1918 Court: Woman breaks petrol order with trip to town

Helen Mary Wrigley, of Ganton Hall, was summoned at the Scarborough Police Court on Wednesday, for having contravened the Motor Spirit Restriction Order No.2.

Friday, 5th January 2018, 1:00 pm
Updated Friday, 5th January 2018, 1:00 pm

Defendant, who did not appear was represented by Mr Tasker Hart, solicitor, and the chief constable explained the provisions of the order, that after November 1st, 1917, no person should use, or cause to be used petrol, or substitute, for the purpose of driving a motor vehicle or boat, or for other purposes except as authorised. Such might be used if a permit had been granted or if the spirit had been obtained under a licence that it was necessary for business or household affairs where a journey could not otherwise be reasonably accomplished.

The point before their worships was as to whether the defendant could legally use petrol spirit for the purpose of coming into Scarborough for shopping, or other household purposes of that kind. Necessary household affairs might be held to include such shopping as was necessary to obtain food, fuel, or medical requisites which could not otherwise be obtained, but not to include ordinary shopping. PC Welburn saw the defendant driving a motor car along Seamer Road, going out from Scarborough. He stopped the car, and the defendant (Miss Wrigley), who was in charge of the car, said they had come from Ganton to Scarborough to do some shopping. They had arrived from Ganton just before two o’clock, and had been shopping since. If the constable looked behind the car he would, said Miss Wrigley, see several parcels. The constable looked and saw a number of parcels, but did not notice any containing food or medicine. That was a case of some interest.

There were a number of persons living in houses within a few miles of Scarborough who had been accustomed to come into Scarborough daily. Now that that custom had to be broken down the question was to what extent they could use the power for necessary shopping.

Mr Hart explained that Miss Wrigley, at her father’s request, had come into Scarborough to purchase goods, including necessary articles of food. He had dispensed with a chauffeur, and Miss Wrigley looked after the car, and washed it. She purchased fish, butter, cheese, and other articles of household consumption. Mr Wrigley was a Special Constable Commander in two parts of Buckrose, one being very near to Scarborough. He wrote to the chief constable of the Riding for the purpose of securing petrol for his public duties.

The chief constable laid the application before the petrol committee and recognising that Mr Wrigley was engaged in public duties they allowed him ten gallons, and recognising also that he would require some further petrol for the use of household affairs, they allowed him an additional six gallons. If Miss Wrigley had brought herself within the Order it rested with the magistrates to accept the explanation given on her behalf.

The clerk asked if Mr Hart was not going to bring evidence, and he replied that he was not – he had thought a statement would be sufficient.

The clerk: A statement is not evidence. Mr Hart said that if the magistrates wanted evidence he would have to ask that the case be adjourned for a further week.

He had asked the chief as to Miss Wrigley bringing the car in that day, as if she came by train she would have to wait from about nine o’clock until court time, 11 o’clock.

The magistrates, after retiring, said they would want direct evidence as to what the parcels contained. Even if there were necessary articles in the parcels the magistrates, at the moment, were not convinced that the journey from Ganton could not be otherwise reasonably made. After discussion of the train services from Ganton the magistrates, dealing with the case, said they took into consideration that it was the first case since the order came in, and would only inflict a penalty of £2.