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Food disturbance in South Shields

Women arrested over a bag of sugar

From: 30 June 1917

Civil Parish: South Shields

Report from the Shields Daily News, 1 July 1917:


Because she could Not Get Sugar

A widow, who decided when she was tired of her life because she could not get sugar appeared before the South Shields bench today. She had desired to be locked up, and of course the police ever ready to oblige had acceded to her desire.

The women in question, Elizabeth Terry, aged 38, of 107 Campbell Street was charged with committing a breach of the peace in Green Street yesterday. The case was rather a peculiar one.

The officer said he saw the defendant yesterday in the centre of a crowd of some 300 women who were assembled in front of the Home and Colonial Store in Green Street. She was shouting at the top of her voice and shaking her fist. Witness spoke to her and asked here to behave herself. She told him she was tired of her life because she couldn’t get sugar. The Officer urged her to go away quietly, but she refused to do so and insisted on being locked up. The manager of the shop told the constable that the women would have been supplied with a 1 lb of sugar and tea if she had come and asked for it properly, but she had come into the shop and demanded it in a truculent manner and it was, in consequence, refused to her. She then started the disturbance.

“I have dealt in the shop for years”, the defendant told their worships, “and yet, they always ask for a ticket. They were serving other people with 2lbs of sugar and they refused to let me have any. I told them I got all my butter, tea, jam and cheese there, and I had a right to have some and all I got from them was “you are not going to get any here.” I got excited and I lost my temper. For myself and my boys I have only had ½ lb of sugar for a fortnight.

The Chief Constable explained that the firm in question issued tickets so that they could identify their customers. On these tickets each customer was served with 2 lbs of sugar a week if the shop had it in stock. He thought it was a very good system,

The Bench imposed a fine of 5s.

Contributed by Durham County Record Office | Kenneth Mankin

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