One hundred and fifty seven years ago this week, Manchester was at the centre of a huge robbery when over three thousand pounds was stolen from the Corn Exchange.
It was rather a strange tale.Charles Browning was charged with stealing a pocket book, containing notes and cheques and a bill for £3111 and 18 shillings from the table of Fredrick Thompson, a corn Miller from Wakefield.
It was a vast sum, probably worth near to half a million pounds at today’s value and a reward of two hundred pounds was quickly offered.
Thompson, at first thought that a trader next to him, was playing a trick but one the theft was discovered, the police were called and within an hour, the thief was apprehended, making his getaway on the 2.20 train from Victoria Station towards Liverpool, being recognised after acting suspiciously at the Corn Exchange earlier that day.
He was taken off the train at Warrington and put on the next train back to Manchester.
At his trial on the 5th January 1858, at which he pleaded guilty, the court was amazed to find a twenty eight year old, respectably dressed gentleman, said to be of noble birth, standing before them.
His appearance had given him access to the floor of the exchange without his having any business there. It was unlikely, said the judge that he knew just how much money he had stolen.
He was sentenced, to loud cheering and clapping in the court, to a year in prison with hard labour.