Thursday, 9 August 2012

from Bicycles to Tricycles

Maybe unsurprisingly we’ve come across yet more Bedfordshire bicycle, or in this instance, tricycle crime.  This time in the Epiphany session of 1889.

Luton Detective William Chamberlain was perusing the Police Gazette one evening when he read details of Jacob Josh wanted in Kings Lynn for the theft of a piano.  The same man was also wanted in Huddersfield, Rugby, Portsmouth and other places for stealing tricycles.  Chamberlain went round to warn the local cycle agents and ascertained that the prisoner had visited 2 other cycle agents before being allowed to borrow a tricycle from Albert Trott, a jeweller and cycle agent of Waller Street Luton. 

Chamberlain hired a horse and trap and went to St Albans with Trott where they came across the tricycle in the yard of The Cock public house.  They watched the prisoner go into the bar and Chamberlain followed and entered into a discussion with Trott about purchasing the machine for £2.  An arrest was made, although the prisoner became violent and said he refused to be taken to prison alive.  Interesting he confessed to the crime at this stage, although later pleaded not guilty to the charge.  He was tried at the General Quarter Session of the Peace at Wakefield, West Riding, York and sentenced to 6 months hard labour.

Another interesting element to the case was that Josh was described in the Calendar of Prisoners (QSR1889/1/3/1) as an Engine Driver.  In fact the 1881 census described him, at just 16 years, as an Engine Driver.  However, records available via suggest although he did once work for the railways, it was for a period of 2 months as a labourer.  It would be fascinating to know if he did have a further career as a driver; it would certainly explain his travelling tricycle crimes.  However in the October of 1890 Jacob Josh is again convicted of larceny, this time in Warwick.  He was considered insane and confined to the County Lunatic Asylum.  So possibly his interest in tricycles and trains were all part of his psychosis.


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