Posts tagged: Wind Street

Aug 14 2012

The Extraordinary Child

Let us consider the great Monsieur Chouville. A showman without a doubt, determined to bring thrills to the eager public of Swansea, starved as they had been of top-quality and spectacular entertainment.

This was June 1858. There was no need for a large and grainy TV screen displaying inaccurate weather forecasts to the discerning crowds in Castle Square, not with Monsieur in town. He was perfectly in tune with the needs of his audience.

He took a shop where he exhibited what he described as an extraordinary child. Strangely the reporter for the local newspaper, the Cambrian, was less impressed and, frankly, rather dismissive. He said it was merely a youth with a little unnatural hair on one side of his face. To be honest, it does seem a bit unkind. Surely it was more than that. This was  a youth ahead of his time. Go down Wind Street on a Saturday night and you will see that The Extraordinary Child could in fact have been a stranded time traveller.

The respected people of Castle Square objected to the public nuisance caused by Madame Chouville bellowing all day long, inviting those starved of entertainment to come inside and see the child.

The police prosecuted. Madame had become a major irritant. She apologised on behalf of her husband who could not speak English and promised that the exhibition would close on Monday, after which they would presumably give the poor youth a proper shave.

In such circumstances the case was dismissed on payment of 6s costs.

And thus, sadly, an early chapter in the thrilling history of public entertainment in Swansea came to a close.

 

Note

I came across this story whilst researching the story of a policeman who stole a table napkin for my book Murder and Crime in Swansea which will be published in 2013.

Apr 09 2012

A new blog has been added!

I thought it was about time. I have added a new piece to the Blog. I have been busy researching for my next book – Murder and Crime in Swansea – and I keep coming across interesting and unusual stories so I thought that it was abou ttime that I started to collect them together. Eventually this new title will have its own website where such material will be stored, but until then I shall place them here. The first one – Go Home. You know you want to –  is about nineteenth century Wind Street….

Apr 09 2012

Go Home. You know you want to.

This is a story from September 1866 and it concerns an incident on Wind Street. Nothing unusual there you might think. But wait.

Catherine Williams, the wife of Lewis Williams, was standing at the bottom of Wind Street minding her own business entirely. She was with a pal of hers and it was ten minutes to midnight. Time to go home you might think. Certainly someone else thought so. Catherine was suddenly grabbed and pulled around. She was punched in the mouth and told to clear off home. Her chum was hit as well. Unfortunately it was a policeman who hit them. Well to be honest he wasn’t really a policeman. Yes he was acting as police man due to staff shortages and he was wearing the uniform, but he hadn’t yet been enrolled. He wasn’t a policeman at all.

Catherine ran to another policeman who directed her to the police station. Her mouth was bleeding. I am an unfortunate girl wailed Catherine. Well she wasn’t alone in that, since three other women turned up to complain too.

The constable was sent for. His name was William Armstrong and he was drunk and was unable to speak. Not perhaps the start to a glittering career that he had hoped for. He does not appear to have been offered either counselling or retraining. He was convicted and sent to the House of Correction with hard labour for two months.

It was certainly not the sort of incident that would encourage public confidence in nineteenth century policing. You can understand that. After all, when you were out on Wind Street late at night,  it must have been disappointing to find out that the long arm of the law had a fist at the end of it.

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