Were women in dock in rare court picture suffragettes?

COURTING PUBLICITY ... a rare view inside South Shields Magistrates' Court. But who was in the dock?
COURTING PUBLICITY ... a rare view inside South Shields Magistrates' Court. But who was in the dock?

OFTEN it’s not possible to put faces to certain aspects of the past.

But, surprisingly, crime isn’t one of them!

The picture here, though, is a pretty rare one, having been taken inside South Shields Magistrates’ Court round at about the time of the First World War.

You’re not normally allowed to take photographs inside court rooms, so I’m not sure how photographer Jimmy Cleet managed it.

It’s never been certain who these women were in the dock, but I’ve often wondered if they were suffragettes, who were very active on Tyneside - not always legally, of course.

We know more, however, about a fascinating, searchable set of pictures which the National Archives have just placed on line.

They feature mug shots of prisoners in Wandsworth Prison, in London, in 1872-1873 and, surprisingly, some of them belong to Tyneside men who’d got into trouble in The Smoke.

Chaps like William Ridley Carr, who was 21 and had been born in Newcastle. He had been had up for simple larceny – stealing six coats.

Also from Newcastle was George Smith, 24, who had also been imprisoned for theft, in his case, of a pair of trousers.

Have a look at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk