~ Old News ~
GORNAL IN THE NEWS - OLD NEWS AND GOSSIP FROM AROUND THE VILLAGE
1850s
These reports were taken from newpapers of the time....
13th August 1859
GREAT FIRE NEAR WOLVERHAMPTON
A fearful fire, endangering considerable property, and placing in peril human life, broke out on Thursday morning, at the extensive premises known by the name of the Gornal Bellows Manufactory, situate at a place called Upper Gornal, within a short distance of Wolverhampton.
Between one and two o'clock in the morning one of the workmen at the factory saw that all the building was enveloped in a mass of flames. He summoned up the proprietor, Mr. Greathead, who resides near. It appears that the fire broke out in a room in which a large quantity of bellows had been placed the night before in readiness for removal on the afternoon of the day of the sad occurrence.
Water appliances were unable to check the rapid extension of the fire along the whole range of buildings, and as they contained a considerable quantity of seasoned wood used in the making of the bellows, which having once got ignited, the flames towered over all the houses in place, causing a most brilliant light for a long way round the direful scene.
The engines of the Birmingham fire office were promptly in attendance, though not before the entire roofing and floors with a most tremendous crash had fallen in. The inmates of three houses adjoining had to be awakened and got through the windows, and the furniture taken out of the houses, and it was only by undaunted energy that the fire was kept from so extending itself. The last traces of the fire were extinguished about seven o'clock in the morning. The loss is great. The proprietor states that the premises were insured.
Wrexham and Denbighshire Advertiser and Cheshire.
Gornal Bellows Manufactory was owned by Peter Greathead. In the 1851 census, Mr Greathead is entered as Bellows Manufacturer employing 3 men, living with family in Dudley Road.
The cause of the fire was not established, and the premises was rebuilt, mysteriously, a second even more destructive fire occurred at the same premises on Sunday, 1st of July 1866, and the factory was totally destroyed with damages amounting to 400.
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16th July 1859
SUSPICIOUS DEATH IN SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE.
On Sunday morning a horrible case of murder, similar in circumstances and almost equal in atrocity to the one at Moat Colliery, Prince's End, was made known at a small place called Lower Gornal, which is a small town of cottages belonging to Lord Ward, in the parish of Sedgley. The scene of the awful event is not more than four miles from the Moat Colliery, the place of the late outrage. For some time a man of the name of William Hyson, a brewer, and occasionally a gardener, and who formerly was a publican and kept the Old House at Home in Dudley, and has been in the police force of this county, has kept loving company with a smart looking and very attractive young woman of eighteen years of age, named Mary Smith, the daughter of William Smith, a shoemaker, of Gornal Wood, who is very respectable, though humbly to do. Hyson is double Miss Smith's age. He represented himself as a single man and without encumbrance, and she received him as a suitor for her heart and hand. Through domestic differences with her sister she did not, though in opposition to her father's wish, reside at home, but lived with a woman named Mary Ann Hickman, as a lodger, during which time Hyson is said to have been received in favour, and that he, by his manifestations, purposed marrying her, having offered her two guineas a short time ago to buy her a new silk dress. She was receiving 7s. a week as a letter-bag carrier for Messrs. Cresswell, ironmasters, Tipton, in addition to having a respectable dress-making business. On Saturday she confessed to her sister that Hyson had ill-used her the previous night. She kissed her sister and sister's child repeatedly, telling them that she should "never see them more."
On Sunday morning, about four o'clock, she was discovered floating in Askew Bridge Pool. On being taken out she presented the appearance of having been used roughly, as both her arms were bruised. She was neatly attired. She was found by two policemen. Two persons of the names of James Marsh and Jonah Hickin have declared to Policeman Taylor that they saw Hyson with the deceased from a quarter past ten o'clock to twelve at night, on the Himley Road, near the National School, Lower Gornal. On the discovery of the body Taylor went and fetched Hyson out of bed. Hyson denied that he had been with the girl at that time, but said that on coming from Dudley, he overtook a girl on the Himley road, near to the Cooper's Bank toll-gate, and merely walked with her along the road.
The Illustrated Usk Observer and Raglan Herald.
Another account reported by the The Guardian a day earlier on 15th July, 1859
William Hyson, the man reported to have been seen in the company with Mary Smith, the poor woman whose body was found floating in a pool at Tower [Lower] Gornal on Sunday Morning, has disappeared. He has left behind,--what he always repudiated in his courting days with Miss Smith,--a wife and six children without any resource for obtaining a living.
A shawl belonging to the young woman has been found in the pool; and the appearance of her arms, which seemed to have been tightly clasped, even to an incision of the nails, justifies the belief that she was fastened to the flood gates, but that she subsequently struggled away.
On Monday, 18th July 1859, an inquest held at the White Chimneys Inn, the jury returned a verdict:- "the deceased was found drowned, but from what cause there was no evidence to show, and that there was no suspicion attending it".

20th July 1859
ANOTHER BODY FOUND IN THE ASKEW BRIDGE POOL.
An inquest was held on Monday by Mr Phillips, Deputy Coroner, at the Bulls Head Inn, Lower Gornal on the body of a man named John Carter. Deceased was taken out of the pool on Saturday near the spot where Miss Smith was found, and his body found to be in an advanced state of decomposition.
It was shown in the evidence that Carter was forty-seven years of age, and that on leaving his home on Tuesday, he remarked to his landlady that if he did not return she would find his keys in a particular spot. He also gave directions, provided he did not return, for the disposal of his clothes and his burial with the proceeds.
He was seen again on the following night at a public-house, but, until his body was found, no further tidings were heard of him. He had been recently in great distress, and that was the only reason assigned for the rash act
An open verdict was returned.
The Birmingham Daily Post
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