By Wayne Kett
Whilst unloading box 13 we came across an iron bed, the bed itself was only mildly interesting, but what did catch my eye was the newspaper it was wrapped in.
I love old newspapers, I can’t help picking up and delving into an old paper to see what was happening in the world on that day, they are fabulous records or snapshots of a particular place and time.
I carefully unwrapped the paper from the bed, to discover it was older than I expected 1908 to be precise! There were several different papers from February of that year, national papers like the Daily Mail and the now defunct Daily Record and Daily Chronicle, but the paper that caught my eye was a local paper. The Thetford & Watton Times from the 1st February 1908. I immediately decided this would be my next blog.
The Thetford & Watton Times was the first weekly newspaper to be sold in Thetford when it was formed in 1880, it is technically now defunct having split into two smaller papers, the free weekly Watton & Swaffham Times and the Thetford & Brandon Times.
The front page looks rather different to what we are used to seeing, there is no bold single story headline that immediately draws the readers attention. Instead there are a series of much smaller stories, comment and lots of advertisements.
Here are a few of the more interesting stories…….
A PAINFUL STORY
William Thomas Atkins (34) had been in court and pleaded guilty to suicide, the offence occurred at Trowse, Millgate, Norwich. He had previously served a sentence for cutting a girls throat and attempting suicide. On this occasion he tried to strangle his aunt before attempting to kill himself. Both offences were committed under the influence of alcohol. He was given a provisional 6 month sentence, but was to be continually monitored afterwards.
There is another strikingly similar story. George William Dunnett (22) tried to slash a girl’s throat because she had spurned his advances, and then attempted to kill himself. This all happened in the sleepy seaside village of Cley next-the Sea!
What I find especially interesting about this story is the level of detail the newspaper goes into. For example….
‘He grabbed her by the throat, held her hands between his knees and with his disengaged hand took up a razor and held it over her throat.’
Thankfully she was able to struggle free.They also published a large section of his suicide note:
‘To whom this may concern, I am tired of this life I am now living. I never feel happy like another fellow and think the best thing I can do is to do away with myself before long. I am sorry for it will upset my poor mother when she hears of it, but I cannot help it, I feel too miserable…My time is up on the 4th November, my birthday, but I expect I shall be dead before then – I hope so at any rate. I intend killing another party who had worried me a great deal lately. I know perfectly well what I am doing so don’t bring it in as insane.’
It came out during the course of the trial that he could easily have killed the girl, it was fairly obvious he allowed her to overpower him. He was sentenced to 4 ½ years penal servitude for the attempted murder and 6 months for the attempted suicide. Upon hearing the sentence he commented ‘I would rather walk to the scaffold.’
NORWICH SILK WEAVERS ON STRIKE
‘About one hundred women weavers employed at Messers. F. Hinde and sons, silk mills, St Mary’s, refused to agree to a re-arrangement of the rates of payment for their labour and on Saturday ceased work. During the whole of the current week they have been on strike, and so far all attempts to arrive at a settlement have failed. Meetings in support of the strikers have been held daily on the Market Place, and each afternoon the women have paraded the streets of the city soliciting contributions to enable them to continue their struggle. Our photo shows a group of women at the labour institute.’
Norwich had a long established textile industry, but by the turn of the 20th century it was already in sharp decline losing out to cheaper foreign competition. A survey conducted in 1901 showed that as few as 2.6% of the working population of Norwich were employed in the textile industry, this equated to just under 700 in the silk trade of which the vast majority were women.
Unfortunately I have thus far been unable to find any additional information about this strike.
BISHOP OF NORWICH ON DISESTABLISHMENT
There was a meeting between the National Liberal club and the Bishop of Norwich. The Bishop of Norwich argued in favour of the disestablishment of the Church. This would mean the separation of the Church from the state, something that in 2013 has still not happened. The Bishop of Norwich did not foresee any problem with disestablishment even though it would mean Bishops including himself would loose their seats in the House of Lords. There are currently 26 un-elected bishops sitting in the House of Lords.
The Bishop of Norwich in 1908 was a man called John Sheepshanks who was Bishop between 1893 and 1910, he died in 1912. He travelled extensively visiting China, America, West Indies and Siberia. In 1908 he published a book about his travels called ‘A Bishop in the Rough’, which is still in print. Throughout his travels he developed a sense of the importance of missionary work, but also a deep dislike of luxury.
DEATH OF ‘OUIDA’
Reports the death of novelist Louisa de la Rame, better known by her pen name Ouida. The novelist who was born in Bury St Edmunds in 1839, had died in extreme poverty in Massarosa, near Lucca in Italy. She had, apparently deprived herself of the necessities of life in order to feed her dogs to whom she was devoted.
The paper adds that she ‘squandered her money recklessly’. This is a reference to the fact that she lived a very extravagant lifestyle, spending most of her money on luxuries. She was most famous for writing the novels ‘Signa’ and ‘Under Two Flags’ the former was cited as an influence by Jack London, the latter is a sympathetic work towards French colonists in Algeria.
DR WILLIAMS PINK PILLS FOR PALE PEOPLE
There is an interesting advert, masquerading as a news article advertising the great health benefits of Dr Williams Pink Pills for Pale People. It takes the story of Miss Hilda Frost who had previously suffered terribly from Neuralgia. Her sleep was fitful and she was often weak and unable to assist her mother with the daily chores. But after a dose of these pink wonder pills she was back to her usual self and even stronger than before!!! Miss Frost was recommended these pills by a great friend who themselves had been cured of Locomotor Ataxy (partial paralysis.) Though at various points it was claimed these pink pills could cure: digestive problems, malaria, healing of wounds, ‘female ailments’, restoration of blood and nerves, St Vitus dance, sciatica, neuralgia, rheumatism, nervous headaches, the after effects of la grippe, palpitation of the heart, pale and sallow complexions, all forms of weakness in both men and women, emotional problems and all diseases related to blood.
The period after 1908 saw a sharp decline in the popularity of these ‘wonder drugs’ whose fabulous claims soon came to be seen as the pseudo-scientific hoax drugs that they actually are. But in 1908, these types of cures were all the rage and there were large sums of money to be made by unscrupulous companies. The fact that 80% of all human illnesses tend to cure themselves often gave the illusion that the funny coloured pill you were popping was doing the trick.
Apparently these specific pills did contain ferrous sulphate, which would actually have had a positive effect upon anaemia, but they were weaker and far more expensive than ordinary iron pills that a doctor might have prescribed.
There is a section of helpful ‘Home Hints’ a couple of my favourites are:
‘Neglected old oak furniture should be washed with warm beer. When clean and dry apply to it with a soft brush, a mixture made of a quart of beer, in which has been boiled a piece of beeswax the size of a walnut and a teaspoonful of sugar. Leave this to dry and then polish the oak with a soft cloth.’
A recipe for fish pie: ‘Take one cupful of cold flaked fish, one cupful of breadcrumbs, an ounce of butter, one cupful of milk, two eggs, pepper and salt, a pinch of mace and a little grated lemon peel. Warm the milk and butter together, pour over the fish and breadcrumbs, add the seasoning and eggs. Bake for half an hour.’
NORWICH CITY Vs MILLWALL
There is a match report for the recently established Norwich City FC, the club begun life in 1902, so this match was for the fledgling 6 year old club. This was long before the club played at Carrow Road and even before they played at the Nest, at this point Norwich City were still playing their football at their ground on Newmarket road. In these formative years city were playing in the regional Southern league which sat below the two professional national leagues. At the time of this paper going to press the Citizens as they were then known were in 15th place (league of 20).
This match report was for the game against Millwall that had occurred the previous Saturday. The article mentions the disappointing turn out by city fans, but offers the chance of a visit to see us play Fulham in the next round of the cup as a factor keeping fans at home. Presumably saving their money for the big cup game (more of that later!) Here are a few snippets from the match report:
‘The Millwall halves played a dashing game and gave the canaries’ forwards no liberty and they were consequently unable to get in a shot’
‘Newlands and Livingstone (city players) worked hard and successfully against the Millwall forwards, repeatedly breaking up their dashes at goal.’
‘At the other end Allsopp (city) put in a beautiful centre which Joyce fisted away – it was secured by Muir, whose shot went quite across the goal mouth and was badly missed by Young, while Bauchop was a little better a few seconds later’.
‘Then Twigg was twice in as many minutes penalised for fouling (typical Millwall), and the crowd appeared somewhat indignant’.
‘Millwall were the first to notch a point – as it proved the only one of the match. Hunter getting away on the left and sending in a long shot which completely beat Roney.’
The match ended 1-0 to Millwall
On the day of the paper going to press Norwich were due to play Fulham at Craven Cottage in the 2nd round of the FA Cup. Norwich were very much the underdogs playing a Fulham team who were then playing in the national 2nd division where they would finish an impressive 4th place. The big match preview informs us that whilst Fulham will bring an unchanged team from that which beat Barnsley 2-0 in their previous match, Norwich were forced to make changes, in part because Hutchinson needs an operation on his toes. Hutchinson was a left half-back, which today would be roughly be the equivalent of a left sided midfielder or left winger. He will be replaced in the team by Whiteman. There were various other players unavailable, but nevertheless the team set of for London on the 3.27pm train and stayed in the Charterhouse hotel. If the match was drawn, the team would stay in London until Monday when a replay could be played!
The Norwich team was: Roney, Newlands, McEwen, Livingstone, Bushell, Whiteman, Muir, Jex, Young, Bauchop, Allsopp.
I am afraid on this occasion the mighty Norwich City lost 2-1 to their opponents, who would go on top reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup.