LOCAL historian Stephen Wainwright continues his trawl through old newspapers to chart some of the events that were happening in St Helens 100 years ago this month.

On August 7 numerous newspapers in Britain reported how St Helens lad Patrick Goulding had left Ashford in Kent for active service abroad. Nothing remarkable in that, apart from the fact that his father and ten brothers were already in the Expeditionary Force, and this was thought to be a British record for a single family.

On August 16 two women from Waterdale Crescent in Sutton were summoned for assault. Their husbands were fighting in France and the women were keen to do their bit back home. Elizabeth Gurney claimed that Elizabeth Carlisle had said her late mother had given birth to six illegitimate children.

Mrs Carlisle said Mrs Gurney had slandered her claiming a soldier had stayed in her house. It was a long standing dispute between the pair which eventually turned to blows. Magistrates eventually bound over the warring neighbours to keep the peace for 12 months.

The following day old soldier James O’Brien was jailed for six months for drunkenly assaulting police and stealing a pair of boots. He claimed 13 years service in the army and said he went to the relief of General Gordon in the Sudan. However, O’Brien’s record since being discharged from the military was less impressive, having being convicted 31 times for theft and 43 times for being drunk.

It was a tough job being a policeman a century ago, with officers regularly enduring drunken assaults. In 1914 the chief constable had complained to St Helens magistrates that people were 'playing pitch and toss' with his officers and in some districts of the town, men 'set upon them like bulldogs'.

On August 18 an 11-year-old boy was ordered to have six strokes of the birch. The little lad had been convicted of stealing a postal order worth 15 shillings from a letter that he’d been asked to mail.

The practice of policeman beating boys with a birch rod on the orders of a court was not outlawed on mainland Britain until 1948.

On August 27 miner George Haslam of Walkers Lane in Sutton Manor, was fined at St Helens Police Court for knowingly concealing an army deserter. This was his brother-in-law Joseph Roberts who some weeks earlier had deserted from the 12th Sherwood Foresters. In fact there was little concealment as Haslam had passed Roberts off as his brother and the pair had been working together down Sutton Manor Colliery.

To end the month of August, newspapers reported how Sir Robert Baden-Powell had attended a rally of 400 scouts on the Volunteer Parade Ground in St Helens. The chief scout watched various displays and then inspected the Scout headquarters at the YMCA. A reception was held at St Helens Town Hall for Baden-Powell led by the Mayor Sir David Gamble. Several presentations were made and the founder of the Scout movement called for more young men to volunteer as patrol leaders.

Terry Gregson from St Helens Scouts added: “The 1st St Helens YMCA Scout Group was formed on 12th February 1908 following a visit to St Helens by the founder of Scouting Lieutenant General Baden-Powell. He held a meeting at Volunteer Hall in Volunteer Street to promote his ideas for scouting and 3,500 men and boys turned up to listen to him."