You Couldn’t Make it Up!

You Couldn’t Make it Up!

This story was reported in the Northern Gazette of Thursday 19 May 1892.

It concerns the council ruling that all shopkeepers on Stockton High Street were required to sweep the area immediately in front of their premises at least once a day before 8am….it is presented as it appeared in the paper…

CURIOUS PROSECUTION AT STOCKTON – This morning at Stockton Borough Police Court twelve High Street tradesmen were summoned by the Urban  Sanitary Authority for infraction of Section 122 of the Stockton-on-Tees Extension and Improvement Act, 1869. – Mr E. J. Thomas, for the prosecution, stated that the Act provides that at least once a day, before 8 o’clock, the occupiers of property must sweep or cleanse the pavements in front of their respective properties.  The proceedings in this case were not vindictive but merely taken to show that the Act must be complied with. – The case of Mr Jesse Bryan, ironmonger, Central Buildings, was taken first and it was proved that on the 10th May the shop boy at 8.30 am was seen sweeping the pavement. – Mr C. J. Archer, who defended, elicited that only those tradesmen who had been trying to comply with the Act had been summoned, while others who did not sweep their pavements at all had not been interfered with.  He also obtained the information that the Town Hall pavements were not swept and that the Act applied to all the rest of the town as well as the High Street. – The evidence for the prosecution having been completed, Mr Archer asked if there was any case to answer. – The Bench decided that there was no case and dismissed it, a result which met with applause in court.  Mr. Thomas:  After your worships’ decision I shall not trouble you with the other cases.  – The rest of the cases were, therefore, withdrawn….

Brilliant!  I just love the defence that the council didn’t sweep the pavements next to the Town Hall.

We are grateful to Gale-Cengage Learning for granting permission for the use of the material in this article which was taken from the Northern Gazette, part of their 19th Century Newspapers online resource collection.