huddersfield County Police Court on Tuesday, six men, Ernest Beaumont, Clifford Rickard and James Farrar, labourers of Brighouse, John Walton and Sam Horsfall, labourers of Rastrick, and George Henry Horne, delver of Rastrick, were summoned for being on licensed premises during prohibited hours. Joe Hirst, landlord of the Spinners' Arms Inn, Colne Bridge, was summoned for selling intoxicating liquors during prohibited hours. The case was before the court a month ago, when it was adjourned for the purpose of ascertaining whether the footpath across Bradley Plain was a private or a public one.

Supt. Hustler said that the footpath was generally used by people coming from Brighouse to Bradley, but it was a private one and therefore he asked to withdraw the summonses against all the defendants except Farrar, Walton and Hirst. P.S. Driffield said that Walton lived 2 miles 1,639 yards and Farrar 2 miles 1,636 yards from the Spinners' Arms. The measurements had been taken across another footpath through Bradley Park, which was a public thoroughfare. Hirst stated in evidence that the ordinance map, which he kept at his house showed that the two men, Walton and Farrar, lived 73 yards over the three mile limit. The Bench dismissed the case against Hirst, but ordered Walton and Farrar to pay the costs (7s 6d each).

During the latter part of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, the licensing hours of public houses came under stricter control with drinking being prohibited at certain times of the day and on Sundays. The Licensing Act of 1874 had introduced an exemption from such rules for "travellers" and defined a traveller as someone who was at least three miles distant from the place where they had lodged on the previous night. It thus became common for people who wanted to drink during prohibited hours to visit pubs just over three miles from where they lived and the precise measurement of these critical distances was often tested in the courts of law.


The attendants were busy at Sunny Vale on Saturday catering for the amusement of a large influx of visitors from Heckmondwyke, Norland, Holywell Green, Stainland, Birchcliffe and Hebden Bridge. There were about 3,000 persons present. In addition to the usual attractions the Mirfield Military Band of 40 performers played for dancing.

Sunny Vale Pleasure Gardens near Halifax were the Alton Towers of their day, attracting crowds from the towns and villages of West Yorkshire. They were at the height of their popularity in 1914 and continued to attract crowds until the 1950s.


  1. What a great collection of Big News!

  2. You find such fascinating stuff!

  3. Perhaps the three mile rule is the origin of the "pub crawl" and where the man with an ordinance survey map never lacked for friends.

  4. Dinner for 3/6 would be nice.


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