Documents relating to Bob o' Lanks

The following documents mention Bob o' Lanks

The Brighouse News [Friday 21st February 1908] published an article which is based on material submitted by one of their readers. The actual date the incident occurs is not known

The Constable's Story of the Missing Painter.

At the time when this tragic event of this story occurred very few people in Southowram, or in any other township of Halifax for matter of that, so to speak, could speak, much less write the King's English.

I am constrained to give the Constable's story in his own vernacular:

Sipping of his Steaming Jack O' Gin

Gin (London or Hollands), rum and brandy were the drinks of that time – whiskey never appears in old accounts.

To clear his throat, the Constable began his address, thus

Yo'r warship, and Gen'lmen – when aw heeard o' this hand-basket bein' faand bit' lads whor wor stickin i' Crummell Botham Wood, aw thinks to missen aw've seen this basket afooar' ' awe thowit it ovver mony a time, an' then it came into me heeard' ' at aw'd seen Bob o' Lanks, t' Halifax painter, knockin' abaat Southowram wi' that basket on his airm. You know as weel as I do 'at Bob nah-and-ageean comes to Southowram for a 'razzle-dazzle' on t'quiet, awther at pubs or't whisht shops'. He'd been seen here at t' Pack Horse an' last he wor seen at t' Cock & Bottle and went abaht one o'clock in't morning, owt but sober, wi' his basket on his airm, five days sin' and nobody has seen nor heeard tell on him. He wor flush o' brass an' wor treetin' an' showin' it fowk. Aw'm fast what to do next int' job

The experienced Justice could piece things together better that the muddle-brained Constable. He said that

as the basket had been found near a quarry, if the Constable was to search the quarry he may find the body of the painter and it would be found that the poor fellow has met with foul play, been robbed of his money and thrown, with his basket, down the disused quarry.

The Constable said

"Aw nivver thowt o' that afooar or aw'd a searched the quarry afooar aw' called you here

The Justice:

Most likely you would, had you given thought to it, but while I and my fellow overseer stay here you can go and do it now and we will await your return.

So the Constable accompanied by the beagle, the parish clerk, the by-way man, the pinder, the window man and the cloth searcher, each carrying a ladder and a rope, went off over the fields to the quarry followed by all the folks of the village who were able to trot, from the oldest to the youngest, accompanied by all the yelping curs in the village and around.

Arriving at the quarry amidst a scene which baffles all description the Constable called upon all to keep quiet, calling his dog Gyp, a bull terrier, he said

seek him up, Gyp

Now, as it happened (and the fact came into his mind only as he sent the dog down the quarry) that on the very morning on which Bob o' Lanks left the Cock and Bottle he and Gyp were returning up the lane from Brookfoot after what he called Searches in the night, he heard voices and a cry in the neighbourhood of the quarry but it was too far away to get near in time. How he now wished he had sent Gyp after them. Had he done so, he would not have received the Justice reproof at the Pack Horse. But now Gyp gives mouth.

He has found

The Constable goes down the ladder, unties the rope, pulls the ladder down again, and rests it on another, and so on until the bottom is reached. He finds Gyp by the dead body of the painter and searching finds no money in his pockets. The body is taken to the Pack Horse and the Coroner ordered the usual inquiry upon the body

The Crowner's inquest, as the Coroner's inquest was called by the illiterate of those days, even today in remote vales away from the railways, was held at YE OLDE PACK HORSE INN at Southowram. Twelve good men and true were assembled to attend.

When the jurors arrive at the Pack Horse they were met in the doorway by the pompous beadle in his best drab clothes, red faced and lappeted in cocked hat, white silk stockings and silver buckled shoes with a scowl on his face and a smile for the magistrates


© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 11:57 /28th February 2021 / 6678

Page Ref: MML1175

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