1917 court: Cycling school mistress in collision with her pupil

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At the Scarborough County Court before his honour Judge Lock, Gladys Howlett, an “infant”, sued Miss Maud Fanny Edeson, school mistress, 7, Park Avenue, Scarborough, for £5 damages sustained by the plaintiff in consequence of injuries received through the negligent riding of a bicycle by the defendant.

Mr J Whitfield, solicitor, was for the plaintiff, and Mr Tasker Hart, solicitor, was for the defendant.

Mr Whitfield said the girl, Howlett, was 13 years of age and attended the Gladstone Road School. On the 12th July, as she was leaving school, she was crossing the road at the bottom of Wykeham Street bridge at the Wykeham Street side, towards her home, and when only two or three inches from the opposite kerb she was knocked down by a bicycle ridden by the defendant.

By the Judge: The cyclist was going down the hill, and was coming up behind the girl.

Mr Whitfield, continuing, said Mr Henry Lloyd, who had a shoemaker’s shop at 90a, Commercial Street, and Wykeham Street, saw the accident, and he would tell the judge that the cyclist was going down the slope of the bridge too quickly, that she sounded no bell, and gave no alarm. She was the “on coming traffic,” and if those facts were established he submitted she was responsible. The claim was made up for damages to clothing, doctor’s fee, and cost of extra nourishment.

Replying to Mr Hart, Mr Lloyd said he rode a cycle. He should think Miss Edeson, at the time, was going at a speed of twelve or fourteen miles an hour, although it was difficult to estimate the speed. She was very near the kerb. Witness had not seen her ride carelessly, apart from going down the bridge too fast. Witness, on this occasion, neither rang the bell, so far as he could hear, nor shouted. Had she rung the bell he thought he would have heard it. The cyclist was about two feet from the kerb, and the girl was nearest the kerb.

Mrs A Robinson, 65, Hampton Road, said no bell was sounded. The cyclist was going far too quickly. The teacher and cycle fell on top of the girl.

Gladys Howlett, the child, said she never heard a bell or shout, or any warning to get out of the way. She didn’t remember what Miss Edeson said, when the latter got up. A girl, Edna Pearson, assisted witness, and she (witness) went to sit on the railings near the Post Office.

By Mr Hart: Witness looked round, before crossing to see if there was any traffic and she could see none. On the following day witness was out to see the doctor - it was about a fortnight before she was well again.

Defendant, in the box, said she had been a teacher at the school nine years. She had ridden a cycle down the bridge many scores of times. On the date in question children were all over the street, and witness rode ordinarily. She was free-wheeling down the slope, at under six miles an hour.

She saw the child when witness was at the top of the slope. Witness rang the bell continuously after leaving the school. She noticed that the child would run into the cycle and witness called: “Look out!”

She expected the child would stand still, but instead of that the child went in front of the cycle. Witness put on both brakes so that at the moment of the impact the machine was nearly still. Had the child paused when she called out she would have cleared her easily. She could not go behind the girl as there were some boys there. Witness fell, her coat torn beyond repair, and she was otherwise injured. The child got up, and witness asked her if she was hurt. She replied what witness thought was, “No.” The child’s dress was torn and dirty, and witness was in the same state.

Witness, proceeding, said the child’s mother saw witness at the school in the afternoon, and the mother accused witness of deliberately knocking child down. Mr Underwood then advised her to say nothing.

Mr Whitfield intimated that his client did not contend it was done deliberately.

Mr Hart; The Teachers’ Union only wished to have the teacher’s character cleared.

Asked by the Judge why she did not stop witness said there was no need, she did not get off because people were crossing the road.

Mr Hart said it had been intended to do something, and the Union would doubtless not have defended the action had not the serious charge by the child’s mother been made.

He thought about 30s would cover everything.

The Judge said the charge being withdrawn Miss Edeson would be satisfied.

As to the case proper, it was practically undefended. Miss Edeson should have stopped in time.

The Judge found for plaintiff for two guineas.