1917 court: Smoke signals dirty washing for laundry

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The Yorkshire Laundries Company Ltd whose registered office is at 108, Swan Arcade, Bradford, were defendants in a case at Scarborough Police Court. The summons was for allowing black smoke to issue from a chimney at the Spring Hill laundry, Scarborough, in such quantities as to be a nuisance between June 4th and June 8th.

Mr EM Taylor (Town Clerk’s office) appeared for the prosecution, a plea of not guilty being put in by the representative of the firm (Mr Granger).

The magistrates on the bench were: Mr WS Rowntree (in the chair), Mr W Sayner, and Mr W Boyes.

According to Mr Taylor there were complaints of the smoke nuisance in February. Efforts had been made by the defendants to obviate the nuisance, the chimney was heightened about April, but the constant recurrence of the nuisance had not been obviated.

Mr James Bastiman, Inspector of Nuisances, and others of the staff of the Health Office, gave evidence, as to observations kept on the premises on June 5th, 6th, and 7th, and the time black smoke was emitted.

A nuisance was, it was alleged, caused.

The chairman said that a suggestion had been made in a previous case as to improved stoking to obviate the nuisance. Mr Taylor said there was no obligation on the Local Authority to point out what means should be taken.

The Chairman said that was so, but the magistrates desired if possible to have the nuisance prevented, and wondered if that would prevent it.

The Borough Engineer, Mr HW Smith, who lives near the laundry, spoke as to the nuisance caused. He had no knowledge of the interior of the laundry, but unless the proprietors did something more than heighten the chimney 15 feet the nuisance would not be obviated, as it depended entirely on the wind. He agreed that very careful stoking might help. Witness was told at his home, a fortnight ago, that on account of the nuisance the washing had to be done twice.

Mr Granger, general manager of the company, said the summons was dated June 15th, but he did not get it until the 20th. He had not had time to go into it as he would have liked.

The company were engaged on government work. During the past year the company had tried a smoke consumer, and they had increased the chimney by 15 feet, the consumer not having given satisfaction. He had a chain of laundries, and had not been summoned elsewhere. The stoking was the same as elsewhere. They could not alter the position of the laundry, and the fact was that being near a hill, there was a down draught, not only of the laundry chimney, but the chimneys of the houses.

The laundry chimney got some of the blame which others ought to have. Everything in reason had been done to obviate the nuisance, and owing to the hill, when the wind was in certain directions it was difficult to obviate. They were doing a great amount of work for the government - it was doing good for Scarborough - and if summonses were going to be continually taken out against them the only alternative was to stop the work which would not be to the benefit of the town.

The heightening of the chimney had cost £50, and they did not take it higher in view of safety. Expert evidence was that the nuisance was due entirely when it arose, to the position of the laundry. The company had done all they could, and they thought that, at the moment, the magistrates should lean a little to them on account of the valuable work which was being done for the Army.

Replying to the Chairman Mr Granger said that he thought continuous stoking, as had been suggested, would make the nuisance worse.

The magistrates found the case proved and Mr Taylor pointed out that the nuisance had been recurring for several years. It was true that steps had been taken, but possibly such steps had not been exhausted.

The magistrates wished to give them an opportunity to try to rectify the matter and adjourned the case.