Jarratts Buildings - The Community

Roll of Dishonour - Boys will be Boys

In the cramped and sometimes overcrowded conditions in the houses at Jarratts, little wonder that mothers sent boys outside to play. Before they were old enough to be involved with games such as pitch and toss, there were other forms of mischief. A few of their misadventures were reported in local newspapers.

June 1859

William (12) and Benjamin Winder (10), John Harper (10) and John Mann (9) were amongst a group of six boys who took a quantity of large stones to a private plantation in Worsborough. They threw the stones at buntings, a type of beetle that lived in the tree, doing damage of at least £5 to six oak trees and a number of sycamores and beeches. Damages of 12s were claimed in court, and awarded against the young culprits. This would have meant parents paying 2s for each boy’s actions. The case would have been brought and the damages claimed to incentivise parents to keep their sons under control.

November 1867

Several boys were playing with an old, rusty cannon, which they loaded and attempted to fire. The body of the cannon shattered and Joseph Pickering (8) received a serious gash on his knee from the flying debris. Three other boys were knocked over by the fragments. Meanwhile, in No 54, a boy named Gawthorpe, (probably Joseph, 8), stepson of William Winder, was burnt around the hands and face, when a quantity of gunpowder he was playing with at home caught fire. Miners were not supposed to take their own gunpowder to the pit, but this story demonstrates that some miners did have a personal supply.

November 1876

A vendor of benzoline visited the site weekly. Around bonfire night he was supplying his customers at the fifty four when some mischievous boys threw a cracker at the horse. The frightened animal raced away, wrenching the shaft from the cart and causing some containers to spill their contents. Fortunately, no light came into contact with the combustible liquid.

October 1898

Joseph McQuillan (11), Samuel Fallis (11) and George Fenton (12) were amongst a larger group of 9 -12 year-olds taken to court for having done wilful and malicious injury to a dwelling house wall. They had been playing bounce ball against the gable of a house in nearby Clarkson Street, causing plaster in the joints of the brickwork to fall out. Playing bounce ball against that gable had become a nuisance as there was a notice displayed forbidding this activity. Nominal damages of 1d per defendant were claimed as a warning to others, but when the mothers of the boys said they would stop this practice, the magistrates dismissed the case.