Our Century

Ceiling collapse destroys organ

St Paul's ChurchThe organ was almost completely destroyed at St Paul's Church Penn Road, Wolverhampton, when part of the ceiling collapsed in September.

The previous evening a student who had been practising on the organ reported everything as normal when he left. But when the cleaner arrived the next morning she found a scene of "wreckage and confusion." A huge hole had appeared above the organ and the instrument itself was a "mass of twisted pipes."

It was thought the collapse was caused by dry rot in the beams. The total cost of repairs, including the organ damage, was expected to run into thousands of pounds.

This picture of St Paul's Church was taken in 1936. The church has since been demolished.

Boy killed in digging tragedy: The danger of coal-picking was highlighted by a coroner conducting an inquest in June on a 15-year-old Wolverhampton boy who died after being buried under a pile of earth.

"Valuable lives are being lost through carelessness in getting coal from these mounds without being properly protected," said county coroner, J.T.Higgs. "I have held five inquests in the past few days on people who have been killed in this way - there are more deaths than when the miners are working underground," he added.

The inquest heard that George Bateman, of Heath Town, had been undercutting the ground at a little private pit near Moseley Hall Colliery, Moseley Village, when two or three hundredweight of earth fell on top of him. Some of the roof of the hole still remained and there was timber in the hole.

Witnesses said that a shout was heard that someone was buried and on investigation found the boy apparently buried under earth to below the knees. One witness said that when the earth was removed the boy was "quite dead and cold." He was thought to have been under the earth for at least two hours, having probably died from suffocation.

The coroner said it would be a "very good thing if parents would not allow their boys to go coal-picking without somebody in charge." Verdict: Accidental death.

Man fined over Cabbage case: A man accused of causing malicious damage to a cabbage was fined a pound by the Wolverhampton police court in September. The court was told the defendant, a working man, went to an allotment at "Monkey Island," Heath Town, and uprooted a cabbage worth sixpence. The defendant complained that an allotment holder gave him a black eye as he tried to make off with the vegetable. The defendant had been charged with "malicious damage to property, to wit, a cabbage."

'Drunken orgy' at pub: A Willenhall pub landlord and his customers were heavily fined by a court after holding what police described as a "drunken orgy" out of licensed hours at the Star Hotel, Lower Lichfield Street.

Colin Jobber, the licensee, was fined 30 for supplying intoxicating liquor out of hours and 10 for allowing drunkeness.

His customers were fined sums up to 25 for consuming alcohol out of permitted hours in the pub.

Pay rate too low say Sedgley's workers: In March, Sedgley's unemployed hit out at the low rate of pay being offered by the district council in providing jobs for the out-of-work.

They had accused two local councillors of fixing the daily rate of pay for people employed on the Summer Lane improvement scheme at a low ten shillings and twopence a day.

But the council chairman denied councillors were responsible for the rates of pay - they were the same as paid to permanent road men. It was also pointed out that the two councillors concerned were not present at the meeting when the rate was set.

One councillor who agreed that the allegations were unfounded nevertheless thought that the men employed on the scheme should get a higher rate of pay and suggested one shilling and ninepence an hour.

One councillor said his "heart bled" for the men working in the rain for the paltry sum of ten shillings and twopence a day.

Price of crime . . . June 4. A town council row over the cost of maintaining a police presence in Stourbridge raised the question of whether or not the area was "over-policed."

Council members were told of a financial item of 80/18 shillings for police expenses. One councillor asked if the town was over-policed and said the force seemed to be increasing in the area. He added that the county council should be contacted over this "unnecessary expense."

There was also comment about two mounted police seen patrolling the streets. The mayor said: "They are the only policemen I see and I should not like to be without them." The account was passed for payment.

Two fined, but did they see it coming? One woman was jailed in July and a second fined 2.50 by Dudley magistrates after being convicted of pretending to tell fortunes.

One defendant, Maud Garbett, aged 35, was said to have made a "comparatively decent income" from exercising powers she was supposed to possess. The chief constable said complaints received showed that a great deal of domestic harm had been done in the town.

"It might be that the defendant had a bona-fide faith in her own power to foretell the future by reading the palm - but that did not really enter into the matter," he said.

She was fined under the vagrancy act.

The second fortune teller, Mary Ann Colbourne, aged 60, of Munition Cottages, cut cards to tell fortunes. She told a client that a fair-haired woman was trying to take the client's husband away from her. She was jailed for 14 days.

Mavis Leech
We always felt that we were privileged. The men always used to save an empty truck for us...

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