Thanet Advertiser 10th April 1869.
On Wednesday last, a case came before the Borough Magistrates that excited more than the usual interest, not from the gravity of the charge, as it was of a very trivial nature, but from the position of the persons concerned, and the almost ludicrous nature of the circumstances of the case.
It will be remembered that the Council some time ago instructed their surveyor to lay down a girder bridge across certain portions of No Man’s Land, on the Fort.
Mr. Alfred James Moore, photographer of the Fort, laid claim to certain portions of this land, and when the men employed on the roads dug a hole some three feet in depth to enable them to lay the bridge, and also removed certain obstructions, Mr. Moore, while the men were at dinner, filled up the hole again and replaced the obstructions.
He got a box placed upon the hole he had recently filled up, and sat upon it.
When Mr. Bridge’s men returned to their work, Mr. Moore refused to move, and at Mr. Bridge’s instructions, they dug underneath him till he fell into the hole, box and all.
As it was necessary to lay down a baulk of timber, Mr. Bridge asked Mr. Moore to come out, and he said he would if Mr. Bridge would touch him, and that gentleman at once kindly helped him out.
This formed the charge of assault.
The Magistrates on the Bench were T. Blackburn, Esq., G.E. Hannam, Esq., T.H. Keble, Esq., and R. Jenkins Esq. The Mayor withdrew from the Bench while the case was being heard. The Town hall was nearly full.
Mr. Dorman, who appeared for the complainant, in opening the case, said the more arbitrary, illegal, unjustifiable, and gross procedure on the part of Mr. Bridge (acting, he supposed, under the orders of the Corporation) he never met with.
It appeared that some time back, Mr. Moore purchased certain property on the Fort, on which he erected certain buildings.
Mr. Bridge interrupted Mr. Dorman, and contended that this had nothing to do with the assault; for if it was a question of title the Magistrates had no jurisdiction.
Mr. Blackburn desired Mr. Dorman to confine himself to the charge. Mr Dorman said he was not going into a question of title, but only wished to establish the grounds of the assault.
After some little discussion, Mr. Dorman continued that on the 30th of March last, Mr. Moore, in the absence of the workmen, who were at dinner, placed himself on the ground in dispute, and on which Mr. Bridge proposed to erect a girder for the recovery of certain portions of No Man’s Land, having previously filled in a hole dug out by the men.
On the men returning to their work, Mr. Bridge’s ordered them to excavate the ground from under Mr. Moore’s seat, and he was gradually lowered into the hole about three feet in depth, and during which the men acting under Mr. Bridge’s orders inflicted serious injury upon Mr. Moore.
Mr. Bridge here interrupted and said if the assault was committed by order, the Corporation ought to be the defendants, and not him, as they instructed him to place a girder in that position.
Mr. Dorman complained of this interruption, and the Bench requested Mr. Bridge not to interrupt Mr. Dorman.
Mr. Dorman having stated that the defendant afterwards pulled his client out of the hole, called Alfred Moore, who said; I am a photographer on the Fort, and about twelve months ago I erected buildings, and at the end of a piece of fence with a rack.
I never had any notice from anybody that this was considered an obstruction. Last Tuesday morning I saw some men pulling down the fence and rack. I asked them by what authority they were doing it, and they said the town.
I found the surveyor in the Town-hall, and he requested me to write a notice, which he would lay before the Council then sitting. I did so, and the notice now produced is a copy.
I saw the superintendent when the fence was removed, and he said he would send up a man to prevent a breach of the peace. After dinner I filled up the hole and put back the the rack and fence to the original position, and sat on it.
Mr. Bridge then came up, and the fence, rack and I went down into the trench together, the ground being dug from under me. My hand and arm were cut, and I was bruised. I sat upon a box, but they threw that over the cliff. Mr Bridge took hold of me and pulled me out. The superintendent offered to take me out.
Cross-examined by Mr Bridge: The rack was put up when the buildings were erected. I put up the fence myself. It does not belong to the town. I was very uncomfortable in the position I was in, and if the baulk of timber had been placed where it was required to be placed I should have been in jeopardy.
Edward Robert Emptage said: I am a Mariner, living in Margate. I know Mr. Moore, and on Tuesday week last was with him at his buildings. I assisted him in replacing a fence and rack and filling up a hole. I went there about one, and at 1.30 Mr. Bridge ordered King, one of the foremen of the roads, to pull down the fence. I saw Mr. Moore sitting on a board on the hole, and as the men dug he fell into the hole. Mr Bridge pulled him out.
Cross-examined: You pulled him out by the collar. I am not quite sure it was the collar, but it was not the cuff. Mr Moore got up directly you touched him.
By the Bench: No more force was used than was necessary to induce Mr. Moore to get up.
Stephen John Emptage, another Mariner, said: On Tuesday week last I saw some workmen digging a hole on which Mr. Moore sat, and he fell into the hole. Mr Bridge’s pulled him out by the collar. No more force was used than was necessary.
Mr. Bridge, in defence, said a more frivolous and ridiculous case he had never before stood before a Bench to defend. The facts were, he was ordered to place a girder to reclaim a portion of No Man’s Land.
Mr. Moore took possession of that portion of the ground on which it was necessary to make a footing, and after a remonstrance he refused to leave the ground. If the men had continued the work while Mr. Moore was in the hole, the baulk of timber would have fallen upon his legs and broken them.
He (Mr. Bridge) instructed his foreman, in Mr. Moore’s hearing, to take him gently from the position in which he was, so as not to hurt him, and for his own protection, to save his legs from being broken.
Mr. Moore replied, “You can do that yourself Mr. Bridge; the moment you touch me I shall come out.” He replied. “Come along then old fellow; let me help you out of your difficulty;” and he gave him no more assistance than he would have done to help anyone else of a similar hole.
He called John King, foreman of the roads, who said: On Tuesday week last I was at work on the Fort, excavating the ground. Mr. Bridge said to Mr. Moore, “Why don’t you come out.” He said if Mr. Bridge would touch him, he would. Mr Bridge merely took hold of him by the sleeve and assisted him out.
Superintendant Compton said he was on the Fort on Tuesday week, and he saw Mr Bridge assist Mr. Moore out of the hole. Mr. Moore came out voluntarily. Mr. Bridge helped him out at Mr. Moore’s request.
Cross-examined: I did not say I would take Mr. Bridge into custody. Mr. Bridge said he had other witnesses to call, but he did not think it necessary in so frivolous a charge to waste the time of the Bench any longer, as he could safely leave the matter in their hands.
Mr. Dorman asked permission to make a few observations; but Mr. Bridge objected.
The Bench retired, and on their return the Chairman said they had considered the case, though he thought it needed no consideration; and they found that no more force was used than was necessary to extricate Mr. Moore.
They therefore dismissed the case.
Alfred James Moore 1834 – 1915 was born to parents, James Adolphus Moore and Jane Austen.
Alfred married Emily Ann Emptage, daughter of William Emptage and Elizabeth Peters on the 27th May 1865.
Edward Robert Emptage, mariner, 1801 – 1891, son of Henry Emptage and Susannah le Brush, husband of Ann Elizabeth Hewett.
Stephen John Emptage, mariner, 1837 – 1891, son of William Emptage and Elizabeth Peters, husband of Mary Strand.