David Walshaw
The Bad Meat Case

David Walshaw was a butcher, auctioneer and cabinet-maker of 61 Commercial Street, Brighouse.

In December 1879, he was charged with assaulting James Edward Beaumont, his servant. Beaumont had been covering a sofa; the work had not been done properly and Beaumont said that it was not his fault. He refused to do the work properly, and Walshaw

knocked him down and throttled him

At the West Riding Police Court in Halifax, the case was dismissed, as was a claim by Beaumont for 17/6d for wages.

In the late 19th century, he was at the centre of the notorious bad meat case of Brighouse.

In his book Birth and Death of a Borough, Reg Mitchell writes

Quite early in the life of the Council occurred the first of many scandals and difficulties that helped to shatter the public belief in the wisdom of the corporation. This was the notorious bad meat case.

In 1897, one of the health inspectors condemned some meat of David Walshaw, a local butcher, as being unfit for human consumption. The value of the meat was only £10, but Walshaw and the town's butchers were up in arms.

The Brighouse Echo, which had commented on the case, was sued for libel, but won its case.

The Council not only condemned the meat, but started legal proceedings in the magistrates' court against Walshaw and won.

Walshaw appealed to Quarter Sessions and won there on a technicality.

He then took action against the Council for compensation, and the Council decided to appeal to the High Court.

They lost there and were foolhardy enough to go to the Court of Appeal, where the result was the same.

In all, the case cost the Council well over £1000 an enormous burden on the rates – equivalent to more than £75,000 [in 2005]

Mabel, David's daughter, always said that David had bought the meat from the Council in the first place, that's why he was so furious when they took him to court – it was the Council's own bad meat. After he won the court case, he displayed signs in his shop on Commercial Street saying

The triumph of right over might

One of his sons, Ernest, caught a Council inspector sneaking into the preparation room without introducing himself. Ernest took the opportunity and thumped the Council inspector. When the police were called, Ernest told them that he'd done it in self-defence as he'd caught what he believed to be an intruder. Ernest therefore had no case to answer to the police

© Malcolm Bull 2023
Revised 19:59 / 1st May 2023 / 4401

Page Ref: X609

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