July 31, 1914

The European Crisis is the understated headline on My Sketchbook (from our artist correspondent) on page 2 of the final Ashbourne Telegraph published before the declaration of war.

The paper’s writer summed up the situation: “Servia’s reply to Austria’s ultimatum [described by Asquith in personal correspondence as “bullying and humiliating”] is not satisfactory to Austria and the outlook at present is black. Grave anxiety prevails, indeed a London weekly paper in anticipation of events it seemed brought out a special edition on Sunday after stating that war had been declared.”

But the ‘artist correspondent’ added a more positive note to the situation: “However, the prospects of peace looked a little more encouraging on Monday morning when the newspapers announced that near as Europe was to war it had not quite come, though it was still on the verge.”

An accompanying map indicated the ‘war area’ including Austria-Hungary to the north, Bosnia Herzegovnia to the west and Montenegro and Servia to the south and east. The artist clearly did not envisage a German Western Front stretching across France and Belgium.

The report continues: “Austria has rejected the intervention of Russia on behalf of Servia and Germany has warned the powers against intervention. It is hoped it is not too late to prevent an appeal to arms which might involve the Great Powers of Europe.” It is not clear if the author was including Britain in this description.

The piece on the crisis occupied just part of My Sketchbook, which shared page two as usual with the sports results and wildflower notebook.

The coming Monday, August 3, was a Bank Holiday and Osmaston Manor Gardens were to be open to the public. Elsewhere it was noted that there was to be a full moon on August.

One of the most prominent news stories of the week was of the death of Lord Belper, the grandson of wheelwright Jedediah Strutt who developed a machine for making ribbed cotton stockings – a machine which led to the birth of the Industrial Revolution just a few miles from Ashbourne in the Derbyshire village of Comford.

On a more prosaic note, the court was dealing with ‘Irish harvestmen’ who were charged with being drunk and disorderly. Each was fined 2/6d (about 12p) and ordered to pay 7d (2p) costs.

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