Pray daily for an honourable settlement

Peace had brought industrial unrest, as lower paid sections of the population protested against high prices and the threat of reduced wages.

The Vicar’s Letter

Dear Friends and Parishioners, …

I write this letter while the country is under the shadow of a great strike. I feel that honest men will differ as to the rights and wrongs of this struggle, and we must respect honest differences of opinion. But the strike is of a magnitude that forces men to take up one side or the other.

Personally, I feel that with three months in which to bargain with the Government before any reduction of pay could in any case take place, a strike now is unjustifiable.

And so, while I expect there are many minor grievances against the Government now that the strike has been started, many of us after careful reflection feel that we must support the Government, not only in keeping order, but in carrying out the transport of food and necessaries. For nothing but very serious grievances justify a powerful section of the people – I think there are sometimes grievances so great as to do this – in holding up so far as they can the ordinary life of the whole community.

But whatever view each one of us takes, I hope we shall all remain friends as befits fellow countrymen and fellow Christians, and avoid all needless bitterness of word or deed.

Finally, as Vicar, I would ask every parishioner to pray daily for an honourable settlement, so that in peace at home we may produce food, coal, clothing, houses and manufactured articles, and not merely print more paper money, that will neither warm nor feed us…

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar, C E M Fry.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, October 1919 (D/P181/28A/28)

“Many a railway man in his heart loathed the unsportsmanlike order to stop work”

The country was hit by industrial unrest.

Rector’s Letter

My dear people –

As we assembled for our Evening Service on October 5 the glad news came that the Railway strike was over, and that the men would return to work as suddenly as they had left it. During the week of the strike prayer was offered by many that God’s Holy Spirit would grant “a right judgment in all things” to those concerned in the dispute, and the prayer was answered. We recognise the rights of Labour, and we recognise that Trades Unions have a legitimate place in the economic framework, but we do earnestly deprecate the short-sighted policy of “ca’canny”, which damages a man’s self-respect and destroys his honourable pride in his work, and we believe that many and many a railway man in his heart loathed the unsportsmanlike order to stop work suddenly, without even a few days’ notice, in an attempt to hold the whole community to ransom: by the splendid effort of all good citizens, high and low, rich and poor, the attempt did not succeed. Let us hope that wise counsels may now guide our industrial unrest towards and honourable and lasting peace, that will adjust the interests of individual classes and safeguard the welfare of the country as a whole.

Yours very faithfully,

George H Williams

Remenham parish magazine, November 1919 (D/P99/28A/5)

Strike-bound

Sept 29th

Re-opened today [after summer holiday]. Miss Parsons, PT, is strike-bound at Weston super Mare.

Log book of Sparsholt CE School (D/P115/28/47)

Not money enough to pay the wages the strikers expect

The Vansittart Neales’ baby grandson was invited down to Bisham. He came down with his Nannie the next day. The strike ended on 5 October.

27 September 1919

Awful strike begun. All trains stopped. Hear Jo. Kelly to send destroyers to Ireland for [illegible].

They have made preparations, but expect petrol & perhaps [Shaw?] to be commandeered. Hear milk supply in London may be irregular so settled with P[aget]s to send for baby Sunday by car…

Expect strike to last some weeks. The country have not money enough to pay the wages they expect.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

A very memorable occcasion

Cookham Dean soldiers were entertained on their return home.

Lack of space prevents an attempt even at an adequate account of the Supper to our demobilised Soldiers and Sailors, presided over by Sir R. M. Beachcroft, in the Drill Hall, On Sept 27, Mr. and Mrs. Cooper, and the friends that helped them, cannot be too highly congratulated on the excellent taste shewn in the arrangement of the room and of the tables, nor on the beneficent fare provided for the Supper. From first to last the whole proceedings, under the guiding eye of Mr. Edwards, ably backed up by his committee, passed off most satisfactorily.

The Concert, kindly arranged by Messrs. Carr and Kiff, gave the greatest pleasure, and the thanks of all are due not only to the Artistes, but also to Capt. Campbell, who himself went to London in his motor to fetch those who had been prevented from coming by the stoppage of the trains. Each guest received a dainty little programme of the evening, which will doubtless be preserved by many as a pleasant reminder of a very memorable occasion.

Cookham Dean parish magazine, October 1919 (D/P43B/28A/11)

The dawn of peace is a time when high ideals are needed more than ever

By the summer of 1919 some were unhappy with the way the country was going in peacetime.

Editorial

The dawn of peace is a time when high ideals are needed more than ever. A well known cartoonist in Punch has recently represented John Bull lying lazily in a hammock with a pipe in his mouth and refreshments at his side, sighing, “Funny thing how slack this victory feeling makes you. I’ve done nothing since last November. Wonder if a spell of work would cure me.” Where restraint and self-sacrifice were merely enforced during the war, there has been a sharp re-action in favour of license and self-indulgence. The strike epidemic is one form of it. The voluntary sacrifice that is recorded by war memorials up and down the country – memorials which sometimes bear the names of 10,000 men of one regiment – leaves a very different heritage; courage, endurance, vision: vision, not the fading illusion of the unpractical dreamer of dreams, but the inquiring ideal which the prophet had in mind when he said, “Where there is no vision the people perish”.

Clewer: St Stephen’s High School Magazine, 1919 (D/EX1675/6/2/2)

Strike menace stopped

Unrest eased at home, while the situation in defeated Hungary continued to worry the allies.

28 March 1919

Strike menace stopped. Railway & miners accept terms, also transport. Coal scarce in London.

Allied troops to go to Hungary.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

Hopes of a settlement with strikers

22 March 1919

Johnson to Reading buying trousseau. Leaving us Monday. Married next week! & off to Canada!!…

Strike postponed till Wednesday. Hopes of a settlement.

March past of Guards in London. Old Sir George went up.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

We have passed through dark days, and darker still may be the days to come

The post-war picture was gloomy.

Visit of the Rev. Dr. Selbie.

When, owing to the Railway Strike, Dr. Selbie was unable to be present at the Pastor’s Recognition Service, he promised to come to us in the New Year. Thus it was, that on Sunday, March 16th, we had the great privilege of listening to him.

The sermon in the morning was based upon Haggai ii, 9- “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former.” It was, said the doctor, a sermon on Reconstruction. The Jews had returned from their long captivity to find Jerusalem a ruin, and their land in the hands of aliens. Under the leadership of Nehemiah and others, they set to work and first built the temple and restored the worship of Jehovah. The people had a mind to work and their first work was that of spiritual reconstruction.

We are living in tremendous times, far more so than most of us realised. We have passed through long years of terrible war and terrible loss. The work of reconstruction lay before us. Were we prepared to undertake the work? More important still, was the temple of God to be the first consideration? With 90 per cent of our population non-Christian, how could this be? We have passed through dark days, and darker still may be the days to come. But the Christian is essentially an optimist. God’s will must be done, if not by us then by some other hands. To us, as to the ancient Jews, comes the assurance that “the glory of the latter house shall be greater than the former.

There was a prophetic power in the doctor’s utterances. His picture of the present time was dark, his condemnation of much which passes for Christianity severe, but above all was the assurance of the love of God, and of the ultimate victory of righteousness over evil.

Thatcham Congregational Church section of Newbury and Thatcham Congregational Magazine, May 1919 (D/N32/12/1/1/1)

Inciting to Bolshevism

Eduard Soermus was an Estonian musician and revolutionary who had been living in Wales.

8 February 1919

Dottie says German prisoners are no longer to be used but make way for our own men. Tuck came back demobilized!…

Strikes still continuing. No undergrounds or tubes running,. Many people taken to work in Army lorries. Conferences going on. A Russian violinist “Soermus” taken up – inciting to Bolshevism. He in Brixton, is to be deported.

Phyllis changed room – by herself to escape flu patients.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

Candles and flour in case of strikes

Phyllis Vansittart Neale recovered from the flu and lived another 40 years. Meanwhile industrial unrest was increasing.

4 February 1919

I off by 9.3 to London. Walked to Hyde Park Corner across park. Found P[hyllis] looking white, but temp. down. Had walked across room. All other patients have “flu” – return of the complaint. Took my lunch & sat with her till ¼ to 2, then bus to EVN….

Still tube strike & others!! Londoners getting in candles against electricians’ strike. Told to have flour if bakers strike!!


Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

Strikes everywhere

Civil unrest threatened the postwar peace.

1 February 1919

Strikes everywhere. Baton charges at Glasgow…

Heard about Phyllis’s first walk! So pleased.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

“Anything that one can say sounds so trivial”

A friend who Florence had been visiting just before receiving the news of her brother’s death sent her sympathy.

78 Parkhurst Rd
Holloway
N7

Oct 7th 1918

My dear Florence

I do so wish that sad letter had found its way here instead of awaiting you at your home on your return. I feel we could have been a little consoling to you both & you would have seen your brother Percy too. I am filled with upset that I did not say “stay a day or so longer & we will chance strikes, etc”, I should have loved to.

Let me know if I can be of any service at any time. Anything that one can say sounds so trivial, so I send you both my best love & heartfelt sympathy.

Affectionately yours
Janet

Letter of sympathy to Florence Image on the death of Sydney (D/EX801/81)

Going out to pick blackberries for the soldiers

Strikes at home caused problems for many people.

Little Coxwell
Sept 25th

The older children are going out to pick blackberries for the soldiers in the afternoon.

Lower Sandhurst
September 25th 1918

The last half-holiday for blackberry picking was given this afternoon. 258 lbs. picked. The School has picked in rather over a fortnight 2465 lbs. of fruit for the Ministry of Food.


Datchet
25 September 1918

Miss Riley absent through Railway strike – came in 10.30 & walked from Staines.

Sparsholt
Sept 25th

The children were granted a half holiday this afternoon to gather blackberries for the Ministry of Food.

Log books: Little Coxwell CE School (C/EL80); Lower Sandhurst School (C/EL/66/1); Datchet National Mixed School (SCH30/8/3); Sparsholt CE School D/P115/28/47)

Servant hunting

It was getting much harder to find young women willing to work in domestic service, when the war had opened up other opportunities.

25 September 1918
Busy morning [in London]. Servant hunting… Strike on, so advised to go not later than 3.20… Strike getting over.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)