Christmas in Ashbourne was said to have been the quietest on record.
“Over the whole proceedings there seemed to be a spirit of moderation and there were very few indications of that freedom and abandonment which are often noticeable at this most festive season of the year.”
But, despite reporting that the post office and railway station had both been less busy than normal the Telegraph noted: “There were some, however, who were evidently determined to allow no Kaiser to interfere with their merriment and apparently were able to get much enjoyment out of the annual custom.”
The annual Gawbies’ Market held on Saturday was described by the correspondent in the Local Notes and Comments column as ‘a very ancient institution’.
The writer observed: “We in this age will not perhaps envy the originators of the institution. To ‘stand the market’ and receive bids for a twelve-month’s service seems not only antiquated but in some senses abhorrent to modern ideas, and savours of the vassal days of mediaeval England. But the market has lost much of its ancient status and although a large amount of hiring is still done at this fair a good many make their arrangements privately.”
Because the market was traditionally held on the first Saturday after Christmas Day by a quirk of the calendar it was noted there would be no market in 1915 – but two in 1916.
The Christmas holiday had clearly had an impact on the breadth and depth of local editorial content of the Ashbourne Telegraph with Page 3 seeing reports on the fishing industry in Lake Manitoba, Canada, the discovery of a Roman wall in Cardiff and two full length columns of Household Hints including practical tips such as using metal heel protectors to extend the life of your shoes and how to make home made metal polish from methylated spirits, paraffin and ‘dry whiting’. Also included is advice on the Art of Looking Nice (avoid ‘extremes of fashion’ and repair worn clothing).
The Ashbourne Empire’s new year show was Miss Florina Cody – The Prairie Girl rifle shot and her assistant The Human Target. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday the film was If Britain Were Invaded.
Constable Millward – said to be ‘the biggest constable in Derbyshire’ was reported to have been transferred from Ashbourne to Chesterfield. He had been replaced by Constable Simnet, although there was no indication of his comparative stature.
Among the many reports of Christmas festivities was a news item about a recruiting meeting at Ashbourne Town Hall, which was said to be well attended.
“Sir Peter Walker in his opening remarks said it might appear to them curious at a time when the thought of ‘peace and goodwill to all men’ was supposed to be uppermost in their minds that they should have a recruiting meeting. Unfortunately at the present time they were not at peace with a large number on the continent and circumstances were such that Lord Kitchener had asked for more men, and although Ashbourne had done very well, he believed it could still do better if it tried.
“Captain Stepney had told him that out of the 48,000 men who were serving from this county 33,000 were married men, a fact which did not reflect much credit on the single young men who had not yet enlisted.”
The need for more men to volunteer for the colour was evidenced by the announcement that coastguards at Cromer in Norfolk had been armed as they were expecting an invasion at any time when the tide was favourable.
The children of soldiers serving with the armed forces were entertained at a post Christmas event at the Young Men’s Institute, Town Hall Yard, organised by Miss Sellers and a few of her friends.
“The room was made very gay with streamers of small flags and other decorations…. About 90 children sat down to a nicely prepared tea, the repast being highly appreciated.”
Tea was followed by a short concert, and later a show of ‘limelight’ pictures and selections from the gramophone. The evening was rounded off with gifts from the heavily laden Christmas tree and the singing of the National Anthem.
The paper included a warning to readers to beware of counterfeit florins reportedly in circulation n the Ashbourne area.
“In appearance they are almost perfect and no one would detect them with the scanty glance one usually gives a coin. Even a close examination shows the counterfeiter has done his work well and it is only by ringing them that you discover the ‘Joey’.”
Howell and Marsden’s Stores of St John Street had a large display advertisement in the new year edition of the paper promoting its teas which they boasted were at lower prices than available ‘in or out of London’.
Amid listings of prices for raisins, lemon and orange peel, bacon and lard was “Lady Diana Sauce as supplied to His Majesty’s Government offices, also His Majesty’s Territorial Forces etc etc 6d and 1/- bottles.”
The advertisement also carried an apology: “We crave indulgence of our customers for the unavoidable delay in executing orders, as owing to extra business and the depletion of our staff on patriotic duty, we find ourselves unable to deliver as promptly as usual.”
A Home Office order came into force on January 1, 1915, that required every cycle to ‘carry a red light in the rear’. The article clarified that the rules applied to the Metropolitan Police area only and only when street lighting was restricted. The report continues: “When the war is over and the imposition of these abnormal conditions is no longer justified this order will naturally be rescinded and rear lights on cycles will automatically become unnecessary.”