Paddle Steamer Theft


In many respects the 1950s may very well have been a golden, tranquill and safe age particularly when viewed through the rose tinted spectacles of memory but it was not a period entirely without its difficulties or its crime as the following press cutting from 4th September 1957 about a theft aboard the paddle steamer Monarch (pictured above centre, sandwiched between the Embassy (left) and the Emperor of India alongside Poole Quay in the early 1950s) suggests:



"Wednesday: Before Mr R W Poultney (chairman), Mrs R I Stay, Mr G F Mapp. Harold Lewis Thompson (52) hotel worker, of no fixed address, was remanded in custody until September 10 on a charge of stealing 5 15s 7d from a till on board the pleasure steamer "Monarch". Det Con Cutting said that as the ship was about to tie up at Bournemouth, the barman left the bar, leaving the defendant - who was the only customer- in it.

The key was left in the door and soon after the defendant was seen to leave the bar. The barman found the key and others on the same ring were missing from the door, and, on examining the till, found between 5 and 6 in notes and silver had been taken. He saw the defendant standing on the deck near the bar door and saw the missing keys near his feet. The defendant was detained on board and the police were summoned.

Some crumpled 1 notes and some loose silver were found in his raincoat pockets, said a witness. When the defendant was charged, he replied "I don't remember the incident"

Oh dear - a silly, sad opportunistic case involving what was doubtless a silly, sad, opportunistic man possibly the worse for drink. I can't find a subsequent report of what eventually happened to him, if he was convicted or not. But I like his defence. "I don't remember the incident your honour" which is almost in the same class as the immortal words of the slippery Pooh Bah: "I wasn't even there"!


Another shot of the Monarch, here laid up in her winter berth in the 1950s in theBackwater at Weymouth.

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