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Monday, 20 August 2007

Great Yarmouth rave riot just history repeating itself?

The Sun reports today on a gang of frustrated ravers besieging a police station in an effort to free three of their number arrested earlier. Great Yarmouth should be fairly experienced in handling this sort of thing - the same thing happened one Saturday in 1792.

On that occassion, the three had been arrested after a riot in the market over food prices. The Norfolk Museums Service reports:

A number of different skirmishes occurred but eventually three of the most active of the mob were apprehended and “with difficulty” taken to the town Gaol. As they were taken the rest of the mob shortly dispersed. They were not gone for long. At about six o’clock “a very considerable number of disorderly persons, of all descriptions, again collected around the Gaol”. We do not know who or what rallied this crowd but they were brought into great uproar and soon attempted to break open the Gaol and recover their ringleaders.

“After great uproar and imprecations, the windows of the Sessions Room were broken, next they demolished the lower window-shutters and windows of the Gaol, then the two doors of the Gaol were forced by a large pole, used in the manner of a battering ram, and in the confusion, they obtained their purpose, by liberating the persons committed in the morning”.

The town officials did not allow this liberation to last for long. The Major, magistrates and principle inhabitants of the town soon arrived at the Gaol, all with staves. The swift arrival of the military effectively dispersed the remainder of the crowd. Two of the former prisoners were retaken and numbers of others were disarmed of their bludgeons and were secured. There were no lives lost in the disturbance and of the persons taken into custody six men and two women were fully committed for trial. A special session was called for Wednesday 21st November 1792. The report states that, “Thus by a timely and spirited interference at first not without danger to those who undertook it, a tumult was subdued, formidable in its nature and extent; and the fatal consequences which might have ensued were prevented.”
The yob culture was not unknown in the eighteenth century, it seems.

4 comments:

Guthrum said...

BUT we were allowed to take part in quelling the ruffians with Staves in those days, we are now advised by the idiot Minister for Police to distract the criminal fraternity by either sounding our car horns or jumping up and down (??). Give me Staves anyday

hatfield girl said...

'..the persons taken into custody six men and two women were fully committed for trial. A special session was called for Wednesday 21st November 1792.'

The Wednesday following the Saturday presumably - or did 90 days elapse without appearance before a magistrate and committal for trial and then they came up before the special session?

Raedwald said...

Carry staves in public to help quell a disturbance? Oh dear me no. The forces of law would have you banged up in a trice on an offensive weapons charge. Unless you could prove you were carrying the stave

1. For use at work; difficult, this. Few city professions call for staves these days
2. For educational purposes; again, not easy. You're not actually allowed to educate people any more.
3. For religious reasons; ah, this is getting better. Don't Buddhists carry staves? But I suppose that non-violence clause would force you to just gesture peacefully with it at the rioting mob
4. As part of national costume. That's it! Morris Men carry staves, don't they? Or shortened-down versions of them. Now where's me ribbons.....

Guthrum said...

If Sikhs can wave ceremonial swords around for religious reasons, I need my six foot oak stave for some obscure Celtic ceremony for waving around for fertility reasons. Honest Officer !