Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire History & Archaeology
Tuesday, 10 January 2012
Book - Crime pays in 2012 (Sheffield)
BOMB attacks, uprisings and infanticide
Eeeh, says Margaret Drinkall, it’s
all good fun...
“I was up at 5.30am this
morning,” enthuses the 65-year-old historian. “I couldn’t
sleep. I’d got to a point researching my latest book where a chap who
killed his mistress was facing trial. I wanted to know what happened. So, there
I was, cup of tea, dressing gown, going through these 19th century newspapers.”
And what did happen?
“He was hanged,” she nods.
“Fascinating. Even if no-one read my books and no publishers wanted them
any more, I think I would carry on researching. I love it.”
No-one reading is perhaps not something
she need worry about.
For, as Margaret’s 10th tome is
released, the former Rotherham Council volunteer co-ordinator is fast
establishing her name as South Yorkshire’s premier historical crime
Her latest offering, Yorkshire Villains,
Rogues, Rascals And Reprobates, is a whiz through 19th century crime committed
in Yorkshire taking in everything from Ecclesall child murder to Chartist
uprisings in Waingate, from the outrageous Spence Broughton to the Sheffield
And, coming on the back of her previous
books – including Sheffield Crimes and Sheffield Workhouse – it
looks set to be her best-seller so far.
Perhaps little wonder.
Here the reader can learn about an 1840
armed uprising where a band of Sheffield workers planned to storm the town
hall, murder watchmen and establish a Chartist stronghold. Or one can find out
how, in 1861, Bridget O’Rourke, of Acorn Street, was woken by a parcel
being flung into her bedroom window. It was a bomb - one of the earliest acts
of the Sheffield Outrages.
There’s also highway robberies,
counterfeiting and treason.
“I have no idea why people enjoy
reading about these things,” says mother-of-two Margaret, of Meadow
Street, Rotherham. “But I do know I’m one of those people. I
suppose we’re attracted to the gruesome – and there’s not
many places as gruesome as Victorian England.
“I remember being driven past
Armley prison when I was a little girl and my aunt telling me it was where they
hanged people. I was intrigued from then on.
“I went back recently to take
photos for a book about Leeds crime and I was so excited. I felt like I imagine
some women do when they go shopping.”
And for the future? There’s more
history for Margaret, who achieved a master’s degree in the subject
through the Open University in 2008.
She’s got another four books
commissioned for 2012 – including a rather less gruesome Rotherham
‘then and now’ project – and after that she hopes to do more.
“It’s the best job,”
she says. “It can be sad, of course, when you’re thinking, for
example, of those women who felt they had to kill their babies because they
were born out of wedlock but when you stumble on something exciting like that
Chartist uprising, it really is a lot of...yes, fun.”
Yorkshire Villains, Rogues, Rascals and
Reprobates, published by The History Press, is in bookshops now priced £9.99.
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Pat returns to give a talk on the life of one of Britain’s most renown monarchs. The talk will delve into the early years of Victoria’s life explaining how she became Queen. The talk will also delves into Victoria’s relationship with Prince Albert and how she interacted with the other European monarchies.
The talk starts at 7.30pm on Thursday 5th February at the Innings Public House, Gloucester Road, Prospect, Worksop S81 0RS. Entry is only £3 and there will be a bar on. There is also a large free car park outside.