Thursday Flashback

A case involving a breach of the Factory Act was heard at the Scarborough Police Court this morning, when the Snowdrift Laundry Co. were fined for contravening the section relating to Sunday labour.

The magistrates on the bench were the Mayor (Mr TH Good), Alderman V Fowler, Mr G Rowntree, Mr J Sinfield, Mr AJ Tugwell, Councillor Chrimes, and Councillor Ascough.

The defendants Messrs Bird Ltd, Scalby Road, summoned for employing Elsie Pottage contrary to the provisions of the Factory and Workshops Act, 1901 and 1907, at Scalby Road. Seven other summonses for similar offences in regard to Lily Parkinson, 17, Spreight Lane Steps; Nora Hudson, 59, Trafalgar Street West; Maggie Baxter, Stepney Cottage, Stepney Avenue; 
Laura Buck, 5, Leading Post Street; Ethel Shields, 16, Highfield; and Eliza Earl, 2, 
Seamen’s Dwellings, Castle Road.

The prosecution was conducted by Mr FG Mudford, HM Inspector under the Act, and Mr J Whitfield (solicitor) defended.

Mr FG Mudford, Inspector of Factories, said the section of the Act under which the summons was taken stated that women and young persons, except in cases where exceptions were provided, should not be employed on Sunday in a factory or workshop. The exception related to Jewish labour, but there was none here. On Sunday he 
visited the laundry and found the doors open. He gained admission, and saw that there were two calender machines working, and eight persons: seven women and one young person, were working. A statement was made to the effect that the women had started work at eight o’clock that morning, and work was still in progress when he left at a quarter to twelve. The Inspector then intimated that he would call the witnesses.

Mr Whitfield: I do not ask that witnesses be called. The Inspector has stated the facts as we admit them to be.

Continuing, Mr Whitfield said he desired to put certain facts before the Bench.

The Inspector said he was instructed to ask for a conviction in each of these cases, and be maintained that the offence was a sufficiently grave one against the Factory Acts to warrant this. If the Bench decided to convict, he had something to say with regard to a previous conviction against defendants at that Court.

Mr Bird managing director of the Snowdrift Laundries said that his firm had opened new premises in Scalby Road in order to cope with the increase in their business.

The new business premises had been more successful than they had expected, in fact they had found it necessary to order a new machine, costing between £200 and £300. The offence would not have been committed if the machine in question had arrived a day or two earlier. The facts were that one of the large hotels in the town had demanded that a certain amount of work for them must be done that day.

The firm could not cope with it without committing the offence complained of. As a matter of fact they (the firm) had since that time lost a part of the work of this hotel. They were able , under the Act, to employ their hands for 3,060 hours during the year. As a matter of fact their employees seldom worked for more than 2,415 hours. They were obliged to allow six days holiday during the year. With the exception of about eight weeks their hands only worked 45 hours a week out of the 60 allowed, and had a balance of 645 hours per year under the number of working hours permitted by the Act. Mr Bird went on to say that he was the president of the Federation of Laundry Associations. The association was taking steps to make the Shops Acts applicable, in season places, in the same way to laundries as it was to shops.

Mr Whitfield said this was one of those cases in which extra work had to be done in order to cope with the extra business of the season, and it showed the difficulties which all business people had in the rush of summer.

The magistrates said the defendant would be fined £1 in the first case, and the other cases would be dismissed on payment of costs in each case.