Liverpool Weekly Courier – Saturday 9 August 1919
MOB LAW SCENES
TREMENDOUS DAMAGE IN LIVERPOOL
Tremendous damage was done by bands of hooligans, who took advantage of the unprotected streets, due to the police strike, to carry out systematic looting of shops. Indeed so serious was the position that military assistance had early to be sought. In the first instance six large motor wagons filled with troops arrived from Crosby and took up their quarters at St. Georges Hall, and subsequently reinforcements arrived, including tanks, machine guns, and mounted troops, so that the Plateau in Lime Street has throughout the week given the impression of an armed camp. Unfortunately too, two men have, in the course of the disturbances, been shot, and one of these died on Monday in the Northern Hospital as the result of his wounds.
The looting began on Friday night last, and continued, despite the presence of the military, both on Saturday and Sunday evenings; and while the damage in Liverpool is variously estimated at between £100,000 and £200,000, in Birkenhead, where some 700 soldiers have been quartered, between 30 and 40 shops have been wrecked, resulting in damage estimated at between £20,000 and £40,000; and in Bootle some damage was caused, but the military quickly dispersed the crowds.
FOOTPATHS COVERED WITH WRECKAGE
In Liverpool the storm centres were in the centre and North-end of the city, especially in the Scotland road area, and scores of shop windows were smashed and the premises completely sacked, hooligans carrying away as much loot as they could, while the footpaths were covered with wreckage. The scene, indeed, was worse even than on the occasion of the anti German riots after the sinking of the Lusitania.
On Saturday night London road was cleared of the hooligans at the point of the bayonet. While on Sunday night the police made a baton charge, with the result that a number of people were injured.
Amazing scenes were witnessed in Scotland road. The troops had to fire several warning shots to keep the looters in check. Following a forced entrance into Craine’s musical emporium in Scotland road, the crowd dragged pianos into the street and thumped them. This “al fresco” concert was, however, suddenly terminated in the small hours of the morning by the arrival of the police with drawn batons.
Again on Sunday night there were riotous scenes in the London road district, and as looting was again resorted to several warning shots were fired by the military. This had but a very temporary effect, and eventually a company of soldiers were marched out from St. Georges Hall, followed by plain-clothes and special constables, who cleared London road. Later a number of loyal police in uniform, came from the headquarters in Dale street, and with drawn batons charged the crowd in London road, many people being injured. The Lime street crowds were similarly dealt with, while Islington and all the side streets were subsequently cleared.
Throughout Sunday the medical staffs of the public hospitals were kept busy owing to the number of people who had been concerned in scrimmages with the police requiring attention. The injuries sustained were not of a very serious nature, generally speaking.
The number of arrests made may be judged from the fact that over 400 cases came before the Liverpool Stipendiary Magistrate on Monday morning, and further batches of offenders were before the same court on subsequent days.
It is officially stated that the total number of shops devastated by the looters in Liverpool was slightly over 300. The police are constantly recovering stolen goods, and making arrests.
THE LIGHTER SIDE
There was a lighter side to these tragic happenings. For instance, a woman stood opposite a raided shop in Scotland road with a vase in each hand, and she cursed everything on earth above and below, because they did not match. In London road the contents of a boot shop had been heaped upon the street, and children were to be seen sitting on the kerbstone trying on the boots, and those that did not fit they pitched carelessly into the middle of the road.
Again, a woman who was arrested inside a boot shop in the same thoroughfare was alleged to have told the detective that she had not had time to find a pair of boots to fit her!
In the Vauxhall road area, where a bottling stores were raided and several cart loads of bottled beer and stout were removed after the looters had consumed to the utmost of their capacity, the enterprising offspring of the drunken marauders proceeded into the streets and sold bottles of beer at a penny a time.
BATTLESHIP AND DESTROYERS TO PROTECT DOCKS
H.M.S. Valiant, a super-Dreadnought battleship of the Queen Elizabeth class, arrived in the Mersey on Monday morning. Her displacement is 27,500 tons, speed 25 knots, and her armament consists of eight 15-inch and sixteen 6-inch guns. She carries two aeroplanes. Her normal complement is 942 men.
The Valiant is accompanied by two destroyers. These vessels have come for the purpose of protecting dock gates, pumping stations, and other vulnerable points in order that the trade of the port may not be interfered with.
ATTEMPT TO BURN LIVERPOOL DOCK
In the House of Commons, on Wednesday, Mr. Remer asked if it was true that an attempt had been made to burn any docks at Liverpool.
Mr. Short. – I am told there was such an attempt made, but it was defeated. The Hon. Member. – Are not the Government expected to arrest all fomenters of disorder.
Mr. Short. – You cannot expect the Government to arrest any person who has not broken the law.
Copyright 2002 / To date