Sandbagging in a Hadleigh Store

*Manager and Butcher in fierce struggle * Canvey men in court * Held at gun point

Reported in the Southend Standard on 25th January 1923 and 1st February 1923

A sensational incident occurred on Saturday on the premises of Messrs. Schofield and Martin grocery establishment, High Street, Hadleigh. It was an affair which created considerable excitement and involved a keen struggle against considerable odds on the part of the shop manager, Mr Frederick Duncan Selby. In a small store-room at the rear of the shop following a warning that strangers were on the premises, Mr Selby had been felled and was struggling with two intruders. Neighbours, responding to his partially smothered cries for help, increased the commotion in a very limited space. Blows fell heavily, but eventually the production of a double-barrelled gun put an end to the struggle and the two men were secured with the aid of the weapon until police assistance came from Rayleigh. The affair which occurred after shop assistants and cashier had departed for the night, provided a topic of conversation for the weekend and in the neighbourhood and was narrated fully in a special edition of the Southend Pictorial Telegraph on Monday morning. The story told to the representative of this paper is published below.

The two men arrested by PS Aldous and PC Giggens of Rayleigh, in connection with the affair were before a special sitting of Southend County Court, on Monday, the Justice being Alderman J.R.Brightwell. Prisoners were Harold Edward Lines aged 30, described as a clerk of Wavecrest, Shell Beach, Canvey Island and Walter Harold Franklin aged 28, a grocer’s assistant of the same address. On the charge sheet it was alleged against both that at 8.30pm on 20th January, at Hadleigh, they feloniously broke and entered the establishment of Messrs. Schofield and Martin with intent to commit a felony, also on the same day being armed with an offensive instrument did assault Frederick William Duncan Selby with intent to rob him. Both charges were put to the prisoners at Rochford Police Station and no reply was made. At the court, on Monday , only the charge of breaking and entering was preferred, and making no answer or asking any questions, both were remanded in custody today (Thursday) at Rochford.

Inspector Whiting told the Justice that Franklin was formerly employed at Messrs Schofield and Martin’s Hadleigh branch. At 8.30pm on Saturday, the manager Mr Selby was cashing up. All the staff had left the premises. A neighbour, tapping on the window, told him a stranger had gone round the back of the premises. Mr Selby went through the shop and found that a gate at the back had been left unbolted. He fastened it and obtaining a light, went into the store-room. There the two prisoners set about him. Neighbours came to his assistance and detained the two men until the arrival of the police.

Mr Brightwell: If these two men set about the manager, how could he obtain assistance from neighbours?
Inspector Whiting: The neighbour who had given the intimation that strangers were about was outside at the front and heard him call. Continuing, the inspector said when the police arrived a sandbag filled with Canvey Island shell sand was found lying at the feet of Lines. There were also things found in his possession.
Mr Brightwell: Then apparently they had brought a bit of Canvey Island with them! The only evidence called was given by PS Aldous. At 9pm on Saturday, he said in consequence of a telephone message received from Hadleigh which stated that two men had been caught in the shop of Messrs. Schofield and Martin, he obtained a taxi and proceeded to Hadleigh with PC Giggins. He found prisoners in a store-room being kept by the manager and others. From what he learnt he arrested them and took them to Rochford, where jointly charged, they made no reply. Bail was objected to when the magistrate, as stated, remanded prisoners.
Prior to the incident, Mr Selby, in full view of the roadway, had been counting the day’s takings in the closed shop.
Mr Selby, who suffered considerably at the hands of the assailants, was dazed by the sandbags, from which he received two blows, whilst his body and face are a mass of bruises. His one grateful thought is that his firm’s money was intact. Mrs Selby’s gladness was that her husband’s life was preserved.

In his sitting room, on Sunday night, Mr Selby told the story to the Southend Standard representative and vividly described a fight in which he had not an atom of chance to defend himself. Because of this he desired to thank in the Southend Standard, those people whose names are mentioned in his narrative, who so promptly went to his assistance.

“When a neighbour Mr Jack Barber, knocked on the shop window and told me he had seen a man enter the gate at the back of the premises my three assistants and the cashier had left and the shop was locked” Mr Selby said.

“At first, I thought the man he had seen was one of my assistants, Mr Parker, who I knew left his bicycle pump at the back. But, to make sure, I went round to the door, sure enough it was unbolted. For my further satisfaction I went back to the shop, obtained a candle and went into the little store-room.

“I immediately saw a man crouching behind the copper, which stands in the far corner. Before I could recover from my surprise, I received a dull blow across the side of my head from a man who I had not previously seen. I went down like a log and lost myself momentarily. The candle dropped from my hand and in the pitch darkness two men sprang upon me. They pummelled me badly, knelt on my chest and I got a blow from what I now know to be the sandbag. I could not lift my arms or legs and although one of the alleged assailants had his hand firmly fixed over my mouth I managed to shout for help, fortunately sufficiently loud to attract Mr Barber’s attention.

“He ran across to Mr Smith, a butcher, who has a shop immediately opposite our branch and without a moment’s hesitation Mr Smith came. He called his assistant, Mr Walter Jarvis to come too and bring a sporting rifle with him. The treatment I was getting in the meantime one can imagine, but I have the darkness to thank for the failure of many blows to get on the mark. Mr Smith was without a light, but he closed with the alleged assailants after ascertaining I was the unfortunate party on the floor. Then a light arrived. I saw Mr Smith catch one of the men a blow on the point of the chin and he went flying over to the far corner of the room. The other chap caught Smith on the head with a sandbag and he came down on top of me. The other fellow came out of his corner and the two again commenced to hit us whilst I bore the weight of them as well as I could. It was then that Jarvis managed to squeeze through the doorway with the gun. He poked it at them and ordered the two men to put up their hands, one of them immediately ceased to struggle, and said ‘Alright, I’ve had enough’. He retired to the corner. The other took more persuading and it was not until the gun muzzle was close against his head that he caved in.”

“Jarvis held the gun over them, with Mr Smith standing by until the arrival of PS Aldous and a constable from Rayleigh. The officers arrived in a motor car having been telephoned for immediately Mr Barber called on Mr Smith”

Mr Selby who is a short but somewhat thick-set middle-aged man, added that although the money in the shop at the time was a fair amount of money, he had banked close up on Saturday morning.

Schofield and Martin store in Hadleigh High Street 1923.
Another scene of Hadleigh High Street showing Schofield and Martin.
Mr Selby (Shop manager), Mr Jack Barber (who raised the alarm), Mr Parker (Shop Assistant).
Police Constable with sandbag and the two Canvey men being taken away.
Mr Smith the butcher who came to Mr Selby's assistance. and Mr Jarvis (right) who threatened assailants with sporting gun.
Another scene of Hadleigh High street with Schofield and Martin on the left.

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  • During the latter part of World War 2 my father (Joseph Adams) was the manager of this shop. I believe Mr Martin of Schofield and Martins, was at one time Mayor of Southend. I also remember Mr Arthur Smith very well. My sister (Mrs Ruth Chestney, née Adams) and our family lived over Dossetts the bakers next door.

    By Bernard Adams (01/07/2020)

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