PARENTS appearing in court for failing to send their children to school is not as unusual as it might sound.

Even in Craven, parents on a fairly regular basis appear on the list at Skipton Magistrates Court faced with charges brought by the education authority. They are rarely reported because of laws surrounding the identification of children.

But that was not the case 120 years ago when in February 1904 Harold Wade from Addingham appeared at Skipton Police Court for failing to send his two young children to school.

Under the headline 'a tough Addingham case', the Craven Herald reported on a family in poverty, unable even to buy shoes, and how the magistrates bench took pity on the man and adjourned proceedings for two months in the hope his situation might change.

The man walked the six miles or so to Skipton without breakfast for the hearing held in Skipton Town Hall, the court heard.

The family lived in Main Street, Addingham, and two children, Harold and Basil, out of a possible attendance of 164 days had only attended 68 and 65 respectively.

One of the children when asked why by the school attendance officer said it was because he needed to tend the baby.

The school attendance officer told the court that their father had been a small shopkeeper in Addingham until recently but did not know what his occupation was now.

Mr Wade told the court he had been out of work for six months and the boys had 'not a bit of covering for their feet'.

Two years previously the older boy had pleurisy and every time he went out he caught cold.

When Mr Wade was told he had to mind the baby, his wife was doing a little washing for a neighbour and he was cleaning windows. Defendant added he had walked from Addingham that morning without breakfast. He could not afford to buy boots and he would not 'go to the parish'. He had tried to get work every way he possibly could but he had not been successful.

The bench adjourned the case for two months and said if the children were still not attending school, a fine would be imposed.

Also up before the bench were several people charged with being drunk and disorderly; they included Jas Townson, a farm labourer of Addingham who was found drunk in a passage at The Crown Inn, Addingham, for which he was fined five shillings - about £17. A William Whiteoak a farmer of Farnhill, whose string of like convictions went back to 1888, was fined 10 shillings and costs.

Two Skipton weavers, Samson Chadwick and John Heap, residing at Club Houses, off Newmarket Street, appeared before magistrates charged with drunkenness and disorderly conduct. They had been found by two police constables in a very drunk condition and using bad language.

"Heap was swearing because he could not find the key and Chadwick was swearing at everything, " reported the Craven Herald at the time.

"Chadwick now said he was trying to find the key to open his own door, while Heap confidentially informed the magistrates that he was looking after Cbadwick who was really very drunk - to which those in court laughed." Chadwick was fined 10 shillings and Heap five shillings.

The Petty Sessions at the police court also heard cases involving juveniles - and again, unlike today, names were published.

15 year old Bernard O'Connell, a Skipton schoolboy, appeared in custody on a charge of stealing a pair of boots from a butchers shop in Coach Street.

The prosecutor in the case described how the owner had missed the boots, and that the suspicion had fallen on the 15 year old, who lived at the back of the shop premises with his grandfather. Evidence was also heard from a pawnbroker who the boy had taken the boots to asking for two shillings.

When challenged. the boy told the police that he had indeed pawned the boots and had spent the money.

The court heard in mitigation that the boy had not offended before, and had admitted what he had done straight away, he had also spent several days in custody waiting to appear in court. His grandfather said how the boy had been living with him until recently when he had gone back to live with his parents and had 'gone the wrong way'.

Magistrates said if the grandfather was to take him back and keep him out of mischief 'all well and good' otherwise he would be sent to a reformatory school.

There was also the case of James Varley, a 'tramp', who appeared in court charged with damaging a wall on Carleton Road, Skipton.

Varley, who appeared in custody, was arrested after being seen by a police constable to lift, or knock, several stones off the top of the wall.

The court heard that the council had had a great many complaints throughout the district of damage being caused to walls. Varley was fined 40 shillings.