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1907: Reckless motoring in Cuckfield endangers locals

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 17 December 1907




A lot of evidence was given at Haywards Heath petty Sessions yesterday (Monday), when William Moorby chauffeur, Copyhold, Cuckfield, was summoned for driving a motor car recklessly on the highway on December 2nd.

Defendant pleaded not guilty.

Mr. Croucher, Surveyor to the Cuckfield Urban Council, produced a plan of the road between the Ship Inn and the King’s Head, Cuckfield.

Ernest Cooper, postman, said he was coming from Cuckfield to Whiteman’s Green. When he got to the back entrance to The Knowle he saw a red motor car, which defendant was driving. The car swerved as if it was going into Mr. Turner’s fence, and turned into the centre of the road, then going towards the kerb a second time. There was no traffic. The car went back to the centre and swerved again, and afterwards witness lost sight of it.

The car was going about 15 or 16 miles an hour, down the hill towards Cuckfield. Witness considered the way defendant was driving was dangerous to the public.

Cuckfield South Street circa 1900

Mr. Croucher, recalled, said that on the 2nd December, at 3.10 p.m. he was near Knowle Lodge. He heard a motor car come down behind him, and he turned round to see it. It seemed to be coming at a very rapid pace. The car was driven by defendant. There had been a sharp shower, which made the road slippery. He estimated the speed at from 20 to 25 miles an hour. The back of the car swerved, and he thought the car might turn over broadside. Not expecting it to reach Cuckfield without overturning, he followed the wheel marks, and found the car had gone to the bottom of High Street and down Church Street. It had evidently been going too fast to take the turn into South Street. The car had backed out of Church Street twice, and had been dangerously near the kerb at the King’s Head. While witness was repairing a lamp he heard a car coming from south to north, and on looking round saw a red car pass along the top of Church Street. He listened, expecting it to crash into the shops on the off side of the road. He heard the car come to a standstill. Witness went up and saw, by the wheel tracks, that the car had come along up to the corner, but had been to within 3ft of the kerb, and back across the road. The car struck the kerb in front of Mr. Pace’s shop.

By Superintendent Brooman:- The manner in which the car was driven was dangerous to the public. Defendant passed two danger signals. Witness did not hear a horn sounded. The “King’s Head” corner was a place where motor drivers ought to exercise extreme care. There was not much traffic about.

Albert William Pace, draper, Cuckfield, spoke of seeing defendant driving the car past his shop at from 25 to 30 miles an hour. Witness thought it could not get round the corner. On the car's return witness heard a crash outside his shop. He saw the car with the two offside wheels 5in. or 6in. in the air. Witness thought the car was going to topple over into the window. Defendant stopped the car, changed his gear, and the car went back on to the road, and off up the street. Witness saw no sign of sideslip. Defendant’s driving was decidedly dangerous to the public. j

By defendant:- Witness did not expect to see defendant get round the corner at 25 miles an hour. That was the speed which defendant was driving, but witness should not like to try it.

William Wimbourne butcher, working for Mr. Pierce, said he saw the car coming from the direction of Brighton. Defendant was driving. He came round the corner at a very fast pace, and went within 2 ft of the kerb near Mr. Hobden's shop. It then went across the road and struck the kerb front of Mr Pace’s. The car "went up on one wheel," and witness thought it was going to turn over.

By Superintendent Brooman: Witness considered the speed was dangerous, and too fast to turn the corner.

Miss Isted, Bolney, said she was shopping at Cuckfield. She had just stopped her bicycle to go into Mr Pace’s when she saw a motor car come round the corner at a terrific rate, swerving across the road. If witness had not stopped she must have been knocked down. She thought the car was going through the window. There were four men the car. Witness got out of the way, into Brewer Lane. She was too frightened to notice the driver. The car was driven dangerously, and if children had been about they could not possibly have got out of the way.

George Harrison, shop assistant for Mr. Pace, said he saw defendant driving the car at a furious rate. After a few minutes witness heard a crash outside the shop and went out and saw the car starting off, defendant driving, up the town. The car, when going down the town, was travelling about 25 to 30 miles an hour, and was driven recklessly There were three men in the car besides the driver.

Penelope Longmore, High Street, Cuckfield, said he saw a red motor car, about 3.15 pm, "going slanting across the road from left to right." Defendant was driving, and was going up the hill. Witness was standing in her shop at the time. The car was not driven carefully. It struck the kerb and the wheels went off the road. She thought the car was going to turn over.

Ernest W. Bishop, Queen's Road, Haywards Heath, said he was down the Haywards Heath station on December 2nd, about 3.30 pm. and saw the defendant. The latter asked witness if he would come tor ride. Witness went, and there were also in the car, besides defendant, Messrs. Card, Murrell and Rist. They went to the Ship Inn and had a quart of ale between them, but witness did not see defendant have any. They went through Cuckfield, and had a “quart” at the White Harte. Witness did not know whether defendant had any or not—he did not see him have any. They went at a moderate pace. On turning Mr. Beeny’s corner, in the High Street, they swerved, but did not go into Church Street, but coming back from the White Harte and turning the corner they had a sideslip by Mr. Pace's shop.

By Superintendent Brooman: Witness did not tell the police he talked of getting out of the car as he was frightened. That was said, but not by witness.

Stephen Murrell of Cuckfield, said he was at the Haywards Heath Railway Station on December 2nd. Witness and others were asked by defendant to go tor a ride, and they went to Cuckfield. At the “Ship" they had a quart of ale, but witness did not see defendant have any of it. They had another quart at the White Harte, and defendant had some of that. The car travelled down the town at a reasonable pace. It swerved at the corner, and defendant backed into Church Street. Witness stopped at the White Harte, and did not drive back with defendant.

By Superintendent Brooman:- Witness thought the car swerved on account the greasy state of the road.

By the Clerk (Mr. E. J. Waugh):- Witness not tell the police that defendant had a drink at the “Ship”.

P.C. Day, Cuckfield, said he saw where a car had travelled down the High Street and just in at the top of Church Street. It had apparently been backed, and then gone the direction of Brighton. Another track showed that a car coming from the direction of Brighton had gone to within 3ft of the kerb on one side, and then turning sharply across the road, had collided with the pavement front of Mr. Pace’s.

By Superintendent Brooman:- When following the wheelmarks, he saw no sign of a sideslip by Mr. Pace’s shop. The only spot where witness saw a sign of a sideslip was where the car had turned in front of the shop on the other side of the High Street.

Defendant said nobody could help a motor car side-slipping on those roads.

He was fined £10, including costs, or in default two months’ imprisonment, the money to be paid before the rising of the Court.

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