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April 1916 and Burton Man is Fined For Not Dimming His Cycle Lamp!

Author: Susan Chambers Published: 26th April 2016 08:54

The latest in a series of articles by local historian Susan Chambers, looking at life in Neston during the Great War.  Susan is also co-editor of the fascinating website www.Nestonpast.com.

Easter Monday was April 24th, and would in future years be memorable for the occasion of the Easter Rising in Dublin. Easter weather had been fine, though by Monday there was less sunshine and a boisterous wind. Despite the war conditions and restricted trains, the holiday spirit was still much in evidence, reported the Chester Chronicle, as many workers were enjoying increased spending power due to good wages, particularly in the munitions works.

Neston Sessions were having a busy spell. Local people were falling foul of the Lighting Order, which was intended to black-out all lighting that might be seen by enemy Germans on the river, or assist a Zeppelin in a bombing raid. A candle in a bedroom window in Raby Road meant a 5s fine, William Oxton of Liverpool Road was fined 10s for showing a light, and Thomas Bostock of Burton was fined 5s for not having the acetylene light on his bicycle obscured.

Neston 100 years ago - Bertha Ashton's shopBertha Ashton's shop in Neston High Street (on the left)

Four school boys, from Brook Street and Chester Road stole bottles of ‘pop' from Bertha Ashton's shop on High Street, (opposite to present Elephant). Their parents were fined 2s 6d for each boy. Four Willaston lads were each fined 5s (or six days in gaol) for helping themselves to six turkey eggs and four hens eggs from under a hedge in that village.

A woman from Colliery Cottages was in court after gathering wood chips, value 2d, from the colliery area into her apron; the company claimed it was experiencing a lot of pilfering. Another woman was fined 10s for collecting pieces of coal into a bag.

Frank Reid, licensee of the Chester Arms, Parkgate (near site of present Old Quay) was serving out his notice from the Birkenhead Brewery after allowing drunkenness in the pub last December, and was in trouble again; PC Fryer had attempted to make a routine check that the pub was displaying certain Liquor Control Board notices but Reid blocked his entrance, and began quibbling about Fryer not having authority as he was in plain clothes. Although the constable lived just across the road, Reid said he thought he may have been an imposter. The bench fined him the maximum £5 with £2 10s costs.

The twelfth annual Boys' Brigade and Neston Girls' Drill Class demonstration impressed the Town Hall audience, which included wounded soldiers, on Thursday 13th, though Captain Coventry was unavoidably absent and orders were given by Lieutenants Wilde and Quayle. The Brigade had lent its rifles to the Home Defence Corps. The girls did pole and hoop drill and impressive dances in Greek and Spanish costume. Silver badges were awarded to Emma Kameen and Dot Hughes, and Annie Johnson was the evening's pianist.

On Good Friday, April 21st, local residents with cars took the male members of the Neston Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment (VADs) to pick up patients for the two hospitals, Parkgate and the Institute, from the hospital train at Woodside station in Birkenhead. There were now seventeen patients at the Institute, being well looked after and entertained by such treats as a Japanese concert performed by some ladies from Heswall. Ness Holt School (off School Lane) collected 149 eggs to be divided between the two hospitals. A cheque for £100 was handed over to the Institute hospital from the Little Neston, Willaston and District Ploughing Society, proceeds of sale of a plough donated by Joseph Mealor and Sons of Ness at the annual match held at Willaston in January.

Government support was minimal and a continual supply of funds or gifts in kind was essential. A reminder was issued that the Red Cross was opening new workrooms at ‘Ivanhoe' on Hinderton Road, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, which promised to be a good opportunity to be helpful towards the war effort and also to socialise and chat.

Neston Library, receiving depot in case of bombing attacks.Neston Library, receiving depot in case of bombing attacks.

Neston Library was to be one of the receiving centres for casualties in the event of hostile air-raids, and all was well organized with stretcher bearers from the men's Red Cross allocated to the several receiving centres. Weekly mens' Red Cross VAD meetings were at the library, Tuesdays 7.45pm, and more men were needed as many members were being called up under Lord Derby's scheme.

John Peers of Poplar Weint was working alongside his father underground at the colliery when some of the roof gave way and he was badly bruised. Dr Gunn, who lived at Beechways House on the corner of Church Lane, attended to him.

News came through of another Neston man killed in action, Private Robert Medcalfe of the 8th Battalion of the Cheshires. They had been in Gallipoli, then moved to Egypt, and had been in Mesopotamia (Iraq/Syria) since February. He had recently written to his father saying "I am in the pink and if I keep like this I'll be all right. Good luck to you, Dad."

Related content:

Neston - 100 Years Ago

New website looking at Neston's history: http://www.nestonpast.com/

Neston in the Great War - Neston Villages Remember

Days Gone By - photos of Neston's past

Newspaper Clippings

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