One quick one that’s turned up since I posted David Oakley’s musings on Temperance, probation and the fight against drunkenness in the early part of last century – Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler has found the above image and short note in the Birmingham Gazette of July, 1939.
The cutting shows Walsall’s first Probation Officer and Court Missionary Mr. Courtney Orchard after receiving his Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (M.B.E.) award.
He certainly looks like a formidable gentleman who wouldn’t stand any nonsense.
David had said this of Mr. orchard:
I was very lucky that in my early life I met a ‘court missionary’, he was Courtney Orchard and he served as Court Missionary at Walsall for a number of years, and became Walsall’s first Probation Officer, when the position was regularised in 1907, making ‘missionaries’ court officials. I knew Mr. Orchard in his later days, 70 years of age, or so. But my workmates, who knew him in earlier days, knew him as a fearless man, who could defend himself with his fists, when called upon, when seeking his ‘lost sheep’ amongst the dingy pubs and hostile environment of the day. Those ‘local encounters’ were all too common amongst the populace and would never count as ‘news’.
Courtney Orchard wrote a book entitled ‘The Court Missionary’s Story, published about 1930. Not many copies about, these days. Courtney ran the Town Mission in Walsall at the corner of John Street and Stafford Sreet. Due to the fact that I had signed for the football team, ran by Alan Wakeman, former Villa goalkeeper and Leamore kid, under the gentle persuasion of Courtney Orchard, I attended the Sunday evening services and found Mr. Orchard in his later years to be motivated by the desire that still shaped his life, the love of his fellow men. Alan was later to become team manager at Walsall Wood F.C.
Thanks to Peter for a great spot – I can see he’s still researching matters around Alfred Merrick and this whole thread and I thank him for his continued, diligent work.
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