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1906: Women were afraid to go shopping

No little consternation was created in the old coaching town of Cuckfield, which is about two miles from Haywards Heath, on Saturday evenng, by areport that a vary daring highway robbery had taken place on the road between Balcombe and Cuckfield.

Women were afraid to go shopping in consequence of the sensational stories circulated, and men were hunting everywhere for two navvies, who were said to have been concerned in the outrage.

The story given to the police by Raymond Cook, who is the butcher’s assistant, in the employ of Mr Raymond, butcher of Haywards Heath, was is the effect that he was driving down Brook Street, when he was asked by to navvies on the road for some coppers. He told them he hadn't any.

The men then asked for silver, and Cook said, ‘I cannot give you any. It belongs to my master’. He then whipped up his horse and drove to a farmhouse at Pilstye, where he had to deliver meat. On returning to the highway Cook says be was mounting his cart when the two navies dashed out of the hedge and attacked him. He was struck a heavy blow on the beed and became unconscious.

When he came to be found a tramping labourer standing over him. Cook felt his pockets and found that a purse containing £7 in gold and silver was missing. The tramp's name is James Williams, and he is now in the Cuckfield Workhouse. His statement is that as he was walking from Balcombe to Cuckfield he heard a horse galloping behind him. a looked round, and, seeing no driver, he stopped the animal and took it back in the direction from whence it came. After he had gone about 100 yards he came across Cook lying in the road unconscious and covered with blood. He subsequently took him to a cottage, where his wounds were attended to.

Cook a little later on went into Cuckfield to inform the police of his experiences. They ascertained that two navvies bad been seen in the neighbourhood, but there whereabouts hare not been traced.

Sussex Express, Surrey Standard and Kent Mail 20 October 1906

Image: Part of illustration: Tales from Maria Edgeworth 1767-1849 Dobson, Austin, 1840-1921 Thomson, Hugh, 1860-1920, Information and Library Science Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Wikimedia public domain image.

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.



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