Any old iron!

Hertfordshire Mercury, January 1914


At Cheshunt and Waltham Cross Petty Sessions, Albert Smart (43), of Albert Road, Waltham New Town, a blacksmith, and Cecil Goard (33), of Queens Road, Waltham Cross, an engine driver, were charged with being concerned together in stealing and receiving from the City Foundry, Waltham Cross since 1st November 1913, 30 sheets of corrugated iron, valued at £2 5s, the property of Thomas Bramham.

Mr Blackwell, barrister, appeared for the prosecution.  The accused were not represented.

Det Sgt Bishop said that he had received a communication from Mr Bramham in December 1913, as a result of which he started making enquiries about certain articles believed to be missing from the foundry.  On 3rd January 1914, he had found 11 corrugated sheets at 136 Eleanor Cross Road.  He saw there a man named Dixon and, in consequence of what was told him then, he called Mr Bramham and showed him the 11 sheets which Mr Bramham identified as being his property.

Returning to the foundry, Sgt Bishop saw Smart and told him that he was making enquiries regarding a quantity of corrugated iron and tools that had gone missing from the foundry during the past few months.

“I am told”, added Sgt Bishop, “that you sold 11 sheets of corrugated iron to Mr Dixon of Eleanor Cross Road.  Where did you get them from?”  After some hesitation, the accused replied “I may as well clear matters up”.  After then being cautioned, the accused added “It would be about a month ago when I told George Goard, the engine driver, that we had some sheets of iron, and so I asked him to get a van and take them round to my place in Albert Road.  We put them in my back garden.  It’s quite right.  I did sell some to Dixon, and I paid Goard 15 shillings as his share.  I also paid the carman 1 shilling.”

The accused was then detained in the office.  Goard was called in and was advised as to what the accused had said.  Goard said “What he says is correct.  I got the van, we loaded the sheets together, we took them to his house, and put them in his garden.  I paid the carman 1 shilling.”

The accused was then taken to Cheshunt Police Station.  Sgt Bishop returned to 5 Albert Road and, on the roof of the fowl house at the bottom of the garden, he found a further 12 new sheets of corrugated iron.  The defendants were both subsequently charged.

Charles Matthews, a carman from Waltham Cross, said that he had known Mr Goard for many years.  On Monday, 17th November 1913, he had met Goard close to Waltham Cross railway station.  Mr Matthews had been asked if he could move some corrugated iron to Albert Road.  Thus, on 19th November 1913, the carman had called at the back gates of City Foundry where there was a quantity of corrugated iron.  It had been between 5.30 and 6.00 p.m.  Both of the accused were there and they loaded the van.  He could not say how many sheets were loaded, but he thought it was between 25 and 30 sheets.  He took the iron to Albert Road where he saw Smart and another man who he did not recognise.  When the iron was unloaded, he was given 1s 6d and he then went away.

George Dixon, a master baker, said that about a month previously, Smart had called to see him at his premises and had asked him if he could do with some corrugated iron.  Mr Dixon told him that he was not in need of it, but when the accused said “I have a few sheets to go at 1s 3d”, the witness had said that “They might come in handy some time”.  A week later, when he was in his garden, Mr Dixon had found 12 sheets there.  When he next saw the accused, he gave him some money and thought he had paid him 14 shillings or 15 shillings altogether.  Subsequently, Sgt Bishop called and took the sheets away.

Thomas Bramham, of the City Foundry, said that, on 31st December 1913, he had had the corrugated sheets counted and checked, and had found that some were missing.  On 3rd January 1914, he had gone, with Sgt Bishop, to Dixon’s yard where he had seen 12 sheets and which he had been able to identify as being his property.  He valued the sheets as 1s 6d each.  The 24 sheets recovered he valued at 36 shillings.

The accused both pleaded guilty.  Smart, who expressed his sorrow, said that he had been in the trade for 23 years and had never been in a court before, and that he hoped that this might help the Bench to deal leniently with him.  Goard expressed his contrition and also asked for leniency.  The Bench, however, fined both defendants £3 or a month’s imprisonment.

The prisoner Smart was further charged with stealing, since 1st April 1913, from the same foundry, one portable forge, one anvil, about 3cwt of steel tools, about 1/4cwt of tongs, and about 5 cwt of bar iron, bolts, nuts and washers, all valued at £12, all the property of Thomas Bramham.  Sgt Bishop said that, on 3rd January 1914, after having arrested Smart on the previous charge, he had gone to his address at 5 Albert Road, Waltham Cross.

At the bottom of the back garden, he had seen a freshly made gate that led into the rear garden of the next house, No 7.  In the garden of No 7 there was a shed, rented by Smart, in which Sgt Bishop found the portable forge.  The shed had been fitted out as a blacksmith’s shop.  Other articles that he found were a blower, an anvil, about 2 cwt of steel tools, about 2.5 cwt of iron tools, about 3 cwt of bar iron and steel short ends, about 10 or 12 lbs of bolts and nuts, and 1/4 cwt of blacksmith’s tongs, all of which were produced.

The tools produced all had the letters “HB” stamped on them, and Mr Bramham identified all of them as being his property.  It was all taken to Cheshunt Police Station where Smart was called out.  Having been told where the goods had been found, Smart said “Some of them I made myself at home.  A lot of the iron I have had for a long time”.  When the charge was later read out to him, the accused said “Haven’t you made a mistake with the tongs?”  When the accused was searched, a packet of screws and nuts was found in his waistcoat pocket.  Mr Bramham also identified these as being his property.  When asked to account for these the accused said “Someone must have put them in my pocket for a joke”.

Mr Bramham, cross-examined by the defendant, said that he had only been with the foundry since October the previous year.  He had been able to identify the forge by its framing, but that he could not definitely swear that the forge had been in the foundry, but only that a similar one had been, and that he had noticed that it had been missing.  Other tools were also similar to ones he had noticed as being missing.  Mr Bramham was asked if he could specifically say that he had seen these actual articles in his foundry since his appointment in the October, but he was able to confirm only that he could only positively identify the files.  He said “I have seen similar articles”.

The Clerk said “That won’t do.  We must have someone here who can say when he actually saw the goods in the foundry”.

The Bench agreed to an adjournment for a fortnight, the accused being allowed bail in the sum of £5, and one surety of £5, which was forthcoming, the guarantor being Mr Dixon.

This page was added on 05/09/2014.

Comments about this page

  • Some of the dates on this article are reading 2013 and 2014 ? Should they not be 1913 and 1914 ?

    By Brian S (08/09/2015)
  • Yes – thanks. I’ve changed them.

    By Hilary K (12/09/2015)

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