War triggered "anti-German" riots in Keighley

War triggered "anti-German" riots in Keighley

A Church Green premises as it is today. In 1914 this was Charles Hoffman's pork butchers, attacked at the outbreak of the First World War because of its German ownership.

A current High Street business. Back in 1914 this same property was Carl Andrassy butcher's, and was attacked because of its German ownership.

Carl Andrassy butchers, after it was wrecked by anti-German looters

From left, Charles Hoffman butcher's, which was attacked by a mob. The property next door was also damaged.

First published in Keighley by

THE passions ignited in Keighley by the outbreak of war were not always directed at the right target.

In the first week of August 1914 eight Germans were arrested in the town on suspicion of spying, but were released the next day.

Later on that month, continued hostility towards anyone thought to be German resulted in a less happy ending for Keighley-based German business owners.

Rioting erupted in the town in the last week of August, resulting in several of these small businesses being attacked and looted.

The first victim was Carl Andrassy, a butcher who traded in High Street in the premises now occupied by Pizza Amico's.

The immediate cause of the riot seemed to have been an argument between Andrassy and an Irish man who had gone into the shop on the evening of August 29.

The customer was ejected from the shop, but later that same night he returned with a number of his supporters and smashed the windows of Andrassy's business.

A huge mob assembled, forcing the police to call in reinforcements from Bradford, Shipley and even Cleckheaton.

Fighting broke out, with many police injured by stones and bottles.

Although the riot died down following appeals for calm from Keighley's mayor, the violence erupted again the following night.

200 boys and men armed with stones and other missiles went into Church Green and bombarded the shop of pork butcher Charles Hoffman – today occupied by Bentley's Interiors. Other nearby shops were also wrecked.

Although it began as an anti-German riot, the violence took on a different complexion when the mob turned its attentions to Hillbrook, the residence of Sir Prince Smith Bart.

At this point, the police counter-attacked with a baton charge, sending the rioters fleeing down Spring Gardens Lane, though order was not restored until 1am the next morning.

Twenty people were charged in the aftermath, including 12 with rioting.

Five of the offenders were jailed for terms varying from three days to three months and the remaining prisoners were either bound over or discharged. The cost of the damage inflicted during the riots amounted to £498.

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