Crime of the century


Pedal on indeed. Typical 50s Raleigh roadster from

I notice that the National Newspaper Archive is still growing; there are now copies of the Lichfield Mercury online well into the 1950s, and it was while fishing through them in an idle moment this week that I found the following article, from the 26th October, 1951 – an altogether sleepier time I feel.

Cycle Rubbers in this context are old fashioned bike pedals. The article raises a number of daft questions; where was Gas House Lane, for one, and just how big are your pockets if they can accommodate a dozen pedals? Poachers pockets perchance?

I love the thought of Supt. Smith patrolling the town for weeks afterwards, scowling at parked bikes with new pedals. Hardly Whiskey Galore, but certainly a feeding frenzy…

I’ve removed the names as this is within living memory.

Brownhills Raid on Missing Cycle Rubbers


WHILST on patrol duty in High Street, Brownhills, a policeman saw a number of people in the roadway collecting pedal cycle rubbers. Upon being told that the rubbers had fallen off a lorry they ran away.

Subsequent inquiries resulted in [names removed] appearing at Brownhills Magistrates’  Court on Wednesday accused of stealing a quantity of rubbers, the property of the Dunlop Rubber Company.

Supt. W. L. Smith said on September 17th a consignment of 391 cases of pedal cycle rubbers was despatched by lorry from Stoke-on-Trent to the Dunlop Rubber Company at Castle Bromwich. One of the cartons containing 500 rubbers dropped off the lorry as it was travelling along High Street, Brownhills, at about 10p.m.

‘There was something in the nature of a wholesale raid upon the rubbers by people passing and in the vicinity,’ he said. ‘Of the 500 rubbers in the carton, the police had only been able to cover 196.’

At 10.10 p.m. P.C. Smith-Dutton was walking along High Street towards Gas House Lane   when he saw about 20 people picking up the rubbers from the centre of the roadway. Among them were [names removed].


The officer told the people that the rubbers had  fallen off a lorry and he was taking charge of them. The people then ran away.

The officer picked up 9½  dozen rubbers and took them to the police station. At  10.30  p.m. the same day the officer saw [name removed] at his home and after caution he made a statement in which he said he was walking along High Street when he saw something in the roadway.

At first he thought it was coal I but then saw they were rubber pedals. As other people were picking them up he did so. He I admitted having heard the police I officer telling the people to put them down and that he had the I audacity to say to the officer:  ‘Have a counle for yourself for your bicycle.’

He dropped the rubbers he had in his hand but brought away dozen in his pocket. Next day the officer saw [name removed] who admitted having taken 45 rubbers. [name removed] said she had taken ten rubbers home.

P.C. Smith-Dutton said about 20 people were picking up rubbers in the roadway. He shouted in a loud voice: ‘Put them down. They are not your property. They have fallen off a lorry.’ On seeing him the people ran away.

He Identified [name removed] as being present and [name removed] said to witness: ‘Have a   couple   of    these   for   your cycle.’

[Name removed] were each fined £2 with 1s. costs and name removed], who said she was not! present when the constable told the people to put the rubbers down, was fined £1 with Is. costs.

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4 Responses to Crime of the century

  1. David Evans says:

    Good morning Bob
    Highway rubbery. Can just imagine the News of the World’s headline, too..

  2. Pedro says:

    The Crime of the century.

    A consignment of 391, that’s odd!

    The good old copper on the beat, the days before decimalisation…the officer picked up six and a half dozen!

    Orgreave, Hillsborough and Stephen Lawrence…what ever happened to the good old copper?

  3. Pingback: Classical Gas | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  4. Peter says:

    Gas House Lane? I’m not sure if Bob means it’s a daft question because it should be obvious or not?? But where was Gas House Lane, can anyone see it? Can anyone find it? Should we assume it’s the road leading down to the Gas Works (aka Humphries House) opposite what was New Road? Or am I being daft? (again)
    I can’t find any of the old maps that give that particular road a name at all, interestingly in “Small Increments” dated 7th December 2013 there is a photograph taken from Severn House which talks of Gasworks Lane.
    Begs the question was the road ever named officially? Or was it just known by locals as something to do with the Gas Works?
    Mind how you go………


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