24 December 1904
Once again Christmas time has come round, with its holiday
amusements, its social engagement, its parties, and pantomimes,
its festivities among the well-to-do and its charitable
treats among the ill-to-do, its Christmas boxes and New
Year's gifts, its tradesmen's bills and imperial
its short, dull days and long, chilly nights; its frost
and fog, or sleet and snow; its red hazy sun low down
by day, and its clear moon high up by night; it religious
observances and customs savouring little of religion;
its waits and wassails , it early communions
and late watch-night services;
its bazaars and sales of work, and Christmas trees; its
artistic cards, received and sent by post, wishing the
compliments of the season; its plum puddings and mince
pies; its fat geese and plump turkeys; its mighty roast
beef, and delicious roast pork; its bright red and white
berries enlivening the dark green foliage of the holly
and the mistletoe; its festoons and mottoes suitable to
its bright shop windows dressed up to attract and please
the eye, with brilliant colours which help to dispel the
gloom; with dainties never more indulged in that at this
period; with toys of all sorts and sizes for the delight
of guileless children who value them most of all because
dear old Father Christmas takes such a singular course
in conveying them to his juvenile friends;
its Christmas carols, and hymns, and tales, and poems;
its draws and raffles for a duck or Christmas
hamper; its long and short journeys to the old homestead
by road, rail, or sea, sometimes with the accompaniment
of disaster, from which we hope all may escape this year.
Many other happenings make Christmas replete with interest
and enjoyment besides those here enumerated at random;
and, as usual, we heartily wish all our readers a merry
Christmas and a Happy New Year.
THE MISERABLE FOG
It seems as if fog is going to be the chief characteristic
of the present winter. Before this we have had frost and
fog, snow and fog, rain and fog; then, after some storms,
a time of mild and agreeable weather. Now we have apparently
come again to the beginning of a similar cycle with frost
and fog, after which we may again have snow and fog, then
rain and fog, then a few blusterous days, and then some
fairly good weather.
These fogs are neither agreeable in prospect nor in actual
experience. They are in some respects a bigger nuisance
than a heavy fall of snow in our large towns. All traffic
is disorganised. The electric cars, which cannot be seen
a few yards away, go slowly past, ding-donging, hardly
making more progress than the led horse which for a moment
emerge from obscurity and as promptly disappear from view
We have not often been plagued with a fog so persistent
and all pervading, and of such particular density. The
whole country is evidently being served alike in the matter.
The description of London experiences reads much the same
as the experience in Manchester. Vehicular traffic, all
except the slowest, is absolutely suspended; railway trains
are running hours late, or cancelled, and only keeping
in motion at the momentary risk of some unforeseen disaster.
Among the most common and melancholy accompaniments of
these fogs are fatalities happening through unwary wanderers
on the banks of our numerous canals taking one false step
and falling into the water. It is extraordinary that so
few are able to recover themselves when they have dropped
over. A little presence of mind in such an emergency might
suffice for most of the victims to rescue themselves.
Another thing for which these detestable fogs are abhorred
is the suffering they inflict upon the helpless people
whose lungs are affected. The foul atmosphere, a compound
of sooty and aqueous particles, is wholly unfit to be
the breath of life, and becomes the death
However, the sun will shine again by and bye and revive
those who have been drooping under the gloomy infliction
at this the most dark and dismal period of the annual
round. Scientific men have a good deal to say about the
cause and cure of these meteorological phenomena, but
instead of things getting better they really appear to
be growing worse and worse.
ASHTON AND DISTRICT
The question of the hour in all parts of the country,
and discussed by leading local men and statesmen, is that
of the distress occasioned by slack employment. The fact
that poverty, with all its attendant miseries, is amongst
us in a greater degree than usual is admitted beyond argument.
The fog and frost have added greatly to the need of help
to tide over a bad season, and give a little cheer and
comfort to many homes in which it is so pitifully lacking.
We all know there are great numbers of families who in
time of employment are living just above the margin of
want. There is, and there can be, no reserve for bad times,
which when they come, as they have done, mean misery,
hunger, and wretchedness.
In his appeal to the public the Mayor says: I have
ascertained, as the result of very careful inquiry, that
there is an amount of poverty and suffering to justify
me in making a public appeal for further funds.
On Page 5 we publish particulars of a Penny Fund which
we have introduced to our readers. The small contributor,
who like Shakespeare's Rosalind would say I
would give more, but that my purse lacks means,
can thus in an easy manner show his practical sympathy.
The Penny Fund has the good wishes of the Mayor and his
Relief Committee. Since this committee includes gentlemen
who, like Mayor BRADLEY, are thoroughly acquainted with
the conditions it is desired to relieve, the money will
be administered in the wisest possible manner.
Christmas Day, happening on Sunday, will
mean that Boxing Day Monday will be observed locally as
a general holiday. All the cotton mills will close on
that day, by virtue of the agreement made between the
Masters' and Operatives' Associations, as
will all those engaged in other trades.
The various tailoring establishments have put out notices
that they will close Monday and Tuesday, whilst the Ashton
Grocers' Association notify the public that they
will close only on the Monday. They recognise that closing
all day on Tuesday would mean the public being precluded
from obtaining provisions for three days. The question
of victuals is an important one at this season of good
cheer, and the grocers are, of course, the principal caterers.
Poulterers and butchers will necessarily remain open all
the time, with the exception of Christmas Day, as it is
their harvest, no table being complete at Yuletide without
the good old English roast-beef, prime fat turkey or goose,
nicely served, although we fear a great many will be denied
the latter luxuries this Christmas through not having
recovered from the recent trade depression.
Perhaps the best opportunities of enjoying Yuletide are
afforded to those in connection with the day schools,
which closed on Thursday evening last until January 9th,
a period of over a fortnight. Whatever other grievances
they might have, the teachers certainly have the best
of the bargain in the matter of holidays.
The various railway companies will close their goods stations
on Monday except for deliverable perishables. The Ashton
Law Association has recommended the solicitors of the
town to close their offices on Monday and Tuesday.
MR REVILL'S CHRISTMAS PANTOMIME
Mr REVILL's annual is to be presented next Monday
afternoon (Boxing Day) at his theatre, Oldham-road, Ashton.
Its title is Little Bo-Peep, the Milton
Rays Company being responsible for the production. It
has been in active rehearsal during the whole of this
week, and we expect its sponsors will see that it is completely
ready for critical judgment on the first performance.
Milton Rays have a reputation for good comic pantomime,
and we are assured this one will add to their lustre.
The artistes have been carefully chosen, and we may safely
leave the dressing and mounting to the professionals hands
to whom they have been entrusted. We are told first and
foremost very funny; that its music and lyrics, comic
and otherwise will be catchy and taking; and that for
spectacular display, scenic beauty, and grandeur it will
out-rival any panto of past years.
Of the merits of individual members of the company as
fun-makers there is no doubt. The capabilities of mummery
and grotesque absurdity which comedians of the type and
talent of Messrs Harry ELLISTON, Jack HALTON, W.G. WESLEY,
H.V. MORGAN, T. HILL, W.A. REID, A.P. HOLLAND, A. HEMINGWAY,
and the Bros. ELTON, can bring to bear is sufficient guarantee
of the quality of the pantomime.
A CHILD'S SINGULAR DEATH AT
The Ashton police have been apprised of the death under
singular circumstances of Dorothy Irene MELLOR, aged 13
months, daughter of Mr George Edward MELLOR, grocer, 57,
Audley-street, Cockbrook, which took place about 2.15
on Tuesday afternoon. The child was well and hearty up
to a few months ago when she began to suffer from teething
and diarrhœa. There was a temporary improvement,
but about six weeks ago she again commenced to suffer
from the teeth.
Dr McCARTHY, of Stalybridge, was called in and prescribed
for the child who appeared to improve. Early on Tuesday
morning the child appeared to get restless, and on Tuesday
afternoon the father went to Stalybridge for Dr McCARTHY.
While he was away the child became convulsed and died
on her mother's knee before the doctor's arrival.
DEATH FROM BURNS AT THE ASHTON INFIRMARY
Dukinfield Woman's Sad End
The police were apprised yesterday (Friday) morning of
the death which took place at the Ashton District Infirmary
at one a.m., of Norah Maria WOOD, aged 42 years, wife
of George WOOD, sawyer, 397, Higher King-street, Dukinfield.
Deceased fell downstairs two years ago, since when she
had suffered from dizziness. She again fell downstairs
six weeks ago, breaking her arm.
She was in the house alone on the 19th inst., when a neighbour
named Mary HOWARD heard screams, and on going into the
house saw the deceased leaning against a set of drawers,
her jacket bodice in flames. She wrapped a rug around
her and put out the flames, and several men gave assistance
and applied linseed oil and limewater to the burns. She
was examined by Drs BOOTH and MILLER, and ordered to the
infirmary, where she died as stated.
REMARKABLE ASSAULT ON AN ASHTON P.S.A.
The Result of a Kindness
Details of a remarkable assault were unfolded to the Borough
Magistrates at Ashton Town Hall on Saturday morning when
a seafaring man named Samuel CROPPER was charged with
assaulting Mr James BOND well known as an adherent of
the Ashton P.S.A. Society and editor of the P.S.A.
From the evidence given it appeared that on Friday night
about 7 o'clock Mr BOND was walking down Wellington-road
when CROPPER approached him and enquired the way to Katherine-street.
Mr BOND pointed the way. CROPPER retorted that he didn't
believe him, but Mr BOND behoving him to be a stranger
assured him that it was the right way. The man, however,
grew abusive and struck the complainant in the face.
At this juncture Constable DIXON appeared and took the
man in custody. I consider I was very badly repaid
for my kindness remarked Mr BOND. – Prisoner
pleaded guilty and said: I am very sorry; I apologise."
– The Chairman commented on the brutal manner of
the assault and pointed out that it was entirely unprovoked.
The magistrates were unanimous in committing CROPPER to
hard labour for a month.
SOLUTION OF RELIGIOUS DIFFICULTIES
IN ASHTON SCHOOLS
The religious difficulty in connection with the Ashton
Secondary School has been satisfactorily overcome by the
drafting of a scheme of religious instruction of an undenominational
character acceptable to the various denominations represented
on the Borough Education Committee.
Oil has also been thrown upon the troubled waters in regard
to another religious question. For 40 years or more the
Rev. T.B. DIXON, vicar of St James' Church, has
regularly attended at the day school on the Church festival
days, numbering about ten in the year, and accompanied
the scholars to the special churches at the church.
The Board of Education recently sent a circular letter
to the inspectors of schools not to sign a time-table
unless the local education authority gave their approval
– withdrawing children from school to receive religious
instruction in churches during school hours. Consequently
the Ashton inspector would not approve such a time-table.
The matter was discussed at the meeting of the General
Purposes Committee of the Education Committee on Wednesday
night when expressions of the great respect entertained
for the Rev. T.B. DIXON were voiced, and were no doubt
important factors in the decision arrived at, which was
that the festival days should be set out on the time-table
of the school; that the parents should thoroughly understand
what days were set apart during the year; that religious
instruction in the church must be given between 9 and
10 a.m., and that on these days the school open only at
10 a.m., so that the children of Nonconformist parents
would not be under the necessity of attending school before
According to the Government regulations the attendance
for secular instruction must not be less than two hours
so that by this arrangement the case has been amicably
met. The practice is not in operation at other Church
of England schools in the borough.