Sunday, 28 February 2016

War Names for Babies

From the Halifax Courier, 26th February 1916. 

War Names for Babies. 

The war name fever shows no signs of abatement.  At Liverpool three infant girls were christened "Dardanella" on the same day; in the Potteries an unhappy baby was burdened with the name of "Suvla Gallipoli," and a Glasgow boy will go through life as "Charleroi McVittie."

[I met someone recently who told me of a baby born during the war (I think it was his father or his uncle) who had been named John Ypres.  When the mother wrote to her husband in France to tell him of the birth, he wrote back saying "Call him John. Ypres."   She was supposed to notice the full stop and realise that he was trying to tell her where he was, and get the information past the censor, but she misunderstood.  So he went through life saddled with a name that many British people can't pronounce - during the war, the British soldiers called the town "Wipers".]      

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Useful Work By Halifax Automobile Club

From the Halifax Courier, 26th February 1916.



The annual meeting was held at the White Swan Hotel.  Commenting upon the balance sheet, the President remarked they would notice that the balance in hand was £16 less than last year.  This, however, was accounted for by the fact that about £60 had been paid out for the equipment of the motor ambulances.  Besides this, the generosity of members had provided medical outfits for the 10 cars which formed our section of the voluntary aid transport scheme, which was provided to assist the army in the event of any North Sea battle, or raid upon the East Coast.  The motor ambulances which had been presented to the town, they would be pleased to know, had done very good work, and was one of the best efforts the club had done for the town.

Attention was drawn to the good work done by Mr: F. Bentley in meeting, every Sunday morning, the night trains from London arriving in Bradford, and conveying the soldiers travelling by them, to their homes in Halifax, thus obviating a five hours' wait in Bradford before the Sunday morning trains commenced running.

Acknowledgment was made of the grand help rendered by the Huddersfield Club, and the private motor ambulance from Todmorden, in coming to our aid when trains of wounded soldiers had arrived in the town.  Arrangements had been made for Huddersfield to help Halifax, and vice versa.  Fears had been expressed, however, that should wounded arrive at both towns simultaneously, much delay might occur.  To obviate this the club had induced Messrs. Mackintosh and Co, Ltd., the Economic Stores, Ltd., and Mr. Wainwright, confectioner, to have their vans fitted up as ambulances.  These will provide 10 stretchers extra, thus making, apart from any horse ambulances, 14 stretchers with which it is felt, they would be able to cope with any trains that might arrive in the town.

.... Dr. Hughes, Danecourt, who is abroad with the Army, the esteemed treasurer of the club, and other members who are with the Army, remain honorary members during the continuance of the war.  Much satisfaction was expressed that so many officers and members of the club were holding responsible positions in the Army.

[Nothing to do with what women were doing (or at least women are not mentioned) but I have included this because it illustrates the range of voluntary work that was going on all over the country. 

Mackintosh's made toffee in Halifax.  The company merged with Rowntree's, to form Rowntree-Mackintosh in 1969, and were eventually taken over by Nestlé.]   

Friday, 26 February 2016

Protests at Low Wages for Making Uniforms

From the Huddersfield Examiner, 24th February, 1916.



The terms upon which the Government have let the new khaki contracts were the subject of protest at a meeting of Leeds Trades Council last night.

Miss Quinn, on behalf of the Shop Stewards, said that during the boom last year the Government offered all contracts on a flat rate, and it was said at the time that that arrangement paid the Government thousands of pounds.  The recent contracts, however, had been let by tender.  The result was that women workers were being sweated.  Wages had dropped by one-half.  A tunic for which 1s. 6d. was paid a year ago was now down at 1s., and in some cases 10d.  Regulation trousers had changed from 7s. to 4s. 6d.  It was nothing short of a public scandal.  The contracts were certainly covered by a fair wages clause, but the only clause existing was a minimum of 3½d. per hour, which no one could say was a fair wage to-day.

Miss Holmes quoted a case where the wages had dropped 75 per cent., but here the women refused to continue work, and they got all the rates advanced to the old prices in one section.  She did not blame the Government altogether.  There was a basis below which the Government would not go, and the contracts were not so low as such manufacturers would have the workers believe.  The Trade Board rate of 3½d. was not a living wage, and some employers were paying even less than that.

A resolution of protest was carried unanimously.

[Again, this shows that women workers did not always earn higher wages during the war that they had done previously - an earlier post said that some women munitions workers were also badly paid.]   

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Organising Comforts in Denbighshire

From the Denbighshire Free Press, 19th February 1916.


This Association has now work parties under official War Office recognition working in every district of Denbighshire.  Several War Office requisitions have lately been received and executed.  Since the beginning of the year alone over 2300 mufflers and 1100 pairs of mittens have been made and sent out to the troops in France.  They reach the troops promptly, and every consignment has been safely received and acknowledged.  Letters have been received from some of the men who received them expressing their warm gratitude.  It must be remembered that these comforts all go to the men who really need them - men who either because they are separated from their units by the exigencies of duty or because they have no special friend to send them things are without the comforts that some regiments have a superfluity of.  Depots for the sale of wool at wholesale prices and for the collection of comforts have been established at Ruthin, Wrexham, Denbigh, and Colwyn Bay.  The Denbigh depot is open at the Drill Hall, Denbigh, every Saturday, from 2 to 4 p.m.

Work parties who join this association are able to continue working for any local unit of the troops or for local men, but are also encouraged to work for the army as a whole by a grant from the association for all comforts sent to the association depots.  Particulars as to this may be obtained from the Hon Secretary, The Cloisters, Ruthin.

At present the association is occupied on an urgent requisition for hospital supplies, and the War Office has intimated that during the spring and summer such supplies will be asked for in large quantities.  Articles especially needed at the present time are (for the fighting forces), mufflers, mittens and headgear; military hospitals, bed jackets, bed socks, dressing gowns, helpless case bed jackets, hospital bags, pyjamas, pneumonia jackets, nightingales, carpet slippers, and, most perhaps of all, operation stockings.  Many tailed bandages and swabs would be also acceptable.

Articles will also be accepted for the Allies, and these will be sent out at Government expense.  Almost any articles will be accepted for this purpose.

All the above will be gladly accepted at any of the depots above named.

[The County Association was evidently working as Sir Edward Ward intended, making comforts for the central pool, as requisitioned by the War Office.  It's interesting that work parties were still allowed to continue to make items for any unit of individuals that they had a particular interest in, but the inducement to work for the County Association and hence the central pool was that they would then receive a grant from the association - whether in money or materials,  is not clear.]       

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Making Comforts in Llangollen

From the Llangollen Advertiser, February 18th, 1916.



Mrs. W. Best much regrets that this report missed the paper last week.
The collection of garments was held on February 3rd, when 205 articles were brought in, namely :— 6 shirts, 8 jerseys, 11 vests, 4 caps, 52 scarves, 3 pyjamas, 68 pairs of mittens, 2 bed jackets, 48 pairs of socks, 4 pairs of slippers.

Distribution has been made.  To 2nd Battalion R. W.F.: 12 caps, 20 pairs of socks and 10 jerseys.  To Field Force Fund: 16 vests.  To Queen Mary's Needlework Guild: 40 scarves.  To Mrs. Lloyd George's Fund for Welsh Troops: 40 pairs of socks.  To the County Comforts Association: 50 pairs of mittens...   Names of more local men abroad who need comforts before the Winter is quite past will be welcome.

No more scarves or mittens should be begun now, unless a special appeal comes unexpectedly.  For men in the field the most needed articles are shirts, trench caps, socks and handkerchiefs.

Mrs. Best regrets exceedingly the War Office error re the amount of wool required for operation stockings.  She has also had a notification (since the bedjackets were cut out) to say the official pattern is not correct, and a few days ago another notice to say “bedjackets are suspended.”  If however the County Comforts Association will not accept them, Mrs. Best will send them elsewhere as they are largely asked for everywhere at the present time.

The operation stockings and mittens are to be sent off on Saturday, February 19th, so Mrs. Best hopes they will all come in by then.  The National Schools have ceased knitting for this Winter.  The girls have made 255 most excellent articles under the careful supervision of Miss Williams.  Many thanks are due to them all. The next collection will be on March 2nd, at 2 30.

[Here is a local group carrying on making comforts for local men in the same way that they had been doing since the start of the War, and apparently paying little attention to Sir Edward Ward's attempts to organise the supply of comforts nationally. But not entirely - it seems from the report that they had been knitting scarves and mittens through the winter, probably in response to a requisition to the County Comforts Association from Sir Edward, who had been asking only for these items for the men at the front. 

Mrs Best sounds thoroughly exasperated, as well she might be, with the War Office and whoever made the mistake over the bedjacket pattern. The operation stockings and bedjackets were presumably headed for one of the military hospitals run by the War Office.]

Friday, 19 February 2016

Compulsory Minimum Wage For Women

From the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 16th February 1916.




The official recommendation to munition making employers to pay a minimum weekly wage of £1 a week to women workers over 18 years of age is about to be given the force of an instruction that must be observed.

In recent conferences with the Minister of Munitions, the Amalgamated Society of Engineers has insisted that the recommendation should be converted into an actual order, and Mr. J. Binns, the district organising delegate of the society in Manchester, told a Press representative last night that his Executive has notified that it has now been incorporated in instructions to all controlled firms.  The decision will affect the women employees in about 4,000 works.

[This report can be compared with the previous report of Mary Macarthur's lecture in which she said that  many women munitions workers were being paid very low wages and working very long hours.  £1 a week is 6d, an hour for a typical 40 hour week - more than twice the rates that she quoted in some of her examples.]  

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Appeal to Women to Work on the Land

From the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 15th February 1916.




The Government has decided to take steps to emphasise the appeal for women to work on the land by organising a recruiting campaign on popular lines.  According to the "Daily News and Leader" it is proposed that an armlet shall be issued to women who are willing to undertake farm work, and that they shall be entitled to wear a special uniform.  Every village in the country will be canvassed by members of women's committees appointed for each county, and all those who volunteer will be registered and given an armlet.  The uniform, which consists of coat and skirt, stout boots and gaiters, will be issued at a low wholesale price as soon as the agricultural recruits are called up.

It is hoped that the appeal will succeed in raising a sufficiently large number of women to take the place temporarily of the men who have enlisted.  Already over 250,000 men have been withdrawn from agriculture, and it is anticipated that a further 100,000 will be called up under the Derby scheme.  In a few months, therefore, practically only the starred men—the shepherds, the ploughmen, and others whose skill and experience make them indispensable—will remain.  If the agriculture of the country is to be carried on without any lessening of production, it is essential that an army of at least 400,000 women should be mobilised.

Already the country has raised an army, say of 4,000,000 men, for the front.  It has organised another army, still rapidly growing, of 250,000 women for munition factories.  There now remains the problem of mobilising yet a third army of 400,000 women for the land.

It is proposed to appeal to the woman on purely patriotic grounds.  It is to be put to her that she can play a considerable part in helping to win the war by doing work which will not only help to increase the nation's food supply, but will also tend to reduce the necessity for imports, and so release ships for other vital needs.

It is admitted that the work is not attractive.  No woman can be expected to enjoy milking cows at four on a winter's morning, or spreading manure, or cleaning a pigsty.  It is frankly admitted, indeed, that much of the most necessary work is hard and unpleasant, and by no means extravagantly paid.  That is why the appeal is made exclusively to the patriotism of the women.

There is no question, as in the Army itself, of any really adequate reward.  The Board of Agriculture will insist that there shall be no sweated labour and that a fair rate of wages based on the earnings of the men who have enlisted shall be paid, but the women who work on the land will seldom be able to earn as much as those in munition factories.  About £l a week may be taken as the maximum.  The hours, however, are not, on the whole, so long, and in many cases it will probably be possible for women who cannot work every day, or for only a few hours, to make their own arrangements with the farmer.

The work women can most successfully tackle has been found to be:—
Butter and cheese making.
Feeding stock.
Rearing calves.
Hoeing and weeding.
Manure spreading.
Potato planting and picking.
Fruit picking.
Attending to pigs, poultry, etc. 
A number of women are also capable of ploughing.  Recently the first prizes in two open ploughing competitions were won by women, but for the majority the work is perhaps too heavy.

There has been considerable difficulty in persuading farmers of the possibilities of the scheme, but already several of the more enterprising have shown what can be done.  One Oxfordshire farmer reports that for some months all his cows have been milked by women with excellent results and that although it is necessary to start milking at 4 a.m. the women have never been late, and have cheerfully turned up on the coldest winter morning.  Already too, good progress has been made in some districts with the house-to-house canvass.  One of the most encouraging results is reported from Norfolk, where, in 80 parishes which have been canvassed, some 2,000 women registered themselves as willing to work on the land.

Although the wife or sister of the agricultural labourer is specially appealed to, because she is on the spot and therefore involves no housing problem, it is expected that there will be plenty of scope for women of the educated class, who can take rooms in the village or country town and are prepared to do hard and more or less unpleasant work.  An organisation likely to be very useful in supplying such labour is the Woman's National Land Service Corps, led by Mrs. Rowland Wilkins, which undertakes to train women for agricultural work.

Just now the farmer has no very pressing need of help, but in a few weeks there will be an urgent demand for women’s labour on the land.  It is hoped that the new recruiting campaign will result in a great response, and that the women of the country will be as proud of their armlets as are the Derby yolunteers.

[So the Government was proposing to recruit a large number of women for unpleasant, physically hard work, not well-paid, and for farmers who in many cases were hostile to the idea of women farm workers.  And it was hoping that the armlet and a special uniform (which would have to be paid for by the recruit) would be a sufficient inducement. In fact, I think that the Government had got it wrong, and there were a lot of women who found the idea of farm work appealing.]

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Working conditions for women munitions workers

From the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 14th February 1916.



Some remarkable revelations as to the conditions under which women are working in certain munition districts were made by Miss Mary MacArthur in the course of a lecture at Sheffield last night.

At the start of the war, she said, the employment of women to replace men lowered the standard of wages and conditions.  The Government tried to deal with this by adopting in theory the principle of equal work for equal pay, but in practice the employers managed by all sorts of methods to get out of the obligation. [illegible] there had been a constant degradation of the standard.

It could not be said that an equal wage was being paid for equal work.  In even munition work there were still some cases of deplorable sweating.  In one factory in Scotland women were working 83 hours a week at 2¼d. an hour, and in hand-grenade work in an English factory women were earning 15s. a week at 2½d. an hour.

Of course, all the regulations as to bonus and conditions were in abeyance, and thus at a certain northern works a day shift stopped at 10-30 p.m. on Saturday and began at 6-30 on Sunday morning.  As it took some women one and a half hours to reach their homes, they had only about three hours' sleep, and still the firm complained that they had lost time in the morning.  She was glad to say that that state of things was now remedied.

In one case girls of thirteen were working from seven in the morning until nine at night.  Such conditions could not be allowed to continue.

When she pointed out to a Scottish employer that the women were not receiving the same piece rate as the men he replied that he dare not pay it, because the women's output was so much better than the men's that they would be earning £13 a week.

The reforms demanded for women workers included eight-hour shifts, with one day’s rest in seven, canteens and suitable food, rest rooms, proper means of conveyance to and from work, proper housing conditions, equal pay for equal work, and a minimum wage of 6d. an hour.

[It's commonly thought that munitions work was better paid than most jobs open to women during the war, but this report shows that this was not always true.  Mary Macarthur was the founder of the women's trade union., the National Federation of Women Workers.]

Monday, 15 February 2016

Air Raid Precautions

From The Halifax Courier, 12th February 1916.



We are officially informed that householders and shopkeepers in Halifax are not observing the Lighting Restriction Order as they ought to do, and the provisions of the Order are now going to be more strictly enforced.  Many shopkeepers are still, despite warnings, showing too much light on the footpaths, whilst householders in many cases are ignoring instructions to cover up fanlights and skylights.  In many attics and ordinary bedrooms, it is said, no efforts are made to conceal the light when occupants are retiring for the night.  After the numerous warnings given, the police state, other measures will have to be taken if the requirements continue to be ignored.

Inquiring-as to the arrangements now in vogue in case of warning being received of danger of a raid, a representative was informed that no alteration had yet been made in the original plans.  Immediately on receipt of such warning buzzers will give the alarm, consisting of long and short blasts, all electricity will be promptly cut off, and gas lighting will be reduced.

Mr. W. B. McLusky, the Halifax gas engineer and manager has made arrangements by which there will be an immediate reduction of pressure to all the area of supply, except high pressure lamps and the latter will be promptly extinguished.  This plan was broached in Halifax a year ago and has been adopted since in many places.  The reduction of the gas supply in every house will be very pronounced and unmistakable, and should be accepted by every gas consumer as a sequel [signal?] to turn off the gas at every tap in the house, and afterwards take the further precaution of shutting off the gas at the main tap near the meter.  It is also important that every consumer should ascertain now that the main tap is in working order.  It is advisable that all the taps at the various burners should be turned off before turn-off at the meter.

[This article was a follow-up to this one, published in January, when the lighting restrictions had only just been introduced in Halifax. ]

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Charlie Chaplin at Huddersfield Picturedrome

From the Holme Valley Express, February 12th, 1916. 


Mr. Harvey Vernon, the enterprising manager of the Huddersfield Picturedrome, has been able to secure Charlie Chaplin for this week.  The film is “Charlie Shanghaied,” and in this production the popular humorist is seen in the most humorous situations in his role as a recruiter of a ship’s crew.  He himself gets shanghaied!  The film has been on view throughout this week, and no doubt will command considerable attention today.  “Charlie” had the support this week of several other sparkling productions.

[The film can now be seen on YouTube.

The Picturedrome was on Buxton Road, now New Street,  An article in the Huddersfield Examiner in 2005 says that the Picturedrome opened in 1910, and burned down in 1949; the Curzon Cinema was built on the same site and opened in 1950.]

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Socks and Mufflers for Kent Regiments

From the Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald, 12th February 1916.


An appeal has been made to the Association of Men of Kent and Kentish Men to assist in promptly providing a supply of socks and mufflers for the men of our county regiments, viz.:—“The Buffs” and Queen's Own Royal West Kents now at the front.  It is found that a very frequent change of dry warm socks is a preventive of the effects of frost-bite.  The County Association is confident that the want of our brave men has only to be known, for every woman in and connected with Kent to do her best to meet it.

A special appeal is made to principals and mistresses of all girls' colleges and schools to assist. Where it is not possible to raise funds locally for the purchase of wool, application should be made to the Secretary.

Parcels for the county regiments should be addressed as per the directions at foot of this appeal.  All correspondence on the matter to be addressed to Mr. Henry Thompson, Secretary of the Association of Men of Kent and Kentish Men, 7, Victoria-street, Westminster S.W.  Contributions towards the purchase of wool, etc., will be gratefully received and allocated.

Ladies are invited to form working parties in their respective districts, and are asked to communicate with Mr. Thompson, who will forward them any instructions and printed matter necessary.  Suggested sizes of socks, of which several thousand pairs are required at once, are 10 to 12 inches, and mufflers about 60 inches by 10.  Balaclava caps are also required.

[The Men of Kent/Kentish Men names reflect a division of the county of Kent into East Kent and West Kent.  (Don't ask me why.)      

Clearly the  Association of Men of Kent and Kentish Men wanted to supply comforts to local men, and I doubt that they would be happy with the general pool of comforts that Sir Edward Ward was setting up.  And whereas Sir Edward was asking at this time only for mufflers and mittens, the Association thinks (probably correctly) that socks are more needed.]    

Friday, 12 February 2016

A Scheme for Pooling Comforts

From The Times, 11th February 1916.



A new scheme for collecting and distributing comforts for the armies in the field has been drawn up by Sir E. Ward, Director-General of Voluntary Organizations, approved by the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, and sanctioned by the War Office.

The office of the Director-General of Voluntary Organizations, it may be recalled, was created with the object of co-ordinating and directing all voluntary effort throughout the United Kingdom in connexion with the supply of mufflers, mittens, and other articles of clothing and comfort the troops, whether at the front or in the military hospitals.  In order to secure cooperation and prevent overlapping and waste county and borough associations were formed to link up the various societies, guilds, groups of workers, and individuals engaged in making such articles. Standard patterns were supplied, finished articles were inspected by experts, material for certain articles were supplied free of charge, and free transport was provided for articles requisitioned by the Director-General.  Special arrangements were made in the case of Queen Mary's Needlework Guild, the Red Cross Society, and Order of St. John, war hospital supply depots unattached to any central organization, and regimental associations.

It has been found, after careful inquiries, made by a representative of the department in France, that the rapid movement of troops from place to place and sometimes from one theatre of war to another has made increasingly difficult the problem of securing prompt delivery of consignments earmarked for particular units.  To meet this difficulty, it is proposed under the new scheme that all gifts forwarded through the department shall be consigned "for the benefit of the troops generally," and shall be sent to Military Forwarding Offices Overseas for dispatch to the distributing points. Commanding officers in the field will make known the needs of their units to Assistant Military Forwarding Officers at these points, and the gifts will then be sent to the soldiers' billets for distribution among the men.  The Assistant Military Forwarding Officers will keep the Director-General fully informed of the quantities each unit receives, and will requisition articles for which there may be a big demand.  The Director-General will thus be in a position to advise the local or regimental associations of the number and nature of articles issued to each unit, and to requisition articles in their place.

In short, while a regimental or county association will have no guarantee that the actual comforts which it supplies will go to the regiment or other unit in which it is particularly interested, it will have an assurance that similar articles are supplied from the general "pool" to that unit more promptly than under the old system and that the actual articles which it is providing will replenish the store thus depleted.

[This is the next stage in Sir Edward Ward's attempts to control the provision of comforts by voluntary groups.  It seems as though he is trying to organise the supply of comforts is a similar way to the supply of uniforms and other necessities by the War Office.  But it's evident that many voluntary groups round the country still wanted to supply their own men rather than having their output simply disappear into a general pool - see tomorrow's post, for instance.]    

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Wartime Hair Fashions

From the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 9th February 1916.


It is exceptional today to meet a young man wearing his hair long.  The present fashion is undoubtedly due to the war.  Young men feel that they cannot afford to indulge in the luxury of long hair in these days, as they render themselves liable to be taken for cranks and funks.  The idea now is to have a “county crop,” the hair clipped so close that it gives a man a bullet-headed appearance.  At the same time, the moustache is clipped close, to give it the semblance of bristling, and the whole physiognomy, in consequence, to become fierce and martial.


There are no more curling-tongs to be had in England.  Henceforth the great army of women whose hair is straight and who cannot afford time to go periodically to a barber must make nightly use of those patent curlers which are only a degree less unsightly than the curl papers of Dickens's day.  This is a serious matter in these days of Zeppelin raids, when beauty knows that on any night she may have to make a sudden unprepared appearance.  One may search even London for hours and not find the smallest pair of decorative tongs.

[It is only recently that hair tongs were for straightening hair, rather than curling it.  Electrically-heated tongs are also relatively new - I remember my mother heating curling tongs over a gas burner on the cooker, in an attempt to make my hair curl when I was a little girl.  The curls never lasted for more than a few hours, though I do have a school photograph of me with beautifully tidy hair curled at the ends and with a hair-ribbon.]

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Changing Traffic on the Railways

From the Aberdeen Express, 9th February 1916.


New Railway Era.

Before the war the railway passenger always thought himself the most important traffic of the railways.  Since the war he has found that he "plays second fiddle" to goods.  He did so even before the war, but he did not realise it.  In 1913, the year before the war, the passenger receipts of the railways of the United Kingdom were £47,000,000, and the goods receipts £67,000,000.  The passengers coaches numbered 79,000: the goods waggons 759,000.

Since the war goods traffic has enormously increased, as the impatient passenger has often lengthy opportunity to realise.  Shortage of ships has been another factor in adding to goods congestion, causing delay at sidings and docks of trucks that cannot be unloaded.

Changed Conditions.
Life on the railways is changed in many ways.  Trains are fewer, shorter, and more crowded.  Half the passengers of any long-distance train seem always to be soldiers.  The railway companies to-day make the ordinary passenger as comfortable as they can manage, but no longer as of old do they bid fiercely for his custom by posters of golden-haired girls sitting by super-azure seas or of old gentlemen and ladies jumping high in the air under the vivifying influence of ozone.

The romance of the railways has moved from the passenger and tourist departments to the goods department. The goods departments are taking strange freight.  One night at a London terminus an armoured motorcar slept peacefully on a goods waggon.  It was home to go in hospital, and was suffering with bruises and superficial wounds.  Nobody looked at it, not even the new railway “mates,” the women carriage cleaners,  the women ticket-collectors, the women booking-clerks.  The revolution is becoming familiar.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Restrictions on Sugar Consumption

From the Aberdeen Express, 9th February 1916.

War Thrift for Sweet-Mouthed.

Aberdeen Confectioners and the Prospect.

The proposed restriction of the importation of sugar mentioned in the statement by the Royal Commission on Sugar Supply brings the necessity for the practice of war economy into the homes of the mass of the people much more directly than any other proposal of a restrictive nature that has hitherto been mooted.  Pulp for paper manufacture, tobacco, fruit are all very important articles, but sugar, like bread, is one of the prime necessities of life.  Naturally, therefore, there is more than a passing interest being taken in the Sugar Commission's report.

Inquiries in Aberdeen bear out the fact that seems to be generally entertained that the large increase in the price of sugar since the outbreak of war has had little effect upon the demand.  Some of the retailers have fixed a maximum quantity to be supplied to their customers at any one order, but it is the case that any quantity of sugar can be purchased either wholesale or retail.

Regulation of Sales.

The head of a wholesale grocery firm in Aberdeen stated to an "Express" representative that any appreciable restriction on sugar imports would necessitate the regulation of the sales, while it would almost certainly mean a gradual further increase in the price if the ordinary laws of supply and command were to operate.

A leading retail grocer said that while the restriction of imports seemed to be intend to curtail the use of sweetstuffs that might be regarded as luxuries, such as sweets, candies, toffees, caramels, chocolates, and so on, it was probably also intended to prevent waste at the breakfast, dinner, and tea tables.  Sugar for household use was as necessary as bread, and any further increase of the price would inflict a hardship on many people who were just now exercising every economy and finding enough to do to make ends meet.  It was, however, quite true, and every grocer knew it, that sugar was not so thriftily used in many households as might be expected for the price paid for it.
One family might use twice as much sugar as another family of the same size.  This was very commonly observed by grocers.  It was probably due to allowing children to help themselves at the table, as the young folks were exceedingly sweet-mouthed and would put spoonful after spoonful of sugar into a cup of tea if they were not being closely observed by their parents.

Partial to Jams.

The youngsters were also the chief consumers of jams, and a more general use of butter or margarine would result in a large economy in the consumpt of sugar.

The proposed restriction seems to be intended more to reduce the enormous consumpt of confectionery.  It is apparent to anybody passing along the streets that a large section of the shopkeepers depend for their livelihood upon the trade in confections.  The women and children are probably the best customers the confectioners have, just as the men are the mainstay of the tobacconists.  The amount of money spent by youngsters in what old-fashioned people who use the Doric somewhat contemptuously describe as "smacherie," if it could be totalled would probably "stagger humanity."  So long, however, as pennies and ha’pennies come the way of the young folk, so surely will they be invested in some toothsome sweet.

Confectionery Boom.

An interview with a leading Aberdeen wholesale manufacturing confectioner confirms the prevalent opinion that you cannot make people economise in the use of things they like if they have the money to buy them.  He says that practically since the outbreak of war the demand for sweets, instead of decreasing, has increased by a long way, notwithstanding that the prices have gone up considerably.  This is simply due to people having more money to buy a thing they are fond of.  The increased demand is particularly noticeable in centres where there are large numbers of soldiers stationed, and where there is plenty of work.  The manufacturing confectioners were kept fully occupied and could dispose of all they could produce, even although prices for certain classes of confectionery had doubled.  Roughly speaking, sugar had jumped from 15s 6d per cwt. to about 36s since war broke out.  Boiled sugar confectionery that was sold at 4d per lb. before the war is being sold now at 8d.  Other kinds that were 8d are retailed at 1s. Chocolates retailed at 1s are now 1s 4d per lb., and so on.
If the Government were to seriously restrict the supply of sugar to confectionery manufacturers it would throw many thousands of workers out of employment, and a complete restriction would spell ruin; manufacturers would have to close up.

Rice for Children.

Some doctors hold that the reduction in the supply of sugar would mean improved health for many people who invite indigestion by over-sweetening tea or coffee, many women in particular destroying their appetite for more necessary food by eating too many sweets.  Sugar is undoubtedly an admirably foodstuff for children and young active people, but it is not indispensable, as its place can be taken by a little more fat or starchy foods.

[Would anyone now say that sugar is "one of the prime necessities of life"?   It is now mostly regarded as an unnecessary part of the diet, and generally bad for us.  Interesting that even the doctors quoted who say that too much sugar is bad, only give the reason that it destroys the appetite for more nutritious food.  Nothing at all about the effect on teeth. 

'Doric' means the dialect of North-East Scotland.    'Smacherie'  is this context seem to mean an assortment of confectionery. 

For interpretation of the prices, e.g. 15s 6d, see A Note on Prices.]

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Agricultural Work for Women

From the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 3rd February 1916.



Women on the land are, in future, to wear a specially designed uniform, officially approved of by the Board of Agriculture, which will be as distinctive and as important as the familiar Voluntary Aid Detachment outfit.

This announcement was made yesterday by Miss La Mothe, of the Board of Trade, at a conference of men and women interested in girl labour in the land.

From 12,000 to 14,000 women had gone on to the land since the outbreak of war, she said, and now that the farmers were won over, their next task was to see they got the right type of girl.  That was going to be the making or marring of the scheme.  Two of the most successful farm hands were tailoresses from London.  They were now doing splendid work on an estate in Sussex.  Each girl got £l a week and a joint cottage, with other perquisites, and both said that they would not go back under any consideration to the old town life.

“As milkers and stockwomen,” said Miss La Mothe, “girls beat the men hollow.  A cow that has always been milked by a woman is always better tempered and gives more milk.”

Mr. F. Floud, of the Board of Agriculture, said that over 200,000 men engaged in agriculture were now in the army.  Still more would have to go, and three men would have to do the work of five unless women came to the rescue.  The admirable way in which women were doing their work had a great educational influence on the farmers.

There was a great future in poultry farming, went on Mr. Floud.  He knew of only one man in this country who was making poultry farming, as distinct from any other branch of farm work, pay.
Miss Rogers, of the National Political League, said that her organisation had succeeded in placing practically all the suitable girls who had applied to them, and further applications from women willing to go on the land were wanted.

Miss Macqueen, representing the Women's Farm and Garden Union, explained the herb growing scheme, by which it was hoped to encourage country dwellers to grow those herbs used for medicinal purposes for which we had had to depend on Germany in the past.