1918 court: Boys dealt a bad hand for playing card game

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Robert Duncan (16), errand boy, 2, Castle Terrace;

James Blackman (15), errand boy, 47, Princess Street;

Edmund Matson (16), bottle washer, 45, Quay Street;

Joseph Grimer (16), errand boy, 15, Potter Lane;

Wm Reynolds (16), labourer, 5, The Bolts;

Joseph Bielby (16), porter, 2, Clarke’s Yard, Princess Street, were summoned at the Borough Police Court for gaming with cards in Potter’s Yard, Potter Lane.

The magistrates on the bench were the Mayor (Mr CC Graham), Alderman Rowntree, Mr AJ Tugwell and Mr J Sinfield.

All pleaded guilty to playing banker.

The chief constable (Mr H Windsor) said on Sunday PCs Moore and Taylor kept observation of the youths being placed on cards and there was no doubt whatever that they were gaming.

Having watched them sufficiently long the police took possession of the cards and 3½d in money which was on the cards.

Blackman was bound over for shop-breaking in 1916 and stealing eggs in March, 1917.

There were no previous convictions against any of the other youths, who were all given good characters.

The chief constable said this kind of Sunday afternoon entertainment was a thing the police wanted to stop. These boys would get into mischief on Sundays.

They worked all right during the week but on Sundays they spent their time playing cards or annoying people. He (Mr Windsor) intended to bring every case into court.

Only that morning he had received a complaint from the Borough Engineer of damage done to Corporation property.

It was a matter of great seriousness that youths should go about doing this damage.

Mr Barratt, Probation Officer, said he had visited Blackman several times during the past year and found he was behaving well both at home and in his business. He was sorry to see him there that morning.

He had apparently not profited by the advice he got.

The magistrates retired, and on returning the mayor asked each defendant whether he was prepared to give up the objectionable practice of gambling in a public place. They each replied in the affirmative.

The mayor said under these circumstances the magistrates would this time impose comparatively light penalties.

It was a very objectionable practice and a wrong thing to do. The youths appeared to work steadily during the week and it was a very great pity they could not put their Sundays to better use than gaming.

He hoped they would do better in future. Blackman would be fined 7s 6d and the others 5s.

William Bielby, another youth, labourer, 16, Friars Gardens, was summoned for discharging missiles in the Castle Dykes to the danger of passengers. He pleaded guilty.

The chief constable (Mr H Windsor), said the police counted 14 stones which defendant threw.

Twenty small children were playing within range of the stones.

There was no previous record against defendant. He was one of numerous boys who did not seem to know what to do with themselves on Sundays.

In fining defendant 5s the mayor said a very great amount of damage had been done by boys like himself to other people’s property. If moderate fines did not put a stop to it, heavier penalties would be inflicted in future.