Friday, 24 April 2015

A Stolen Bicycle

Bedford Picture Palace, early 1920s [BP65/52/53]

Saturday 24th April 1915: While the relationship between the people of Bedford and the Highland troops billeted in the town has generally been exceptionally good, difficulties do occasionally arise. When this happens they are often triggered by drink, as in the case of soldier Private Adam Brown who has just appeared at Bedford Police Court charged with the theft of a bicycle. Twelve year old Archibald Clark of 122, Howbury Street left his bicycle at the back of the Picture Palace last Saturday evening. The bike went missing and he next saw it in the back yard of 15 year old William Jones at Pembroke Street.

William Jones knew Private Brown, who had previously been billeted at his house although he left about two months ago and was now living in St. Cuthbert’s. The boy had met Private Brown on Monday afternoon. The soldier told him he had left a bicycle at his house because it had a puncture; he said he would call for it later that evening but did not do so. On the Tuesday morning Jones saw Private Brown again and commented that it was a good bicycle. The soldier said his younger brother had sent it from Paisley and he would sell it to Jones for five shillings. Jones suggested the bicycle was stolen, but Private Brown denied this.

Private Brown said that on Saturday night he had been in Mill Street when a man on came along with the bicycle and told him he could have a ride as he had to do some business. He waited, but the man did not return. He took the bicycle to his billet, and then later to Pembroke Street. He had intended to take it to the police but could not do so as he had to go on parade. Private Proban appeared as a witness. He said he had been out with Private Brown on Saturday 17th and they had both had a drink. He backed up his comrade’s story that a man had left the bicycle with them. A Lance-Corporal said that Private Brown was a good soldier and would soon be going abroad if he was discharged. The Chairman of the Bench considered there was no doubt that Private Brown took the bicycle due to having too much to drink. As he had a letter of good character he was discharged, but warned about his future behaviour.

Source: Bedfordshire Standard, 30th April 1915

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