Old Ledbury - The Plough Hotel

The Plough Hotel

The Plough Hotel - 74 The Homend

Ledbury Guardian Newspaper 19 09 1914
MYSTERIOUS DEATH AT LEDBURY
SCENE IN A LEDBURY PUBLIC-HOUSE;
FOUR MEN AFFECTED - IS IT A CASE OF POISONING?
INQUEST ADJOURNED FOR ANALYSIS TO BE MADE
 
On Wednesday the Corner for South Herefordshire (Mr. J. HUTCHINSON) and a jury, of which Mr. W. L. TILLEY was foreman, were engaged for three hours in the investigation of the death of Harry ANSELL, a polisher, of Birmingham, who had come to this district for the hoppicking. There is a considerable mystery surrounding the man's death, and the inquiry, which was held at the Ledbury Police Court, was adjourned for three weeks for an analysis to be made of the man's intestines. The deceased was of a party of four men who came to the town on Monday afternoon from Bosbury, where they had been hoppicking. In the evening the men were found by the police in the Plough Hotel apparently helplessly drunk, but it was subsequently discovered that the men were ill from some cause or another. After attention three of the men recovered, but ANSELL proved to be so ill that he died on Tuesday morning, despite every possible attention given to him by the police and two doctors.
The first witness was Joseph ANSELL, 146, Old Knoll Road, Small Heath, Birmingham, who said he was a polisher by trade, and the body the jury had seen was that of his brother, Harry, who was also a polisher. He was about 35 years of age. Witness had not seen his brother for two months. Until last night witness knew nothing about the case. Deceased was in some measure addicted to drink. It took a great deal, however, to upset him, because he always ate so well. He was a single man.
William GREEN, 37, Dean Street, Birmingham, stated that he was a licensed hawker. About a fortnight ago he went to Cold Green, Bosbury, for the hoppicking, and the deceased came with him. Witness and the rest of them got their food from the village, each one getting his own. Witness in company with several others left the farm on Monday afternoon about one o'click (sic) to come into Ledbury There were four of them, and they walked along the main road. They did not stop anywhere before they got to Ledbury. They did not eat any berries off the hedge on the way along. Ledbury was reached about three o'clock. Their first stopping place was the Seven Stars, where they had a quart of beer between the four of them. They had not had any beer before three p.m. that day. At the Seven Stars they also had some bread and cheese and pickled cabbage, leaving there about 4 p.m. They then all went to the Talbot Hotel.
In reply to the Coroner, witness said the bread and cheese, etc., was fetched by John SMITH from one of the shops across the road.
Proceeding, witness said that at the Talbot they had another quart of beer between them. Witness left the Talbot first, and left his three companions in there. He believed this was all the drink they had at the Talbot. Afterwards, they procured baskets for blackberry picking, and intended to return to Bosbury, but on the way up the Homend they called at the Plough Hotel. Here they again had a quarter of beer, which was served them by a young lady. The Plough was reached about 6 p.m. There was a pint of beer on the counter when they entered the house, which the deceased poured in their cup.
The Coroner: You did not feel bad after drinking the beer which was poured into your cup? - No, not at the time.
Were you all sober? - Yes.
The Coroner: What happened after that? - I remembered nothing then until Tuesday morning, when he found himself in the police cells.
The Coroner: Did anything come over you? - It might have done. Something came over him a few minutes after the beer at the counter was poured into their jug, of which they all had a drink. He could not account for the state they were in.
Did you notice any difference in the taste of the beer after the pint was put into your jug? - No, I did not.
In reply to the Foreman, witness said they did not have any tea, only the bread, cheese and pickles. He did not notice any of his companions getting sleepy whilst they were in the Plough. He thought he went off himself first.
In reply to Dr. TROTTER, witness said he and his companions were not in the habit of chewing tobacco.
Superintendent WILLIAMS said it was about 6.45 p.m. when the landlord of the Plough sent a message to the police-station in regard to the men.
The next witness was John SMITH, general dealer, of no fixed abode. He confirmed the evidence given by the previous witness with regard to the visits paid to the public-houses mentioned. At the Plough Hotel they only had a quart of beer, in fact, he did not remember finishing that. When they entered the house there was just over half-a-pint of beer on the counter, which the deceased emptied into the quart jug. Soon after this incident he lost consciousness and remembered nothing more until he found himself in the police cells. The beer in the pint cup was "flat," and they had nearly finished their quart when it was poured into the jug. The last witness left the Talbot before the rest of them, and when he came out he remarked that he was not feeling very well. The man was quite sober. They had nothing to eat or drink between Bosbury and Ledbury.
Arthur JONES, basket maker, of no fixed abode, next gave evidence of a corroborative character. He stated that he felt alright in himself up to the time the beer in the pint cup was put into the quart jug. Witness had some of the beer. He did not notice anything peculiar about the taste of it, and thought they were drinking pure beer. Subsequently he lost consciousness, but he could not say how long afterwards. They were all sober when they went into the Plough.
Replying to the foreman, witness said GREEN certainly looked queer after they left the Talbot, and he went and laid down near the pens in the market.
Answering a juror, witness said he believed deceased had some bread and butter and tea for his breakfast that morning.
Edith BENNETT, barmaid at the Plough Hotel, said she did not recognise the men who had just given evidence, neither could she remember supplying four men with one quart of beer on Monday afternoon. She was not in the bar when the four men fell down and did not remember hearing anything about them being in the bar. She knew Mr MARKS went for the police, but she did not see the men. She went off duty about 6.30 p.m. At that time there was no one in the bar. She had no recollection of serving four men with a quart of beer, or of a pint of beer being left on the counter. It would be against her conscience to say she remembered serving the men with the beer.
In reply to Supt. WILLIAMS, witness said she left the house about half-past six. There was no one in the bar when she left the house.
Supt. WILLIAMS: Did you not ask Mr. MARKS a question about the four men being served.
Witness: I cannot remember anything about the men. Neither did she have any recollection of a pint of beer being left on the counter.
Ernest MARKS, landlord of the Plough Hotel, Ledbury, said he remembered the 14th inst. Whilst he was there four men came into the bar between 6.30 pm and 6.35 p.m. At that time the last witness was off duty. When the men came to the house he told them he did not want them, shut the door, and walked into the smoke room. He told the men this before they had time to ask for anything. One of the men appeared to have had enough to drink. Witness thought the man he objected to was the deceased. The men were not served with any drink by witness, or by anyone else to his knowledge. Witness was solely in charge when the men came to the house. When witness refused the men he went into the smoke room thinking they would have gone out, and when he returned to the bar he found, to his surprise, the men still in the bar, one of them being seated. Witness at once went for the police, which was about ten minutes to seven, when he found he could do nothing with them.
In reply to the Foreman, who asked a question with regard to the cup of beer on the counter, witness said that when he went into the bar the counter was clear. There was no pint cup or quart jug on the counter.
Dr. Leslie TROTTER, medical practitioner, Ledbury, stated that he had made an external as well as a post mortem examination of the deceased. There were no recent external marks on the body, and nothing to account for death. He first saw the deceased about 11.30 p.m. on Monday night, when witness went to the Police Station in company with Dr. GREEN. In the cells he saw four men lying down, three of whom were unconscious, including the deceased, whose condition appeared to be worse than that of the other men. Witness gave all the men an injection with a view to making them vomit. With the exception of the deceased all the men were sick. Witness cleared out the deceased's throat, mouth, and nostrils, as much as possible, because his throat seemed to be choked up with a nasty green substance. His condition was so bad that the man appeared to be on the point of dying. There was a strong smell of alcohol. The man was subsequently taken to the hospital, where the man's stomach was cleaned out. The other men did not take up a great deal of attention. The man passed away at 11 a.m. on Tuesday morning. Witness made a post mortem examination. The man appeared to be well nourished. His air passages contained a certain amount of green material. Both his lungs were seriously diseased, and of long standing. His heat was fatty, and the stomach contained the same green material, as also did the small intestines. All other organs were healthy. The man's brain contained no evidence to account for his sudden death. It was impossible from what witness found, to state the cause of death. At the same time, if the deceased's general condition had been better he would probably have survived.
The Coroner: Would any analysis throw a light on the subject?
Witness: A chemical analysis may throw some light on the cause of death. Samples had been taken of the contents of the stomach, with a view to an analysis.
The Corner said he did not think they could go any further with the inquiry that day. He certainly thought an analysis was necessary, and he would take the necessary steps for one to be made.
The jury agreed, and the inquiry was adjourned until October 15th.
GREEN, SMITH, and JONES, were subsequently brought before Mr. S. H. BICKHAM and charged with drunkenness, but in view of the fact that they had been locked up since Monday, they were discharged.
 

 
Ledbury Guardian Newspaper 17 10 1914
MAN'S MYSTERIOUS DEATH AT LEDBURY
INQUEST RESUMED
THE JURY'S VERDICT.
The mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Harry ANSELL, a polisher, of Birmingham, who had come to this district for the hoppicking, were again inquired into yesterday (Thursday) when the inquest which was adjourned a month ago for an analysis to be made of the deceased's organs and contents of the stomach, was resumed. The analysis threw little light on the exact cause of death and the proceedings on Thursday were of short duration. It will be remembered that ANSELL was one of a party of four men who came into Ledbury from Bosbury where they had been hoppicking. In the course of the afternoon the men visited several public houses in the town and in the evening they were found by the police in the Plough Hotel. To all appearances they were helplessly drunk, but it was subsequently discovered that while the men were undoubtedly suffering from the effects of drink they were also ill from some cause unknown. After attention three of the men recovered, but ANSELL proved to be so ill that he died despite every possible attention given to him by the local police and two doctors. Such are the facts surrounding the affair as reported in a previous issue of the "Guardian."
 
THE RESUMED INQUIRY
At the outset of the proceedings the Coroner said the jury would recollect that the inquiry was adjourned last month for the purpose of getting an analysis of the contents of the stomach and organs of the deceased. He (the Coroner) had experienced great difficulty in getting a doctor to make the analysis, but ultimately he secured the services of Dr. Bostock HILL, the Hereford City Analyst, whose report the Coroner read in detail. The report was to the effect that the contents of deceased's stomach and organs had been subjected to a careful examination, but he had failed to discover the presence of any poison. He had searched for various poisons likely to be present, but the result had been in the negative. The symptoms did not appear to be those of any definite poisoning.
The Coroner said that under the circumstances he thought the best thing to do would be to read over the evidence given at the last hearing, which he did. This would enable the jury to arrive at their verdict. There was no chance of any further evidence beyond that already adduced.
Dr. Leslie TROTTER, medical practitioner, of Ledbury, who had a post mortem examination of the deceased, was recalled by the Corner and the following questions were put to him:
The Coroner: Does Dr. HILL's report assist you in any way in forming an opinion as to the exact cause of death?
Dr. TROTTER: I cannot say it does.
The Coroner: You said in your evidence on the last occasion that there was a strong smell of alcohol?
Dr. TROTTER: Yes, there was a very strong smell. The men must have taken a great deal.
The Coroner: Would not a man suffering from phthisis be more subject to the effects of alcohol than a strong man?
Dr. TROTTER: Yes, I would say he would.
The Coroner: And he might die in a manner similar to that of deceased?
Dr. TROTTER: That is so.
The Coroner: And with similar symptoms?
Dr. TROTTER: Yes.
The Foreman (Mr. W. L. TILLEY): I should like to ask the doctor whether he smelt beer or spirits when he examined the deceased.
Dr. TROTTER: It is difficult to say, but I should be inclined to say both.
Ernest MARKS, the landlord at the Plough, was also recalled and asked several questions.
The Foreman: Will you tell us if you keep spirits in the bar and where?
Mr. MARKS: There is one tin barrel containing gin but it is impossible to reach it outside the counter. Even if the men got on top of the counter they could not get at it.
The Foreman: It would be quite impossible for the men to get spirits from your house?
Mr. MARKS: From outside the counter, of course.
The Foreman: Would it have been possible for someone to have got behind the counter and emptied spirits into the jug? Would you say that was impossible?
Mr. MARKS: Unless anyone got on the other side of the bar, but I do not think they would do that.
A Juror: Would you know if anyone took a pint of whisky out of the barrel?
Mr. MARKS: There is no whisky in the bar.
The Coroner, in summing up, said he thought they had done all they could to sift the affair to the bottom and it appeared to him to be useless to proceed any further with it. He knew of no other evidence they could get to help the jury to arrive at their verdict. It was a mysterious case, undoubtedly. But they had heard from the doctor that day that the symptoms perceived in the deceased were consistent with death from phthisis and alcoholic poisoning. That was, assuming that the deceased had more than his share of the three quarts of beer the men said they had. The men were in the town from 2 to 6 p.m. and had stated that they had two or three quarts of beer between them. This might be the truth, but the jury had to ask themselves the question: Is it probable? Were they (the jury) given on the last occasion a correct account of the quantity of beer the men had? There was the mystery that the men all collapsed when they were in the Plough, while on the other hand they had William GREEN going out of the Talbot to lie down. This rather pointed to the fact that they men had something more than the jury had heard of. If the jury thought this probable, and if they thought the cause of death was natural causes, it was for them to say so. Because not only did the deceased suffer from consumption, but he had other complaints which would aggravate the disease of the lungs. The quantity of beer ANSELL had apparently had would also irritate the complaints and no doubt accelerate death. There was no suspicion of foul play, neither were there any internal marks of violence.
The Foreman: I had one or two hints given me after the last inquiry that the men were treated rather roughly when they were conveyed to the Police Station. The jury would doubtless like information on the point, as such reports got abroad and spread.
Superintendent WILLIAMS: I think the jury are exceeding the bounds of their duty. You are here to inquire into the death of this man, and not into the conduct of the police.
The Foreman: We are trying to find out the cause of the man's death.
The Superintendent said the men were being conducted to the Police Station before he arrived on the scene, but as far as he knew there was nothing unusual in the way in which either of the men were handled. After years of experience he had learned that the first move on the part of such men was to cripple the police officer, and he (the Superintendent) always regarded the protection of his body as being a sacred duty.
The Foreman: That is very satisfactory.
 
THE VERDICT
After a brief deliberation the jury returned a verdict to the effect the deceased "died from consumption, accelerated by drink."
 

 
Tilleys Almanack 1916 - E A MARK Landlord
 

 
Tilleys Almanack 1958 - J J COLHOUN Landlord
 

 
Skittles
 
1960 League Winners
[Plough Hotel Skittles]
From Left to Right - Dave GITTINGS, John SMITH, Mike EVANS, Mrs EVANS, Rosemary OWEN, Pete OWEN, Curley VERNALL, Gerald WILLIAMS, standing Dave JONES, Phil LLEWELLYN, Roy JONES, Ern FARLEY
Photo Andy SMITH
 
...
 
1960's
[Plough Hotel Skittles]
Back Row - John SMITH, Mike EVANS, Stan SLEEMAN, Trevor JONES, Jim PRICE
Front Row - Doug KINGTON, Keith WATKINS, Johnny COLHOUN, Charlie COLE, Tony BETTONI
Photo Andy SMITH
 
...
 
1960s
Wellinton Heath Rovers Skittles Team were based at the Plough
Back Row - Rolly BARNES, Gerald MOWBRAY, Davy 'Crocket' JONES, Reg MOWBRAY, Dennis BARNES
Front Row - Michael HAINES, Stan SLEEMAN, Don SAVERY, Fred ...
Photo Ben MOWBRAY
 
...
 
1950s
[Hopkins Garage Skittles Team]
Back Row - Bill HALE, unknown, Lee REE, Tony TOMKINS, unknown
Front Row - Ern LLEWELYN, Bill BAKER, Ernie ROGERS, Mr BADHAM, William ROGERS
At the Plough Inn, 3 members were guests the rest were all employed in various positions at Hopkins Garage
Photo Terry ROGERS Collection TR1
 
Date unknown Presentation
[Plough Hotel Skittles]
Back Row - Doddy PREEDY, Mick ELVINS, Roger FLETCHER, Copa CLUIT, Dean VICARAGE
Front Row - Dave REYNOLDS, Richard WELCH, Paul Bunny SMITH, Neil PARKER
Photo Paul Bunny SMITH
 
...
 
1970's White Hart Team
[White Hart Darts Team]
Back Row - Tim HOULBROOK, Tony DRINKWATER, Keith FARLEY, Steven 'Bomber' JONES, Robert DANIELS, Kevin MANNS
Front Row - Bob PULLEN, Ray GLADWIN, Brian 'Ragsey' JONES, Phil GLADWIN
Photo Brian JONES Collection BJ4
 
...
 
Snooker
 
1983 Presentation
[Plough Hotel Snooker]
Back Row - Joe GLADWIN, Tim SMITH, Steve WILLIAMS
Front Row - Paul Bunny SMITH, Mike EVANS, Steve GARDINER.
Photo Paul Bunny SMITH
 
...
 
Sources
1914 - 1919 Ledbury Guardian Newspaper - Herefordshire History
1916 and 1958 Tilley's Almanack
Photographs are credited to the owners
Comments are from members of the Old Ledbury Facebook Group
Cuttings from Ledbury Reporter Newspapers

Ledbury Reporter

[Ledbury Reporter] The Reporter now has Archive photographs for the years 2005 - 2009 which you can view and order. Select a year then make sure Ledbury is the keyword entered before pressing GO. I have spent many an hour in the Ledbury Library looking through the old Reporters which are on microfiche. Support this great local paper.