LOOK BACK IN TIME: 14 April 1888

The Isle of Wight Observer of 14th April, 1888 carried two reports from the magistrates’ court which caught our eye this week.

One summons was for reckless riding of bicycles, which was dismissed. Elsewhere in the paper there are two letters bemoaning the widespread problem of dangerous cyclists and the police not taking the problem seriously enough.

The other made us smile as the magistrates were not fooled by the unlikely explanation given for a broken gate.

How very different from the court reports these days!


Alfred Gundry, of Elmfield, and Harry Hillier, were summoned for riding their bicycles at a dangerous pace down Union-street, on Sunday, the 1st inst. – P.C. Dennis saw defendants with their legs off the pedals of their machines going down Union-street at a very rapid rate, about 6.30 in the evening. – Hillier contended that he had perfect control of the machine, and turned in safety into Pier-street, which he could not have done if he had not full control over his machine. – Gundry said he lost control over his machine through the saddle becoming loose. – The case was dismissed, the defendants being cautioned not to offend again.

George Brading, labourer, of Weeks’, was charged with damaging a gate, the property of George Woodnutt. – It appeared that on the evening of the 4th Mr. Woodnutt was in his garden, when he head the snapping of some timber, and ran around to the gate of a little meadow in his occupation, about 150 yards away. He met George Brading and another with some wood on their backs. As soon as the men saw him they dropped the wood and ran. Woodnutt, however, overtook Brading, who was the worse for drink, and very abusive. – Brading now stated that he did not do the damage, but as he was coming along the road he fell over the gate, which had been pulled down by some one else. He took up the gate and was carrying it to its rightful owner when he met Mr. Woodnutt who only abused him. – The Bench found it rather difficult to believe this ingenious explanantion, and fined Brading 5s., and costs, and ordered him to pay the damage, 12s. 6d. altogether; in default seven days.