October 23 1915

Dominating the editorial columns this week in 1915 was a death, not of a serviceman killed in action, but a prominent member of the North Derbyshire community.

Sir Peter Walker, ‘A typical English gentleman’ had died at Osmaston Manor on October 18, aged 61. The paper described him as a ‘popular and philanthropic benefactor’.

The Baronet’s passing received the full obituary treatment, detailing his life and family, noting his military career, his involvement in horse racing, his ‘sporting’ achievements (which included shooting a 7ft 2in bear in Canada and landing a 195lb fish), his role as a landlord and agriculturist and his ‘unostentatious generosity’.

It was noted that Sir Peter had supported the Osmaston Home Guard, supplying the men with rifles and uniforms.

The paper’s Notes and Comments column said: “By the death of Sir Peter Carlaw Walker Bart., of Osmaston Manor there is removed from our midst one of the most prominent and esteemed gentlemen of the county, and this critical period of our history his loss is irreparable.”

Such was his popularity that the paper announced only ticket holders would be admitted to the funeral service at Osmaston Church.

Private William Buxton of the 6th Sherwood Foresters, formerly of Clifton and an employee of Ashbourne grocers Howell and Marsden had written to his mother about the bombardment of the Ashbourne platoon’s trenches which followed the explosion of the mine which killed so many men from Derbyshire.

He closes with an everyday request: “You can send as much bread as you like, but don’t trouble to send any butter.”

A former member of the Telegraph’s staff, Harry Belfield, who had also been present during the bombardment, was under treatment in hospital in London for a shrapnel wound to a leg.

“The bombardment, he says, was awful, and he quite thought his time had come. He now writes very cheerfully, however, and says he hopes to be in Ashbourne soon.”

Letter writing was commonplace in the early part of the 20th century and this was reflected in an advertisement place by chemist Thomas Plant of Church Street promoting ‘Gifts for Tommy’.

“One of the things ‘Tommy’ is always asking for is writing paper. Our ‘Khaki’ Wallett (sic) contains writing pad, envelopes, pencil, and a useful French-English and English-French vocabulary of useful phrases complete in case for the pocket. Price 71/2 d each. Send him one now!

Page 2 of the paper recorded a memorial service as Osmaston for Private Harry Thomas who had been killed in action in the Dardanelles.

The vicar, the Rev HV Titmuss read the lesson To What Purpose is This Waste? (Matthew xxvi, 8). He was not referring to the waste of young human lives, but calling for the congregation to eschew every luxury now that every penny was needed for the fighting machine.

Many farm labourers from across the country had enlisted in the army resulting in a short of farm hands. The Board of Agriculture and Fisheries had agreed with the Army Council that men with experience of handling farm horses should be given furlough to carry out ‘autumn cultivations’. Strict rules were set out stating that the men should only be released for the days actually required to do the work up to a maximum of four weeks. The farmers would be responsible for paying the men 4s a day or 2s6d a day plus lodgings. They were also charged with transporting the men to and from the nearest railway station.

Among the ‘situations vacant’ listed on page 4 of the Ashbourne Telegraph was the post of apprentice at the printing office of the paper. The announcement stated it was a good opportunity for an ‘intelligent youth’.

No fewer than six labourers were required at Atkey’s Garage in the town, while P Birch was advertising for ‘several good joiners and labourers’.

Domestic service was still an employment option. Mrs Wardle of Mayfield Hall was seeking ‘A Strong Young Girl as under-Housemaid’, while a family of five living near Manchester sought a ‘Cook General and Housemaid-Waitress’, the annual salaries advertised were £24 and £22 respectively.

Mrs Wardle’s name appeared again on the following page, this time as one of the donors to the Local Soldiers’ Christmas Parcel Fund. She gave 5s, which was listed alongside donations ranging from £2 2s from The Rev A Gamble to 1s from Mr T Gallimore. In total 36 names were listed alongside the sum given.

The Hints for the Household column ‘valuable information for the housewife’ had two very different meal suggestions this week. The first, for Rabbit Hot-Pot, was said to be ‘a capital way of using old bunnies’. The recipe promised: “To those who look on cooked rabbit as dry, flavourless fare it will probably be a revelation.” The second dish was Nut Cutlets, made by boiling lentils and rubbing them through a sieve, adding flour, stock, and crushed almonds. The resulting mixture, the writer suggested could be shaped into cutlet shapes before coating in egg and breadcrumbs and deep fried.

  • My fellow researcher and De Montfort University colleague John Dilley is conducting a similar real-time project with the Market Harborough Advertiser. Check out his Newspapers and the Great Warblog
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