Leeds nostalgia: Traders in dock for mis-selling fruit in 1918

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Dateline: September 5, 1918: The things which were classed as crimes in the past will often-times astonish. Take a report from the YEP on this day 100 years ago, when James Parker, from Leeds Market, was fined £3 - a hefty sum back then - for selling three baskets of redcurrants to a fruitier instead of a jam maker.

Perhaps to us, looking back, the offence seems a trivial one, the distinction even more pedantic. However, at the time, many people found themselves standing before the bench having fallen foul of strict rationing laws. Over and above official censure was the approbation of their peers.

The case in question involved a delivery of redcurrants from a Wisbech postman, who was apparently forbidden to sell his crop to anyone but a jam boiler. The case was defended in court on the basis that this restriction on sale was not passed on properly to the buyer and that the real culpit was the grower.

It was also pointed out that the quantities stated would have merited no interest from jam makers, who were in the habit of buying in bulk and that, the berries being highly perishable, unless they were sold, they would go to waste.

In addition to Mr Parker, other traders were also in the dock. They included Walter Game, fruitier from Leeds Market, accused of the same; then there was Walter Marshall, grocer, from York Road, summoned for having charged excessive prices of 2s 6d per lb instead of 2s 4d for butter - he was fined £3 for that and a further 10s for selling milk at 1s 8d instead of 1s 1d.

Martha Ann Simmonds, of Meynell Street, appeared on two summons for mis-selling margarine, while Fred Taylor, from Leeds Market, missold black currants.