The end is appreciably in sight

The vicar of Earley St Peter was optimistic.

The Vicar’s Letter

My Dear friends

We have had two things during the past month to be very thankful for, the success that has been granted us in the war, which brings the end, we may hope, appreciably in sight, and the excellence of the harvest in our district and throughout the midlands and southern part of England.

It is true that the more northern parts of the kingdom the rough weather of September has caused considerable damage, but, on the whole, the Harvest is a good average one and relieves the nation of much anxiety. We have been returning thanks for this in our services, but our regular Harvest Thanksgiving will not be held until October 13th, as our evening preacher (Sir Edmund Mowbray) is unable to come on the 6th, which is our usual Sunday. The collections will be as usual on behalf of the Royal Berkshire Hospital, which is greatly in need of help; last year the amount given was very satisfactory, and we hope that it will be still larger this year.

Our organizations are beginning again, and we hope that they may be supported as they hitherto have been. We are afraid that the new arrangements with regard to the continuation classes and evening education may largely militate against some of them; if so, it will be a great pity, although they will be a great boon to many parishes with practically no organizations at all.

I remain,

Your friend and Vicar,

W.W.FOWLER.


Earley St Peter parish magazine (D/P191/28A/25)

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A resignation at the Berkshire National Relief Fund

Changes were afoot at the Berkshire Committee of the National Relief Fund, which made small grants to individuals who were in reduced circumstances due to the war.

9 February 1918

The following letter from Mr F H Wright resigning his position as Hon. Secretary was read:

Jan. 12th 1918

Dear Sir Reginald

I think the time has arrived when I should resign the Secretaryship of the Berkshire National Relief Fund. You may remember that I undertook this Secretaryship at the pressing request of Sir Robert Mowbray when the war broke out in August 1914, and that I devoted the latter part of my summer vacation to the organization of that work. when I undertook the work, it was on the understanding that I might not be able to help after the College Term began, but the invaluable assistance rendered me by the Assistant Secretary, Miss Gladys Pott, enabled me to retain the nominal Secretaryship so long as Miss Pott was Assistant Secretary.

As you know, Miss Pott had to resign last year and inasmuch as there is no room available at the Shire Hall, where all the books and papers referring to the Fund are kept, it would appear to be better for the Secretaryship to be taken over by one of the County Officials and I am given to understand that Mr Chambers would be willing to undertake the work.

Believe me to remain
Yours faithfully
(Signed) Francis H Wright

Registrar

Resolved: That the resignation be accepted with regret and that the Hon. Secretary be instructed to write to Mr Wright expressing the great appreciation felt by the Committee for all that he had done in organising and carrying on the work of the Committee.


Correspondence from the Foreign Office, the Government Committee and Mr Aldridge of Spencers Wood, relative to the case of Mrs Louise Swain, was read.

The Secretary reported that the Chairman and Mr Benyon had authorised a temporary allowance of 10/- a week for one month until Mrs Swain could obtain work.

A further letter was read from Mrs Swain stating she had been unable to obtain work, and after Mrs Swain had attended before the Committee, it was resolved that the allowance of 10/- should be continued to her for a further five weeks.

Application for a grant for the purpose of ploughing and fencing land at Lambourn was received from Mr E C Jennings of the Sheep Drove, Lambourn, and after his letter had been read and considered the application was refused.

National Relief Fund: Berkshire Committee minutes (C/CL/C6/4/1)

Everybody owes it to the nation and to the men who are fighting, to save every penny that they can save

More adults were wanted to devote their savings to the war.

The War Savings Association Committee met recently at the Vicarage – Sir Edmund Mowbray in the chair. While more than pleased at the popular response to their venture – there being already more than 90 depositors – the Committee wish to point out that membership is not intended especially for children. They would welcome and they wish to invite more adult depositors. The position in a nutshell is this: Everybody owes it to the nation and to the men who are fighting, to save every penny that they can save; no security is safer than these Certificates; the interest is more than 5 per cent. per annum; the money deposited can be got out again at any time, should necessity arise. The Treasurer or the Hon. Sec. are on duty at S. Mary’s Schools every Friday, from 5-30 to 6-30 p.m.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P120/28A/14)

Wholly wonderful results

Stratfield Mortimer was the latest parish to set up a war savings scheme.

War Savings Association

On the following evening [July 12th] a small company met in S. John’s Hall and listened for an hour to Mr. W. F. Anderson’s admirably told tale of the wholly wonderful results achieved by these Associations. It was unanimously resolved to begin at once such an Association for Mortimer. Sir Edmund Mowbray was elected chairman, Mr. Ponting hon. Treasurer, Miss Westall hon. Secretary. The office of the Association will be (pro tem) in S. Mary’s Infants’ School, by the kind consent of the managers of the school, and will be open every Friday from 5-30 to 6-30 p.m. Literature will be circulated in explanation of the scheme, and great results may be looked for.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, August 1917 (D/P120/28A/14)

Everybody already understands the importance of saving and of lending what is saved to our country for national use

Villages competed with one another as to how much they could do for the war effort.

War Savings

We desire to invite all people of good will to come to S. John’s Hall on Wednesday, July 4th, at 8 p.m., to discuss the formation of a Mortimer War Savings Association. Everybody already understands the importance of saving and of lending what is saved to our country for national use. Mortimer has, we know, already done wonders in the matter, for example, of buying War Savings Certificates.

But everybody does not yet understand the advantage of co-operation in this matter. Think of the encouragement that is given to young people and to others who cannot buy a whole certificate right out when they see that their savings can be made fully useful to the nation, with much profit also to themselves, if they will put by only 6d. per week!

Results have been attained in other villages through War Savings Associations which have astonished no one more than the people themselves. And it would never do for Mortimer to be behindhand. We therefore wish to invite everybody to come and hear more of this scheme and its methods and advantages in S. John’s Hall on Wednesday, July 4th, at 8 p.m. We believe that a vigorous Association will be the result and that it will achieve wonders.

A. Baskerville Mynors, Vicar.
E. C. L. Mowbray, Chairman, Parish Council.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, July 1917 (D/P120/28A/14)

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)

Rail fares and pawn redemption for war-hit jobseekers

The Berkshire Committee of the National Relief Fund met on 24 November 1914 at Shire Hall, Reading. The Fund had been established to help anyone who was in extraordinary financial distress specifically due to the war, so they would not have to endure the stigma of the workhouse through no fault of their own.

Reports on unemployment were read from Windsor RDC & Bradfield RDC. Both districts reported no abnormal conditions of labour. Miss Pott reported that Mr Ferard had directed her to say the same as regarded the Easthampstead district.

Applications for relief were considered re:
Daisy Brown, Shinfield. A letter regarding this case addressed to Sir R Mowbray [chairman of the committee] was read. The secretary was instructed to reply to the same to the effect that the committee did not see their way to altering their procedure.
Gladys Grover, Shinfield. Resolved that the applicant be not entertained.
Victor Ross, Windsor RDC. Reported that the case had been taken up by the S&SFAss.
Mrs ? (wife of French soldier), Wantage. The secretary reported that the applicant had been directed to write to the French Consulate. [Mrs Bouvarlet added in later.]
Tindall, Windsor. Resolved a grant of 10/- be made.
Cole, Windsor. Resolved that a grant of 7/6 a week for 3 weeks be made.
Hillyer, Windsor. Resolved that the arrears of rent, plus one month’s rent in advance, be paid. The Hon Treasurer was empowered to pay a sum not exceeding 2.2.0 on this account.

Railway fares for 27 men for whom work had been found at a distance was applied for by the Windsor Secretary. Resolved that one half, i.e. £2.15.1 of such fares be paid, as it did not appear certain whether all the applicants were out of work owing to the war.

Resolved that 4/6 be paid to the Windsor Committee on account of expense of getting a workman’s tools out of pawn.

Local Government Board Circulars re American Xmas gifts to children was read & considered. Resolved that the S&SFA be approached & enquiry made whether that Association would be prepared to carry out the scheme in Berkshire…

Local Gov Board Circular letter re Professional Classes Unemployment was reported, with certain replies to the same from District Committees shewing that so far as could be ascertained no abnormal distress amongst such classes obtained in the County Area.

National Relief Fund Berkshire Committee minutes (C/CL/C6/4/1)

The National Relief Fund tackles the abnormal conditions caused by the war

The local authorities of Berkshire all responded to the likely economic impact of the war in a pre-Welfare State society. The government had sent out a circular urging councils to consider the distress likely to be caused by the war, and Berkshire was not slow to respond. A meeting convened by Sir Robert G C Mowbray, Chairman of BCC, was held at the Assize Courts, Reading, on Saturday August 15, 1914, at 11 am. The official minutes of the meeting record:

The following resolutions were unanimously adopted:
I. Moved by the Chairman, seconded by the Lord Lieutenant [J Herbert Benyon], That it is expedient to form, in accordance with the circular from the Local Government Board dated 8th August 1914, a Committee to deal with the abnormal conditions arising out of the war, and that the Committee be called “The National Relief Fund – Berkshire Committee”.
II. Moved by the Chairman, seconded by Mr H G Willink. That the National Relief Fund – Berkshire Committee consist of
The Lord Lieutenant
The Member of Parliament for the three County divisions and for the Borough of Windsor
The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the County Council

The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of Quarter Sessions

The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Berkshire Education Committee

The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the following County Council Committees:
Finance Committee
Highways Committee
Public Health Committee

The Chairman and Vice-Chairman and one other representative appointed by the Berkshire Insurance Committee

The Mayors of Abingdon, Maidenhead, Newbury, Wallingford, Windsor and Wokingham

The Chairman of the following Rural District Councils:
Abingdon RDC
Bradfield RDC
Easthampstead RDC
Faringdon RDC
Hungerford RDC
Cookham RDC
Newbury RDC
Wallingford RDC
Wantage RDC
Windsor RDC
Wokingham RDC

The Chairmen of Boards of Guardians who are not Chairmen of District Councils, but who are resident in the County, viz Abingdon, Bradfield, Hungerford and Maidenhead

Two representatives of the Soldiers and Sailors Families Association together with not exceeding five women to be selected by the Committee

The Chief Constable of Hungerford

III. Moved by the Chairman, seconded by Sir R B D Acland, KC. That the Mayors of the Boroughs in the County and the Chairman of the Urban District Council of Wantage and the Chairmen of the Rural District Councils in the Countty, be requested to form local Committee to act in conjunction with the National Relief Fund – Berkshire Committee.

IV. Moved by the chairman, seconded by the Lord Lieutenant. That Mr Francis H Wright, Registrar of University College, Reading, be asked to act temporarily as Honorary Secretary of this Committee.

More detail is to be found in a report printed by the Reading Mercury. The local committees were charged with investigating economic conditions, and which businesses were likely to close.

National Relief Fund – Berkshire Committee minutes (C/CL/C6/4/1)