A strange coincidence brought together a photograph and a story. The photograph was one of my own, and was taken over fifty years ago, just a mile or so from where I now live. It shows Huddersfield Road as it emerges from the town of Brighouse and the junction with Aire Street and Lords Lane. The Commercial Inn (now known as the Commercial Railway) can clearly be seen on the right hand side of the photograph.
I was wasting time, having fun with the image, when I broke off and delved into one of my favourite bolt-holes – the vaults of the British Newspaper Archives. And there I discovered this story from my local newspaper, the Halifax Daily Courier And Guardian, of August 30th 1926. The events of this rather sad case all took place in the few hundred feet of pathway captured in my old photograph.
DEATH AFTER SCUFFLE
“I Am Too Old For That Job”
Brighouse Tailor’s End.
The facts have been reported to the Coroner, concerning the death which took place in the Commercial Inn, Brighouse, on Friday evening, of Sam Beard (68), tailor, of Huddersfield Road, Brighouse.
It is understood that at about 7.40 p.m. on Friday Beard was walking down Huddersfield Road, and on reaching the Commercial Inn stopped and spoke to a man named Harry Birkett, who, together with other men, was standing on the footpath in front of the men. Board, it is stated, then assumed a fighting attitude towards Birkett and struck him twice, with the result that the latter, to defend himself, closed with Beard, and both men fell to the ground, Birkett falling underneath. Birkett rolled Beard over, and immediately jumped to his feet, whilst Beard, raising himself on one knee, at once commenced breathing hastily, saying, “I am too old for that job.”
Beard was seen to be getting worse, and was assisted into the doorway of the Commercial Inn. Dr. Wood, of Brighouse, was summoned, but on his arrival Beard was found to be dead. It is believed that Beard had for some , time suffered from heart trouble.
An inquest was held by Mr. E. W. Norris and a jury this afternoon, at Brighouse Court.
The widow said her husband had not had good health for some time, and whenever he exerted himself he complained of being short of breath. In reply to the Coroner, the widow said her husband was not quarrelsome, and she did not know of any quarrel with a man named Birkett.
Harry Allenby, 11, John Street, Rastrick, textile overlooker, said that on Friday evening, when standing outside the Commercial Inn, he heard Beard call to Harry Birkett. Birkett went towards him, and Beard then said, ‘Now don’t speak to me again in the manner you did on a certain occasion.” Birkett told Beard he did not want anything to do with him in any shape or form. After that Beard struck at Birkett with his right hand and got hold of him, causing them both to fall to the ground. Beard was uppermost. Both got up, and neither said anything, but Beard, who seemed very much out of breath, panted severely and was assisted by a man named Bevitt and another towards the inn. Witness did not know of any quarrel between the two men.
Joe Frederick Devitt, pattern maker, 22, Crossley Street, Rastrick, said he, with the assistance of Birkett, lifted Beard up an,’ took him to the inn doorway. Beard said: ” I am done, Joe.”
Dr J. Wood said he had attended Beard off and on for valvular heart disease and bronchitis for two years. Death in his opinion was due to synopse, caused by mytral disease of the heart, this being of old standing. In answer to the Coroner, witness said that in his opinion death would be accelerated by the excitement and exertion. He described Beard as a rather explosive but more of a genial nature. He might have died suddenly at any time. A verdict of accidental death, in accordance with the medical evidence was returned.