Over at Penzance, the magistrates are busy. In fact so busy that the Mayor was taken ill yesterday, and had to go home.
What’s been happening? Well, it’s the new pre-fabs they’re building over at New Street. Or supposed to be building.
Really, the company’s only got themselves to blame. Messrs Dudley Coles Ltd. Building contractors to the Ministry of Works, doing very nicely thank you I would imagine. And leaving stuff lying about on that site for weeks on end. People – especially folk on the housing list, folk with bomb damage – getting a bit narky, wondering whether anything will ever be built. So it’s no surprise when a few lads (six of them had up in court, but believe me that wasn’t the end of it) decide to take things into their own hands – make their own improvements. Bit of private enterprise, you might say. A few sticky fingers, yes, you can’t deny that. But nothing compared to what used to go on in the war.
The ganger was up first. Accused of lifting “cement, paint and distemper” from the company – oh, and “five doors, property of the Ministry of Works”. Good army record before the war. But he’d had a bit of rocky time of it since 1938, and when he came home from France in 1940 he lost his memory for a while, and was discharged. Four kids under seven to look after. Got in with a bad crowd, who persuaded him to lift a few materials from the site, and sell them on. The total value of the stuff the police recovered was under fifty quid. We’re not talking big-time criminals here. The ganger has moved away since – made a new start. So – probation and costs, and if he stays out of trouble, he’ll stay out of jail.
The magistrates saw sense over the other cases as well. The ganger’s mates – all right, accomplices, if you must? One had picked up a load of cement in his lorry, not knowing that the ganger was already helping the police with their enquiries. And of course the cement hadn’t gone to Messrs Coles site at New Street, or their site at Treneere – it had gone to his own premises at Long Rock. But then the chap got wind of what was happening at the police station, and took his load straight to New Street as if that was his intention all along. So of course, no case to answer there.
And the rest? It’s little stories about paint being poured from tin to tin and passed about. A tale about the ganger convincing buyers that the company were happy for him to sell surplus cement, rather than having to take it back to Plymouth. Three not guilty, one “charge… withdrawn”, and another the magistrates are still thinking about.
A happy ending, you might say. As I said, nothing compared to what used to go on in the war.
Cornishman 6th June 1946, page 3