This Week in 1935/6

29 December – 4 January 1936:

BOXING DAY SALES: crowds rushed the shops as the post-Christmas sales opened. ‘Many of the shoppers were country people in London for Christmas who had stayed on for the sales. Others had come for the day by early trains. But the majority were Londoners who had realized from the preliminary advertising and a weekend scrutiny of the goods shown in the windows that the sales this year were likely to be better than usual. The lure of value is strong.’ Marshall and Snelgrove on Oxford Street boasted a good range of summer coats costing 73s. 6d, 63s., and 39s. 6d., all reduced from 6 ½ guineas and 5 guineas. The Times reported that these were nearly sold-out by midday.

NEW YEAR’S EVE CELEBRATIONS AT ST. PAULS: an experiment was held on New Year’s Eve 1935 at St. Paul’s Cathedral – a community choir sang outside the grand building for passers-by. Canon H. R. L. Sheppard conducted the choir in the hope that he would be able to alter the raucous nature of previous New Year’s celebrations outside the cathedral. ‘There was some rowdyism, particularly on the outskirts of the crowd, but it was not expected that the noisy character of the older, unorganized celebration would be wholly eliminated.’ Nonetheless the police were satisfied with the behaviour of the crowd and, ‘considered that it was a quieter one than in former years.’

NEW YEAR’S EVE CELEBRATIONS AT HOME: not everyone was out celebrating on New Year’s Eve. Many stayed at home – contacting their family and friends on the telephone to collectively welcome the new year. A record number of shilling phone calls were made on New Year’s Eve in 1935. The London Trunk Exchange dealt with approximately 11,000 calls to all parts of the UK between 5pm and midnight. Over 20% of these calls were to Scotland with Glasgow alone receiving 800 calls from London.

One last crazy headline:

BLAMING THE COW: this week in 1935 an article appeared in The Times under the headline, ‘Blaming the Cow’. It began, ‘so you see that if cows didn’t like mustard we shouldn’t have any movies.’ Mmm – curious. So what was this all about? Photographs on film or glass consisted of small particles of metallic silver embedded in gelatine. The gelatine increased the sensitivity to light and gelatine made from cows was preferred because it had an especially high mustard, and therefore a sulphur, content.

Final thoughts:

THE TIMES AS A TEXBOOK: The Times reported this week in 1935 that 50,000 copies of the newspaper were being sent to Sweden to be used as a textbook in English lessons. It is not just the English language that can be learned from reading newspapers – they can also act as useful sources in our attempts to access the past. In this blog I have read every edition of The Times that was issued in 1935 picking unusual and interesting stories to relay to you, my readers. I hope I have provided a colourful picture of everyday life in 1935 and made you stop and think a couple of times how little things have really changed.