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100 years ago: It all kicks off at Salford Docks with ‘maniac’ lover Annie Maguire

Turning to the pages of the Salford City Reporter from June 1916, this court case leaps out for the fact that the course of true love never does run smooth, especially for a drunk and disorderly Irish barmaid.

Miss Annie Maguire appeared at Salford Magistrates Court charged with being drunk and disorderly and assaulting Inspector Carroll from the Manchester Ship Canal police.

Manchester Police in 1914 @ GMP Museum

Manchester Police in 1914 @ GMP Museum

The 35.5-mile Manchester Ship Canal had opened in 1894, the brainchild of Manchester businessmen who wanted to build a canal so broad and deep that ocean-going ships could sail all the way from the Mersey estuary into the heart of Salford.

Irish navvies helped move 76 million tonnes of rubble to dig the thing by hand, bringing sailors from all over the world trading in high-value cotton and grain.

Salford Docks/Trafford Road Bridge © Manchester Libraries

Salford Docks/Trafford Road Bridge © Manchester Libraries

This mass influx of men on a daily basis caused a headache for the dock police.

And none more so when there was romance involved.

Salford Magistrates Court heard that Inspector Carroll was on duty that day at the main gates on Trafford Road.

The working docks, where the Metrolink now runs through Salford Quays, were areas normally off-limits to the public.

If you can imagine the amount of produce being moved through Docks on a daily basis – hundreds of tonnes of valueable gear – this was an attractive prospect for any thief who was after a five-finger discount.

Salford Docks 1920 unloading docker

The day of the offence, a “clearly inebriated” Annie Maguire bowled up and tried to push past Inspector Carroll, reportedly shouting in his face that “You are the man who is keeping me away from my boy!”

The bemused Inspector asked her to leave the area, but love-struck Annie was having none of it.

The third time she approached – and failed to get past the burly Inspector – Annie lashed out, kicking the officer around the body and ripping his coat from his back.

Manchester Dock Offices & Dock Gates © Canalarchive.co.uk

Manchester Dock Offices & Dock Gates © Canalarchive.co.uk

One unlucky passing docker was caught in the melee while the whirling dervish that was Ms Maguire gave him a good kicking too.

She was obviously a formidable street-fighter, as history records that the docker fell to the floor and was about to receive a boot to the head when Annie narrowly missed, catching him full-on in the shoulder instead.

By now Inspector Carroll’s patience had worn thin and, with the aid of a third docker and a police constable, dragged her kicking and screaming into custody.

In court, more about the life of Annie Carroll came to light.

She was a recent immigrant from Ireland, and was living in Walmer Street, Rusholme, while working as a barmaid in several pubs in the central Manchester area.

She had been “keeping company” with a sailor aboard a liner at Salford Docks – which was due to sail out across the Atlantic that week.

Mass traffic into Salford Docks 1914

Annie was still as fiery as ever when she gave her evidence to the Magistrate.

Pointing across the courtroom at Inspector Carroll she said, “What that officer says is absolutely all lies, the very sight of him makes me sick.”

The Magistrate Mr Foyster however disagreed, saying that this sort of conduct “would not be tolerated by either man or woman” and that she was a disgrace “acting like a maniac and a mad woman”.

He remanded Annie for a week in custody whilst further enquiries could be made about her.

The Salford City Reporter added that Annie “left the dock in a fit of hysteria”.

I pity the poor police constable who had to lock her up for a week!

Ms Maguire was never charged with the offence of June 1916 and, although this is not recorded, presumably let free with a warning.

Does love conquer all, in the end?

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