Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Typical Bedfordshire Crime?

When you think about Bedfordshire occupations, straw plaiters are one of the first that spring to mind. The Epiphany Session on 1880 saw a large scale theft operation from Mr Charles Hollingsworth Hewett, a straw plait merchant. He operated from a shop in George Street, Luton and also had a bleaching and dying warehouse situated in Castle Street. Mr Hewett and his wife were never present when these dealing went on, instead having yet to arrive at the premises or having already left to take tea.

It appears, although I must say upfront most of those involved were eventually found Not Guilty, that a couple of inside men were selling off straw plait cheaply to pretty much anyone who cared to ask. A crafty system was set up between one of the shop workers, who was in charge of the inventory, and a foreman at the warehouse. The foreman would be short on the amount delivered to the shop and the shopman would cover his tracks, in return for a cut of the profits. Even after arrest, further interesting conversations took place in the yard at the police station, seeming trying to decide who was to blame.

The straw plait industry was at its peak between the 1870’s and 1880’s. To read more about the Straw Plait Industry, we would recommend the following sites.

For more information on the straw plait thefts, visit the Bedfordshire and Luton Archive and Record service catalogue - QSR1880/1/5/3 through to QSR1880/1/5/9

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