Penrith

Black Sheep Sunday – Warren Espley Bruce (1911-1982)

Warren Espley Bruce is my wife’s 3rd cousin 1x removed. He was born in Stockport, Cheshire on 19 June 1911 to parents Warren John Bruce and Sarah Jane Espley. Their common ancestors are James Espley and Martha Silvester, my wife’s 3x great grandparents.

Sometime in the September quarter of 1934 Warren married Mary Kitchen – the marriage is registered at Penrith, Cumberland.

In the 1939 Register Warren is shown as licensee at the Two Lions Hotel, Great Dockray, Penrith, Cumberland. It seems he remained there for a good number of years.

Unfortunately Warren was arrested for drunk driving in 1955 and the following report is from the Penrith Observer on 26 July 1955.

Warren Espley Bruce - Penrith Observer 26 July 1955.png

Penrith Observer from the British Newspaper Archive

Drove under influence – fined £50

A Penrith publican, Warren Espley Bruce (44), address given as the Two Lions Hotel, Great Dockray, was fined £50 and disqualified from driving for a year by Penrith Magistrates last week.

Bruce was charged with driving a car between Frenchfield Hill, Carleton and Great Dockray when under the influence of drink to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the vehicle at 7.50pm on Thursday, June 30. He pleaded guilty.

Constable Peel said he saw a car coming towards him at a very fast speed up Frenchfield Hill. He turned round and followed it to the junction of Roper Street with Victoria Road where there was a halt sign. He saw Bruce, who was the driver had a flushed face, and smelt strongly of intoxicating liquor. His speech was slurred and he refused to get out of the car, and kept switching the engine on and off.

He then shot forward over the junction, causing a lorry to stop suddenly.

Constable Peel said he followed the car into Corn Market – where Bruce slowed up as though he did know which way to turn – and into Great Dockray, where he turned into the entrance of the Two Lions Hotel.

Bruce was unsteady on his feet and caught hold of the car for support, and when asked why he had driven away replied: “I got here all right didn’t I?”

CALL FOR ASSISTANCE

Told he would be arrested, Bruce said he would not, and made as though to get into the hotel. Constable Peel said he was obliged to restrain him and take him by the arm.

Bruce was put into the police car, but got out and made back into the hotel, but witness brought him back and wirelessed for assistance. “He was not violent, but just awkward,” said Constable Peel.

Bruce refused to be examined by a doctor at the police station, and said: “The car is in the yard. I have not killed anybody, have I?”

He called the police “Gestapo” and said “I will get you for this,” witness said.

For the defence, Mr C E Arnison, Penrith, said that Bruce’s car was 6ft 4in wide and that the entrance to the Two Lions yard was only 8ft wide. That left a total of only 21 inches, 10 and half on each side. A man could drive a vehicle through a narrow entrance like that had a good measure of control. What happened afterwards was another matter.

Bruce had the right to go for trial by jury at the next Cumberland Quarter Sessions if he wished, said Mr Arnison.

The opportunity was open to Bruce, but after giving careful consideration to the matter, he had decided to take his punishment that day.

MET R.A.F. COLLEAGUE

Mr Arnison referred to “a queer set of coincidences” that came into being during the afternoon of that day. Bruce had set off to visit his father at Hawes for a few days’ holiday, and when going through Warcop saw an old R.A.F. acquaintance he had not seen for three to four years.

He filled up with petrol at Warcop where the garage was part of the Chamley Arms, and then they had a lot to drink. There was no denying that, but Bruce was “not in bad clip afterwards.”

He realised he was under the influence of drink, and instead of driving the 26 miles to Hawes, he travelled the 16 miles back to Penrith, with the result that someone must have reported him for bad driving.

“EMOTIONALLY UPSET”

Bruce, said Mr Arnison, had got worked up into an excited state, and was more emotionally upset than alcoholically upset. He had been driving for 28 years, and had had no such charges against him before.

Joseph Hall, Beckside, Warcop, said Bruce had been in the R.A.F. with him. He saw him by accident in Warcop, and they went to have a drink. He had a bottle of beer and three rums, and Bruce drank whisky. He did not think Bruce was drunk at the time.

However it seems that Warren did not want to wait for his disqualification to run its course.

According to the Penrith Observer of 31 January 1956 Warren “made a successful application to have his licence restored”.

At the hearing Magistrates were told by Mr Arnison that:

He now applied for the removal of the disqualification. His father lived alone in Nicholson Lane, and in the last few years his health had deteriorated. It would be to his advantage if his son could take him up and down in his car.

Mr Arnison said Bruce’s only hobby was golf, and if he had to rely on public transport he could hardly get up to the golf course to have a game during the day. he also had business commitments up and down the country for which a car was most useful.

The police opposed the application with Superintendent H Graham saying “Bruce was quite unfit to be in charge of a car at the time of the offence. Suspension was the most serious part of the conviction”.

So a victory of sorts for Warren in the end – but not one I would be proud to boast about.

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