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)

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Women on the land

You may recognise the name of Miss Pott from the extracts we have reported from the National Relief Fund Berkshire Committee. Gladys Pott (1867-1961), daughter of the Revd Alfred Pott, a former Archdeacon of Berkshire, was a well known speaker against female suffrage, but she was a strong speaker and organiser. She served as a Woman Inspector of the Women’s Branch of the Board of Agriculture from 1916 to 1919, and was awarded an MBE for her efforts after the war.


Women on the Land

A well attended meeting was held in S. John’s Hall on the evening of Thursday April 6th, to consider the question of the employment of women in gardening and general farm work, to take the places of men called up for military service.

The chair was taken by Mr. Alfred Palmer, who was supported by Miss Gladys Pott, Miss Ludlam, Miss Watson and Mr. Job Lousley.

The Chairman, in opening the meeting, spoke in glowing terms of the splendid way in which the women of the cities had come forward to help with the work on the land, and pointed out how the local women could help in this good work. He said instruction in dairying and farming was provided by the Berks Committee for those who could leave their homes, and for those who could only give a part of their time Miss Watson had offered the use of her garden and grounds every Saturday afternoon to all women (or others) who desired instruction in gardening. Those who wished to aid in the movement were urged to give in their names to Miss Ludlam, the Registrar.

Then Miss Pott, in a most interesting speech, told how much had been done by women since January, 1915, to the present time, and insisted that the question of the food supply was one of the supremest importance, and that every woman could do something to increase the productiveness of their own gardens and allotments, even if it were simply to make two lettuces grow where only one grew before.

Mr. Lousley gave some practical details of the movement, and referred to the successful outcome of women’s outdoor work in his parish and on his own farm.

After the speeches, pictures showing the work of wives and daughters of the French farmers were thrown on the screen. Miss Potts, who explained the pictures and had herself been present as a member of the Women’s Mission to France when these pictures were taken, said, that what they saw in France proved conclusively the glorious way in which the French had understood and answered the call of their country, and such an object lesson should serve to animate English women with a like spirit of devotion to their native land.
Miss Potts thanked Mr. Methold for manipulating the lantern, and a vote of thanks to the chairman and speakers brought the meeting to a close.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, May 1916 (D/P120/28A/14)

Should price rises mean OAPs got extra help?

The Berkshire branch of the National Relief Fund met again at Shire Hall, Reading, to discuss applications for financial support due to the circumstances of the war. The committee would go quiet after this with a minor meeting on 3 June 1916 with no substantive matters discussed, and no other meetings until 1917.

4 December 1915

Miss Pott reported that no further application had been received from Mrs Pounds of Peasemore; that Mrs Forrester had found employment in one of Boots’ supply stores in the London district & was also in receipt of an allowance from the Central Bureau for the Employment of Women; & that the grant of £100 asked for had been received from the Government Committee of the NRF.

Applications for relief were reported from
Brandon, Maidenhead. The applicant being resident in Buckinghamshire, his application had been refused.
Chapman, Theale. Reported that the local Committee recommended that no further relief be give,
Patterson, Maidenhead. The Chairman reported that he had authorized a further grant of 10/- per week for 2 weeks so that the allowance would continue until January 2, 1916, after which the applicant would be in receipt of other monies. The Committee confirmed the Chairman’s action.
Turner, Wantage. Resolved that the case be referred back for further information, and be decided by the Chairman upon the facts supplied by the Local Secretary.

Miss Pott reported that the Abingdon Secretary had written to ask whether the Committee would give relief to Old Age Pensioners in consideration of the rise in cost of living. That she had laid the letter before Mr Nisbet, the Local Government Board Inspector, who had replied that the Government Commission of the NRF had decided against relief being given on such grounds; & that a copy of Mr Nisbet’s letter had been sent to Abingdon.

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

Setting up a War Agricultural Committee for the county

Food shortages were a real concern during the war, as German attacks on neutral ships impeded imports. At its meeting on 16 October 1915, Berkshire County Council decided to set up a War Agricultural Committee.

FOOD PRODUCTION
WAR AGRICULTURAL COMMITTEE
A letter, dated 18 September, 1915, addressed to the Chairman of the Council by the President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, forwarding a Scheme for the appointment of a War Agricultural Committee and district sub-committees, was considered.
The principal functions of the Committees will be to organise the supply of agricultural labour; to consider the maintenance of, and if possible, the increase in, the production of food; to obtain information as to the requirements and supply available of agricultural implements and fertilisers and feeding stuffs; and generally to assist and advise landowners, farmers, and labourers.

Proposed by the Chairman, seconded by Lord G M Pratt, and resolved: That the following, being representative of landowners, farmers, agricultural societies and institutions, labour and other persons, be appointed a War Agricultural Committee for the County of Berks in accordance with, and for the purposes enumerated in, the circular dated 18 September, 1915, from the Board of Agriculture; with power to add to their number:

F Anstey
F Bate
J H Benyon
W Brewer
William Cordell
F J K Cross
R Crow
P E Crutchley
Miss G Elliot
C A Ferard
J A Fereman
Aaron Frogley
E Gardner, MP
H Goddard
B C Heath
W J Henman
T Latham
A W Lawrence
Local Manager, Labour Exchange
Capt. F C Loder Symonds
Job Lousley
W A Mount, MP
W Pennington
Miss G Pott
A Robinson
T Rose
Frank Saunders
W Anker Simmons
T Skurray
G F Slade
F A Smith
Harry Wilson Sowdon
E M Sturges
T S Tayler
Rev F W Thoyts
W Weall
H W Weaving
H G Willink

Proposed by the Chairman, seconded by Mr Bate, and resolved:

That the Clerk of the Council be nominated, and authorised to act, as Clerk to the War Agricultural Committee for the County of Berks; and that such other members of the administrative staff of the Council, as may be available and required, be allowed to assist such Committee.

That the War Agricultural Committee be allowed the use of County Buildings and equipment free of cost.

Provided that the above authorisations are given on condition that the arrangements do not interfere with the ordinary work of the Council or their Committees.

BCC minutes (C/CL/C1/1/18)

Finding work for Belgian refugees

The Berkshire Committee of the National Relief Fund met at Shire Hall on 9 February 1914.

The Chairman read a letter addressed to himself as Chairman of the County Council from the Government Commission for Providing Occupation for Belgian Refugees; also a memorandum sent by the same Commission & the draft of a proposed reply from himself. Mr Walton reported that the Newbury Refugee Committee had been successful in finding work for Belgian men in that neighbourhood.

Mr Norkett stated that the Maidenhead Belgian Refugee Committee had found employment of a satisfactory kind for all Belgian men in his neighbourhood, & had collected a fund of £604 of which £350 had already been spent.

After full discussion it was resolved that a reply be sent to the Government Commission stating that the Berkshire National Relief Committee were unable to form a sub-committee to undertake the duties regarding Belgian refugees in the county suggested by the Government Commission…

Application for further relief was read from the Wantage Hon. Sec. on behalf of John Nobes of East Hanney. Resolved that the matter be deferred until a report from Nobes’ medical attendant be received.
Miss Elliot undertook to urge the said doctor to forward such report forthwith. Miss Pott was instructed to write to Mr Mount, MP, and Mr Gardner, MP, upon the question of Nobes’ position as a discharged recruit from the New Army without means of subsistence.

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

Grateful for help from the National Relief Fund

The Berkshire committee of the National Relief Fund met on 12 January 1915 and discussed the cases of various needy persons who had applied for assistance.

Hillyer, Windsor. Mr Gardner reported that he had seen Mrs Hillyer and the house agent in this matter, that the agent had accepted the sum of £1.4.6 being 1/3 of the arrears of rent in final settlement of arrears to December 14, 1914, and that the Committee’s last grant had completely cleared the rent to date. Mr Gardner thought that with a little assistance Mrs Hillyer ought to be able to keep the rent paid & that if any assistance were given it should be definitely towards the rent. He pointed out however that Mrs Hillyer had not asked for further help & seemed grateful for what the Committee had done for her. In these circumstances the Committee decided to take no further steps in the matter, at all events for the present.

Ottley. The local Committee reported that this man had obtained work & there was nothing further to be done in the case.

Gunn. The local Committee reported that Mrs Gunn has soldiers billeted in her house and will not require any further assistance at present.

White. In this case a local chemist asked for a loan of £15 as owing to the war his business had greatly fallen off. He stated that a sum of £12 was due to him from the National Health Insurance. After careful consideration of this case the Committee did not feel justified in making a loan. They resolved that Mr White should be asked to make application to the Insurance Committee for payment of his account.

Bouvarlet. The circumstances in this case had not changed & the Committee resolved to continue the grant unless a change in the circumstances of the case was reported to them.

Allen. This case was obviously a Poor Law one & was referred to the Guardians to deal with.

Lempriere. This case was sent to the Committee by Mr Petrocockino but had not been before the Local Committee. The Committee resolved that this case was not one which came within the scope of the National Relief Fund.

Simpson. The papers in this case were submitted to the Committee, but there was nothing to indicate that it was a case of distress owing to the war. The Committee therefore took no action in the matter.

Raynolds. The Committee considered the papers in this case which was unquestionably a hard one, but which had no connection with the war. It would be dealt with by the Mayor of Wokingham who had written to the Committee on the subject.

Jennings. This case was enquired into & it was found that the facts upon the card were in at least one important particular inaccurate. The wages of Kate Jennings, stated to be 7/- a week, were found on enquiry by the Treasurer to be £35 a year. The Committee felt this was a case of normal unemployment & that the applicant should be referred to the Employment Bureau.

Cole. A letter from Mr Fox on this case was read, but the Committee did not in fact feel justified at present in making any further grant.

Miss North, The Nest, Knowle Hill, Twyford was referred to the Local Committee for report.…

A letter from Mr Shepherd with reference to orders for his factory was read. No action was taken thereon.

A letter from the Secretary of the Maidenhead Local Committee was read calling attention to the unemployment among painters. The Committee felt that the unemployment in this case was not wholly abnormal & that nothing could be done in the matter at present.

A letter was submitted from Messrs Gibbens, Abingdon, with reference to unemployment. This letter had been answered by Miss Pott & no further action seemed necessary at this stage.

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

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)