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Holding court


Four magistrates’ courts before the second world war served the Advertiser’s patch.

Southwell had Friday sittings at its Burgage premises. Bingham had its own judicial centre while in Newark there were two separate courts.

Newark Borough magistrates on Mondays sat in Newark Town Hall council chamber with fit-up furniture while the county bench handled cases in Appletongate at the rear of the former police headquarters.

Quarter sessions held trial cases in Newark Town Hall ballroom with Newark’s then recorder, Mr Fitzwalter-Butler, presiding, while county quarter sessions were held in the magistrates’ Appletongate court with overflow sittings in the Tudor Hall of the old Magnus buildings.

The crime sheets of yesteryear were very different from today’s lists.

There were no drug-related offences before the war, but drinkers of methylated spirits were regular offenders. Bikes with no lights were a weekly feature.

The best known miscreant in the area was Dugan Mann. The irrepressible Dugan every December broke a shop window to enable his return to Lincoln Prison for Christmas where he had a job in the prison library.

In the borough magistrates’ court the clerk was a wheelchair amputee so he was elevated every Monday to the council chamber in the Town Hall’s service lift.

Friday’s Southwell court needed a railway journey with a train change at Rolleston.

The return train timetable enabled Newark Pressmen to enjoy a lunchtime repast in the Newcastle Arms where reports for the next day’s Newark Herald were hurriedly prepared.

While Myles Hildyard pronounced from the Bingham bench his father, Judge Hildyard, ran the civil court in Newark from Appletongate.

Newark’s mayor was the chief magistrate and tradition demanded that the first case to be heard in a mayoral year should always be dismissed.

Motoring offences were few and far between, albeit at a time when trains at Newark Railway Station were met by Robert Baxter in a cockaded top hat as he steered his horse-drawn cab past Kelham Theological College’s stationary horse and cart that was sent to collect tobacco and liquid refreshment for the cassock-clad students.

A weekly horse-drawn wagon brought shoppers from Bingham to Newark market.

Justice in those horse-drawn far-away days was very much a transparent and unhurried exercise, but the four courts were always busy.

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