Annetwell Street – resort of thieves

Annetwell Street, Carlisle, isn’t much of a street today. Running alongside the Radio Cumbria building, it seems sidelined by the busy A595 Castle Way that slices through the city in front of the castle. But in 1891, it was frequented by thieves and poachers, and there were five inns within 100 yards of each other. 

When publican Joseph Walsh (38) sought to renew the licence of the Hound and Otter Inn, 23 Annetwell Street, Carlisle, in 1891, he was refused. He then appealed.

The Hound and Otter was small, ‘a mere drinking shop’ with just three rooms used downstairs. And it was a source of continual trouble, according to the police.

They said the inn regularly broke the licensing laws by opening on Sundays, and was ‘the resort of thieves, poachers and people of bad character’.

The police gave examples of a convicted salmon poacher, Henry McNeil, being ‘on duty’ to warn those in the pub that officers were approaching. 

Another thief who had been seen drinking in the Hound and Otter was Bernard Shannon, who had been convicted several times of stealing shoes.

A wall between the yard and Annet Square bore the marks of people having climbed over it.

Thieves ‘inevitable’

The case for the appeal was that McNeil just lived near the inn, and in a ‘low neighbourhood like this,’ it was inevitable thieves would frequent it, simply because of its location. 

John Smith, the owner of the building, said a large number of sergeants and their wives, living in the married quarters of the barracks, drank in the inn. He owned other houses in Hound and Otter Lane: only two of the ten tenements were unoccupied.

Joseph Walsh said he went to church on Sunday mornings and Owen Hancock, his father-in-law, said there was no Sunday drinking.

Despite this, and the magistrates being slightly divided, the appeal was dismissed.

By the 1901 census, Joseph Walsh was a housepainter. And 23 Annetwell Street was a baker’s shop.

Annetwell Street, Carlisle.
The Annetwell Street sign can be seen on the wall of this restaurant
Annetwell Street, Carlisle, den of thieves, Cumbrian Characters
At the other end

A thing about shoes

One curious line is the reference to Bernard Shannon, convicted several times of stealing shoes.

He may not have been a Cumbrian Character, being born and raised in South Shields. But his habit of stealing shoes to pawn for money made him a real nuisance in Carlisle. 

In 1881, a round-up of his ‘previous’ listed: 1867 one month for felony; 1872, 14 days for felony, then three months; 1873, six months; 1874, 12 months; 1875, five years’ penal servitude for robbery with violence; 1880, one month.

Shannon had at some point joined the 55th Foot.

Presumably it was the Army that took him to Carlisle where, in January 1881 he pled guilty to stealing 11 pairs of stockings from the shop door of Samuel Harper. He blamed drink for his ‘misfortunes’ and was given 18 months’ hard labour.

By January 1885, he was a labourer, living in Byron Street, Carlisle, with a wife and children. Accused of stealing a pair of boots from the shop of John A Jackson, shoemaker, Botchergate, he was given nine months’ hard labour.

In April 1887, he got nine months’ imprisonment for stealing a pair of boots, and then a jacket. And in January 1889, he was jailed for 15 months with hard labour, for stealing another pair of boots, the property of Gavin Melville, of English Street – from whom he’d stolen the other boots two years earlier!

On the 1891 census, he was a prisoner, aged 38, in Carlisle Jail.

And a violent brute

It’s no surprise his poor wife Jane (née Gannon) told the 1881 court she had to support the children alone. She was better off when he was inside, as at least then, he couldn’t abuse her.

In July 5, 1890, he pled not guilty to maliciously wounding his wife, on June 14, at their home in Byron Street, Caldewgate, Carlisle (handy for Sainsbury’s!!!).

They’d been drinking together in a pub, but she went home about 4pm. He went home later, hit her twice in the face, then knocked her down with the knob-end of the poker.

The jury were then told that while he was in the police station cells, Shannon had threatened to kill Jane for reporting him.

Shannon was given 18 calendar months’ hard labour – and for some reason, said: “Give me five years. It will kill me.”

When the recorder refused, Shannon shouted, used bad language towards his wife, and struggled with two warders and two policemen before they could get him out of the dock.

While Bernard Shannon was in jail in 1891, Jane, aged 29, was at 21 Gawthrop’s Lane, with children James 7, Patrick 6, Sarah 4, and Mary A, 2 months. The census was taken at the start of April. Assuming Bernard was Mary’s father, that puts conception around the date of his court appearance for attacking her.

Jane Shannon died in 1900, aged just 39. In 1901, Mary Ann shows up (with a Jane Shannon, aged four) as the adopted daughter of Thomas and Catherine Caraghan. Brother James is boarding in Carlisle. Sister Sarah is also in Carlisle, living with her uncle Patrick Gannon.

And brother Patrick Shannon, aged 16 (religion RC), is under detention at a reformatory school in north Wales.

  • The photos show modern Annetwell Street, from the other side of Castle Way.

You can read more about old Carlisle in this post on The Sorceries.