Leeds nostalgia: Car thieves from 1948 ‘drive burning car into quarry’

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Dateline: September 1948: If you were to read a story about a car being stolen, set on fire and driven towards a quarry, you might assume it referred to relatively recent times but, as the record will show, delinquents abound throughout history.

Turn the clock back 70 years to 1948 and buried in the pages of the Yorkshire Evening Post from that date we find a story which fits the bill. It’s a tale of two young men who were seen racing through Brighouse in a cream Chysler, failing to stop at traffic lights and then abandoning the car, which was by then well ablaze, near a quarry out of town.

The car had been stolen earlier the same evening, from the garage of one William Hughes, of Otley Road, Shipley.

Witness Mrs May Chopping, of Blake Low Farm Cottages, described how the men pulled up and uprooted a section of fence in order to gain access to the quarry.

She went on: “Then, while one of them stood by, the other drove the car straight fort he edge of the quarry. I thought it was going right over but they seemed to change their minds. The next minute, the car was a mass of flames. The men began to walk towards Brighouse.”

Mrs Chopping raised the alarm and one of her neighbours apparently cycled to Clifton for the police and fire brigade.

When they arrived, they found the car destroyed but with its front wheels hanging over a 40ft drop. The men were described as “very tall, fairly well-dressed, clean-shaven wearing light raincoats, hatless.” In other news, the US was hunting Russian superspy “Arthur Adams”, who allegedly stole atomic weapons secrets and in the UK, there was an update on the fledgling 999 service, which had resulted in over 300 arrests since its launch in June 1948.