March 8, 1918

News of Shrovetide Football being played by soldiers serving in France had reached the offices of the Ashbourne Telegraph, via a resident who had received a letter from a friend in the army.

“On Shrove Tuesday we kept up the Ashbourne game here – played up and down the main street of the village. C and D companies played A and B, and as I am in D company needless to say C and D won, 2-0. The Ashbourne men are in C company. It was very exciting; the same person scored both goals – he is in my platoon. The ball is being sent to Ashbourne for him, to be repainted, and then to be sent on to his home in Wirksworth, I believe.”

There was no other news of Ashbourne servicemen in the paper this week in 1918, with news dominated by the deaths of elderly residents of the district including two former JPs and two long serving members of the clergy, including Mayfield’s parish priest since 1866, The Rev Arthur Evill, who was 84. He had been parish priest for more than 50 years and died ‘in post’.

A locomotive fireman working on the High Peak line was reported to have been seriously injured in a ‘peculiar accident’.

“As the locomotive was travelling at about forty miles and hour a steel rod on the engine broke. The fore end embedded itself in a sleeper and the rod was bent like a powerful bow until it snapped when the rear end penetrated the stoker’s thigh as he stood at his post on the footplate.”

With gruesome detail the writer reported that a knife and several coins in Frank Swift’s pocket were ‘forced into the wound by the impact’.

Mayfield Rural Council heard that an inquest into the death of women had ben told that her death had been, at least partly, caused by the poor condition of her home at Calton Intakes.

“There was no water supply, no drainage or sanitary accommodation; the walls were tumbling down and there were crevices in them which in some places were stuffed with hay; the floor was only partially paved with flagstones; the roof was imperfect and let rain through; the upper room was approached not by a staircase, but by an ordinary ladder and this was the only sleeping place in the house. The number of occupants was seven, including four children.”

The council agreed to serve a notice on the owner.

  • My fellow researcher and former 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 War blog
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