Thursday, 26 October 2017

Some thoughts on child neglect and drunkenness in Ramsgate, a bit of a ramble, a few old photos

My day off today, which often means in practice that instead of selling people books in the bookshop, I go out buying them, so today I went to Deal and bought some books.

I was going to go out for a walk in Ramsgate this evening but it is drizzling and not very inviting outside, so I have just sat down at my desk and shuffled through some old local pictures, trying to find some for today’s blog post.

The first one was this one of Ramsgate Marina Lift, this is the lift that we used to use to go down in for a swim.

I think it’s pretty obvious that the lift was built in 1908 and as the swimming pool didn’t open until 1935, the lift obviously wasn’t built so we could get to the pool.

I think the lift closed in the late 60s and the swimming pool in 1975, realistically victims of changing times here in Ramsgate that were brought on by entirely different holiday expectations.   

Here in the bookshop we sell Terry Wheeler’s excellent book about the Ramsgate Lifts, but I’m not in the bookshop at the moment and while I remember that there is was something about the opening of one of the Ramsgate lifts and an argument at the council about how some aspect of the lift had all gone wrong I just can’t remember the details or even which lift it related to.

I went on line to try and find out but found a very different article from the 1916 East Kent Times. Having published Cockburn’sDiary, which is an account of daily life in Ramsgate, this is is a period that particularly interests me.  

"A sordid story of a woman's neglect of her children was revealed at the Ramsgate Police Court on Thursday morning, when Annie Elizabeth FAIRES, the wife of a quarter-master sergeant serving at the Front was sent to prison for three months with hard labour. 

The defendant, aged 29, whose address was given as 22 Broad Street, was charged with having neglected her six children in a manner likely to cause them unnecessary suffering and injury to their health on August 9th. 

The ages of the children are May Lily Emily, 11 years; Irene Alice, 10 years; Dorothy Elsie, 9 years; Annie Ivy, 8 years; Mary Louisa, 5 years; and George, 3 years. 

Mr J H ROBINSON, solicitor who appeared to prosecute on behalf of the N.S.P.C.C., briefly outlined the career of the defendant prior to calling Inspector G L SUMMERFIELD, of the N.S.P.C.C. 

The Inspector told the Bench that he had had the defendant under observation for a considerable period. She formerly lived in Alexandra Road. 

The children were well nourished, but were ion a verminous condition and the house was poorly furnished and dirty, particularly the bedrooms and the beds in which the children slept. At that time the husband, who was a quarter-master sergeant, was on the Western Front, and the defendant received £2 4s. 8d. per week as a War Office allowance. 

She began to drink very heavily leaving the children alone. She remained out until late hours at night and frequently had sailors and soldiers in the house. 

A single women of bad character who also took men in the house stayed with her. In a closet in the room where they slept were sixteen empty beer bottles and several whisky and port wine bottles. There were other beer bottles in the cellar, in all something like thirty. 

He severely cautioned the defendant pointing out to her that if she continued her conduct she would render herself liable to lose her War Office allowance and her children would be taken from her. 

He had paid many subsequent visits to her home, and on October 30th was accompanied by Detective - Sergeant DUFF, of the Ramsgate Police, who had warned her in consequence of the visits of the sailors to her house. Detective - Sergeant DUFF, served her with a notice from the Naval Authorities placing her house "out of bounds". 

On November 22nd Detective - Sergeant DUFF, and himself again visited her and found the children alone. Later in the evening they found the defendant in company with another bad character drinking at a public house. On the following day when the witness saw the defendant, she informed him she had drawn no war Office allowance for two weeks. Two days later she told him she had received some five franc notes from her husband. 

On December 28th, the inspector saw the two parents together, when the husband who was home on leave, appealed to him to give the woman another chance. The defendant promised to turn over a new leaf and her husband expressed the hope that she would get away from the other woman so that the children should not go without food. 

He added that if she "went all right" for three months he would try and get the War Office allowance restored. On January 8th this year the inspector found she was drawing 16s 6d. per week from the War Office allowance for the children alone. During the same month the husband informed him he had sent the defendant 21s. and on January 19th he learned that the woman was receiving £1 18s. 6d. per week as an allowance from the War Office. 

On paying several visits to her house subsequent to that date he found improvements, but on April 20th he had to warn her in regard to visits to public houses. Six days later Detective - Sergeant DUFF, accompanied him to the house when the former spoke to her in regard to night visits to certain steam vessels when she had left her children alone for a lengthy period. On May 20th witness found the children's heads were in a very bad condition on account of knits, and on a visit nine days afterwards at four o'clock in the afternoon he failed to get an answer to his knocks on the door. He heard a child in the front bedroom and saw one of the children lean out of the open window. 

Failing to get a reply on going to the back entrance, he went into the house, and on proceeding upstairs found the defendant fully dressed lying on the bed in a drunken condition. On a chair alongside were a quart jug and a bottle which had contained beer. 

A child on the bed required attention and he attended to it until the arrival of the elder children from school. In June the defendant removed to a house in Hillbrow Road, and witness saw her and another woman in the streets late at night, the children being left alone in her absence. 

On the 7th of the month Detective - Sergeant DUFF, served another notice on her from the Naval Authorities. She later appealed to witness to give her another chance, saying that if her husband became aware of her conduct he would not forgive her. 

When she removed to Broad Street in July she had another woman living with her, and during that month Detective - Sergeant DUFF, and himself found the pair drinking at a public house. On going to the house he found the children's heads in a dirty condition and becoming thick with knits. The defendant herself appeared to be suffering from scabies and after examination by a doctor the removal of the children to the workhouse was advised. 

The defendant expostulated against that being done, saying that no one would take her children away from her, adding that if they did she would "take her dying oath that she would do them in and herself too". The children were removed to the infirmary. 

Evidence was given by Dr DUNWOODY that when he was called to the home of the defendant he examined the children and found them fairly well nourished but their heads were in a verminous condition. The woman herself was suffering from scabies in a very morbid degree, and it was only a question of time for the children to catch the disease. 

He was of the opinion that the children ought to be taken away from the woman. The children in his opinion were very nice youngsters and if brought up in a different way might tread a good path in life. Detective - Sergeant DUFF, said that he first came into contact with the case in October last, when the woman was brought to his notice by the Naval Authorities on account of a certain matter. He added that the defendant appeared to be one of the most troublesome and worst characters in the town. 

Chief Constable S F BUTLER told the Bench that the defendant had been convicted by the Court in April this year. In passing sentence of three months' hard labour, the Chairman (Mr H H GREEN) remarked that the evidence had disclosed a very shocking and revolting condition of things in regard to the children. 

The woman had a good husband and an excellent allowance in his absence, so that there was no excuse whatever for her disgraceful conduct. Inspector SUMMERFIELD told the Bench that the children would remain in the workhouse for the time being. He added that he was in communication with the husband to ascertain the location of relatives to whom the children would probably be sent. 

The Chairman expressed the opinion on behalf of the Bench that the case was a very proper one to be brought before them, adding that it was their opinion that the woman was not fit to have control of the children. The prisoner left the Court in tears."

The next picture is of Ramsgate Marina Swimming Pool and must have been taken around the time it opened in 1935 as the temporary dam and railway track laid for the construction is still there.
I think the photo was a contact print so it expands very well and I have cropped a bit out of it and marked the temporary dam to keep the sea from the construction with an arrow.

This dam would have been made from rolled steel that joins together and is put in with a pile driver, it is often used in roadworks to support the sides of deep holes.

 In this next picture, going from left to right you can see The Pav, then through the railway station that later became the main Pleasurama building and the on the right 1 Granville Marina.I would guess the date as being around the beginning of WW1 

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