Wednesday, May 23, 2012

History Corner: 1912 Nunhead Tragedies

A hundred years ago, the Old Nun's Head pub was the scene of a bitter inter-family dispute. The story in the South London Press was headlined 'Nunhead schoolgirl's escapade - Publican's daughter's trip to Southend on stolen coppers' (SLP 26 April 1912).

In the children's court at Tower Bridge, twelve year old Nellie Hazell was 'charged by her mother with stealing 20 shillings in coppers from the bar... Mrs Hazell stated that on April 15 she missed four 5s bags of coppers from the bar, and on the same day Nellie did not return from school. On Saturday she heard that Nellie had given herself up at Southend-on-sea'. A few weeks previously she had apparently taken a trip to Hastings in the same way.

The consequences for Nellie were serious. The Magistrate recommended that she be remanded 'with a view to the girl's committal to a school'

Death in police custody

Shortly afterwards another resident of Nunhead Green died in police custody.  Alfred Lockyer (33) 'a carman of 13 Nunhead Green' was arrested for being drunk in charge of a furniture van outside the Duke of Cambridge pub in Hooks Road, Peckham.

Taken to Peckham police station, he was found in the evening to be 'insensible'. His father had come to bail him out, but was refused permission to see him. The Divisional Surgeon ruled that he was 'fit to remain in the cells'. The next morning, a doctor was called for again and Lockyer was moved to Camberwell Infirmary where he died from a fractured skull.

The cause of the injury was not established, and the Coroner refused permission for an acquaintance of the dead man to speak; 'The jury returned a verdict of Accidental death, and added that no blame attached to the police. Lockyer's father complained that the affair was 'shocking' ('Nunhead Man's Death in a Cell', South London Press, 24 May 1912).

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