Some Brompton Stories from Chatham News
CN 28 3 1903: Notice of auction by Kidwell and Son at Bull, Rochester 28 4 03. Freehold property – Victoria Works, Westcourt St Old Brompton lately in occupation of Lowe, Fletcher & Hulme, printers bookbinders and stationers. Brick-built, slated, iron sashes throughout. 4690 ft floor space.
CN 24 2 1906 (Summary with quotation) Chatham Police Court Monday: Alfred Cook, 43yo painter, 34 Upper Luton Rd Chatham charged with keeping a brothel 37 Middle St Old Brompton. His wife Annie, 36yo, carrying an infant in her arms, charged with assisting in the mismanagement of the same on Feb 7th and other dates.
“Police Sergeant Tilley gave particulars of what he had discovered on visiting the house at midnight. He paid three visits, cautioned the defendants each time, but the condition of affairs did not improve. Police Constable West corroborated.
Mary Knowles, one of the young women found in the house, said she had used the house since the 1st of January. She went there ‘out of kindness on the part of Mrs Cook’, as she had no home. The male prisoner suggested the course of life she should lead. She was a respectable girl till she went there.
Lucy Irwin, another girl who was found in the house, gave evidence and stated that she paid Mrs Cook the money for the room.
Philip Carcas, boot maker of 35 Middle Street Old Brompton said he had a family of eight children and he had been subjected to much annoyance through having the misfortune to live next door to the prisoners. The place had been very respectable up till last Christmas, but since that time, there had been scenes after eleven o’ clock at night. He had seen hundreds going in and out of the house.
The male prisoner said he had been a householder fourteen years, and had never been in the court before. He commenced by emphatically denying the charge and concluded by expressing his sorrow for what he had done.
The wife pleaded not guilty.
His worship said it was a very bad case, and fined the man £10 and costs; in default of payment, he was removed under sentence of two months’ hard labour.
The female prisoner was only fined one shilling without costs, and the Magistrate said he hoped it would prove a warning to her. The shilling was paid by prisoner’s mother, a respectable looking old lady, who seemed to feel the disgrace of her daughter’s position acutely”.
CN 30 6 1906 (Summary) Elizabeth Harris (65yo) and Phyllis Harris (35yo), both of Wood St Old Brompton charged with brothel keeping. PC Tilley visited house 15 June with PC Townsend and Inspector Bennett (NSPCC). They found evidence of house being used for such purposes on various dates. Women accompanied by men entered. Evidence was given by women who had used the house for immoral purposes.
Elizabeth Harris said she had lived there for 25 years – no complaints before. Denied house used for such purposes.
Magistrate said house was watched for some time. He couldn’t believe she didn’t know what was going on. But he was convinced she wasn’t so much to blame, so nominal penalty of 1/- plus costs.
Phyllis’s character was well-known and Inspector Mount said there were previous convictions, so fined her £10 plus costs or 6 weeks in gaol.
ECONOMY OF OLD BROMPTON
CN 6 7 1907 (Quotation) “The trade of Old Brompton seems to be in alarmingly low water. At the present time there are nearly a dozen shops to be let in the High Street. And those which are open are very seriously hit owing to the hard times.
It is very different to the old days, when Old Brompton was the shopping centre for Gillingham, and when the old Court Leet used to assemble at the Golden Lion for its annual breakfast, followed by a public dinner at the same house in the evening, the intervening business meeting being held at the Manor House – the ‘Five Bells’. Assuredly, the times are changed for Old Brompton.
There is no doubt the advent of the trams has proved anything but a help to trade there. But the businessmen of Brompton are an optimistic body, and they still look forward to brighter times.
Despite the falling off of trade, however, the postal business at Brompton continues to be considerable and it has been found necessary to remove the post office from its present inadequate premises – the little shop with its two dangerous steps at the entrance – and on Wednesday next, Mr Sub-Postmaster Seaton will rejoice in quite a commodious office on the opposite side of the road at the premises formerly occupied by Mr Hammond”.
By “Will Adams” (Charles Leeds).