Ashton Reporter

19 May 1888

A nice way of puffing a meeting.

For several days prior to Saturday a good deal of interest had been excited by reason of an announcement that a meeting was to be held near the White Hart, and to be addressed by Archibald Vicar.

Some weeks ago an inquest was held at Whaley Bridge concerning the death of a woman named Jodrell. A correspondence was started in the local papers, and one of the persons taking part in it dated from Prestwich, and signed himself Archibald Vicar. For a time it was thought that the name was fictitious, but this idea was dispelled by Vicar himself turning up and expressing his intention of addressing a public meeting on behalf of the Social Democratic Foundation.

Many persons believed that enough had been said as to Dr Allan’s connection with the case, and it was broadly affirmed that Vicar would receive a warm reception. The police had, of course, heard of the matter, and it was feared that a riot might take place. The meeting was announced for 6.30, and as no one arrived by the train immediately before that time answering to the description of Archy, it was believed that the whole affair was about to end in smoke. A few minutes, however, before the time, a young man with rather long locks, and carrying a paper parcel under his arm, turned into the lobby of the White Hart and asked for the loan of a chair. By this time a large crowd had gathered at Bridge End, and as the chair was carried to a convenient spot, the people good-humouredly gathered near.

The chair having been placed in position, Inspector Gray, of Chapel-en-le-Frith, went up to Vicar and drew him aside, and the next moment Vicar was engaged in writing something on a slip of paper, which he handed to the officer – presumably his address.

Vicar then mounted the chair, and said that he had seen from a local paper that two bands were to be engaged to upset the meeting, but he felt sure that nothing of the sort would take place. Most present would be aware of the reason why he was there. He saw a report of an inquest in the newspapers, and as he came up to Whaley Bridge occasionally, he took an interest in it. (Uproar.)

He would ask them what they would think of him, if whilst walking along their river, and he saw a child drowning if he made no effort to save its life? -- A voice: “That is quite different. Another, “Thoust going to come down.” He understood, however, that there was going to be another doctor come to the place. – A voice “He’ll be of no use if he comes. Another person called out “You cannot get any further.”

The speaker said Mr Colles had thrown out a challenge, and he was prepared to accept it, if he would secure a room. -- A voice: “Thou has cheek enough” and to pay his share of the cost, but at the same time he must object to Mr Butterworth being chairman, because he would be blamed for the meeting. (A voice: “We have some good doctors here already.”) The speaker than left the subject of the local case and was attentively listened to.

Mr Wiliam K. Hall, of Pendleton, also addressed the meeting upon the advantages of socialism.

Mr Vicar said another meeting would shortly be held, and an attempt made to establish a branch of the federation at Whaley Bridge. There were many branches in various parts of the country, but as yet there were none in Derbyshire, so that the Whaley Bridge people would have the opportunity of being the first to join the organisation.