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50 years ago: Mystery of ‘Lord Foulmouth’ and brutality at Salford Crescent police station

We came across this beauty from the pages of the Salford City Reporter from August 1966 which features a fascinating character by the name of ‘Lord Foulmouth’, alongside the judgement of legendary Salford Stipendary, Leslie Walsh.

The story begins when two men, one named Harper and the other only known by his moniker ‘Lord Foulmouth’ – one can probably guess why – got a taxi to the Town Hall Tavern in Manchester.

They were set to meet a mutual friend, Mr Sheffield, all three then decided to that they would patronize the Ship pub on Cross Lane in Salford.

At the time the Ship was rather notorious, famous for its clientele of dockers, foriegn sailors and ladies of the night.

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Mr Sheffield drove there in his van, no doubt a little tipsy, whilst Mr Harper and Lord Foulmouth got a taxi.

When they arrived the Lord insisted on paying with a £5 note but the driver insisted that he hadn’t got enough change.

An argument broke out and Lord Foulmouth lived up to his name by giving the poor taxi man a earful of colourful abuse.

As a small crowd gathered to watch the spectacle unfold, Mr Harper offered to nip this in the bud and pay the fare with a 10 shilling note.

Lord Foulmouth said in “picturesque terms” that the cab driver, “was getting nowt” and breezed past the commotion into the pub, no doubt to oil his vocal chords.

The cab driver flagged down a passing policeman PC Darby who asked Mr Harper what the fuss was all about, no doubt in the most civil terms.

The gentleman in question proceeded to think it was a good idea to repeatedly poke the bobby in the chest while making his point.

To make matters worse, Mr Sheffield appeared on the scene and joined in the altercation, despite being told to keep out of it by the exasperated copper.

Sadly it all went pear-shaped as PC Darby arrested both Harper and Sheffield for being drunk and disorderly.

But the mysterious Lord Foulmouth had melted into the crowd and made good his escape.

At Salford Magistrates Court both parties gave conflicting reports of what had happened after the men were arrested and allegations of poice brutality were bandied about the court.

Mr Harper alleged that when he was thrown into the police van, PC Derby punched him twice.

He then alleged that the constable undid his tunic and stared belting the life out of him whilst another police officer allegedly said, “I’m having no part of this” and jumped out of the police van.

Mr Harper then told the court that at the Crescent police station he received two black eyes, several cuts about the head, one which required three stitches, and his body was ‘one mass of lumps and bruises’.

Crescent police station today - awaiting development

Crescent police station today – awaiting development

(Incidentally, 28dayslater.co.uk have some fascinating pictures inside the old Crescent police station here)

In his cell Harper started spitting up blood and was taken to Salford Royal Hospital for treatment.

Mr Sheffield corroborated his story and said that at the Crescent he was held by a police sergeant and prodded with a stick and told, “if you don’t button your lip, you’ll be next” as he watched the assault on Mr Harper.

The Stipendary Leslie Walsh asked Mr Harper why would the police invite publicity for an assault by sending him to hospital? The reply was that they became worried when they saw him spitting blood.

Walsh then turned to Mr Sheffield and asked: “Why should they hold you there as a witness to the assault/” he replied that he didn’t know the reason.

Known for his strong arm tactics with felons in his court and his casual manner in sending people to prison, he gave his verdict, which comes as no surprise.

He said: “I am satisfied that both these men were drunk and I don’t believe a word either of them says.”

He fined Mr Harper £10 or one month in prison, while Mr Sheffield got £5 fine for being drunk and disorderly.

It seems hard to believe that these men could sustain such serious injuries that required hospital treatment, and yet obvious that they hadn’t inflicted the injuries on themselves.

Sadly this was an all too common occurrence in Salford at this time.

Salford police and particularly the Crescent police station had a fearsome reputation where it was reported prisoners would ‘fall down the station steps and bang their heads’, often after being accused of ‘damaging an officer’s tunic’.

Back in 2016, the Crescent police station has long closed down, with vague news reports every now and again proposing turning it into a hotel.

The Ship pub, too, is demolished, along with most of those on Cross Lane in Salford – but are we living in happier times?

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