Our Century

Houdini accepts the challenge


Houdini, "The Handcuff King" made another sensational appearance at the Wolverhampton Empire Palace in May. A report at the time said: "In acceptance of a local challenge he suffered himself to be fastened up in a packing case specially made. A large committee were invited upon the stage and when the mysterious Houdini was safely incarcerated in the box all and sundry took turns at knocking nails into it. The case was then crated up and lifted into a cabinet. Houdini had declared his intention of getting out at some time, though he could not guarantee a re-appearance before the final curtain call. After an exciting wait of less than ten minutes however he appeared before the astonished audience without his coat and with a disarranged collar. The box was in precisely the same condition as when the last nail was knocked in. Tomorrow evening Houdini will take up another challenge to escape from a straight waistcoat such as is used for the murderous insane."

Sir Henry falls ill with chill: Plans for Wolverhampton Council to honour the veteran actor Sir Henry Irving in February were cancelled when he fell ill after contracting a chill.

Sir Henry IrvingHe had performed to a packed audience at the town's Grand Theatre the previous night, but a doctor confined him to bed.

Sir Henry's manager Bram Stoker, now best known as the author of the horror novel Dracula, apologised on his behalf. The Mayor Councillor R.E.W. Berrington was to have presented Sir Henry with an illuminated address to honour his long service to English drama.

Sir Henry recovered enough to appear at the Grand in Becket that night, but the next day called off the rest of his farewell tour after he was advised by doctors not to act for two months.

Sir Henry died in Bradford on October 14, aged 67, the night after performing in the play The Bells. He had recovered from his illness and resumed his farewell tour.

A good year for the roses: The world famous French actress Sarah Bernhardt, who was in Wolverhampton in July to perform in the play Pelleas and Melisande at the Grand Theatre, opened the annual Wolverhampton Floral Fete in West Park.

She arrived by carriage with fellow actress Mrs Patrick Campbell, who carried her pet dog Ping Pong under her arm, to perform the ceremony after the band of the Life Guards played the Marsellaises in her honour.

Madame Bernhardt was reported by the Express & Star to have been fascinated by the display of roses in one tent, remarking: "Elles sont superbes les roses! Extraordinaires!"

Football humour: Albion 'not dead yet': January 12 - At the West Bromwich police court today(Thursday), some little humour was introduced during the hearing of an application by Mr Dempster for an occasional licence for the Albion ground for the Leicester Fosse English cup-tie on Saturday.

When asked by Mr Bywater (magistrate) whether the Albion were going to win, Mr Dempster replied, with an air of confidence: "yes."

Mr Bywater: "Then the Albion are not dead yet?" (laughter).

Mr Dempster: "No." (laughter).

Mr Bywater:"But you have nearly killed them, haven't you?" (renewed laughter).

Mr Dempster: "Not yet, there is a spark left."

Mr Bywater: "It is to be hoped they won't kill you." (laughter).

The application was then granted.

Two days later Albion went down 5-2 to Leicester in their first appearance in the cup's intermediate round following their relegation from division one the previous year.

Stourbridge race sequel in court: Thomas Turner and Charles Cook, young men, of Spring Street, Lye, were charged at Stourbridge police court in August with "unlawfully obstructing the footpath at Pedmore on 28 July by running a foot race thereon".

Police constable Bevan said that on the 28th, owing to complaints that were made, he and two other officers went to Pedmore.

He found the defendants "almost naked, having only small garments on.

"They were running a race of about 100 yards from the Ham Lane to the Foley Arms.

"There was an obstruction through their conduct.

"The defendants denied they were racing. They wore proper nicks, the same as were worn at football."

The bench fined the defendants 5s each and costs or seven days.

George Bingham and William Adams were charged with aiding and abetting in the obstruction in the case.

Pc Bevan said one of the defendants gave a signal for the race and the other held the runners' clothes.

They were fined 7s 9d each including costs.

Some interesting figures regarding the system of providing free breakfasts for the poor children in Dudley schools were handed to the Express & Star in March by Mr J. M. Wynne, secretary to the education committee.

During the month of February 1905 there were 10,203 meals supplied in the town district, 2.240 in the county district and 2,239 at Woodside, making a total of 14,682.

Commenting, the Express & Star said: "This large amount of good work has been done at a cost of 61 or a little less than 1d per meal.

"This shows excellent management on the part of the Rev T Keates and the Rev Alfred Thompson and hearty co-operation on the part of the school staffs.

"The value of such work in a time of depressed trade like the present and particularly in wintry weather such as we have lately been experiencing can be readily appraised."

Jesse Turner
When I was young the village (Tettenhall Wood) was really in the country