Rock hard benches and telling it as it is for 300 years

The stenographer nodded off to sleep.

No one could blame her, even in the public gallery the journalists were getting fidgety. Court benches became real hard when you sit on them for a couple of hours.

The Old Bailey as it was in Victorian England.

Labour court isn’t as exciting as the criminal court. No witness describing the accused with knife in hand. No detective taking the stand to tell how he hunted down the accused.

In the Labour court, arguments drone on about reasons for suspension and dismissal.

And the journalists scribble it all down, like they have done for 300 years, forever hunting the angle.

There is this cool website, it is called The Old Bailey online and it holds the court records from 1674 to 1913 of London’s

Central Criminal Court

The transcripts are tape recordings, of the time. The voices of the ordinary people, transcribed for legal accuracy. In the witness stand, they tell of murders, robberies, pick pocketing or as they called it then pocket picking.

What is not recorded are those other transcribers.

In the public gallery the journalists would have sat, scribbling with quill pens, or pencils. They didn’t back then have I pads or tweeted the latest utterances from the stand.

But I bet their butts got just as sore sitting on those hard benches.


About Shaun Smillie

Journalist, with a love of bones, fossils and other things dug up. Fisherman and occasional beer maker.
This entry was posted in Media, stories behind the news and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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