Third and final column of 1902 report on Thundersley

Column 3, Page 3 Thursday 16th January 1902

Responsible journalism in 1902

The two previous columns are transcribed here (column 1 )  and here ( column 2 ) 

thus introducing a Potato and a Riot in Thundersley Life
{a transcription of the third and final column of the Southend Standard article from 1902.}

Now we see the necessity for a visit to this riotous place of Thundersley, this abode of bliss where every prospect pleases and only — the natural acumen* of the reader will easily finish the quotation.
Tracing the route gone over before, we first called upon Mr. Varty to ascertain the extent of his injuries. Some railings lying flat nearby and the state of the old barn are carefully noted as evidence of the passion evinced by the rioters. Mr. Varty is, however, apparently quite well. We look over him carefully, but fail to note any wounds, and then ask for particulars of the occurrence. Mr. Varty has forgotten it, but with some effort recalls that a window was smashed last Sunday while he was speaking.

He is, however, astonished to hear that his life had been in danger. Somewhat surprised, we hasten over the road by the church to the Manor House. Mr. Ellis is out at an adjoining village. Looking round we fall into conversation with a young fellow employed on the estate.     Yes, he was at the P.S.A.◆ meeting last Sunday.
What luck! Did anything happen? He considers a moment and then a smile, as at some pleasant memory, breaks over his face as he answers “A window was broken.” “Was there a riot?” we pursue. “ A riot ? Nay, there was some girls,” and he laughs outright. The story comes out and we turn to a discussion on land.

Leaving our friend, we were fortunate enough to meet Mr. Ellis, himself, on the hill by the Church. He also was amazed to hear about the riot and supplied the wanting detail of how the potato was thrown.

The persons on the platform could see those outside. Here we now see the dire results from that thrown potato, the sole tangible article upon which an imaginative mind had built a vivid superstructure, revelling in damage and destruction. The playful act of an affectionate girl, who summons her young man to her side with the somewhat unusual aid of a pomme de terre, is construed into stormy acts of violence on the part of bloodthirsty men. The act of the young men in response to the “striking” invitation of the girls has become the movement of conspirators rousing the villagers to ransack and destroy, and to leave almost for dead on his own doorstep a simple gentleman who only sought to help the brightness of a P.S.A. ◆ gathering.

Apparently, this is how rumours arise. Our only regret in conclusion is that we are unable to trace to the bitter, or otherwise end, the results of that act of throwing in the shape of future matrimonial relations. But time which revealeth all things will assuredly have some sequel in store that the future will bring forth in its own good period, when the story of the Thundersley potato and the origin of it all, has been forgotten.

{ Ed: 1 * For those (like the editor) who lack this natural acumen, Reginald Heber it was who in 20 minutes wrote a hymn on Whit Sun­day, 1819, sold aft­er his death for forty guin­eas which starts:

From Greenland’s icy mountains, from India’s coral strand;
Where Afric’s sunny fountains roll down their golden sand:
From many an ancient river, from many a palmy plain,
They call us to deliver their land from error’s chain.

What though the spicy breezes blow soft o’er Ceylon’s isle;
Though every prospect pleases, and only man is vile?
In vain with lavish kindness the gifts of God are strown;
…….and so on… }

{Ed: 2 ◆ PSA is explained by the comment from D Hurrell below.}

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  • PSA stands for “Pleasant Sunday Afternoon”. This was a religious revivalist movement that first emanated from the Birmingham area and the Congregational Church and spread country-wide, from the mid 1870s onwards. The intended purpose was to get “backsliders” and those who had been lost from the Sunday Schools back into the influence of the Church by providing secular entertainment, education and instruction, but with an element of “Church” mixed in. In an age when there were precious few recreational activities available to the poor, these meetings were immensely popular.

    By David Hurrell (17/05/2021)

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