Consolidation of the floating debt will become urgently necessary when peace has been concluded

Local government finances were set to be strained for years to come, thanks to the war.

CONVERSION OF PASTURE

The Committee have received notification from the Berks War Agricultural Executive Committee that certain of the Council’s pasture lands in the parishes of Stanford-in-the-Vale, Charney and Cholsey, scheduled for conversion, have now been transferred to category 4; the field at East Hanney has been placed in category 3.

LOANS

A letter has been received from the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, on the subject of loans, stating that the board has been informed by the Treasury that the provision of capital from Government funds is likely to be impracticable both during the war and for some time after the conclusion of peace, and that any new issue of Local Loans Stock while war-borrowing is still going on or during the period of consolidation of the floating debt, which will become urgently necessary when peace has been concluded, must be regarded as out of the question.


Report of Smallholdings and Allotments Committee to Berkshire County Council, 27 April 1918 (C/CL/C1/1/21)

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It is hoped to hand the Lunatic Asylum over as a war hospital

Cost and staffing pressures affected the county Lunatic Asylum at Cholsey.

War Bonuses to the Attendants, Nurses and Artizan [sic] Staff have been increased in view of the existing conditions of the labour market.

Since the commencement of the war 37 male Attendants and other employees have joined the colours. Two of these have been awarded the Military Medal, 7 wounded, and 4 have been killed or have died….

The continued high prices ruling for provisions and all necessary articles has necessitated the raising of the maintenance charges from 11/8 to 12/3 per patient per week. The Committee fear that in view of the prevailing conditions, this figure may have to be revised at no distant date….

At the request of the Board of Control the Committee have agreed to receive, subject to certain conditions as regards the provision of the necessary extra Staff, to receive [sic] a number of patients from another Asylum. This step has been rendered necessary by the shortage of Hospital accommodation, which it is hoped to remedy by handing over the Asylum in question to the War Office for that purpose….

Annual report of Committee of Visitors of the Berkshire Lunatic Asylum, year ending 31 March 1918 (C/CL/C1/1/21)

No modification of food restrictions for the Lunatic Asylum

Even the county’s mental hospital was affected by wartime conditions.

THE BOARD OF CONTROL,
66, Victoria Street, S.W.

12th April, 1917

Sir,

Food Restriction.

I am directed by the Board of Control to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 9th instant, and to say that they think the allowances set out in their circular letter should be adhered to as closely as possible, so far as the occupations and health of individuals among your staff and patients will permit.

The Board have no reason to think that the Food Controller has any intention of modifying his previous instructions which were issued to you.

The conditions of course which obtain in hotels and restaurants, where visitors are obviously quite unable to secure any control over cooking, are entirely different from those obtaining in a public institution or a private house.

I am, Sir,
Your Obedient Servant,

O.C. Dickinson, Secretary

[To]
The Medical Superintendent, Berks Asylum

Berkshire Lunatic Asylum correspodence (D/H10/A6/6/1/6)

Asylum staff “feel the sudden restriction”

Food restrictions continued to pose a thorny question for the Lunatic Asylum.

April 9th 1917.

Sir,

Food Restriction.

I would respectfully ask your guidance in regard to the following matter. As you are doubtless aware the new dictum of the Food Controller allows persons partaking of food in hotels and restaurants a total weekly meat supply of 4½lbs., and that there must be one meatless day. The former recommendation was 2½lbs. per week as an average family allowance. The reason given for the increased allowance for hotels is that the visitors would be mainly adults, and consequently require more than the average family.

In asylums the staff consists of virile adults, many of the females have not yet reached maturity, who have been allowed ample meat and bread supplies, and they naturally feel the sudden restriction even although fish is substituted on one or two days weekly. A leader in the Times of Saturday directs urgent attention to these apparently contradictory proposals of the Food Controller.

As the former recommendation was strongly supported by your Board in their recent circular letter upon which the committees of Visitors have acted, I would ask whether, in face of these recent instructions, it would be right to issue up to 4½lbs. each per week instead of the 2½lbs. formally recommended.

I am, Sir, Your obedient Servant.

Letter from Berkshire Lunatic Asylum (D/H10/A6/6/1/5)

What can we substitute for bread?

The Superintendent of the county Lunatic Asylum at Cholsey was unable to restrict bread consumption by patients as much as the Food Controller demanded.

(Letter)

The Berkshire Asylum, Wallingford [sic].
February 19th 1917.

Sir,

Your circular letter of the 13th instant was read to the Committee of Visitors at their meeting on Friday last. I was instructed to reply that in the matter of the patient’s dietary only the bread allowance exceeded that set down by the Food Controller, and considering the great demand for additional supply of bread made by the patients in certain wards during the past few weeks, the Committee did not think it would be desirable to further restrict the supply of bread in the meantime.

As to the staff the matter will be further considered at the next meeting when I hope a reduction will be arranged. The difficulty, however, presents itself as to what substitutes can be given without further hampering the sea transport.

It was suggested that a lead might be given by your board to Asylums generally which would support any action taken by Committees in respect of a reduction, as they understand will be done by the L.G.B. regarding institutions under their control.

I am, Your obedient Servant.

D/H10/A6/6/1/3

The lunatic asylum must comply with food restrictions

Berkshire Lunatic Asylum received an official enquiry as to compliance with the new food rationing.

THE BOARD OF CONTROL,
66, Victoria Street, S.W.

13th February, 1917

PRESSING

Sir,

The Board of Control have been desired by the Secretary of State to ascertain how far the Dietaries in force in the various institutions for the insane in England and Wales conform to the limitations imposed by the Food Controller, which are:-

Bread not to exceed, per head, 4lbs a week.

Meat not to exceed, per head, 2½lbs a week.

Sugar not to exceed, per head, ¾lbs a week.

Accordingly, I am to request that you will be good enough to inform the Board, without delay, what steps have been taken by the Visiting Committee and yourself in this connection, and whether you are in a position to assure the Board that the amounts of the three articles of food mentioned above, issued to Officers, Attendants and other member of the Staff, and to the patients in your Institution, do not exceed the limitations, except so far as partial substitution of one for another is allowed, and the special diets of the sick and acute cases render necessary.

I am, Sir, Your Obedient Servant,

O.C. Dickinson, Secretary

[To] The Medical Superintendent, Berks Asylum

Letter to Berkshire Lunatic Asylum (D/H10/A6/6/1/2)

The bravest man in the trenches

Many of the former pupils of Reading School were serving with distinction.

O.R. NEWS.

Military Cross

Temp. 2nd Lieut. F.A.L. Edwards, Royal Berks Regiment.- For conspicuous gallantry during operations. When the enemy twice attacked under cover of liquid fire, 2nd Lieut. Edwards showed great pluck under most trying circumstances and held off the enemy. He was badly wounded in the head while constructing a barricade within twenty-five yards of the enemy.

2nd Lieut. (Temp. Lieut.) W/C. Costin, Gloucester Regiment. – For conspicuous gallantry during operations. When the enemy penetrated our front line he pushed forward to a point where he was much exposed, and directed an accurate fire on the trench with his trench guns. It was largely due to his skill and courage that we recaptured the trench. An Old Boy of Reading School, he won a scholarship at St. John’s College. Oxford.

2nd Lieut. D.F.Cowan.

Killed in Action.

Lieut. Hubert Charles Loder Minchin, Indian Infantry, was the eldest of three sons of the late Lieut-Col. Hugh Minchin, Indian Army, who followed their father into that branch of the service, and of whom the youngest was wounded in France in May, 1915. Lieutenant Minchin, who was 23 years old, was educated at Bath College, Reading School, and Sandhurst. After a probationary year with the Royal Sussex Regiment, he was posted to the 125th (Napier’s) Rifles, then at Mhow, with whom he served in the trenches.

After the engagement at Givenchy on December 20th, 1914, he was reported missing. Sometime later an Indian Officer, on returning to duty from hospital, reported that he had seen Lieut. Minchin struck in the neck, and killed instantly, when in the act of personally discharging a machine-gun against the enemy. The Indian officer has now notified that he must be believed to have fallen on that day.
2nd lieut.

F.A.L. Edwards, Royal Berkshire Regiment, awarded the military cross, died of wounds on August 10th. He was 23 years of age, and the youngest son of the late Capt. H.H. Edwards, Royal Navy, and Mrs. Edwards, of Broadlands, Cholsey. He was educated at Reading School and the City and Guilds College, Kensington. He had been on active service 10 months. His Adjutant wrote:

“He was the bravest man in the trenches. All the men say he was simply wonderful on the morning of August 8th. We lost a very gallant soldier and a very lovable man.”

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Difficulties for the Lunatic Asylum due to this terrible war

The annual report of Berkshire Lunatic Asylum (later Fair Mile Hospital, Cholsey) for 1915/16 shows the impact of the war in that institution. The hospital was the home, temporary or permanent, of the mentally ill in Berkshire.

The number of patients in the Asylum on March 31st, 1915, was 402 males, 467 females, total 860. These numbers include 60 patients received from the West Sussex Asylum, at Chichester, on this Asylum being vacated for uses as a Military Hospital… During the year … 30 patients [were] received on February 21st from the Middlesex County Asylum, at Napsbury, on its being taken over by the War Office….

Dr S E Holder, the Second Assistant Medical Officer, left on April 28th, 1915, to take up military medical duties. The vacancy has not been filled…. There has been a marked shortage amongst the male staff in all departments, the result of enlistments for active service. Every eligible man for military service attested under the Derby Scheme. The Committee appreciate with what willingness those remaining have successfully overtaken the extra duties imposed upon them.

In view of the risks incurred the Committee deemed it advisable to insure the buildings and furnishings against damage from aircraft….
The Committee desire to state their appreciation of the energetic and ables services of Dr Murdoch, the Medical Superintendent, who, in common with the other officers of the Asylum, has had additional duties thrust upon him during this war time. Dr Murdoch has coped with the difficulties which have arisen owing to this terrible war in a very satisfactory way, and has cheerfully carried out the wishes of the committee.

Annual report of Committee of Visitor of Berkshire Lunatic Asylum, 31 March 1916, in BCC minutes (C/CL/C1/1/19)