Sunday, 18 March 2018

Overcrowding at Leagrave

Leagrave High Street,1914 [Z1306/75/12/3]

Monday 18th March 1918: At today’s meeting of the Luton Rural District Council the Medical Officer reported that during the past month there had been 13 deaths and 17 births in the district. There had been three cases of diphtheria at Kensworth and one case of enteric fever at Limbury. The measles epidemic in Limbury and Caddington was subsiding, but tuberculosis was still increasing, with two more cases. The increase in the number of workers in the Luton area combined with inadequate housing accommodation has led to serious overcrowding and it was feared that the current situation was likely to increase disease; one medical man suggested that half the girl workers would be “crocks” by the time the war ends.

The District Surveyor reported on a case of overcrowding at Leagrave, where three men, nine, women and two children were living in a house with only three bedrooms and a boxroom, which had previously housed a family of four. Nearly all were employed in local works, with some working at night and sleeping in the daytime, allowing double occupation of their beds. After some hesitation due to the lack of alternative accommodation it was eventually decided that the Council would serve a notice on the landlord to end the overcrowding.

Source: Luton News, 21st March 1918

Thursday, 15 March 2018

A Flight in an Airship

His Majesty’s Airship No.9 [Wikimedia]

Friday 15th March 1918: Private Percy Avery, a baker from Leighton Buzzard who joined the Naval Air Service two months ago, was among the crew of two 600 foot airships which sailed over London during the Business Men’s Week campaign recently organised by the National War Savings Committee. He has written to his parents in Ashwell Street describing the experience:

“I have had my first flight in our airship, No. 9, 1000 horsepower. It was simply lovely. We were up in the air 9 hours, and covered a distance of 350 miles. Our journey was to London dropping leaflets. We came as far as Willesden, circled all round Wormwood Scrubbs, went all over the Strand and Westminster. I can’t explain to you on paper what it was like. I am going up again tomorrow (Sunday), out to sea, by the Wash. I have been very excited since the officer told me I was to go up with them. In a good many places we dropped to 250 feet from the ground, and could see everybody running out of their houses and people stopping their horses and motors to have a look up, because our engines make such a noise.”

His Majesty’s Airship No.9 is an experimental rigid airship built by Vickers Limited at Barrow-in-Furness. It made its first flight on 27th November 1916 and is currently stationed at Pulham in Norfolk.

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 15th March 1918

Monday, 12 March 2018

Appeal for Women Volunteers

Group of nurses of the Voluntary Aid Detachment Bedford No.2, c.1914-1916 [Z1306/12/10/3]

Tuesday 12th March 1918: Lady Ampthill, head of the Voluntary Aid Detachment, has appealed for more women to prepare for hospital service. She says:
 “We want women not only for France, but for Salonika, Malta, and Egypt, and for the nursing of the wounded we want the very best type of woman. It is not essential that she should have a first aid certificate; if she is the right sort she will readily be accepted and trained. The friction that existed to some extent between the trained nurse and the voluntary helper has died, and they are working together today in the happiest spirit.
We can place about fifty cooks a week, and the cook of forty-five or fifty is just as welcome as the younger woman. Special cookery courses are provided for members to give them a knowledge of hospital needs. We have 300 V.A.D.s driving transports and ambulances in France, and we should be very glad to get more drivers, only they must have had at least six months’ experience. There is an opening for women as laboratory assistants; we give them the necessary training.  
We hope that some of the women discharged from munition works will come to us. The care of the wounded is surely the finest work women can do – the general service member helps in the task no less than the actual nurse. We need a steady flow of recruits during the coming months.”

Source: Bedfordshire Standard, 15th March 1918

Friday, 9 March 2018

Promotion for Luton Soldier

Second Lieutenant Arthur Pollard

Saturday 9th March 1918: Arthur Pollard, one of three sons of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Pollard of 44 Jubilee Street, Luton fighting with the British Army, has joined the growing number of Luton men who have been promoted from the ranks. Second Lieutenant Pollard attended St. Matthew’s School before taking a job at the High Town branch of the Luton Industrial Co-operative Society; when he enlisted in 1916 he was first provision hand and secretary to the Co-operative Grocery Employees’ Association. He attested under Lord Derby’s conscription scheme but was rejected as medically unfit. In May 1916 he joined the Royal Field Artillery at Biscot as a volunteer, and was subsequently transferred to the Middlesex Regiment. He was sent to France in September 1916 and rose to the rank of Corporal. Noticing the great interest Corporal Pollard took in his duties his commanding officer recommended him for a commission. After returning home and passing his examinations he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on 18th December. In January he was posted to the Northumberland Fusiliers. He has a wife and child living at 177 Hitchin Road, Luton.

Source: Luton News, 7th March 1918

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Bacon Hoarding

Two prize pigs in Brown & Merry Bedford sale yard c.1910 [BMB13/2]


Wednesday 6th March 1918: A case of bacon hoarding has been reported at the Bedford Food Control Committee. A man had called at the office and stated that he had purchased 140lbs of bacon in November and another 40lbs in January. He had been in the habit of purchasing a pig-and-a-half at a time for the past seventeen years. He also had about one hundredweight of potatoes, and at first said he had a sack of flour but then changed his mind. He had been instructed to send in a full return of what food he possessed but had not done so. There were three people in his household. The Committee decided to seize al the bacon except 20lbs, and send it to the two Voluntary Aid Detachment hospitals.

Source: Bedfordshire Standard, 8th March 1918

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Pistol Confiscated from Leighton Buzzard Boy

South Street, Leighton Buzzard c.1900 [Z1432/2/1/34/1]

Monday 4th March 1918: Herbert Olden, a sixteen year old labourer from Leighton Buzzard has been summoned to the Police Court for unlawfully using a pistol while under the age of eighteen years. Police Constable Cheshire saw the boy on the footpath in South Street on February 11th, apparently showing something to another lad. As he approached he saw smoke and heard the sound of a pistol being fired; Olden then put something into his pocket. When P.C. Cheshire asked for the gun the boy gave it to him, claiming he had a licence for it at home. When challenged over this he told the policeman the licence had expired and said “I suppose I can do as I like with my own property”. Police Superintendent Matthews said that Olden had never held a gun licence, and could have been summoned for not having one. The Chairman of the Bench spoke sharply to Olden for “telling a lot of lies” about the licence; he was fined ten shillings and the gun was to be confiscated.

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 5th March 1918

Friday, 2 March 2018

Explosion at Munitions Works

George Kent Ltd Munitions Workers, 1916 [Z1306/75/17/21]

Saturday 2nd March 1918: The Press Bureau has issued a statement concerning an explosion which took place in a munition works in the Home Counties, resulting in injuries to some of the girl workers. No further information has been received. [1]

Source: Luton News, 7th March 1918

[1] The explosion took place at the George Kent works at Chaul End on Friday 1st March. Four girls died of the injuries they received: May Constable, Lillian G. Harris, Kate Tomkins, and Florence Warnes. While more minor incidents were usually reported in the local press in some detail, it seems that the authorities were keen to suppress news of a tragedy on this scale.