Watch Theft from Pelham Arcade
In January of 1875, three teenage boys, James Ellsdown (17) of 17 Priory Street, Frederick Gower (13) of 6 Dorset Place and George Stephens (13) of 1 Victor Place were brought in front of the magistrate (Mayor G. A. Thorpe charged with the theft of a number of watches from Edward Moor's shop in the Pelham Arcade by a daring means utilising a rope tied to a beam adjacent to one of the skylights which was found to be open - the light having been closed the night before. Further examination of the premises revealed that a back door leading to 7 Pelham Crescent was also open. A cabinet had been forced and several watches were missing. In addition, the counting house attached to the premises were in disarray. Calling Sergeant Wood of the Police, it was disclosed that five watches to the value of £20 4s were missing. Ellsdown had previously been employed as an errand boy, but left without notice a couple of days previously. One of Ellsdown's duties had been to secure the doors and windows at the end of business which were then checked by Edward's son, and coincidentally the key to the back door had gone missing - Ellsdown denying any knowledge of its whereabouts when asked. A new lock was then fitted to this door.
Sgt. Wood first called at Ellsdown's house, but James was not there so he went to 6 Dorset Place [the reasoning for this is not in the newspaper report]. There he found Ellsdown in a back room and when asked about where a watch in the possession of Mr. Veness (who Gower lodged with) had come from, James replied that 'Ted gave it to me'. Taking custody of the watch, Sgt Wood went to Grant's Coffee House in Pelham Street where Gower was found. Upon asking Frederick about the watch, the reply was given that 'That is not the one', both boys then stated 'We all had one - us two and Stephens; we were all in the arcade together.' When Sgt. Wood pressed Gower about the location of the watches, he was told they were 'buried in a field'. Gower then led him to a shaw at the top of Trinity Place owned by Mr. Brisco. Upon removing a disturbed patch of sod, another four watches were uncovered wrapped in a cloth. The case was then remanded until the following week upon the application of Mr. Glenister.
At the resumed hearing, Mr Veness testified that Gower had arrived home late on Wednesday in the previous week, in the company of Ellsdown. Gower asked Mr. Veness if Ellsdown could lodge there also, giving a false name of 'Johnson' for his companion. Because 'Johnson' (Ellsdown) was not known to Mr. Veness a watch alledgedly Ellsdown's was handed over as security for the rent, to be returned when payment was made over the weekend. When Mr. Veness was given the watch he remarked on how new it looked only to be told that it was at least a year old. When asked as to the price of the watch, Ellsdown gave several prices, eventually settling on £2 or £3. When Sgt. Wood arrived, the watch was handed over to him.
Sgt. Wood was next to give evidence and he stated that he saw three young men resembling the three in the dock walking down Castle Street in the direction of the Memorial about midnight on the previous Wednesday, but none of them were known to him at that time. The housekeeper of 7 Pelham Crescent then gave evidence that the door had been secured the night in question, but was found to be open in the morning. Due to lack of evidence against Stephens, he was acquitted, however Ellsdown and Gower were committed for trial at the next quarter sessions and were led down, sobbing bitterly.
Features in Priory Street
References & Notes
- Historic Hastings by J.M. Baines
- Cite error: Invalid
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- British Newspaper Archive Hastings & St. Leonards Observer 23 January 1875 Pg. 0006