How young Shropshire girls were kicked out of town - for kicking a bowl

By Toby Neal | Bishop's Castle | Nostalgia | Published: | Last Updated:

Young Gladys Gough of Bishop's Castle was sent away for a crime she did commit – and was not to see her family again for nearly 10 years.

Bishop's Castle as young Gladys would have remembered it. This is Salop Street.

She was only aged eight.

And the 'crime' was a childish escapade in which on her way home from school she and her older sister Flossy – only nine herself – took a small enamel bowl on display outside a hardware shop in the town.

It was worth 3d - hardly more than 1p in today's money.

Flossy had accidentally kicked it, sending it flying. Then she kicked it again for fun. Then she threw it to Gladys. And then they went home with the bowl.

Gladys Hewitt in 1997, shortly before her death

Gladys was born in 1906. The crime was on August 18, 1914. They were duly summonsed to Bishop's Castle magistrates court.

Flossy was sentenced to be detained in a reform school. Gladys was ordered to be packed off to a residential school for girls.

It was a devastating blow for their widowed mother with a large family to look after and now the whole traumatic episode has been revealed in a book written by Gladys' son Alan Hewitt.


The harshness of the sentencing sent shock throughout Bishop's Castle at the time.

Gladys was sent to what must have seemed the other end of the earth, Marston House School at Stafford, and then at 14 was put into service. She did not return to Bishop's Castle until she had just turned 17, and by then her mother and sisters hardly recognised her.

"Why, mum, didn't someone write to me?" she pleaded.

"But I did, many times, but never got a reply," her mum said.


Clearly all their correspondence had been stopped.

Gladys was to leave Shropshire, marrying to become Mrs Gladys Hewitt and spending more than 70 years of her life in Manchester. Mrs Hewitt died in her 90th year on May 26, 1997. Her remains and those of her youngest son Clifford were returned to the place of her birth.

Son Alan, who is 88 and lives in Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, said: "A few months after her death I felt so upset and distressed, being her third eldest son, about what she confided in me about the disturbing story of her young life, of which I’d had no knowledge, that I decided to write a story drawing attention to the hardships suffered by both my mother, her family and many of the Castle’s poor people."

His book, written under the name Alan Royal, was called Give A Penny, Take A Penny, and soon sold out, although he says it is still available on Kindle.

Alan says: "I have spent many hours, both as a toddler visiting the Castle with my mother throughout my youthful years, and in my later life, and to me Bishop's Castle is a magical place where you can allow your mind to wander as you reflect on all those lives gone by and their footprints in history.

"As a matter of interest there is, or at least was, a photograph on the wall of the Three Tuns Inn of three or four workmen which includes the only known photograph of my grandfather John Gough standing on a scaffold in his white painter's overalls."

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.


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