Jarratts Buildings - The Community

Roll of Dishonour

For a large part of its existence, Jarratts Buildings had a reputation for being a troublesome place. Although a tiny number of residents committed serious breaches of the law, most of those who found themselves in court faced minor charges. Several of these represent a clash between the prevailing middle-class values of godliness, sobriety and thrift, and the harsh working environment and the overcrowded living conditions that were endured by workers in many communities. Sometimes the individual in court seems to have been a victim of circumstances, rather than causing harm to anyone.

Picture of Courtroom
Typical 19th century Courtroom

I have included the Roll of Dishonour for the insight it offers into the values of the time and the detail of daily life that has sometimes been recorded. It is split into

Bad Language

Drunk and Disorderly




Boys will be Boys

The information is sourced from newspapers. Whilst I am sure that there will have been similar cases that were not reported, Jarratts was home to over 2,000 individuals over a century. Placed in this context, the number of residents who faced at least one day in court was low. Noticeably, the same names tend to crop up time and time again, which suggests that whilst there may have been a few difficult families or boisterous individual, the majority of residents were law-abiding.

The cases included in these six sections are a selection over time and show the types of conduct which were happening, the attitude of magistrates and the reporting style of newspapers. Gambling appears to have been carried out by males only and it was rare for a female to be summoned for drunkenness. Women were regularly involved in bad language and violence.

The police brought some charges, but others were brought by aggrieved individuals. Some of the cases of bad language and violence were essentially arguments between residents which had got out of hand and where the person who had come off worst in an encounter, then seems to have taken the matter to court in what was effectively an extension of the quarrel.

I have met or been in contact with former residents of Jarratts from the 1930's onwards, who have confirmed that the sometimes dark reputation of Jarratts stemmed from poverty. Its bad reputation was not deserved and it was not was not a reflection on the character of the people who found themselves living there.