Thursday, 8 October 2015

American Knitting Tea at Milnsbridge

From the Huddersfield Examiner, 8th October 1915.



Promoted by the Golcar and Milnsbridge Committee for providing comforts for the Colne Valley Territorials, a very successful “American knitting tea” was held at the Milnsbridge Drill Hall on Thursday afternoon.  The tea was given by Mrs Thos. Hirst, Mrs. Edgar Sykes, and Mrs. J. A. Smith, and was very largely attended.  Each person was asked to take an article value 1s., and also to buy an article of the same value.  There was a good response to the appeal, and the total proceeds of the sale and tea amounted to £22 3s. 1d.  Selections of music were given by an efficient orchestra, comprising the Misses Blanche Hirst, Dora Nuttall, M. Woodhead, G. Beaumont, and Mrs. W. J. Gledhill (pianist).  Songs were contributed by Miss Dibdin, of the Harrison-Frewin Opera Company, which is performing this week at the Huddersfield Theatre Royal, Miss Lawton, and Miss Walker, with Mrs. Gledhill as accompanist.

During the proceedings Mrs. Rothery, wife of Major W. U. Rothery, made an interesting statement of the year’s work.

Mrs. Rothery said it was exactly one year since they held the first meeting in that hall, when they had only a few ladies from Golcar and Milnsbridge.  It was the beginning of a big and splendid effort, and she was very proud and thankful for all that had been done.  She could assure them that the boys who were out in Belgium risking and often giving their lives for them were most thankful to receive the parcels of socks and shirts which were sent out from the depot.  They sent over 100 pairs of socks every week, and between 40 and 50 shirts.  She was constantly receiving letters to say how very glad the boys were to have them.  They represented two half-companies of men, and Captain Taylor, who was over here last week, told her how they looked forward to receiving the socks and shirts.  He said they could not have too many.  She had also received a letter from her husband that morning in which he said they were afraid they would have to be out there through the winter, and would need mittens or gloves, helmets, and scarves.  She knew there was a lot ready to go which would be sent off as soon as possible.

Their first meeting was held on October 22nd, 1914, and the tea on that occasion realised £1 1s. 3d.  Since then they had grown a lot, and had held nearly twenty teas.  They found it advisable to stop the meetings for a few weeks during the hot weather and holiday time, but they did not stop working.  She thought that everybody had worked splendidly.  One woman whom she went to see had lost her only son, who was in their company.  The woman was knitting, and with tears in her eyes she said, “He would not wish me to stop working: the others will need the socks.” She (Mrs. Rothery) thought that while their women had that splendid spirit the work would go on as long as it was needed.

They had sent from that hall 90 helmets, 371 scarves, 169 pairs of cuffs, 27 body belts, 2 rugs, 175 shirts, and 1,171 pairs of socks.  She was very glad of that splendid result, and heartily thanked everybody who had helped.  Some of them had knitted until they could hardly hold the needles.  They had collected, given and made the really magnificent sum of £400.  She hoped they would go on, as the cry was for “more and more.” ....

[I don't know exactly what constitutes an "American knitting tea" - perhaps the 'bring-and-buy' element.

I am sure that Mrs Rothery was right in saying that the items they had sent to the Colne Valley Territorials were gratefully received, and needed, but the War Office evidently felt that this sort of activity needed to be regulated.  The Times report here said that too many ladies were making "socks and shirts, which were a Government issue, with the result that there were millions too many".  You would expect that groups like this must have felt very annoyed at being told that they had wasted their time on making things that weren't needed, though there is no hint of that in Mrs. Rothery's speech.  But she is suggesting that for the coming winter, they should make "mittens or gloves, helmets, and scarves" - which is perhaps influenced by Sir Edward Ward's call for mittens and mufflers.]

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