full screen background image

50 years ago: Pep pill peril – Swinging Sixties sees 16-year-old girl on ‘Black Bomber’ drug charge

The big news in Salford in April 1965 was a moral panic: horrified adults watched as a teenager went up in court for trying to score 60 amphetamine pills known as ‘Black Bombers’ with a fake prescription.

Pep pills like Purple Hearts, Dexys or French Blues were all the rage at a time – six years before the introduction of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Amphetamines were in everyday use on prescription – but their recreational use started in London’s trendy West End and quickly spread nationwide.

Robberies at pharmaceutical warehouses would become common to satisfy the growing black market demand.

This youth free-for-all echoes today’s moral panic over so called ‘legal highs’. Read on.

A 16-year-old girl from Salford, along with her 17-year-old boyfriend – described as “a long haired youth wearing a black sweater” – were accused of trying to obtain 60 Durophet capsules (Black Bombers) from Arthur Kintish’s chemist on Great Clowes Street in Broughton.

The court heard that the youth handed the chemist a prescription with a “childish” signature scrawled upon it. Unfortunately for the enterprising duo the chemist knew the real Dr Caplan’s signature and busted the pair with a quick phone call to the police.

Local constable PC Exley rushed to the shop and noticed the teenage pair standing outside.

He entered the premises and questioned the 17-year-old boy who said that he was “doing a friend a favour”, by handing in for someone waiting outside.

He then told the police that he had met the girl at a flat in Broughton and they had decided to hand the prescription at a chemist to obtain the drugs, they had been turned away by one chemist but tried their luck at Kintish’s.

He told the police that he had no idea who had forged the prescription and hardly knew the girl who had left the scene.

He was arrested and taken to the police station for further questioning.

The girl was later arrested and protested her innoncence when she saw the youth’s statement, saying: “That’s not quite true, he’s as much in it as I am”.

In court they appeared before the Stipendary Magistrate Mr Leslie Walsh, a man known take a ruthless line with most of the miscreants who appeared before him.

The boy told the court: “She asked me to get the prescription, I asked her why she didn’t get it and she told me she was scared. I thought, ‘Why should she be scared, I don’t know what these things are for?'”

The girl declined to comment as did her mother who had come to court.

This infuriated Leslie Walsh who said: “You really mean that you have no comment at all when your daughter is going in for this sort of thing, with this sort of person?”

Words aimed at the ‘long-haired’ youth obviously.

Walsh sentenced the 17-year-old to an Adult Detention Centre for 24 hours, adding: “Maybe a few Saturday afternoons of discipline will change your attitude.”

The Adult Detention Centres were held on a Saturday morning at various locations across Salford and were known locally as “The Scrubs”; this was because your time spent there was taken up by scrubbing steps or other menial chores.

The girl was remanded for seven days on police bail for enquiries by the Probation Sevices.

A week later she appeared before Leslie Walsh where she denied that she was work-shy and had refused to give up her ‘beat club’ lifestyle and on the contrary had been in work all week and intended to stay at home and settle down.

Walsh told her: “You will be put on probation fot three years and that means that you can put aside any ideas that on your 17th birthday you will be free to leave home and carry on as you please.

“And if you don’t behave yourself you will be brought back here and something very different will happen to you.”

All protested innocence – but the short sharp shock of court appearances turned this girl back onto the straight and narrow.

The moral of the tale? Avoid Leslie Walsh, and keep on swinging.

Facebook Comments

SalfordOnline.com's Local History Editor and Senior Reporter.