Damage caused by the continual trial trips of the instructional lorries of the Royal Flying Corps

The air war was causing problems on roads back home in Berkshire.

MILITARY REQUISITIONS

Road over Swinford Bridge

A military requisition has been issued for the repairs to the road over Swinford Bridge carrying the brick traffic from Chawley Works to the Oxfordshire Aerodromes. The road belongs to Lord Abingdon and is in a bad state of repair. As Lord Abingdon is unable, owing to lack of labour and materials, to do the work, the Committee have – at the request of the Road Board – undertaken the repairs, and an estimate of the cost has been forwarded to the Finance Committee.

MILITARY TRAFFIC: Damage to roads
Extraordinary military traffic, Ascot and Windsor Road

Damage has been caused by extraordinary military traffic between Lovel Road and “The Squirrel” by the continual trial trips of the instructional lorries of the Royal Flying Corps stationed at Ascot, and damage was also done in Hatchet Lane. The lorries have since left…. Owing to this damage the amount of last year’s estimate for the repairs to the whole of this road has been increased by £1,640.

Berkshire County Council Highways and Bridges Committee report, 20 April 1918 (C/CL/C1/1/21)

Tar will only be permitted to be used on roads which are of national importance

Berkshire’s roads and bridges continued to be damaged by the war effort, and it was now hard to find supplies for repair.

Report of the Highways and Bridges Committee, 5 January 1918
MILITARY TRAFFIC

Cumnor Hill and Swinford Bridge Road
Pending further consideration of the question of issuing a Maintenance Requisition for repairs to this road till 31 March next – necessitated by the haulage of bricks from Chawley Works to Witney Aerodrome – the Chief Engineer of the Southern Command has sanctioned exp3enditure up to £100 for immediate repairs, and the necessary materials have been ordered.

Oxford and Faringdon Road
The War Department have confirmed the proposed contribution of £155 towards the cost of repairing the Oxford-Faringdon-Lechlade road, and the works are now in hand.

TAR SUPPLY
Tenders have been obtained for the supply of tar for the year 1918-19. No tar can now be purchased except under licence issued by the Ministry of Munitions; the quantity available for the ensuing year for road purposes will, the Committee are informed, be much restricted and will only be permitted to be used on roads which are of national importance. The application made in December last for the purchase of 20,000 gallons in advance did not meet with success, as the Ministry would then only issue a licence for tar to be used before 31 December 1917. A return has been made to the Road Board of the approximate wquantity of tar required during 1918 for “scheduled roads” (i.e. roads of natonal importance).

BRIDGES
Tyle Mill (no, 125)
The reconstruction of Tyle Mill Bridge was postponed on account of the war, but the Acting County Surveyor now reports that it is in a very serious condition and notices have accordingly been erected to the effect that the bridge is insufficient to carry weights exceeding two tons; and also prohibiting the passage over the bridge of heavy motor cars.

It is understood that the hauling of timber from Ufton Camp to Tyle Mill Siding is contemplated and the attention of the Officer Commanding at the Camp has been drawn to the condition of the bridge.

Berkshire County Council minutes (C/CL/C1/1/21)

The County Surveyor offers himself

A letter from the County Surveyor to the Lord Lieutenant was read aloud to the Berkshire County Council Standing Joint Committee on 12 June 1915. It is hard to imagine one of today’s senior council officials volunteering to join the army, even if as terrible a war as the First World War were to engulf the nation, but Fred Hawkins of Berkshire wished to use his abilities on behalf of the nation:

Shire Hall, Reading
11th June 1915

Dear Sir

For a long time I have been anxious to volunteer my services to the Government during the War, but in deference to the strongly expressed opinion of Sir Robert Mowbray and Mr Ferard that my services were more required by the County, I have not hitherto felt justified in doing so. Now, however, matters have taken a different turn.

I understand unofficially that the Road Board in conjunction with the War Office are considering the formation of a Company of Engineers for work either in England or in France and Belgium for construction and repair of roads and bridges, and should such Company be formed, Public Bodies will be asked to release as many men as possible with practical road experience now in their employ.

Although I do not anticipate that my services will be required immediately I have been asked to put myself in a position of being able to take up an appointment at very short notice in the event of my being called upon to do so.

As I arranged for the general repairs to Police Stations to be carried out during the first quarter of the financial year as far as possible, most of this work will be completed by the end of this month, and I, therefore, consider that my present staff, with the addition of Mr Clayton, whose existing temporary appointment would in the ordinary course terminate about September 1st, should be able to carry on my work for the Standing Joint Committee, and even though the supervision generally cannot be so efficient, nevertheless, I feel strongly that it is my duty to give my services to the Government should they be required….

Yours truly
J. Fred. Hawkins
County Surveyor

[The Committee agreed to release him should he find a suitable opportunity.]

BCC Standing Joint Committee minutes, 12 June 1915 (C/CL/C2/1/5)

River maintenance suspended

River maintenance seems to have come to a halt as a result of the war. Hugh Russell, representative of Berkshire County Council on the Thames Conservancy Board, reported as follows:

In common with other Authorities, the Conservators were affected by the War, and as about 100 of their employees were called up for service with the Forces, some of the works in hand, such as dredging and weed cutting, &c, had to be temporarily suspended. The Conservators were requested by the War Office, and other Authorities, to take measures for the protection of certain railway bridges, and other important points, and the measures taken met with the approval of the Army Council, who wrote to Lord Desborough, the chairman of the Board, expressing their appreciation and thanks for the steps which had been taken.

Hugh W Russell
18th January 1915

Report to Berkshire County Council (C/CL/C1/1/18)

Thousands of police reservists and Special Constables sign up

The Chief Constable and the Clerk of the Peace informed the Standing Joint Committee of the County Council and Quarter Sessions of the effects of the war on the police force and the Clerk’s department.

10 October 1914
CHIEF CONSTABLE’S REPORT

On the outbreak of the war the two boarded-out horses from the 11th Hussars were, at the request of the Military Authorities, returned to Aldershot….

The allowances to the wives of Police Constables recalled to Army service are, I now understand, to be altered from the 1st October, 1914, by an increased allowance from Army funds…

As regards the single Constables, I would ask that some consideration may be made them… I would, therefore recommend that the following three unmarried Constables (Army Reservists) who were recalled to the Army for service on 5th and 6th August, 1914, and who have been regularly contributing for their mothers’ support should be granted the allowance of 7/- per week:-
PC 36, George A. Eales
PC 163, Philip Hubbard
PC 214, Harry Easton
and that the money be paid monthly to the mother in each case.

Since the date of your last meeting in August, I have called up one more Police Reservist to take the place of a Police Constable called upon to resign. The total of First Police Reservists now serving is therefore 44.

Formation of a Police Special Reserve.
I beg to report that on the outbreak of war the duties of the Police were increased out of all proportion to the strength of the Force. It was necessary to recall all those away on annual leave and to suspend the weekly rest day. Forty-four 1st Police Reservists have since then been called up for duty. The demands on the time of the Officers and Constables have been very great, consequent on the necessity for continuous watching of the main bridges over the Thames, the railway lines, the requisition of Police by the Military Authorities for mobilization, purchase of horses, vehicles, and billeting, and the posting and distribution of many Orders. The registration and watching of alien enemies under the Aliens Act, 1914, further added important duties for the Police to carry out.
In order that the Police might get some assistance at such a time I issued a Special Constables appeal, a copy of which is attached.
Consequent on this appeal I received the very greatest help and assistance throughout the County, and especially as regards the guarding and watching of the bridges (railway and main road), the railways, waterworks, lighting works and other vulnerable points; and as a result of this splendid and patriotic response to my appeal, I have now a Berks Police Special Reserve Force of nearly four thousand (4,000) under the following organization:-
Chief Organizing Officer Colonel F. C. Ricardo, CVO
Assistant Chief Organising Officer Colonel W. Thornton
Divisional Officer, Abingdon and Wallingford Police Division
Colonel A. M. Carthew-Yorstoun, CB
Divisional Officer, Faringdon Division Francis M. Butler, esq.
Divisional Officer, Maidenhead Division Heatley Noble, esq.
Divisional Officer, Newbury Division (vacant)
Divisional Officer, Hungerford Sub-division Colonel Willes
Divisional Officer, Reading Division (vacant)
Divisional Officer, Wantage Division E. Stevens, esq.
Divisional Officer, Windsor Division Colonel F. Mackenzie, CB
Divisional Officer, Wokingham Division Admiral Eustace, RN

To all these Officers I am very much indebted for their valuable help and voluntary service in this organization. The efficiency of our organization is entirely due to their energetic work.

This Force has for several weeks been drilling and doing patrol work in conjunction with the Police in many parts of the county. Classes of instruction in first aid to the injured are being formed, and miniature rifle ranges are being used by the kind permission of the owners, and new ones about to be given for such use.

We have been careful to exclude from the Reserve all those who are eligible for and whose circumstances permit of them joining the Army.

I have further received great help from the Berkshire Automobile Club, and owners of motor cars generally throughout the county, in placing motor cars at the disposal of the Police when required.

I would ask your authority to swear in a total number of Special Constables not exceeding 2,000, and to provide the necessary batons, whistles and chains, armlets and other necessary articles of equipment…. Under these conditions of appointment of Special Constables, the service is a voluntary and unpaid one.

A report by the Clerk of the Peace with regard to his staff was presented as follows:-

Gentlemen
I have to report that in consequence of the War, the following members of my staff are absent on service:-
H. U. H. Thorne, Deputy Clerk of the Peace Captain, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment
E. S. Holcroft, Assistant Solicitor Captain, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment
R. G. Attride, Assistant Solictor (Mental Deficiency Act)
Lieutenant, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment
H. P. Tate, Senior Clerk, Taxation Department Private, Honorable Artillery Company
F. J. Ford, Clerk, Taxation Department Gunner, Berks Royal Horse Artillery
J. A. Earley, Clerk Private, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment
J. A. Callow, Clerk Private, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment

Mr Tate is actually abroad on active service and the remainder have all volunteered for foreign service.

In consequence of the great depletion of my staff, I have, after consultation with the Staff Purposes Committee, arranged with Mr C. G. Chambers, of the firm of Blandy & Chambers, Solicitors, Reading, to assist me in the legal work during the absence of the Deputy Clerk and the Assistant Solicitors…
It has also been necessary for me to make temporary arrangements for the clerical work and I have engaged the following:-

Miss M. A. Burgess, Shorthand-Typist, at 12/6 per week from 7th September, 1914
Miss Norah Scrivener, Shorthand-Typist, at 10/- per week from 14th September, 1914
Stanley A. Bidmead, Office Boy, at 5/- per week from 1st September, 1914.

Standing Joint Committee minutes, 10 October 1914 (C/CL/C2/1/5)

Scouts guarding Cookham Bridge

Berkshire’s Boy Scouts took an active role in the defence of the country, even if it meant missing school.

September 4th 1914

Result for week. Highest [attendance] 342 Lowest 337 Av.339.3 No. on Roll 363 93.4%

Several boys have been absent during the week engaged on Scout duty. The Scouts of the district are engaged in guarding Cookham Bridge).

Alwyn Road School, Cookham: log book (88/SCH/18/1)

Road workers to keep on the lookout for suspicious foreigners

Road repair men had an unexpectedly important role to play in the defence of the country, as this order from the County Surveyor reveals:

At the request of the Chief Constable of Berkshire the following notice has been sent to all permanent Lengthmen and Roller Gangs throughout the County of Berkshire:

STRICTLY PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL
NOTICE TO LENGTHMEN AND ROLLER GANGS
With a view to assisting the Police during the present crisis, you are earnestly requested to carry out the following duties:-

1. To keep observation on all bridges and culverts in your district and to examine them at least once each day.

2. To take a note of any foreigner or person acting suspiciously.

3. To take the number and particulars of any motor car or motor bicycle seen to stop on any bridge or culvert.

4. To take a note of any persons making suspicious enquiries; and in each case to immediately report to the Police.

J. Fred Hawkins
County Surveyor
August 6th, 1914

Standing Joint Committee minutes, 15 August 1914 (C/CL/C2/1/5)