Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Great Bank Note Robbery ........ a pub on Hilton Street and a mystery ......... the story we left out

Now I am pretty sure that the Great Bank Note Robbery took place in the Crown and Anchor on the corner of Hilton and Port Street on June 13 1868.

The Crown & Anchor, 2016
I can’t be sure because the press reports only referred to a “beer house in Hilton Street, Port Street.”*

But a trawl of the directories throws up just two beer shops on Hilton Street of which only the Crown and Anchor occupied the corner plot with Port Street and so  it must have been there that a Mr John Rhodes of 5 Stevenson Square was robbed of £1,500.

This was a lot of money but the story seems to have remained unreported for six days, which is all the more remarkable given that June 11th seems to have been a pretty slow news day.

In Parliament the Married Women’s Property Bill which would allow married women to be the legal owners of the money they earned and to inherit property went to its Second Reading, there was an explosion at sea on a yacht off Pontefract causing the death of two sailors and away on the Continent the Federal Council of North German States asked Chancellor Bismarck of Prussia to negotiate on their behalf “for the exemption of private property captured at sea in times of war.” 

The Crown & Anchor, 1851
And here in Manchester the Corporation debated how much space to give the Gas Committee in the new Town Hall to be built in Albert Square and what measures could be taken to prevent the Irwell flooding.

That said I rather think there may have been a scandal in the making given that there was a move to “appoint a committee to inquire and report to the Council as to the truthfulness or otherwise of certain reports which reflect very much to the discredit of the Council and Parks Committee in particular.”*

All of which pushed “the Great Bank Note Robbery” off the front page and when it finally did hit the paper it was confined to page six and as given just twenty lines.

The second newspaper story, Manchester Guardian June 1868
The City Police had arrested Joseph Garner and his wife Harriet who lived in a court off Bury Street in Salford along with Hartley Tillotson and Paul Hampson.

A search of the property turned up two £5 notes while “on Tillotson £17. 15s,2d was found and on Hampson £2.2s 6½d [and] Mr Rhodes identified Harriet Garner as having been, in company with another woman, in the beer house where he was robbed.  When he (Mr Rhodes) left the house he saw Tillotson pass him.”*

Having been arrested they came up in the City Court on the 22nd but as no further evidence was forth coming the four were discharged.

And with that Mr Rhodes seems to vanish.  He is not listed in Stevenson Square in 1876 and there are no more references to the bank notes.  And he does appear an elusive chap I can’t find him on the census returns for either 1861 or ’71 and he was not in Stevenson Square much before the alleged crime too place.

When I told Peter the story we pondered on where in the Crown and Anchor the unfortunate Mr Rhodes would have sat and just how well he may have known Harriet Garner.

Of course we will never know, which is why sadly we chose not to include the story  in the book, but when you have read the entry on the Crown and Anchor you may well want to visit the pub and let your imagination flow.

And that just leave me to say that Manchester Pubs – The Stories Behind The Doors – City Centre is available  from  and the stories about how the book was written can be read by following the link A new book on Manchester Pubs,

Pictures; the Crown and Anchor and Anchor, 2016, and in 1851 from Adshead map of Manchester, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, and an extract from the Manchester Guardian, June 16 1868, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

*Manchester Guardian June 11 1868

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