Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Luton Woman Abuses Stallholder at Bedford Station

Bedford Midland Road Station c.1905 [Z1306/10/41/22]

Wednesday 17th October 1917: Agnes Hitchens of Albion Road, Luton, has appeared at the Bedford Police Court, where she was summoned by Archie Kaufman, a Jew of British nationality who carried on business selling hats in the Arcade, Bedford. On September 3rd he was in the refreshment room at Bedford Station when Mrs. Hitchens dropped a book. As she picked it up she said, “I always drop my book in front of a German”. A few minutes later she came up to him and struck him on the shoulder, announcing several times that he was a German and ought to be strung up. He went out and spoke to a policeman but Mrs. Hitchens continued her complaints.

Mr. Kaufman told the court that he and Mrs. Hitchens had held adjacent stalls in a number of markets. When questioned he said that she had never complained that he showed indecent literature to young women in railway carriages, and he had not insinuated in the waiting room that she was a low, common woman. Another gentleman – a complete stranger to him - had thrown whiskey and soda over her after she spat in his face and called him a “dirty German” too. He denied that he himself had thrown the whiskey over her. A waitress at the restaurant agreed that the whiskey had been thrown by an unknown gentleman, who she believed to be an American, and not by Mr. Kaufman, who had ignored the woman until she followed him down the room, struck him lightly on the shoulder and charged him with being a German.

Although Mrs. Hitchens’ solicitor argued that she was in fact the injured party, and that having whiskey thrown in her face and over her clothes was much more serious than a tap on the shoulder, the Bench considered that a technical offence had been proved. Mrs. Hitchens was fined ten shillings, and the Chairman pointed out that the use of such language in a public place might have led to a serious outcome.

Source: Luton News, 18th October 1917

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