The Proceedings of the Old Bailey

Source: Luba Milstein, evidence given at trial, 10 May 1911, from Old Bailey Proceedings Online (, version 7.0, 20 September 2014), April 1911, trial of DUBOF, Zurka (24, painter) PETERS, Jacob (24, tailor’s presser) ROSEN, John (26, hairdresser) VASSILEVA, Nina (23, cigarette maker) (t19110425-75).

Text: In December I was living at 59, Grove Street. On the 13th, I think, Dubof’ slept there in the front room with Peter the Painter. He was then drunk. On December 16 Dubof, Rosen, and Hoffman came to the house. Dubof had with him Exhibit 55. Tocmakoff, Fritz, and Peter the Painter were there. In the afternoon they were playing chess and music. I had to go out with some washing; I told Fritz I could not carry it; he asked Dubof to assist me, and Dubof and I went to the laundry together. I had to wait at the laundry, and Dubof left me there. When I got back to No. 59 Dubof was there; I cannot remember what time he left. Later that night Trassjonsky and I went to see some living pictures. On returning she and I were staying in the back room; Fritz and Trassjonsky lived there together. About midnight I heard two people coming upstairs. On my going to the front room door and knocking Fritz told me I must not come in. A little later the men left and I went with Trassjonsky into the front room and there saw the body of Gardstein lying on the bed. I heard a conversation between Fritz and Trassjonsky. Fritz told her that Morountzeff was wounded and asked her to put cold water to his side. Shortly afterwards I went to Hoffman’s room in Lindley Street. Fritz and Federof and Peters were there. I heard Fritz say that he carried Gardstein like a baby; also that he wanted to leave him near Commercial Road, but he started screaming. I saw a revolver in Federof’s hand; I had seen no other revolvers that night.

Comments: Luba Milstein (1892-1973) was a Russian Jew and mistress of Fritz Svaars, one of the group of Latvian revolutionaries known as the ‘Houndsditch murderers’ who killed two policemen at Houndsditch in London’s East End following a raid on a jeweller’s shop on 16 December 1910. One of the gang, George Gardstein, died the following day. They were were pursued by the police to what became known at the Siege of Sidney Street (3 January 1911), in which Svaars died. This testimony comes from the subsequent Old Bailey trial of some of those associated with the group. Sara Trassjonsky was another member.

Links: Transcript at The Proceedings of the Old Bailey

Trial of Manuel Goldberg

Source: Louise Vallers, cited in Old Bailey Proceedings Online (, version 7.0, 10 December 2013), January 1907, trial of GOLDBERG, Manuel (23, stickmaker) (t19070108-19)

Text: LOUISE VALLERS, wife of Henry Vallers, 129, Whitechapel Road, E.

We keep a Bioscope Exhibition. I was there on the evening of December 22 last, between five and six, when prisoner came in on see the exhibition. The charge for admission was one penny. He tendered a half-crown. The people pay at the door as they enter. This is the coin marked by myself. I took it and gave him two separate shillings and fivepence change. He said to me, “Are there no tickets?” I said, “No,” and he went to the door again and beckoned to another man to come in. The other man came up, and he also gave me a half-crown for his admission, for which I gave him two and fivepence change. This is the one. I looked at them, being two half-crowns looked suspicious. I tested both of them with acid, and found they were bad. The second-man kept by the doorway, but the prisoner walked right to the end of the shop and sat down and waited for the exhibition. When the second man noticed that I saw the coins were no good, he took to his heels and ran away. I then closed my shop door and sent for a constable. I went up to prisoner, and said, “This half-crown is no good to me,” and detained him till the other people in the shop had left. I gave him the coin back again. He simply said, “Not” and gave me a two shilling piece and ten halfpennies for his half-crown. A constable came in and I gave him in charge.

Comments: This is evidence from a witness at the trial of Manuel Goldberg, alleged user of counterfeit coinage, at the Central Criminal Court, London. He was found not guilty.

Links: Full trial record at Old Bailey Online

Reg. v Alfred Jones and Samuel Gold

Source: Prosecution of Offences Acts, 1879 and 1884. Return to an address of the Honourable the House of Commons, dated 29 June 1900, 19th Century House of Commons Sessional Papers, vol. LXIX p. 247, no. 389 – Reg. v Alfred Jones and Samuel Gold

Text: These prisoners were “street showmen” and they were originally arrested for using bad language and causing a crowd to assemble in a public thoroughfare. On being brought before the magistrate, the police officer stated that her found the prisoners in the Southwark Bridge Road, a busy shopping thoroughfare, with a cinematograph machine, around which a large crowd had assembled, and that in consequence of the description they gave of the pictures to be exhibited therein her arrested them.

The magistrate, in view of the increasing number of cinematographs to be seen in the streets and at places of amusement, and of the danger which might arise if pictures such as those described by the officer were allowed to be exhibited, felt that his powers to deal summarily with the prisoners were insufficient, and he remanded the case in order that the Director might consider whether or not the prisoners should be indicted at the sessions for wilfully exposing to public view an obscene print or picture.

The Director caused inquiries to be made, and had the pictures in the cinematograph examined, when it appeared that the language used by the prisoners by no means exaggerated the obscene nature of the “film.” It also appeared that when inviting people to pay their pence and look into the machine one of the prisoners said that women and girls were not allowed to see it, as it was only for males. The Director thereupon took charge of the prosecution, and the prisoners were committed for trial at the quarter sessions. It was contended on their behalf that the exhibition was not an indecent one, and that similar pictures had been exhibited at a London music hall, and it was proposed to call the photographer who took them. In the end, however, defendants elected to reserve their defence. Subsequently they pleaded guilty at the South London Sessions in October 1899, and were sentenced, Jones to two, and Gold to three calendar months’ imprisonment with hard labour.

At the conclusion of the case the judge directed that inquiry should be made respecting the previous relationship between the prisoners, and as to when, how, and where they procured the films. These inquiries were made, and upon it being ascertained that no similar films existed, and that the photographers, in view of the conviction, did not propose to take any more of them the matter was allowed to drop.

Comments: The Street Cinematograph, which is possibly what was being used by Jones and Gold, was the invention of British manufacturer W.C. Hughes. It was a large peepshow comprising a film projector attached to nine-foot-long cabinet placed on trestles, with multiple viewing apertures so that several people could gather round and view the films on a screen at the far end of the cabinet. As the name indicates, it was exhibited in the open air and enjoyed a brief vogue 1898-99.