Should PoWs repair the roads?

Berkshire County Council’s Highways and Bridges Committee told the councillors of the impact of the war on the county’s roads.

Report of Highways and Bridges Committee, 6 January 1917

ESTIMATES, 1917-1918

The Committee propose to frame their Estimates for the financial year 1917-18 on the policy adopted for the year 1916-17, which aimed principally at keeping in good condition the main tarmac trunk roads in priority to other roads, and doing a liberal amount of tar-spraying. Owing to the enormous amount of heavy military and other traffic which is constantly damaging the roads, the high cost of labour and materials, and war conditions generally, it becomes increasingly difficult to even carry out the restricted policy except at a comparatively high expenditure.

MILITARY TRAFFIC

Ascot and Blacknest road.
The Committee understand that a recommendation by the Road Board for the payment of a substantial amount to the County for making good the damage done to this road is at present receiving consideration by the War Department.

Military Requisitions.
A requisition has been received from the Military Authorities for the carrying out of road improvement works at Northcourt Avenue, Reading. An estimate of the cost has been forwarded to the Finance Committee.

Census of traffic. In view of the damage which is still being done to main roads in the county by military transport traffic, the Committee have arranged for a month’s census of traffic to be taken at points on the Bath Road and the Reading and Ascot road.

POST-WAR ROAD IMPROVEMENTS

The Chairman of the Committee and the Acting County Surveyor attended a Conference at the offices of the Road Board on 27 November last on the question of works of road reconstruction and improvement likely to be undertaken at the conclusion of the war, or works which it might be desirable to promote to afford employment for capital and labour. Highway Authorities were asked to co-operate with the Board in preparing a schedule of works. The principle generally agreed upon was that such works should be confined to the strengthening and improvement of existing road crusts only; and should not include widenings or construction of new roads.

The Committee propose to furnish the Road Board with a list of roads in Berkshire which will probably need reconstruction or resurfacing. The Board have been informed that the Council do not, of course, bind themselves to carry out all or any of the works included in the list.

STEAM ROLLERS

It is anticipated that the first of the three new road rollers on order to replace those taken by the Military Authorities will shortly be delivered, but some time must elapse before the remaining two are received, as the manufacturers are busily engaged on war orders, and can only proceed with County work on a certificate from the Ministry of Munitions.

PRISONERS OF WAR

The Committee have had before them a resolution passed by the Kent County Council suggesting the desirability, in the national interests, of utilising the services of prisoners of war for the repair and maintenance of highways, and are making enquiries in the matter.

ROAD SERVICE IN FRANCE

In connection with the organisation of a special Corps of experienced Engineers and Workmen for road work in France, a list of eligible employees has been supplied to the Road Board.

BCC minutes, 1917 (C/CL/C1/1/20)

An adventurous march through Serbia

A friend of Ralph Glyn’s wrote to him with news of his wife. She may have been one of the women nursing at hospitals in wartorn Serbia.

General Staff “I”
Salonica Expeditionary Force
April 12, 1916

Dear Glyn

Many thanks for your note. I am sorry not to have answered it before.

My wife got safely down from Belgrade after an adventurous march through Serbia with the British Naval Mission. She arrived here at the end of November, & was with me till the end of January, when she went to England.

At present she is staying with an English woman friend of ours in Capri, where I want her to rest & recuperate for some time, as she is by no means well, and tried her strength very high on Serbia. She came to see me again for a day or two en route, rather deviously, from England to Italy.

Many thanks for your kind enquiry which I have passed on to her, with news of where you are.

Yours sincerely
Arthur More

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/27)