WORCESTER citizens were being incited to mob rule and vandalism at this time exactly 200 years ago.

In November, 1800, Berrow's Journal carried a large public notice from Worcester's civic authorities offering what was then a very handsome reward of 100 guineas for the capture of people putting up "inflammatory posters" and circulating "seditious letters" in the city.

It has to be remembered that all this was happening at a time when there had already been riots in Worcester and several other towns and cities around the county and in the country as a whole.

The widespread public unrest was over a severe shortage of wheat and other grain, which had led to huge price rises for such essentials to life as bread and provisions.

The same Journal edition carrying the 100 guineas reward notice also reported a Guildhall meeting of local worthies at which great concern had been aired over "the alarming price of the necessities of life".

But back to that reward. The public notice from the City Fathers explained: Several inflammatory posters have been stuck upon walls in different parts of this city during the night, and letters containing the most seditious sentiments have been addressed to individuals inviting them to disturb the public peace by acts of violence.

This is therefore to give notice that whoever will discover the author or authors of such posters and letters shall, on conviction of the offender or offenders, receive the above award.

In the meantime, proper persons will be appointed to keep a strict watch during the night, and any individual detected in the mischievous practice of distributing papers of a seditious and inflammatory nature will be immediately apprehended and dealt with according to law."

As a further warning, the Journal printed details from Derby Assizes, where one Isaac Farnsworth had been sentenced to be transported for seven years for heading a mob.

A century ago this week, the Journal was expressing deep concern about the activities of pleasure steamers on the Severn.

Crowquill, in his Journal comment column, wrote:

The blame for drunkenness at places of popular resort on the Severn side is again being laid on the unrestricted sale of liquor on the steamers plying to and fro there.

The drunkenness alone is deplorable but there is now also a tendency to racing among the steamers which is dangerous to the last degree. Minor collisions of steamers have already occurred from this perilous practice.

Public attention has again and again been called to this matter and, if steps are not taken, there will one day occur a calamity which will shock the community and stand as a reproach to all authorities having powers over river traffic," stressed Crowquill.

On a tragic note, the same Journal edition of 1900 brought news of eight deaths among children who fallen victim to a diphtheria epidemic which had hit schools in Wychbold and Rashwood.

There had been "a serious fire" too in 1900 at the Worcester High Street store of grocers, Shuter and Flay.

The City Police Fire Brigade, under the command of the Chief Constable, at once turned out and, upon arrival, found that the blaze had started in the coffee roasting room at the back of the premises.

The roof had fallen in and there was damage to adjoining rooms. Two tons of coffee was destroyed. Jets of hose were used, one from High Street and one from the Shambles, and the brigade was able to limit the range of the fire."

Also in High Street that week of 1900, the historic Golden Lion Inn opposite the Guildhall had been sold at auction for £3,050.