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)

Newbury District Hospital has once more resumed its pre-war appearance

Newbury District Hospital was almost back to normal, but struggling with post-war economic conditions.

The past year has been a period of reconstruction. The last soldier patients left in March; the two annexes erected for their reception were sold in June; one was removed in August, and the other in October, when the Hospital once more resumed its pre-war appearance.

Several improvements have been made, viz: A new duty room, and improved bathroom and lavatory accommodation for the Thurlow ward; the old duty-room near the kitchen has been converted into a store room, and the old store-room which was very inadequate is now made use of as a splint cupboard.

The Matron’s rooms have been done up and re-furbished; the waiting-room, Nurses sitting and dining-rooms, and the bed-rooms of the Staff have all been re-decorated, and other necessary repairs and renovations, which had to be neglected during the war, have been carried out.

After much deliberation and consultation with Mr. Mervyn Macartney, as architect, a scheme for Central Heating and Domestic Hot Water Supply was decided on, and tenders invited for the work. The tender of Messrs. Toomer & Co., of Northbrook Street, was finally accepted. The Domestic Supply is now installed and working, and the Central Heating will be proceeded with in the Spring, as it was found impossible to obtain the necessary materials from the makers before the onset of Winter.

To meet the expenditure on improvements, renovations and repairs, a sum of £400 has had to be taken from “Reserve”; and a Special General Meeting held in October, sanctioned the withdrawal from Capital of a further sum up to £1,000 to meet the outlay on Central Heating.

In February, Miss Gough succeeded Miss Phoebe Jones as Matron, and after considerable difficulty has managed to get together an efficient staff.
….
The Financial position of the Hospital is causing the Managing Committee grave concern. A circular was sent out to subscribers in July, explaining that owing to high wages and high prices, the Hospital cannot now be maintained for less than about £2,500 a year, while its present income does not exceed on an average of years £1,400 all told.

The Thirty-Fifth Annual Report of the Managing Committee of the Newbury District Hospital For the year ending December 31st, 1919 (D/H4/4/1)

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)

Charging the rates

Wages were reviewed in the light of new conditions.

1st July 1919

Your Committee have considered the reference to them of the Local Government Board’s circular letter as to the Treasury’s revised scale of War Bonuses for Civil Servants which they have authorised for Officers’ salaries generally.

They are unable to recommend that the revised scale of bonuses be adopted in its entirety for all officers of the Board generally.

They recommend that the Deputy Clerk’s Bonus be increased by the sum of £5 per annum as regards the Board of Guardians.

Your Committee have considered the salaries of the Indoor Officers and recommend as follows:

That, subject to sanction of the Local Government Board, the salaries of the Master and Matron be increased by the sum of £20 each with War Bonuses as at present.

That the salary of the Head Nurse be increased from £45 per annum to £50 and a further increase of £5 from 1st April, 1920, the War Bonus to be on the existing scale.

That the salaries of the Assistant Nurses be increased as follows:

Nurse Webb, from £30 to £35,
Nurse Leache, from £25 to £27,

The War Bonuses to remain at the existing amounts.

That the salaries of the Cook be increased from £30 to £36 per annum, the Industrial Trainer from £25 to £27 per annum, the Workhouse Porter from 35/- to 27/6 per week, the temporary Assistant Matron from 7/6- to 10/- per week, the War Bonuses to remain at the existing amounts.

All the foregoing increases to take effect as from the 1st April, 1919…

Your Committee have also considered the application of Dr Joy for a superannuation allowance in respect of his services and for the addition of a number of years to the number of years he has actually served.

As regards the latter proposal, your Committee regret that they are unable to recommend the Board to charge the rates with the extra expenditure which would be incurred by such addition of years.

Bradfield Board of Guardians: Finance Committee report (G/B1/39)

“I am afraid he will not stay”

Postwar wages had not kept up with price rises.

Ap 29th

Visit of Charles and Cecil Burningham who have just been demobilised, and Robert Tompkins and Leslie Booth who were demobilised some time ago.

New scale of salaries came from Office, but teachers are not very satisfied. Mr Robbins has £142.10s which he says is not enough, and I am afraid he will not stay.

St Mary’s CE School, Speenhamland (C/EL119/3)

Unable to proceed with the present war memorial design

Inflation meant that Cookham Dean had to postpone its war memorial plans.

The Vicar’s Letter

You will along with the Parish Magazine receive the design of the proposed War Memorial. Circumstances are now so very different from the time when it was first mooted, the cost of material and of labour have so considerably advanced, that the estimated expense of erection is found to be more than £50 beyond what was expected, and I am asked by the Chairman of the Committee (Sir R. Melvill Beachcroft) to state that unless further subscriptions come in, the Committee will be unable to proceed with the present design. It is possible that some have waited to see the design before promising a subscription; in that case I hope they will at once come to the help of the Committee, so that they may be able to complete the work that they were asked to undertake. I might add that the names of men fallen in the War, from whatever cause, would be carved on the panels shewn blank in the design.

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

“Those who have fought for the victory we have obtained have reason to expect better civil life”

A Reading book club discussed social changes to be expected.

7 March 1919

The 298th meeting of the club was held at Soundy’s on Friday 7th March 1919…

The host had followed the old practice of the club (unfortunately too frequently not observed of late) & had prepared a paper. His subject was “Some Labour Problems”, & he commenced by referring to the two International Conferences now taking place in Paris, viz the Peace Conference & the International Labour Conference. The former has spent considerable time in discussing the formation of a League of Nations with a view to securing the Peace of the world so far as warfare is concerned, but Soundy pointed out that there is another Peace that is possibly even more to be desired & one that will have more important influence on the future of the nations, viz Peace in the Labour world, & this is being discussed at the International Labour Conference.

After referring to the cost of the war & to the question of the nations recovering from its effect, both financial & industrial, he stated that this can be done solely by securing peace and cooperation between the parties representing capital & labour. Relations between employers & employed must be improved. Germany has found out that might is not right & the same principle must be brought to the front in the labour market.

To re-establish our own financial position exports must be increased, & to achieve this, the rate of production must be increased. So long as this is done & is kept up the rate of increase in wages does not matter. He referred to the conditions of labour to apply in the future, which are being discussed at the Conference, & also to the evidence given by the Coal Commission in this country. Where the highest wages have been paid the cost of production has been lowest & vice versa. No man will do his best, when he feels he is underpaid, but workpeople must realise that to get better conditions they must become better workmen, & Trade Unions must make their members realise this.

Those who have fought for the victory we have obtained have reason to expect better civil life & to achieve this there must be a better understanding between employers & workpeople, & an effective peace between capital & labour.

An interesting discussion followed & it was unanimously felt that the thanks of the Club were due to the host for his most interesting paper & for having once again kept up the old traditions of the Club.

Dodeka Book Club minutes (D/EX2160/1/3)

Our hearts are all lighter because the War is, we hope, finally closed by this Armistice

Great challenges faced the country after the war.

Dear Friends and Parishioners

The past month has been one of much Parish festivity. Our hearts are all lighter because the War is, we hope, finally closed by this Armistice. Still there are great difficulties to face, and we must pray for courage and wisdom to tackle them in the right spirit and with the right methods. Our interest and our prayers should be enlisted for the Statesmen assembled in Conference in Paris that they may be granted wisdom to re-order and re-establish the Countries of Europe on just and wise lines.

And in the case of our social problems at home, we all need to pray (for practically all of us now have some voice and some responsibility) for the wisdom, industry, and patience needed to realise our present hopes and ideals. We all want to maintain the increased sobriety of the Nation, we all want better homes for the poorer members of our community, we all want to retain a decent wage for all sections of our workers, whether with brain or hand; we all, as Church people, are keen on improving our Educational system, and developing the religious and moral side of it on all Schools; we are all resolved to maintain the sanctity of Christian marriage, and to promote that purity of life which alone will provide an A 1 population (to use the Prime Minister’s phrase), for the working of the great Empire which we hold in trust for God and man.

All this is easy to discuss, but to bring about is a work of almost overwhelming difficulty. Nothing but the Grace of God is sufficient for its accomplishment. Let us remember our hopes and ideals in our prayers, and then do our best in a spirit of comradeship that thinks first of the Church and Nation as a whole, and only secondly of party or class.

The next few weeks are a general time in Church life; we can use them for the study of great questions affecting Church and Nation before the special period of Lenten discipline begins.

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar,

C E M Fry

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

A war bonus of 20% on prewar salaries

The porter at Windsor Workhouse had had his job kept open for him.

Windsor
14th January, 1919

Letter from Mr W J Wood, Porter (now on active service) read with reference to Demobilisation and his return to duty.

The Clerk reported that he had informed Mr Wood that the Guardians had by resolution decided to keep his post open for him.

Resolved that no action be taken with regard to the Temporary Officer until the date of Mr W J Wood’s return is known.

Faringdon
14th January 1919

War Bonuses

Letter from Clerk to Guardians Wallingford. His Board has adopted a scale without waiting to call the proposed conference.

It was resolved to determine the question of the bonuses to be allotted to outdoor Officers in this Union independently.

It was accordingly resolved that a war bonus of 20% on prewar salaries should be granted to all the outdoor Officers to date from the 1st October 1918.

Windsor Board of Guardians minutes (G/WI1/26); Faringdon Board of Guardians minutes (G/F1/44)

Gay with flags and laurel leaves

There was a still a need to support the troops.

St Peter’s Notices

The Furze Platt Working Party meets at Furze Croft on Tuesday, 7th and 21st. The Secretary wishes to thank all workers and subscribers for their steady support through these years of war. No further funds will be collected for this society, but workers are asked to continue their efforts a little longer, as we have a certain amount of material in hand for making the garments which are still being asked for by the hospitals; also, Government has given us wool, as knitted garments are very much needed for the army abroad. A full account of the work of this branch of the Society will appear in the February or March number of the Magazine. I believe it will be found that more work has been done this year than ever before, and I am sure people will be glad to know that as the Society asked that games should be supplied for the troops, our December subscriptions provided some footballs and games for 2/4th and 5th Battalions of the Royal Berks and the 187 Light Trench Mortar Battery.

The Bazaar has realised £171 13s 3d. great credit is due to the workers. The Town Hall looked gay with flags, and the stall were most effective, draped with white, with a flag of one of the Colonies or of an Allied Power as a centre piece, and festooned with garlands of laurel leaves made by the boys of Furze Platt…

Now that there are fewer Collections for War Charities, will Church people consider the possibility of becoming supporters of the Free-Will Offering Fund? We, most of us, profess to believe in everybody getting a living wage, and yet this Fund has very few supporters.

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

No government has ever had to face a greater task than that which will now come to power

The suffragan Bishop of Buckingham warned there was still a great deal of work to do.

The Bishop’s Message

The war is over and we cannot find words to express our feelings: only in our thanksgiving to Almighty God can we give utterance to the thoughts of our hearts.

The war is over, but the stupendous task remains of repairing the breaches, building up the waste places, and restoring the paths to dwell in. This can be done only if the same spirit is maintained-the unity of effort, the subordination of selfish interests, the wise leadership, the loyal co-operation, the self-sacrifice, the organization, the discipline which has brought us to victory – if this is preserved in peace. The spiritual forces of the whole world must be moved in action. The League of Nations is not a fancy of visionaries; it is a practical possibility which can be realized if Christians unite to bring it about. It is not enough to wish for it, or even to pray for it, we must work for it. Surely here the Church must make its influence felt and not be daunted by difficulties in the way.


The Marriage Laws

We have reason to be devoutly thankful that the Divorce Bill was defeated in the House of Lords, but there are strong forces at work and we must be watchful. It is indeed distressing that at such a time as this there should be such persistent efforts to lower the moral standard – for that must be the effect in spite of the specious arguments. We owe a debt to Lord Parmoor for his vigorous leading.

The General Election

No government has ever had to face a greater task than that which will now come to power. The election will be a great test of the nation’s purpose. Can we put aside all petty issues and party bitterness and selfish aims and unitedly undertake the great work of reconstruction in a manner worthy of a people that has proved itself so great? The prayers which have been such a power in the war can be no less effective in gaining the victories of peace. Here are some questions on which we hope the church may speak with a united voice, for example, the immediate need of dealing with the housing of the people, the improved standard of Wages, the Education question, and the retention of control of the liquor trade. We render humble and hearty thanks to Almighty God fo0r the great and glorious victory, and for the fidelity, courage and devotion of the allied forces.

We pray

For the great Council of the nations which shall determine the conditions of peace.

For the ministry of the crown and those upon whom rests the duty of leadership in restoring conditions of peace in all countries.

For all those who profess and call themselves Christians, that they may act accordingly to their profession.

For the Church, that it may, by wise action, have due influence in the counsels of the nation.

For our troops, that they may be strong to resist the special temptations to which they are exposed.

For the soldiers who are prepared to take Holy Orders.

For the General Election.

For the Central Board of Finance, and for success in the promotion of the Central Fund of the Church of England.

For the revival of Missionary work which has been hindered by the war.

For the Diocesan Board of Missions.

For the C.E.T.S.

For the Diocesan Inspectors.

E.D. BUCKINGHAM.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, November 1918 (D/P191/28A/25)

How the high wages are spent

Good news was tempered with sadness as men continued to die.

Florence Vansittart Neale
19 October 1918

Dear old Christopher died of pneumonia or flu. None of his family there. Up at the Orkneys. On hospital ship “Agadir”….

Had letters from girls. Wonderful entrance into Lille – all inhabitants kissing. Bring sugar & sweets for our soldiers.

William Hallam
19th October 1918

This afternoon I went through the town.… I could not help noticing this afternoon all the people especially women are dressed up to the nines and even then looking into the drapers windows for more clothes. This is how the high wages are spent.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9); and William Hallam of Swindon (D/EX1415/25)

Bleeding the country

Railway worker William Hallam felt guilty at the higher pay he was getting for working on munitions.

4th October 1918

Wages 4£. 11s. 7d. after 10/6 stopped. As we have a 3/6 a week increase in wages & 9 wks back pay to come. It’s bleeding the country though.

Diary of William Hallam of Swindon (D/EX1415/25)

“All news from Russia is horrible, and it is like seeing a criminal lunatic asylum self governed”

Lady Mary Glyn was struggling to cope with the wartime shortage of domestic servants.

30 Half Moon Street
Oct 4 1918

My own darling

I have stayed in bed till luncheon time trying to understand all the dazzling news of these victories, but the fighting is dreadful, and the struggle far from over. How glad you will be to have Armentieres in our hands again.

I am still without a maid. The really good ones can get enormous wages & I must try to get a more settled establishment before I can make anyone comfortable. It is so absurd when everything of domestic bliss hangs upon a nonexistent kitchen girl.

Ressington in today’s Morning Post is good – I hope you see it? – on the American army & methods. All news from Russia is horrible, and it is like seeing a criminal lunatic asylum self governed….

Very own Mur

Letter from Lady Mary Glyn to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/5)

Down with Capitalism, Militarism, and War!

Advertisements for local left wing parties reveal a lesser known aspect to local life including attitudes to the war.

The Independent Labour Party
is an International Socialist Party. Down with Capitalism, Militarism, and War! Up with Socialism and the Brotherhood of all nations!

National Socialist Party, Reading branch.

All unattached SOCIALISTS are invited to join the above branch, the members of which recognise the necessity of the success of the Allied Forces in the present struggle to ensure the early realisation of Democracy and Socialism.

British Socialist Party
is opposed to Imperialism, Capitalism, and war, and is working for an immediate peoples’ peace.

The Voice of Labour Is like one crying in the wilderness. It is crying out against High Prices: it is crying out for more wages by which to pay the high prices: it is crying out against the people who are making the prices high. These people do not heed the cry, they meet the demand for more wages then just put a little more on the goods than they have paid in extra wages.

Give up crying out and do something!

The people must –

Control raw material.
Control production.
Control prices,

For the benefit of the whole community.

The only way – join the Co-Op.
The Stores that are owned and controlled by the Members, and do your duty.

The National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers
125 Friar Street

The Reading Branch, in conjunction with many others, is demanding that the Government shall increase the separation allowance to soldiers’ and sailors’ wives and their dependants owing to the increased cost of living; also that discharged men should be more fully represented on Pension Committees and other bodies dealing with such matters. Lord Rhondda on his death-bed sent this message to the Natioanl Baby Week. “The care of the children is a sacred duty.” How can the wives left at home to keep the home fires burning feed and clothe the babies on the present miserable allowance? We want all discharged men to join us to help us in this good work. Also to wake up the Pensions Ministry. A member speaking in the House of Commons said, “There are 2000 clerks at Chelsea dealing with 12000 pension cases weekly. That means one case per day for each clerk, yet it often takes twelve to fourteen months to get a man’s case settled.” Come along to help us to get a move on.

The Reading Worker: The Official Journal of Organised Labour in Reading and District, no. 21, September 1918 (D/EX1485/10/1/2)