First Stop' - 100 Years of News Stories
Star of Gwent. 3rd January, 1874
There was a rush on Boxing night to witness the pantomime, and such a rush as no entertainment of a similar kind ever caused in this town before, the thoroughfare being completely blocked by an overwhelming crowd of anxious sightseers for a considerable time. The spacious hall was crammed long before eight o'clock and many persons were unable to obtain admittance. Never before was an audience more surprised and gratified with an entertainment for though something much above the average was expected, none were prepared to witness such a gorgeous and splendid entertainment, as was there presented to them, and the feelings of the vast assemblage were shown by continuous rounds of well-deserved applause throughout the evening. It has seldom been our lot to witness a piece better mounted, and the cost of its production by Mr. Harris, the energetic Lessee, must have been enormous and that gentleman deserves great praise for his pluck and perseverance. The scenery is entirely new and is painted by the scenic artistes Messrs Stoner and Goodear, in a style that proves them to be master of their profession.
The title of the pantomime is "The House That Jack Built; or Mother Hubbard, Mother Brunch, Mother Goose, and their Comical Cat and Dog." The dialogue sparkles with such jokes, and comic allusions, provocative of laughter. The dresses are new, rich and elaborate, each dress being in perfectly correct taste and especially fitted for the character, while jewelled and plated armour, the fairies wands and other ornaments, are costly and dazzling in the extreme; the whole forming a gorgeous spectacle such as is seldom or ever seen out of London.
Owing to the indisposition of Lord Tredegar and the adverse state of the weather, and other causes, the race meeting which has usually taken place in Tredegar Park on or about Old Christmas Day, was not held this year, and the customary Twelfth Night Ball shared the same fate, much to the disappointment of not a few, who, however, are much concerned to know that the state of his Lordship's health is the cause of considerable anxiety to the members of the family and a large circle of friends.
On the occasion of the marriage of H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh with Princess Marie of Russia on Friday last, the Mayor of Newport (Nelson Hewertson Esq.) gave another illustration of his liberality by causing to be distributed to over 5000 Sunday School children of all sects in the Borough, a bun and an orange each, in celebration of the auspicious event. An address was presented to his Worship signed by some of the scholars on behalf of about 200 who attended the Pill Roman Catholic School, cordially thanking him for his great kindness towards them. The front of the Town Hall was illuminated as was also the Westgate, and one or two other places in the town.
On Polling day there was a repetition of those disgraceful scenes which seem to he indigenous to a General Election at Newport. The roughs, who like rats come out of their holes in periods of popular excitement, appeared on the scene in vast numbers, to smash the windows of unoffending tradesmen, and do other work of destruction as senseless as it was mischievous and wicked. These ruffians have in reality no connection with either political party - they work upon their own hook, giving vent to their savage passion indiscriminately, and some of them taking the chances of plunder.
The Mayor in his efforts to arrest the arm of a fellow who was throwing a stone through a window of the Town Hall, was surrounded by the mob, knocked about, and illtreated; extracting himself from the crowd, His Worship found that he had been robbed of a valuable gold chronometer watch and chain. He was energetically assisted by Mr. Wyndham Jones, Mr. John Clarke, Dr. Morgan and other gentlemen who did all they could to induce the mob to disperse peacefully; but finding that "moral suasion' had no effect on the hardened natures of those they had to deal with, the military was called out; and the mob always as cowardly as cruel was swept away like chaff before the wind at the very first sight of fixed bayonets. The police patrolled the streets, and the soldiers remained, some at the Town Hall and some at the King's Read. There was no further necessity for their services. The miserable vermin having slunk out of sight into those mysterious holes whence they had emanated.
The solemn ceremony of blessing a peal of new bells, to be used in the tower of the Catholic Church on Stow Hill, is not an event of frequent occurrence in this county, and therefore it is one in which a great amount of interest is very properly manifested. We are fully aware that great exertions have been made in the last few months under the careful superintendence of Rev. Father Richardson, of St. Marie's Church, to secure to that church a fine peal of bells for the spacious and substantial square tower. This object has been attained, subscriptions and donations have flowed in unceasingly from various sources, the industrial classes of the town and neighbourhood have willingly contributed their mite towards the outlay. The solemn blessing of the bells took place at the Catholic Church, Stow Hill on Thursday morning last by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Hedley in the presence of a large congregation. The bells are nine in number and bear the following inscriptions - S.S. Cor Jesu; Marta Immaculator; St. Joseph; St. Michael; St. Gabriel; St Raphael; Angelus Custos; Omni Sancti; Pius IX Pon Max.
We have from time to time given our renders information concerning the progress made by the Newport Tramway Company in launching their scheme fairly before the public. Mr. Walter West assured us that everything was ready for the contractors to commence work. On Wednesday last quite a sensation was caused in Tredegar Place by the presence of a gang of powerful navvies and a large quantity of shovels, pickaxes, stone etc.. The Directors of the Contract, a little before ten o'clock, set to work and cut the first sod. Afterwards the gentlemen repaired to the Queen's Hotel and cracked a few bottles of champagne and drank success to "The Newport Tramway Company."
P. Morris, T. Phillips, and S. Phillips were summoned for being drunk and using obscene language in Bridge Street early on the morning of the 6th. P.C. Longville said that he was on duty with P.C. Walker at two minutes past two o'clock on Thursday morning in Commercial Street, when they heard a great disturbance in Bridge Street, and a great deal of shouting. They found the defendants kicking a hat about the street and swearing and shouting. He said "You must stop this noise, this will never do!" T. Phillips said "Who the ---- are you? We are gentlemen's sons and you are nothing but a policeman." They again began kicking the hat about and making a great noise. "If you are gentlemen's sons behave like gentlemen, there's certain to be a complaint about this." He then caught hold of Sydney Phillips by the collar of his coat and said - "Now Sir, if you don't stop this you'll have to go to the Police Station." Morris caught hold of him (the constable) and said "What are you doing that's my cousin, let him alone." He struck witness in the breast with his fist; and then the constable struck him on the side of the head with his staff. Morris swore fearfully. He had never heard any "rough" use worse language. Mr. Phillips foamed at the mouth; he was dreadful. Morris took hold of the constable's arm and said he would rather pay fifty sovereigns than be summoned.
Mr. Davis defending said the young gentlemen had been dining out at the County Club, and they left about two o'clock. One of the gentlemen happened to fall and lost his hat which they kicked in a joking way, when a policeman came up and interfered rather roughly. If he had not interfered they would have gone to a cab which was waiting for them at the door to the Club. The cabbie had fallen asleep on his box and they were sometime waking him up.
The Magistrates consulted for some time and then the Mayor said they were of the opinion the offence had been committed, as they could not deal with the poor and rich differently, they would inflict a fine of ten and sixpence each including costs.
On Wednesday evening last the attention of a crowd of children was attracted to the peculiar movements of a little pet dog in St. Mary Street. The dog was foaming at the mouth and was very much convulsed. Believing the dog to be mad, the children were advised to get from it, but when they moved off the dog ran at one of the lads and attempted to fasten upon him. The lad managed to keep the animal at bay, until a young man came forward with a large stone, with which he terminated the dog's existence by smashing in its head.
On Whit Sunday the members of the 1st Mon. Artillery Volunteers attended a church parade. It was hoped that there would be a good muster, and considering the facilities for holiday-making and getting out of town at this time of year, no complaint must be made in this respect. There were about eighty men on parade. The roll having been called, they started from the Drill Hall in East Market Street at 10.30, headed by the band of the Corps; they marched along Dock Street, Commercial Street and Stow Hill to St. Woolos where an impressive service was held.
The Police Force has during the present week been entertained by the Mayor. His worship decided to give the men a day in the country, and in that way afford their wives and families an opportunity of sharing in the pleasures. The place elected was the Lighthouse, and as the whole force could not be spared at one time, the first half went down on Tuesday and the remainder on Wednesday. They were conveyed to and fro in drays, which started from the Town Hall each morning soon after ten. An efficient band accompanied the party and as ample provision had been made at the Lighthouse for the entertainment and amusement of the excursionists, they had no difficulty whatever in enjoying themselves.
It is currently reported from friends who have been permitted to see the accused man, Gibbs, committed on the charge of wilful murder of his wife, Sarah Ann Gibbs, that he intends, if possible, to destroy himself and the strictest watch is kept upon him. On one occasion he tore one of the sheets of his bedding to hang himself to one of the bars of his prison cell, he also had endeavoured to dash his head against the wall with sufficient force to cause material injury. Failing in these attempts, he seeks to starve himself, and refuses almost everything that is set before him. He has become, in consequence, very weak and emaciated.
Since the days of the Chartist Riots and the trials of the traders of that rebellion at Monmouth, nothing has occurred in the criminal records of the county to cause such extraordinary excitement, as the discovery of the decomposed body of Sarah Ann Gibbs, and the trial of James Henry Gibbs for the wilful murder of his wife. The news of this atrocious and abominable crime has penetrated to every hamlet and home, not only in this, but also in adjoining counties. For weeks past the chief subject of conversation amongst every class of the community has been "The horrible murder at St. Mellons." The culminating point in this awful tragedy will be reached today, when in accordance with official arrangement at eight o'clock this morning, the St. Mellons murderer will expiate his crime on the gallows within the walls of the County Gaol at Usk. But little public sympathy has been manifested for the prisoner. All who have carefully read the evidence given at his trial, feel satisfied that the verdict of the jury was the only one which they could have in justice returned. No effort has been made to secure a reprieve. During his incarceration the prisoner has shown no signs of contrition, and to the last has asserted his innocence, notwithstanding the consideration of the prison chaplain, who has been most kind and assiduous in pointing out to the prisoner the enormity of his crime, and the consequence of passing away from this life unrepentant and unforgiven. The unhappy criminal has heeded little to the admonition of the learned judge in passing sentence.
Fifteen years have elapsed since a public execution has taken place in the county. Although crimes of an atrocious or even murderous character have been more or less frequent in Monmouthshire, yet the crime of murder has not been proven within her borders for the period stated. The last execution was at the County Gaol, Monmouth, when Matthew Francis the labourer, formerly a tailor was hung for the murder of his wife at Pilgwenlly, Newport. Although arraigned at the March Assizes in 1859 the trial was postponed until the Summer Assizes. It is a singular coincidence that this prisoner was found guilty of the murder of his wife; that he cut her throat with e razor and that he was tried and sentenced to death on the very day on which Gibbs was condemned, and that the execution took place on 23rd August in that year.
Eight years elapsed between this and the previous execution. In 1851 Abel Obens, a licenced hawker, was tried, in conjunction with a paramour Eliza Dare, for the murder of an illegitimate child, which they drowned in the mill pond near the side of the Mill Street Station of the Monmouthshire Railway. Some time elapsed before the murder was discovered. Both prisoners were found guilty, and Obans paid the penalty of death upon the gallows, whilst the woman had her sentence commuted to transportation for life.
An atrocious murder was committed in 1849 when Mrs. Lewis, an aged woman, living at Nant Coch Farm, on the Bassaleg Road, was attacked on the highway as she was returning from Newport Market. Two Irishmen, named Sullivan and Murphy, killed her outright, and her body dragged inside a hedge. She had but little plunder, and yet her murderers left the few coppers Mrs. Lewis was known to have in the pocket underneath her dress. They were shortly apprehended, and the watch of the much abused victim was found on one of the men. At their trial both prisoners maintained the stolid hard-heartedness which they exhibited in the treatment of their victim, and died unrepentant and asserting their innocence.
The previous year 1848 Matthew Kelly, a private in the 14th Regiment of Foot, then quartered at Newport Barracks, deliberately shot his sweetheart named Agnes Hill, prompted it was shown, by groundless feelings of jealousy. He was known to be attached to the unfortunate girl, yet in a moment of jealousy shot her dead. At the investigation before the Coroner the prisoner was present, and asked to kiss the stiffened corpse as it lay in its shroud. He was found guilty, and suffered the penalty of his rash deed at the hands of the common hangman.
In 1841 William Rees was found guilty of the murder of Mary Moxley at Chepstow, and there is no doubt that he justly paid the penalty of his life, according to the law, for taking the life of an unoffending woman.
The large railway gates, at this very dangerous level crossing were run into and smashed by the down express on Saturday night last. The up-mail and a goods train had passed through, and the gates were closed. The man in charge believed the down express to be five minutes late. The train made up her time between Chepstow and Newport and dashed through the gates. The debris was soon cleared away. It was very fortunate that no person was crossing the iron road at that time.
The trial of the new line between Tredegar Place and Pilgwenlly was made on Thursday last. At one o'clock one of the cars was drawn from the car shed erected on Friars Fields, to the terminal portion of the line outside the Queens Hotel, and there awaited the arrival of the directors of the Tramway Company and a few friends. Upon the sides of the car were printed the words "Bridge Street, The Docks and Pilgwenlly." The company already have two cars and more will be received from the makers shortly. Of light draught and by no means unsightly in appearance they have been constructed to hold sixteen persons each inside and there is no knife-hoard. The cars are each drawn by one horse with much greater ease than one would imagine, and a ride in them is attended with much comfort and convenience.
Those who traversed on the trial ride, expressed themselves as much pleased with the journey, and whilst speaking very favourably of the line, wished every success to the new undertaking. Alighting from the car, the Company repaired to the Queens, where luncheon was provided and which all thoroughly enjoyed.
The public will regret to hear that Lord Tredegar has been suffering
from a somewhat severe cold for several days. We are glad to be able to
announce that no fears are entertained for his recovery.
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First Stop' - 100 Years of News Stories