Dismay as buildings are requisitioned

Not every organisation was patriotically delighted to give up their premises to war purposes.

The Waifs and Strays Society received with dismay, as no doubt did many other Church Organisations, the news that the Great Hall of the Church House had been requisitioned for Government purposes, and that its doors were therefore shut against all ‘May Meetings.’ It seemed to the ‘Waifs and Strays’ that a good – perhaps, a better – substitute for their great Annual Meeting would be (in addition to the early Celebration in St. Paul’s Cathedral) an afternoon Service of Thanksgiving and Supplication in a central London church which stood in no danger of being ‘commandeered.’

Wokingham St Sebastian parish magazine, May 1917 (D/P154C/28A/1)

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“This year we shall be obliged to keep Lent, whether we like it or not”

Shortages were beginning to affect everyone.

LENT

It seems that this year we shall be obliged to keep Lent, whether we like it or not. Railway travel has been curtailed, food prices are still rising, food is getting scarce, and all the efforts of the nation are to be devoted to winning the war. As Church-people we are used to the season of Lent, but there is a question whether we have kept it as we ought, in fact it is certain that many Church-people have paid very little attention to the Church’s injunctions in this respect. But we cannot disobey the State with impunity, and we should be extremely selfish if we did not do our bit to practise economy, and so help to save the Nation’s food. There are many who might, with advantage, purchase War Savings Certificates, to help the country and to make provision for the future; and we would beg all our readers to do their very utmost to carry out the Food Controller’s instructions, in the spirit in which they were issued. The Germans are not yet decisively beaten – if this is to be done, everyone of us will have to help.

We should like to offer our sincere sympathy to Mr and Mrs Savage on the untimely death of a good son and promising young soldier. Edward George Savage was confirmed at the Parish Church in 1912. He passed away from the effects of pneumonia, following upon an attack of measles… The coffin was borne by soldiers, and there was a following party of the Royal Flying Corps.

We would also offer our sincere sympathy to Mrs Manley on the death of her husband on service, as announced in the “Newbury Weekly News” of February 15th.

The National Schools have had a bad time during the long continued frost: first of all on account of the heating apparatus misbehaving itself; and secondly, on account of the water being frozen. The Managers have endeavoured to remedy the former by adding to the boiler: it is possible that the coke does not nowadays give out so much heat, as certain properties have to be taken out for the manufacture of explosives.

The Parish Room has now been evacuated by the Military, and has returned to its usual state. The soldiers were very quiet and well behaved during their stay there. The occupation brought in a little money to the Parish Room Fund. We trust that outside people, who have been accustomed to use the room, will now appreciate the privilege more. The men who were billeted in the Parish Room desire, through the medium of the Parish Magazine, to sincerely thank all those who so kindly contributed to their comfort during their stay there.

Mrs L R Majendie would be grateful for gifts of material, such as cretonne, for the members of the Mothers’ Meetings to make “treasure bags” for wounded soldiers.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P89/28A/13)

“Glad and proud that we are able to make a patriotic sacrifice”

A Reading church gave up the use of its hall for war purposes.

THE INSTITUTE

As already announced, the Royal Flying Corps have now taken over the entire control of the Institute buildings, and we as a parish may be glad and proud that we are able to make a patriotic sacrifice by surrendering it, and by what sometimes seems harder, attending with equal or greater regularity, meetings arranged elsewhere. The large Hall is still allowed to be used by the vicar for certain fixtures, but notice of these has to be given some time beforehand, and the number is limited.

Reading St. John parish magazine, February 1917 (D/P172/28A/24)

The spirit of the times

Newbury supported the war effort in various ways. The parish church gave up its hall, Sunday School children were displaced, women prayed, and the well-off were expected to donate to government “savings” schemes.

The Soldiers in the Parish Room are grateful for any gifts of papers and magazines for their spare moments. We are glad to know that they find it a comfortable billet, as far as such quarters can be comfortable.

The attendance at the Friday Women’s Service has not lately been kept up to the former standard and we should very much like to see more coming to take part in this weekly act of intercession. Surely in these days there is more and more need of prayer, prayer for others, prayer for ourselves, prayer for our brave sailors and soldiers and airmen, prayer that people’s hearts may be turned to God, and that as a Nation and an Empire we may become more worthy of the victory and peace which we all so much desire.

Owing to the occupation of the Parish Rooms by the military, the boys’ and girls’ Sunday Schools have had to be temporarily transferred to the Day Schools. This involves rather a longer walk on the part of teachers and scholars, but they have entered into the spirit of the times, and put up with the change without grumbling, and we are glad of this.

Our best congratulations to Sergeant Ernest Hill on his promotion.

Since our last issue the Government have started a new War Loan, which it is hoped will bring in a very large sum of money, such as is necessary for the prosecution of the war. It is, clearly, the duty of all who can do so, to contribute to this Loan, but those who have not the means for this should certainly do their utmost, both to be economical in their personal and household expenses, and to try and save up pence and sixpences to invest in the Post Office War Savings Certificates.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, February 1917 (D/P89/28A/13)

Hasten the end of the war with your savings

Newbury churchgoers were encouraged to put their savings in the hands of the government.

The Government is very wisely urging all who can to assist the country in its need by foregoing luxuries of all kinds, and by investing in the War Savings Certificates. To quote from one of their leaflets – “War Savings Certificates cost 15/6 each, and £1 will be paid for each Certificate five years after the date of issue… It will be easily seen what a good investment this is, but still more important it is to remember that all money lent to the Government will help to save the lives of our men by providing our Armies with ammunitions, and so will hasten the end of the war.

The Parish Rooms have been commandeered by the military for the ASC; consequently we have had to turn out, and shall have to conduct our meetings, etc, as best we can.

Our best congratulations to Sec. Lieut. Richard Wickens, one of our old boys, who has been given his Lieutenancy for his excellent services at the front. This promotion does him very great credit.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, January 1917 (D/P89/28A/13)

We try to keep the home fires burning

The vicar of Reading St John had a New Year’s message for men from his parish who were serving their country.

TO SOLDIERS AND SAILORS ON ACTIVE SERVICE

Dear Brothers,

I have been given the privilege of writing the few lines that shall be our message from the parish in the homeland to you as the old year passes and the new year comes. If there ever were a time when the biggest words of goodwill and greeting could be given in absolute sincerity, then it is now from us at home to you whom we would hope to see here also during the coming year. But as this is to be our New Year’s card to you I suppose it should have a motto. Let it be this, which I think expresses the best desires of most Englishmen today:

“Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my Arrows of desire!
Bring me my Spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental Fight
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.”

So are we trying to do what you used in a different way to ask us to do in the song you used to sing: “Keep the home fires burning”.

With every good wish throughout 1917.

Your sincere friend

R W Morley

THE INSTITUTE.

Just as we go to press news comes that the Military are assuming entire control of the Institute. It may still be possible for us to hold one more important meeting in the Large Hall, but a large amount of re-arrangement in our Parochial Programme will be necessary. As early notice as possible will be given to all concerned.

Reading St. John parish magazine, January 1917 (D/P172/28A/24)

Occupied by soldiers

A missionary meeting in Wargrave had to be held in the church as the only parish hall was being used by the army.

Annual S.P.G. Meeting: Wednesday, December 13th, 7 p.m, in the Parish Church.

We are very fortunate in having secured the kind help of Bishop Mounsey. He has resigned the difficult Diocese of Labuan and Sarawak and, at the moment, is taking charge of Shiplake, while the Vicar is serving as a Naval Chaplain.

The meeting will be held in the Church, because there is no other building large enough now that Woodclyffe Hall is occupied by soldiers. But it will be a meeting, not a service. The Nave of the Church is a perfectly suitable place for such a gathering. It is our Father’s House and we shall be about our Father’s business.

Wargrave parish magazine, December 1916 (D/P145/28A/31)

Not on full time

Battle School in Reading had been evicted for war purposes:

24th March 1916
Mr Webb came into the school on Wednesday for some particulars with regard to the work while in the temporary premises, and not on full time.

Battle Infants School log book (SCH20/8/2, p. 275)

Emergency arrangements for schools

Berkshire Education Committee received the reports of several of its sub-committees on 15 January, and heard how the war was affecting schools.

Higher Education Sub-committee

SECONDARY SCHOOLS: ENLISTMENT OF ASSISTANT MASTERS
The one remaining Assistant Master at the Wallingford County Grammar School has been attested and placed in Army Reserve B. At the Windsor County Boys’ School, Mr F Morrow has left to join HM Army, and Mr Hawtin has been attested under the Group System.

MAIDENHEAD TECHNCIAL INSTITUTE
A letter was received from the Board of Education on 4th January inclosing a letter from the Army Council stating that “the premises in question are required in connexion with a Voluntary Hospital, the administrators of which will be responsible for the payment of the necessary expenses”.

The Board expressed the hope that the premises would be made available accordingly.

This requisition was considered on 8 January and the following resolution was passed:

The Higher Education Sub-committee hereby authorises and directs the Governors of the Maidenhead Technical Institute to carry on the work of the Institute elsewhere and to hand the building over to the Maidenhead Branch of the Red Cross Society without delay.

TRAINING OF WOMEN: CLERICAL AND COMMERCIAL EMPLOYMENT
The Sub-committee have considered the letter from the Home Office (referred to the Committee by the County Council) with reference to the suggestions of the Clerical and Commercial Employment Committee.
The Sub-committee recommend that the demand for such classes in the larger centres of population in the county be ascertained by advertisement; and that if sufficient names be obtained classes be formed provided that it is possible to secure qualified teachers and that the classes can be self-supporting.

School Management Sub-committee

TEACHING STAFF
In addition to the 44 teachers who have already enlisted, 27 teachers have been attested and placed in Army Reserve B. Only three teachers are affected by the calling up of Groups 2 to 9.

AMALGAMATION OF SCHOOLS DURING THE PERIOD OF THE WAR
The Managers of the Thatcham CE Schools will not consent to the Committee’s suggestion that the Infants’ School should be closed, and that both Mixed and Infants should be taken in the Mixed School.
The Managers of Cookham Dean Schools have accepted a proposal for the temporary amalgamation of their two departments under the Headmistress of the Junior Mixed School and the consent of the Board of Education has been obtained on the understanding that the matter will be subject to reconsideration should the arrangement be found to be unsatisfactory in practice.

EMERGENCY ARRANGEMENTS FOR STAFFING
The Board of Education have announced that, in view of the enlistment in response to His Majesty’s appeal of a further number of teachers, the Board rely on Local Education Authorities, after consulting HM Inspector, to make the best arrangements possible for maintaining the schools at a satisfactory level of efficiency. If this is done, they will exercise a wide discretion in the payment of grants. The Board hope that authorities will do all they can to provide temporary substitutes for assistants who have joined the forces. They will, however, expect every effort to be made to provide a properly qualified Head Teacher in each school; but may, in exceptional cases, e.g. small or remote schools, agree to recognise a teacher not fully qualified.

These departures must be regarded as for the period of the war only.

SCHOOL SUPPLIES
A letter has been received from the Educational Supply Association stating that, owing to the very considerably increased cost of articles, they must take advantage of the force majeure clause of their contract. A letter has also been received from Messrs Charles & Son (Kindergarten Materials) asking for an increase of 12 ½ per cent on their contract prices.

By-laws and Attendance Sub-committee

MORTIMER ST JOHN’S SCHOOL
The Sub-committee have considered a suggestion from the School management Sub-committee that this school might be closed for the period of the war. The Managers have agreed to offer no opposition to the proposal… The children would attend St Mary’s Infants’ School.

Agricultural Instruction Committee report [also to the Education Committee]

TRAINING OF WOMEN
The Committee have received a recommendation from the Berkshire War Agricultural Committee that a grant not exceeding £50 be made to the Berkshire Committee on Women and Farm Labour for the training of women in farm work.

A communication has also been received from the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries calling attention to the importance of training women for work on the land, and inviting the co-operation of the Committee in providing such instruction as is required.

It is according recommended that a sum not exceeding £50 be granted to the Berkshire Committee on Women and Farm Labour during the current financial year for the purposes of training women on the lines set out for the organisation by the circular letter of the Board of Agriculture of 29 November, 1915, and for the organisation by that Committee of meetings, where desirable, with the object of forming a register of women capable of undertaking some agricultural work and of farmers willing to employ them.

Reports to Berkshire Education Committee (C/CL/C1/1/19)

Health and domestic arrangements permitting, married women teachers to keep their jobs

The reports of various sub-committees to Berkshire Education Committee on 16 October 1915 show various effects of the war on everyday life. One was the opportunity for women teachers to stay in employment after they got married; normally they would have been forced to resign as it was expected that they would be starting a family.

Higher Education Sub-committee

MAIDENHEAD TECHNICAL INSTITUTE

In reply to a letter from the Board of Education, enclosing a letter from the Army Council, the Sub-committee have adopted the following resolution:

In view of the statement of the Army Council that more hospital accommodation is required, no obstacle will be interposed by this Sub-committee to the use of the Maidenhead Technical Institute provided that:

No other available premises, such as the Maidenhead Modern School, are deemed top be suitable.

A formal requisition is received from the War Department.

Formal guarantees are given with respect to care of the fabric and repayment of expense incidental to the removal of the Classes.

School Management Sub-committee

TEACHING STAFF

The number of teachers on Military Service up to 25th September was 41, and it is recorded, with regret, that of these three have been killed: Mr W H S Berry, Mr H W Thornton, Mr R P Cowles. A letter of condolence has been sent in each case to their parents.

The Sub-committee have approved the continuance on the staff after their marriage of several female teachers, provided that their health and domestic arrangements do not interfere with their school work.

AMALGAMATION OF SCHOOLS DURING THE PERIOD OF THE WAR

The Managers of the North Moreton School will not consent to a temporary transfer of their school to the South Moreton Council School under their own Head Teacher.

No definite replies have been received from the Managers of the Sonning, Thatcham and Hurst Schools as to the proposals of the Sub-committee.

Berkshire Education Committee minutes (C/CL/C1/1/18)

Schools taken over as war hospitals

Several Reading schools found themselves evicted due to the need of premises for nursing wounded troops. Battle Infants’ School in Reading was one of those taken over for use as a military hospital:

5th February 1915 

Notice has been received that the school building is required for use as a military hospital; the children were therefore dismissed this (Friday) morning for the day, at 11.30, and the staff spent the afternoon preparing for the removal of the furniture and apparatus to Elm Park Hall where the children are to be accommodated.

Elm Park Hall was a local Methodist church, but other schools ended up sharing with other schools on a timeshare basis, with one set of children getting lessons in the mornings, the others in the afternoons. Reading Central School had to move in with George Palmer Boys’ School:

5th February 1915
To-day Mr Andrews called to arrange for the holding of the Central School on these premises from Tuesday Feb 9th onwards, the Central Buildings for the time being being used as a Hospital by the authorities at the War Office.

Katesgrove School for Girls in Reading was also affected.

5 February 1915

Closed the school at 11.30am for purposes of stocktaking and to prepare for removal to George Palmer School.

Battle Infants School log book (SCH20/8/2, p. 254); George Palmer Boys’ School log book (89/SCH/8/1, p. 125); Katesgrove Girls School log book (SCH/6/8/2, p. 412)

School room taken for military use

Alfred Sutton Primary School in Reading lost part of its premises to military use:

2nd February 1915

An upstairs room has been taken for military purposes.

The room would be relinquished on 28 May.

School log book (89/SCH/37/1, p. 223)

War declared during the holidays

The schoolboys of Sonning returned to school after their summer holiday to find more changes than usual:

7th September 1914
School opened today after the holidays. Several boys were absent. During the holidays, War with Germany was declared. Mr W L Clarke, our assistant master, has enlisted in the 4th Berks Territorials. The B.E.C has appointed Mr Ernest Victor Evans, a trained Certificated Teacher, to take his place. Mr Evans began his duties this morning.

Wargrave School faced the loss of its premises, according to a note in the school log book on 7 September 1914:

Superintendent Goddard and several other gentlemen inspected the premises in the afternoon with a view to their being requisitioned by the government for the use of soldiers of some sort.

A Slough teacher, meanwhile, made the war the subject of a lesson:

7th September 1914
Mr Elves gave a lecture to the upper part of the school on the causes of the War.

Sonning Boys’ School log book (89/SCH/1/2, p. 20); Wargrave School Log Book (88/SCH/36/1, p. 124); Stoke Road School, Slough: Log Book (89/SCH/28/1, p. 356)

Schools lose teachers and premises to the forces

Several Berkshire schools lost teachers to army service as the autumn term started on 31 August 1914, while one school (attached to the garrison at Windsor) closed entirely, and another, in Reading, closed for a short period.

Windsor Royal Free Boys’ School
Reopened school with all the staff present.  Admitted several boys from Garrison School which has been closed in consequence of the war.

Wokingham Road School, Reading
Wokingham Road School having again been requisitioned for military purposes, I am authorised by the Chairman to say that the whole school is to be closed from 4 o’clock this afternoon until further notice.

Hurst CE Boys’ School
School reopened.  Mr Newitt, having been called up for service with territorials, has terminated his duties here.

Crowthorne C.E. School
School re opened this morning at 9. Mr Whittingham being a member of the territorial force has been called up for duty, on account of the outbreak of the European War. All the other members of the staff were present.

Windsor Royal Free Boys’ School log book (C/EL/72/3, p. 132); Wokingham Road (later Alfred Sutton) Primary School log book (89/SCH/37/1, p. 219); Hurst CE Boys’ School log book (D/P73/28/23, p. 2); Crowthorne CE School log book (D/P102B/28/2, p. 278)