Windsor Road Penarth. Trinder's shop - the scene of the 1901 court sensastion is to the left of Prosser's

Windsor Road Penarth early 1900s. Trinder’s shop – the scene of the alleged  bedroom assault on a young female servant by the proprietor  Mr H Trinder – is to the left of Prosser’s

There’s no need for much  guesswork as far as the location of this last picture in the PDN “Penarth Back in Time” series is concerned – it’s Windsor Road looking towards Barclay’s Bank.

Traders which can be identified (from left to right) are Tucker’s, Stead and Simpson (where Goldcraft now is) , Barclay’s Bank , and nearer the camera Howell Bros – selling domestic soft furnishings and lampshades, Trinders selling confectionery and  framed pictures (of which more later) and Prosser and Co  – with  a bit of keen price-promotion going on.

The sensational sex case reported in the Cardiff Times of September 7th 1901 which was the talk of Penarth at the time

The sensational sex case reported in the Cardiff Times of September 7th 1901 which was the talk of Penarth at the time

It was a turn-of-the-century court case  1901 which lifted the lid on on what life and times were really like in middle-class Penarth.

The case involved  the proprietor of Trinder’s shop in Windsor Road – Mr Harry Trinder –  who was accused of having indecently assaulted a newly-employed young domestic servant –  Kate Smith (19) who had just joined his prosperous household from the local workhouse.

Penarth Police Station in 1900 contained Penarth Magistrates Court .

Penarth Police Station in 1900 contained Penarth Magistrates Court . Constables still wore cutlasses

The case was heard at Penarth Police Court in September 1901 .  The magistrates were local worthies of the day  David Davies and the brewer S. A. Brain.

Mr Trinder was represented by a  lawyer Joseph Henry Jones and was “accompanied in court by several friends”.On the other hand Kate Smith, the penniless young 19-year-old girl who Trinder was alleged to have indecently assaulted, had no one to represent her and had to conduct her own defence .

She told the court that the alleged indecent assaults had taken place “before dinner and after dinner”  [In those days dinner was eaten at 14:00 in the afternoons]. Kate Smith told the court that “whilst I was trying the potatoes, about a quarter of an hour before dinner, defendant first assaulted me” .

The second assault- she alleged – had occurred in Trinder’s bedroom “about an hour after dinner -about 3 o’clock. He had asked Kate Smith to come upstairs and fill the jug in his bedroom .  Kate Smith said “I went upstairs to fetch the jug, and whilst in the room he caught hold of me by the waist with both arms. I tried to get away from him, but he would not let me, and he pushed me down on the bed. I started to scream and he told me not to do so.”

Trinder interjected at this point and shouted out in court “I wonder the lies don’t choke you!”. The Cardiff Times reported –  discreetly –  that Kate Smith then “described what she alleged happened”.

Trinder’s lawyer  tried to confuse Kate Smith under cross-examination her –  suggesting that as the shop was busy,  and that three other people  were in the building at the time, including Trinder’s wife, Mrs Trinder, and that anyone calling out or making any noise in the bedroom would have been heard downstairs .

However Kate Smith she had not called out because Mr Trinder had told her not to – precisely  because she would be heard downstairs. The Cardiff Times reported “She told the court the reason she did not scream when the second assault was being committed – although she thought it more serious than the other was because she was ashamed to.” She went downstairs – carrying Trinder’s boots.

Kate Smith – decided to resign and went inform  Trinder’s wife – Mrs Trinder . What happened next turned the incident into a court case .

Kate Smith told Mrs Trinder “I think I’ll leave.” Mrs Trinder said she could go. Kate Smith then revealed why she wanted to leave . She told Mrs Trinder “I have been insulted by a married man.”  Mrs Trinder replied  “By whom, you silly girl?” . Kate Smith answered “By Mr Trinder.”

Mrs Trinder said “You are mad! When?” . Kate gave her the details of the first assault in the kitchen . The Cardiff Times reported that Mrs Trinder “in consequence, went to her husband. who was upstairs” .

Mrs Trinder confronted her husband  “Harry, that girl accuses you of taking a liberty with her,” .He replied “When ? Where ? Where is that wicked girl ?” . The Cardiff Times reported “He then followed witness down to complainant’s room, and they met her in the corridor with her dress off.”

Mr Tinder said “You wicked girl!” and called to their son to fetch the police, telling the youngest daughter to keep Kate Smith in her room until PC Knott arrived and took statements.

When Kate Smith left the shop she had no option but to return to the Workhouse from which she had come . There, she told the manager Mr Pritchard what had happened. He made “enquiries” – but then said he would not take up the case on her behalf.

Undaunted Kate Smith – (19) , uneducated, with no money and no family, had decided to take up the case herself on her own account an represent herself in court to confront Mr Trinder.  But from the start it was a unequal class-struggle . Trinder had influential friends, money and contacts and a lawyer . Kate Smith had nothing.

In the hearing it was also alleged – but never proved – that Kate Smith had “stolen money” (sixpence three farthings)  and that she was “mentally weak”.

The magistrates decided that Kate Smith’s story was “a complete fabrication” and dimissed the allegations against Mr Trinder . Trinder’s lawyer said he ” trusted the Bench would let it go forth that Mr Trinder left the court without a, shadow of suspicion against him.” 

The Magistrate Mr S A Brain replied “I think we showed that in stopping the case“. The Cardiff Times reported the chairman of the magistrates as saying that “in doing what they had done they thought they had done everything in Mr Trinder’s favour”.

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  1. Ralf says:

    Plus ca change

  2. Martin gossage says:

    Theres a Trinder grave in ST Augustine’s . Think I says Mary .Daughter ?

  3. Peter Church says:

    Knowing the CPS they might want to open historic sex abuse charges in relation to this case!

Comments are closed.