Archive centreCarlisle
ReferenceQ/PAL
TitleAlston Petty Sessions
DescriptionIncludes court registers; court minute books; Registers of premises, persons and store licences registered under the Explosives Act 1875
Date1876-1985
Extent15 items
ContextSome Notes on Alston Magistrates' Court

Court sessions have been held in Alston for many hundreds of years; indeed, Alston's Lowbyer Manor was the location for Courts Leet and Baron, some of the court books for which were signed by the first Lord Derwentwater.

By an Act of Parliament in 1828 Petty Sessional Divisions came about; Alston was in the Leath Ward with Penrith. Petty Sessions were first held at the Swan Inn, only about fifty yards from the present courthouse. Sessions then were held on the first Friday of every month, as they have been ever since. The sitting magistrates in 1828 were the Vicar and Robert Hodgson, Esq., of Melmerby Hall, who in 1843 was to be High Sheriff of Cumberland.

By 1847 the Petty Sessions had moved to the Blue Bell Inn, at the foot of the town. I wonder whether, in the intervening years, court had been held in each of the many public houses between Town Head and Town Foot.

In 1858 Alston's Town Hall was opened, comprising the Court House, Mechanics' Institute and Gentlemen's Reading Room (perhaps another name for the Magistrates' Retiring Room).

In 1883 the new County police station was opened, with residence for one constable together with a lock-up for prisoners and a room for magisterial purposes and petty sessional business.

Thus, in September 1994, we witness the conclusion to many years of thedispensation of local justice on Alston Moor and one hundred and eleven years of service by the present Court House.

In that period of more than a century Alston Moor's residents have appeared in court for:-

Vehicle without lights (June 1916) - Fine 7/6

Unscreened light (February 1941) - Fine £1

Larceny of false teeth (July 1914) Committed 14 days!

and, in the 1970s, charges of possession of cannabis too numerous to mention.

I am indebted to the Cumbria Records Office for information from various directories and other records and to the local Police Sergeant for the loan of an index to the Charge Book which have enabled me to make these brief notes.

Richard V. Turner, J.P.

18th August, 1994.
Catalogue levelSubFonds
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