Highway Robbery in Palterton

A village wedding was always the source of income to my friends and I because it was the custom for village children to waylay the cavalcade of wedding cars on their route to St. Leonards's Church at Scarcliffe, the parish church - it was a "Hold Up" in every sense!

This tradition started way back in Palteron Village in the early 1900's and quite probably much earlier but in those days people either walked to the wedding or were transported by horse and cart; so it was much easier for our predecessors to 'Hold Up' the procession in Palterton itself.

My pals and I, in the late 1940's went to Scarcliffe lane, which is the main road from Palterton to Scarcliffe and positioned ourselves at a spot near to the 'Two Trees'.

This location was quite an historical 'landmark' in the area but was sheer coincidence that we chose the place for our exploits!

It was at the 'Two Trees' where fights and scores were settled between local lads, it being half way between Palterton and Scarcliffe, so the boys from the two villages were on 'neutral' soil and if two lads from Palterton were fighting they were also half way home from school.

Unbeknown to us this notorious spot had been dubbed by previous generations as "The Blood Tub", being the site where fights and disputes had taken place.  Ironically it was only sixty yards from the "Two Trees" where a plane had crashed a few years earlier during the second world war, which I recall in depth.

We were armed with a two inch thick long thick rope we had acquired from the Brewery dray men - the thick rope was used by the Dray men to lower kegs of beer into pub cellars.  As soon as we saw the wedding cars approaching we held the rope across the road and literally 'Held Up' the procession.  The occupants lowered their car windows and either threw money into the road for us or put the money into the cap which we offered.  If other vehicles were passing we merely left the rope on the road and the vehicles ran over it.

In earlier times, the traditional horse drawn carriages were 'held up', but in those days, the 'hold up' occurred in the village.

We made a few 'bob' (shillings).  I would be aged about eleven or twelve years at the time.

It was almost 'Highway Robbery'.  All we were short of were masks, flintlocks and cutlasses ......... we had the rope but we had tradition on our side!

It is ironical that years later, whilst in the Manchester City Police Force I was arresting 'villains' for 'highway' robberies.

Highway Robbery in Palterton

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Created 2 December 2001
Last updated: 10 February 2011