A few choice news stories that appeared in The Times this week in 1935…
This research was conducted in 2014 and published on this blog in the same year. To see what happened ‘This Week in 1935’ scroll down to the appropriate week and see what news stories appeared in The Times.
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.
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.
CHRISTMAS EVE CELEBRATIONS:
CHRISTMAS DAY NEWS:
A WHITE CHRISTMAS FOR SOME:
A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE: a woman who had been blind from birth found herself able to see this week in 1935. Miss Madge Brewer (25) had her sight restored after ten delicate operations were carried out at the Bath Eye Infirmary. The Times reported how, ‘she had expected to find the human features beautiful, but her impression of most of them was that they were ugly. The only beautiful things, in her view, were flowers.’
A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE: King George V’s Christmas speech was broadcast to his people throughout the Empire. A recording of the speech can be accessed on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRX2yAlte48
CHRISTMAS SHOPPING: The Times reported this week in 1935 that, ‘Christmas shopping is now at its height. The combined requests of the Postmaster-general to “post early” and of shopkeepers to “shop early” have not fallen on deaf ears. There is congestion on the pavements of London’s shopping centres; there is even great congestion inside the large shops; and the greatest congestion of all is in those wonderful toy departments where parents enjoy themselves as much as their children.’ Here are some advertisments for ideal Christmas gifts that were printed in The Times this week in 1935:
CHRISTMAS SNOW: It was predicted this week in 1935 that some areas of the UK would witness a white Christmas. A depression to the west of Ireland caused unsettled weather over Egland and Wales, the precipitation falling as sleet or snow.
CHRISTMAS MERRIMENT: The Times reported this week in 1935 that more people than ever before were receiving convictions for drunkenness. Increases were recorded in evey moth except June and September, the largest increase occuring in January.
A TAPOMETER FOR TYPISTS: this week in 1935 it was announced that the United Steel Companies in Sheffield had introduced a novel scheme to increase output and relieve the monotony of a typist’s work. The machine was called a “tapometer” and recorded the number of taps made by each typist in a day. If the number of taps reached a certain standard by the end of the week the typist received a bonus of five shillings. To launch the new machine 200 typists took part in a typewriting contest in which two cups were awarded.
THE SECRET OF STILTON: The Times this week in 1935 provided its readers with Lady Beaumont’s Quenby recipe for Stilton. So here it is:
GERMAN BALOONISTS DOWN IN ENGLAND: three German balloonists had to make a forced landing in South Cockerington, near Louth, this week in 1935. They had been in the open basket hot air balloon for two nights and a day, participating in a race from Gersenkirchen, near Essen, to Norway.
THE POPULARITY OF THE CHRYSANTHEMUM: There was a society for everything in the 1930s – including Chrysanthemums. This week in 1935 the National Chrysanthemum Society, which was established in 1846, met for its annual dinner at the Connaught Rooms in London. Mr. D. B. Crane, chairman of the Floral Committee, and Mr. E. F. Hawes, chairman of the Executive Committee, were each presented with watches in recognition of their long periods of service.
AUSTRALIA’S CHRISTMAS GIFT: this week in 1935 Australia sent Britain a special consignment of lamb as a Christmas gift. This was the fifth year of doing so and in 1935 two of the recipients included Mr. Malcom MacDonald, Secretary of State for the Dominions, and the Lord Mayor of London.
THE OLDEST ROYAL SERVANT: A little story for the Living History volunteers at Ickworth House: Mr. William barker, the oldest Royal servant, died at Windsor this week in 1935. He was 91! He had been born on the Royal estate at Windsor and entered into the service of the Duchess of Kent (Queen Victoria’s mum) when he was 15. For four years his task was to wheel her about the grounds in a bath-chair. He later became a gardener and the vine-keeper at Cumberland Lodge. Under King George V he was granted a cottage on the Castle grounds for life and both the King and Queen visited him on his 90th birthday.
WALT DISNEY: an article appeared in The Times this week in 1935 chronicling the ‘genius of Walt Disney’. It stated that, ‘Mickey Mouse is the only public figure in the world today who is universally beloved’, and remarked, ‘in years to come, when most names which are now a by-word will have long been forgotten, it is probable that Mr. Chaplin and Mr. Disney will be remembered as the only two really great artists of this present film era.’
A KING’S BOUNTY: this week in 1935 a woman from St. Neots received the King’s Bounty (£4) after she gave birth to quadruplets. A container of human milk and four nurses from the Hospital for Sick Children in Great Ormond Street were also sent to assist in the care of the four babies.
A MAN WITH TWO WIVES: two different women claimed the body of a man at an inquest that was held this week in 1935, both claiming to be his wife. Frederick Kirkley (49) was an economist and died on Armistice Day. The coroner found a veridct of “suicide while of unsound mind”. He married Gladys Kirkley in 1909 and together they had three children. He deserted her in 1928 and sent his family £1 a week until 1931. During that time he had been living with another woman, having married her even though he had Gladys had not divorced.
LOOKING TO THE FUTUTRE: Have you ever wondered what the world will look like 100 years in the future? Well, The Times did this week in 1935. In an article headlined ‘Vision of Education’ the newspaper predicted how society and the education system would look in 2035. Prediction 1: economic problems would be solved and people will devote their, ‘main energies to living and not in providing the means for living.’ Prediction 2: ‘a sane and educated population would be brought up to look on international law-breakers as criminals and would never permit war to take place as a so-called method of settling disputes. Prediction 3: ‘the only sites which would be considered fit for schools would be in the projected green belts outside the industrial areas.’ Prediction 4: ‘with smaller classes the maintenance of discipline by old-fashioned methods of mass suppression would no longer be required. The difficult and troublesome children would be subjects for the psychologist and the psychiatrist.’ Prediction 5: ‘with a falling population and smaller number of births, a scientific rather than a sentimental point of view would prevail and the quality of the human species would no doubt receive as much attention eugenically as was now devoted to the quality of flocks and herds, pet dogs, and cage birds.’ OO-ERR
CHARING CROSS UNDERGROUND GARDEN: a miniature garden with lawns, shrubs, and a rockery was constructed at Charing Cross underground station this week in 1935.
THE NATIONAL TRUST COMES TO THE RESCUE: Under the headline ‘Saving the Beauty of England’ The Times explained how the National Trust had been gradually acquiring more sites of historic interest and natural beauty.
CHRISTMAS GIFTS: With Christmas just one month away The Times provided its readers with ideas on what to buy their loved ones. This week in 1935 The Times Literary Review was printed, offering an insight into the latest best-selling books. An article informed readers that railway tickets could now be bought as Christmas gifts. This was a new scheme for 1935 – members of the public could purchase and send railway tickets to their relatives and friends along with an invitation for the Christmas or New Year. What a good idea!
FLOODS: Heavy rain that fell during the weekend caused widespread floods in the south of England. It seems that the November of 1935 was an especially wet one. The Times reported that in the first 17 days of the month twice the amount of rain normally experienced in the whole of November had already fallen.
TV: It was reported this week in 1935 that television was now available to members of the public in Paris: ‘the first public television broadcasting station in Paris’, was opened, ‘the studio itself is in the Rue de Grenelle, and the transmitting apparatus is at the top of the Eiffel Tower. The full range of the transmitter is not yet known, but it will easily include the whole of greater Paris. As only a few amateurs possess television receivers public receivers at various points in the capital will be installed.’
ROYAL CHRISTENING: this week in 1935 Prince Edward, son of the Duke and Duchess of Kent, was christened in the Private Chapel at Buckingham Palace. King George and Queen Mary already his grandparents now also became his godparents.
ANIMALS AT THE ZOO: The Times reported this week in 1935 how, ‘an animal lover made a present to the Zoo of 55 Greek tortoises which he had brought, out of compassion, from a street hawker.’
ARMISTICE DAY: November 11th 1935 marked the seventeenth anniversary of the end of the Great War. Services were held at St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey with large numbers of people visiting the Empire Field of Remembrance at the Abbey. Over 300,000 women set out with 40 million poppies in the hope of raising money for the Haig Fund which helped the British Legion in its work for ex-servicemen and their families.
THE GENERAL ELECTION: this week also witnessed the election of Stanley Baldwin as Prime Minister (14th November). The image below shows Miss Thelma Cazalet shaking hands after she retained her seat in Islington East.
3 – 9 November:
A ROYAL WEDDING: On the 6th of November the Duke of Gloucester and Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott were married. Here are some photographs of the stately event:
The bride walks down the aisle
The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester on the balcony
A family portrait
Princess Elizabeth eagerly awaits the married couple as they leave the Palace
WEDDING GIFTS: The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester received many elaborate wedding gifts. These included a set of turquoise and diamond earrings, a diamond tiara, two bow broaches, four chain bracelets, a cluster ring, fancy cluster earrings, and a cluster necklace from Queen Mary to the bride. Others gifts included thirty-eight water-colour paintings, a jewelled evening bag from the Viscount and Viscountess Hampden, a two-handled silver cup from the Cabinet and an antique oak hall chest from the Prime Minister. Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret gave their uncle and his new wife a pair of silver table lighters.
27 October – 2 November:
GHOULISH WEATHER: this week in 1935 the UK battled against gale-force winds. Gusts of 71 m/p/h were reported in Manchester and counties further north were swamped in a deluge of rain.
A STRANGE DEATH: The Times reported this week in 1935 the death of a professional killer. Albert Stein, a New York gunman who killed a man nicknamed ‘Dutch Schultz’ and ten members of his gang, was found dead in a cheap lodging house in Newark, New Jersey. He was found hanging from a gas fixture in a room full of gas. The article reported that the circumstances suggested suicide but that the New York police believed he was the victim of a ferocious gang war that was going on in the New York underworld. Stein was not a member of a gang. He offered his services as a professional killer to anyone willing to pay.
ALL SOULS’ DAY: this week in 1935 The Times printed a report detailing the story of All Souls’ Day. It told how in the tenth century an abbot of Cluny decided to follow the festival of All Saints on November 1 by a commemoration of All Souls. This observance soon spread and before long All Souls’ Day was recognised in the calendar of the Western Church. The article explained that this day, ‘corresponds so closely with a human need…the instinct which leads us to remember our friends in prayer. We are still united with them in love: we think of them as we believe they do of us, and sometimes their influence upon us is stronger than when they were still in this world.’
MORE INVENTIONS, INSTALLATIONS AND SIGNS OF FUTURE PROGRESS THIS WEEK IN 1935:
INVENTION: A Hungarian inventor claimed that he had managed to create an apparatus which emitted rays making objects on which they focused invisible. The Times wrote, ‘the idea of being able to make oneself invisible is, in the present troubled times, most attractive.’ Scientists pooh-poohed the invention stating that, ‘“invisibility rays” are a physical impossibility’, but a private demonstration of the contraption held in the Central Hotel wowed its audience. The inventor placed a chair with a dummy policeman on it, focused the rays of the machine on the objects and his viewers watched as the chair and dummy vanished from sight. What do you reckon – a fantastical magic trick or a fantastic scientific invention?
INSTALLATION: the next time you are walking down Fleet Street take a moment to glance at the clock on St. Dunstan’s. The church had stood in the same spot for hundreds of years and the clock of St. Dunstan’s played an important role in the horrific tale of Sweeney Todd (Todd send his apprentice Tobias to watch the clock strike every time he gave one of his customers a close shave). This week in 1935 the original clock, with its mechanical figurine chime, was re-installed at St. Dunstan’s.
HELLO, IT’S THE FUTURE CALLING: An article that appeared in The Times this week in 1935 reported that there was a growing use of telephones throughout the country. It predicted that this was the result of frequent reductions in call charges – the number of night calls made had trebled since 1934!
BIRTHS AT THE ZOO: this week in 1935 the London Zoo witnessed the birth of a baby ocelot (a jaguar-like wild cat). The keepers had not realised that one of the ocelots was pregnant and found a little ocelot kitten in the enclosure one morning. This birth was of particular interest because it was unusual for ocelots to breed in captivity. Two more babies were also born at the Zoo this week in 1935 – a bison and a Dorcas gazelle.
PATH TO PROGRESS: two announcements were made this week in 1935 that started to pave a way towards the future. The first occurred in Brighton. Plans were released to widen the promenade and road on the Brighton sea front. The scheme was to cost a quarter of a million pounds and led to the Brighton front we know today.
Secondly a new school for the purpose of training professionals was announced. At the 36th anniversary dinner of the British Association of Refrigeration at the Park Lane Hotel Sir Frank Smith suggested that a school of refrigeration should be established at Cambridge where young men could be taught to understand the process of refrigeration. I’m not sure if this actually happened. Since it was the oddity of the article that attracted my attention I don’t suppose it did.
MAN HUNT BY 400 POLICE: Drama, drama, drama! This week in 1935 400 policemen surrounded a mountain cave near Capetown after searching for a young man called De Villiers. He was wanted in connection with shooting three people earlier in the week. Having escaped in a motor-car to the Drakenstein Mountains the man then began his ascent. He left a note in the car informing the police that he had a rifle and 100 rounds of ammunition. The note also pointed out that he was a crack shot and was waiting for them. The police were unable to reach him, as he had, ‘entrenched’, himself, ‘in an almost inaccessible cave high up in the Kloof’.
ROYAL BABY: On the 9th of October 1935, at five past two in the morning, the Duchess of Kent gave birth to Prince Edward. The event was made known to members of the public by firing the Park and Tower guns – a slightly more direct approach than the hours those poor journalists had to wait standing outside a hospital not so long ago.
NEW INVENTIONS: This week in 1935 two major inventions were announced in The Times. The first was an electric letter sorter. The Post Office branch of Brighton and Hove tested the new letter-sorting machine in the hope of avoiding letter manipulation or ‘double-handing’. Until then letters had been sorted by hand and placed in pigeon-holed boxes; service was slow and letters could get damaged. The machine meant that over 24,000 letters could be sorted in an hour.
The second invention was a new model of a three-wheeled car – something we now associate with generations past. The Times’ official motoring correspondent wrote this week in 1935 that a coach-built three-wheeled car was available to buy for under £100.
HOWARD LEAGUE REFORM: this week in 1935 the Howard League for Penal Reform advocated the value of books in prisons. Mr. John A. F. Watson remarked that, ‘a prison sentence offers a great opportunity for reading, and frequently men whose literary tastes had previously been confined to “blood and thunder” might be introduced to the work of authors which give them lasting pleasure.’
29 September – 5 October:
This week in 1935 saw three news items that would have proved particularly interesting for the domestic staff at Ickworth House in Suffolk.
NATIONAL NEWS: a new Lord Mayor was elected this week – Sir Percy Vincent.
LOCAL NEWS: most who live in Suffolk know about Culford School – a grand boarding and day school based in the old home of the Cadogan family. It was this week in 1935 that Culford School was officially opened.
PERSONAL INTERST NEWS: this week The Times reported the death of a London housemaid. Hilda Jane Thomas, aged 28, had been preparing some turpentine and beeswax in a saucepan on a gas ring – this mixture was commonly used for polishing floors. The saucepan tipped and the contents caught fire, catching the poor housemaid’s overall. She later died from her burns. The next time I complain about having to clean my apartment I will remember how lucky I am not to have to make my own cleaning products – hurrah for the slightly useless skwerty bottles and noxious polish sprays housed in my cleaning cupboard.
THIS MONTH IN 1935 – SEPTEMBER:
Having just returned from a conference (and holiday) in the US I thought it best to provide a summary of the most interesting and eye-catching stories that appeared in The Times this MONTH in 1935 rather than trying to compile weekly updates in the uber-busy pace of life in New York – so here they are…
This week in 1935 witnessed celebrity drama – and students preparing for a new term:
A ROYAL PARTY: the Royal Family enjoyed a grand party at Balmoral to welcome Lady Alice Scott to the family. When she arrived her future husband, the Duke of Gloucester, was busy at a shooting party so she was greeted by her mother-in-law-to-be, Queen Mary. The Prime Minister, Mr. MacDonald, later joined the party after spending the day playing golf on the private Castle links.
A ROYAL FUNERAL: this week in 1935 saw the funeral of Queen Astrid of Brussels. She had been killed in a car crash and her premature death shocked communities worldwide. Queen Astrid had been an adored member of the Royal Family – charitable, approachable, beautiful and charming. King Leopold had been driving and lost control of the car, falling down a steep embankment and colliding with two trees, passing over a stone wall, and finally falling into a lake. The King was injured but he crawled to where his wife was lying and she died as he cradled her in his arms.
WELLS FALLS OFF A LADDER: H. G. Wells, author of well-known works such as War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, and The Invisible Man, was injured after he fell from a ladder this week in 1935. The 65 year old had been climbing an iron ladder to inspect the roof of a house rented by Princess Rospigliosi when he fell and landed on his face. Found by a housemaid he was transported to hospital in a taxi and suffered a temporary loss of the use of one eye.
STUDENTS TODAY – 1935: The Times reported this week in 1935 that the Mayor of Cambridge was unhappy with the state of modern students: ‘nowadays an old pair of flannel trousers and a sports coat seemed to constitute the wardrobe of the undergraduate whereas years ago the younger members of the University were regarded as arbiters of fashion and were invariably well turned out.’ And what did he blame for the shabby students? – motor cars. Not only were they putting coachmen out of business and creating a nuisance on the roads but the need-for-speed students no longer thought smart dress was needed when they were hidden behind a wheel rather than presented in a carriage.
For a bit of a difference here are some adverts that appeared in The Times this week in 1935. It is not just the written word that can tell us how people lived in the past:
HEALTH AND RECREATION:
FASHION NEWS: what were people wearing in the Autumn of 1935? This week The Times toured some of the more popular London shops and reported the results of their research. The answer was: trimmings of fur and metal! Debenham and Freebody offered new silks emphasising a metal note for its fashion-hungry customers. You could buy a black taffeta with ribbon stripes in metal and velvet or a georgette with tiny sequin stars superimposed on the silk. Glizty glamour!
WHAT – AND WHAT NOT – TO EAT: the constant debate about what we should and should not eat is not a modern phenomenon. This week in 1935 a study showed that meat was an essential element in a healthy diet. Of course, too much was not a good idea, but too little meant people were suffering from low stamina and resistance to illness. According to the report, ‘the London stockbroker who started the day with bacon and eggs and fish, followed by luncheon of soup, fish, entrée, and joint, and the same for dinner, was overdoing it’, but that the middle classes were not eating enough, ‘trying to live up to a stage of society they could not really afford, they had little to spend on food.’
MONKEY BUSINESS: This week in 1935 the people of Canterbury were being terrorised by a monkey. The cheeky chappy had escaped from Whitstable Amusement Park and had been loose for two weeks. It helped itself to fruit and vegetables and apparently had a particular liking for tomatoes – stripping the produce from grower’s trees and raiding larders throughout the town. The police attempted to capture it but failed miserably: ‘it was trapped in a conservatory with all the exits closed. The monkey took up a strategic position on the top of the cistern, and was only enticed down by provocative noises and by a policeman making faces at it. Strawberry nets were then spread, but as the attacking force closed in the monkey tore through the net, crashed through glass, and shortly afterwards gazed derisively down from the steeple of St. Paul’s Church.’
SPACE-SAVING STORAGE: A NEW INVENTION – anyone who has had to consult newspapers for research, historical or otherwise, knows that you can easily drown under a pile of deceivingly flimsy copy. In 1935 a new system had been invented to solve this problem. Rather than keeping original copy in files and boxes newspapers were now printed onto film and stored in reels. Microfilm – the arch nemesis of the newspaper researchers of today – was hailed as a progressive step in record keeping. Not only could newspapers be filed more easily but the safety-type film reels proved less of a fire hazard to public libraries and newspaper offices than piles and piles of paper.
A week of boundary-busting relations:
THE NORTH AND SOUTH: this week in 1935 a new express service by the London and North Eastern railway was introduced between Newcastle and London. The train, which was named “Silver Jubilee”, could travel the 268 mile journey in just four hours!
THE BRIT AND THE AMERICAN: an article appeared in The Times this week in 1935 discussing the similarities and differences of British and American personalities. Mr. Harold Nicolson remarked that one of the largest differences that led to misunderstanding between the British and the Americans was temperature. ‘Friendships between Englishmen and Americans have been broken by the question of whether a room was too hot or too cold. He had met Americans who had assured him that during a visit to Great Britain the only warm thing they ever met was a whisky and soda. He had known Englishmen who had left America with great speed fearing apoplexy because of the heat.’ This received great laughter from those attending the American Chamber of Commerce luncheon held at Hotel Victoria. He also noted that though both Brits and Americans exhibited shyness this was presented in very different ways. ‘The Englishman’s shyness took the form of reserve, and the American’s took the shape of uncertainty. Suffering from reserve the Englishman said less and less, and uncertainty made the American say more and more.’
HUMAN AND ANIMAL: this week the Canterbury monkey was finally caught but it wasn’t by the police. An elderly woman had gained the animal’s friendship with gifts of bread and milk, bananas, and nuts and it finally became so trusting that it entered the house to feed from her hand. She then enticed it into a shed and locked the door. The lady, a Mrs. Ellenor of Cross Street, remarked that, ‘I could have cried when I thought how the monkey had trusted me.’
THE DRIVE TOWARDS PROGRESS:
This week in 1935 an article appeared in The Times that discussed the gradual replacement of horse-drawn vehicles with motor-cars. It discussed with nostalgia the, ‘lost heritage of noble coach-horses’, and the, ‘rattle of bits, the creak of harness, the crack of whips, and the halloo of coachmen.’ It reported that, ‘in London and other cities horse haulage is apparently on the verge of suppression’, commenting that, ‘the police and fire brigades have scarcely any horse left in their stables.’
This week also witnessed the establishment of an official organisation for taxi drivers driving motor cars. Gone were the days of the horse-drawn Hackney-cab and the Professional Driver’s Association sought to bring together everyone who drove a motor car for money.
THE SWEET TOOTH OF THE NATION:
It was also reported in The Times this week in 1935 that the UK had the sweetest tooth world wide. Over £1,000,000 was spent on chocolate and confectionary every week and the UK was the world’s largest market for importing sugary supplies – especially canned fruits in syrup. In 1934 a record level of canned fruits were imported to the UK – 173,000 tons! The most popular fruit was pineapple from Malaya, closely followed by peaches and pears from Australia.
A RIGHT ROYAL ENGAGEMENT:
This week in 1935 the big news was the announcement that the Duke of Gloucester (third son of King George V and Queen Mary) had become engaged to Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott. Here are some photographs that appeared in The Times: (do you recognise some of the bridesmaids?)
This week in 1935 saw the tenth annual Southend Carnival, raising money for the Southend General Hospital. As was tradition the carnival began with the roasting of an ox on the seafront. The first slice was sold by auction and raised five guineas. A children’s parade, themed ‘Children Throughout the Ages’, a baby show, and a street procession followed. This year also witnessed a new way of illuminating the seafront. Instead of using fairy lights for the occasion floodlights were placed under trees, fountains, arches, and other locations to light up the town.
Voyage in a Bathtub:
The Times printed an unusual story this week in 1935 detailing the adventures of a Swedish man in a bathtub. The man had jumped off a Swedish vessel off the coast of North Queensland, Australia, setting sail in a wooden-bottomed bathtub. He aimed to reach New Guinea, some 50 miles away, in search of gold. He got lost at sea for five days and was eventually recovered and taken to Australia. One word sums up this story in my mind – RANDOM!
Not Forgotten Association:
This association founded by a Miss Marta Cunningham sought to improve the lives of disabled ex-servicemen by providing them with treats. This week in 1935 the Association hosted the fifteenth annual Thames river trip. 130 ex-servicemen who fought in WW1 and were still recovering from their wounds in London hospitals were invited on the steamer, Grand Duchess, sailing from Kingston to Weymouth and back again. High tea was provided, along with ices and sweets, accompanied by ‘humorous piano’ music. An admirable gesture of thanks to those who survived and yet sacrificed their lives on the battlefields.
The Not-So-Great Escape of 1935:
This week in 1935 a prisoner escaped from Pentonville Gaol in London. He had hacked at the brickwork surrounding the barred window of his cell with a steel-tipped stick and climbed through the hole. Since his cell was on the second floor he then made an ingenious contraption involving a plank of wood and a rope pulley-system to lower himself to the ground. From there he managed to cross the yard and climb the outer wall of the prison. He was captured just ten minutes later. Warders found him utterly exhausted from his daring escape, hiding behind a door in a nearby shop.
Woman Saved from Cow by Sheepdog:
Occasionally the stories found in The Times in 1935 are so random that the only way to give them justice is to quote them in full…
‘A sheepdog saved the life of Mrs. David Thomas, of Tyddyndu Farm, near Barmouth, on Saturday, when she was attacked and seriously injured by a cow. Mrs. Thomas was driving cattle to a field after milking when a cow suddenly attacked her, and after goring her several times held her trapped between a gate and a wall. She cried for help and her favourite sheepdog immediately ran from the farmhouse. By this time the woman was badly injured and helpless on the ground, and the cow again in the act of attacking. The sheepdog barked loudly, and managed by jumping in front of the cow to draw its attention. The woman’s husband then came to the scene and managed to drive the cow away. After medical attention Mrs. Thomas was taken to the Dolgelley and Barmouth Hospital, where her injuries were found to include a fractured arm and serious leg injuries.’
Hurrah to all the trusty sheepdogs out there!
The Mechanical Informer:
This week in 1935 a new machine was installed at the Charing Cross Post Office that sought to provide customers with push-button information. Post Office clerks were frequently bogged-down by the inquiries of their customers and it was hoped that this machine would free-up some of their time. Subjects regarding mail, telegrams, express services, and the regulations of stamps were allocated a number. An inquirer would then press the button printed with the number of the question they wanted answered and a card appeared in a lighted aperture. This card included information printed in the Post Office Guide. Installed as an experiment at Charing Cross it was hoped that similar self-service machines would appear in other Post Offices around the country.
Hatching a Plan: Crime News
This week witnessed a not-so-great train robbery. The loot – registered letters taken from mail bags. It was estimated that £60 had been stolen from the three missing mail bags. Another hustle was debunked this week. The Times called it the Gold Bar Trick. Russian salesman, Morris Grossman, melted down copper, brass and silver into a bar. His accomplice, Percy Marcus, then had a gold bar assayed and melted the two bars together claiming £75 9s 11d. They were caught and received four month’s imprisonment with hard labour for their crime.
Egg-Laying Trials: Miscellaneous News
This week saw the annual county egg-laying trials but this year the rules had changed. Before 1935 the gold cup was offered to the highest-scoring four pens of any one breed but, ‘in view of the increasing mortality in laying trials it has been argued that this form of competition is undesirable.’ The cup was now awarded to the county with the lowest mortality percentage. How lovely!
Saving Mr. Charles Pickens:
A fourteen-year-old girl was commended this week for her bravery in attempting to save her father, Mr. Pickens, from drowning. The girl had been bathing in the sea with her parents and got caught in a current. She managed to pull her mother to safety and stayed with her father until she had nearly exhausted herself. A real Grace Darling of the 1930s.
30 July – 3 August:
This week welcomed a bank holiday. Special travel arrangements were made to meet public demand. Many additional express trains were provided to bring the coast and countryside within easy reach of pleasure-seekers. According to The Times the Great Western Company expected to carry 3,000,000 passengers between the 2nd to the 8th of August. Ah, the ‘good old days’, when trains provided a service for their passengers.
Quick action this week preserved perhaps one of our country’s most beautiful features. The government urged for the protection of thatch houses as it was becoming popular practice to replace thatch with iron sheeting which was cheaper and easier to maintain.
Drama: An electric cable fused in a manhole between the inner and outer walls of the Tower of London this week in 1935. A sheet of flames shot into the air from the manhole, which was blown up, and the fire brigade was called. A detachment of Coldstream Guards were sent to surround the Crown Jewels and The Times reported that many visitors, ‘regarded the experience as part of the thrill of seeing the sights of London.’
Medicine: The Royal Sanitary Institute Health Congress met this week at Bournemouth. The presidential address was delivered by Mr. F. J. Webb discussing the changing image of family doctors in the public mind. With increasing competition in the provision of a health service there was a growing concern that, ‘a complete revolution in the attitude towards the doctor and the problem of health in general could not long be delayed.’ The NHS was established thirteen years later.
Miscellaneous: This week celebrated the annual Kensington Kitten Club Awards. The best exhibit in show was won by Mrs. M. G. Cook’s Moormead Dinky Boy and the winner of the junior blue female competition was Mrs. A. Bird’s Cheekie Tripper. Other brilliant pedigree pet names included: Silver Jubilee, Theydon Hazel, Basildon Talisman, Silver Dollar, Posey of Croydon, and Piggy.
This week it was announced that the slums at Chalk Farm, St. Pancras, were to be cleared with new flats built in their place. Also a Roman pavement was uncovered at Woodchester, Gloucester, covered in a mosaic detailing the Grecian story of Orpheus. According to The Times this was the largest mosaic pavement preserved in England and one of the largest in the world.
A case of libel was brought against Mr Randolph Churchill in Manchester by Sir Thomas White. Randolph was the son of Winston Churchill. I wonder what he thought of the charge.
In America a gambling barge called the Monte Carlo anchored off the coast of Long Beach, California, was attacked by pirates. Over $22,000 in cash and $10,000 worth of jewels were stolen. The gang boarded the ship early in the morning armed with pistols, rifles, and sawed-off shotguns. They held up the cashier, his wife, and a crew of thirteen. After completing the robbery they fastened the crew to the deck with manacles and locked the cashier with his wife in the safe.
This week it was agreed by the Grand Council of the British Empire Cancer Campaign that all research conducted in the fight against cancer would be coordinated. All the teaching hospitals in London, the medical committee of the London County Council, and a number of specialized hospitals all agreed to take part.
This week also saw a conference on ‘the persisting effects of War neuroses’. It was held at the Hyde Park Hotel and investigated cases of shell shock seventeen years after the Great War.
An advertisement printed this week warned its readers of a potential anthrax scare. Titled ‘Searching for an Infected Shaving Brush’ it explained how a doctor was searching for the last of twelve shaving brushes that were infected with anthrax after a man died.
On a lighter note this week hosted the London Costers’ Parade. A part of this event was the annual Pony and Donkey Show. Costers from all over the city brought their loyal steads to be judged in Regent’s Park, all hoping that they would win a prize. Mr Frederick Newman’s Old Bill won the prize for the oldest donkey in good condition and Mr Tom Newman’s Mike won the Queen Alexandra’s Challenge Cup for the best donkey in show.
30 June – 6 July:
2 July marked the 400th anniversary of the death of St. Thomas More. A service was held at Chelsea Old Church on the Chelsea embankment.
This week was also marked by a spate of unrelated fires throughout Europe. In England two firemen were killed as a wall collapsed on them when they were battling a factory fire in Poplar. The factory was situated in a very confined area crowded with factories and small dwelling houses. It was lucky that the fire did not spread.
In Berlin eight people were killed as an aeroplane crashed into a house. The plane had been performing an experimental flight and crashed through the roof of a one-storey house that belonged to a caretaker and his wife. They had just sat down to their midday meal and were counted among the dead. Several flats in the neighbouring building were gutted as flames engulfed the house that had been drenched in fuel from the freshly filled tank. The reason for the crash was never discovered.
Another mystery concerning a fire occurred this week in Paris. A villa in the suburbs of the city exploded when the owner, a Mme. Sol opened the door. She was buried in the wreckage and died in hospital later that evening. Investigations into the explosion found that the gas had been turned off at the mains and it was thought that a bomb might have been placed in the building. It was then reported that Mme. Sol had sent a message to the local police asking to speak with the commissioner. Local rumours suggested that she had enemies in the district. These rumours were soon hushed when the truth came out. Mme. Sol had killed herself. Terrified by threats made against her and strained by monetary difficulties she had tried to burn down the villa. A blood-stained box of matches was found clenched in her hand. She prepared the fire by pouring petrol into trunks full of clothes and, retreating to the entrance hall, dropped a lighted match down the stairs leading to the basement. Instead of the fire she had expected the fumes of petrol exploded – and that was that.
23 – 29 June:
A report was laid before the Westminster City Council by the Improvements, Law and Parliamentary, and Traffic and Public Lighting Committee suggesting that a new bridge be built in Charing Cross. The report stated that, ‘additional cross-river facilities will, before many years, have to be provided to meet the needs of the unending growth of London, the more intensive development of the West End, and the eve-increasing number of motor-vehicles.’ How funny to think of the Thames without all the bridges criss-crossing this way and that linking the two sides of London.
And funny again to think of this next story – sometimes I am surprised to find that things I associate with the modern world, and my life, also existed in the past. On the 30th of June the Duchess of York attended the Founder’s Day celebrations at Barnardo’s Girls’ Model Village in Essex. ‘After driving through the village, in which were 1,500 girls and infants, the Duchess of York launched a small balloon bearing a message appealing for funds. Immediately hundreds of similar balloons were released.’ I remember doing something similar as a child. Do you?
Disappearance of a Van-Load of Whisky – a van containing whisky worth £320 disappeared from outside a coffee-house in Rossmore Road, London, while the carman was having breakfast. The van was later found abandoned and the whisky missing. Two men were arrested, William Hicks and David Waiman. They pleaded guilty to feloniously receiving 165 pint bottles, 261 half-pint bottles, 12 decanters, and 45 cases of whisky. Both men were sentenced to time in prison with hard labour.
In the same week a Temperance Fete was held at the Crystal Palace. During the day there were solo and choral contests and a concert was given by junior choirs in the afternoon. A pageant entitled “Flowers and Temperance,” followed and during this the Temperance Queen, a Miss Mona Lena Hipwell of West Croydon, was crowned.
A Holiday With Umbrellas – this Monday was Whit-Monday, a public holiday. The Times reported that, ‘the early thunderstorm which broke over London made Whit-Monday holiday-makers hesitate how to spend the day. There was a possibility that the deluge that came at dawn might be followed by further rain, and although at 10 o’clock the sun had broken through the clouds, and the air was pleasantly warm, comparatively few people turned out until a later hour. Most of those who did set out for the country or the coast carried mackintoshes and umbrellas. Groups of hikers at Waterloo and Victoria stations seemed to be the only real optimists.’
Holidays in the Stratosphere – On the 12th of June Professor Roccard, ‘an explorer of the stratosphere’, was present at the Science Museum when the gondola of the balloon in which he made his 10 ½ miles ascent on the 18th of August 1932 was presented to the museum.
On the 7th June the prime minister, Ramsay Macdonald, retired due to ill health and was replaced by Stanley Baldwin. Below are three news-stories I thought were also worth a mention:
Courage of the War-Blinded – The Prince of Wales attended a Silver Jubilee reunion held at the Royal Albert Hall for the war-blinded men of St. Dunstan’s resident in London and the Home Counties. The Times reported that, ‘throughout the country there are now about 2,000 cases of lost sight as a result of active service in the War (WW1), and practically all of the men are under the care of St. Dunstan’s.’
A Lincoln Ghost – In March a girl was returning from a late dance and saw a figure in white standing under a street lamp. As she approached, the figure, extending at arm’s length the white garment which was being worn, started bowing towards her. She thought it was a ghost and was afraid. The Times reported that when she was seen by the police shortly afterward, ‘she was in a state of absolute terror.’ It turned out that this ghost was a Mr. Arthur Barlow. The 27-year old man was arrested on the 4th of June charged with stealing women’s clothing from the house where he lodged. According to the Chief Constable, Mr. W. S. Hughes, Barlow had been a source of annoyance in the town for some time by appearing in quiet public places dressed in women’s clothes and frightening women and girls. In his statement Barlow claimed that he had, ‘no intention of stealing the clothes, but had only borrowed them to dress up as a woman.’
The Kidnapping at Tacoma – The police-hunt was on for the men who kidnapped poor young George Weyerhaeuser (see previous ‘This Week in 1935’ post). Federal agents suspected that the Karpis gang, who had kidnapped Mr. Bremer, a banker, in the January of 1934, were responsible for the crime. One of the gang, a man named Volney Davis, had been arrested in Chicago and it was hoped that he would be able to throw some light on the case.
26 May – 3 June:
A number of interesting stories – so here they are:
31 May: The Salford Murderer was executed at Strangeways Prison, Manchester. John Harris Bridge, aged 25, was sentenced to death on the 3rd of May for having murdered his 26-year-old sweetheart Amelia Nuttall. Mrs. Violet Van de Elst, who had been conducting a campaign against capital punishment, waited outside the prison and as she prepared to leave there was a noisy demonstration. A number of women refused to allow her to speak and one shouted, ‘If it was your girl the boot would be on the other foot.’ Eventually the police intervened and, accompanied by an escort, Mrs. Van der Elst walked to her car followed by shouts from the mob of women.
1 June: From this date it was compulsory to pass a driving test in order to get a license to drive a motor-car.
2 June: The King had been very ill and The Times reported today that he had recovered from his cold and had taken a walk in the gardens with the Queen. The report noted that, ‘it was emphasized in Court circles that His Majesty’s cold was not in any way of a serious nature.’ King George V was seventy years old and died the following year (January 1936).
2 June: This story has the making of a Hollywood film:
‘An American boy called George Weyerhaeuser (9) was kidnapped 9 days ago at Tacoma, in the State of Washington. He was released yesterday morning after his parents paid a ransom of $200,000 for him. His captors left him on a high road at dawn near Issaquah, 25 miles from Tacoma, telling him his father would come and get him. After having waited vainly for some time the boy walked six miles to the farm of a man named Bonifas. He said, “I am the boy who was kidnapped,” and Mr. Bonifas, who is the father of 10 children, lost no time in starting with him in a motor for Tacoma.
Mr. Bonifas tried to get to the telephone operator at Renton on the way to let him into the office so that he might telephone to the boy’s parents. But she refused to open the office before 7 o’clock. Later he stopped at a petrol-station and telephoned to the police in Tacoma after he had failed to call the boy’s parents. A newspaper reporter went out from Tacoma in a taxicab and took the boy to his parents, both reporter and boy lying on the floor of the cab so that the former might get an “exclusive” story before his rivals knew of the boy’s whereabouts.
Young Weyerhaeuser said that he had been kidnapped by three men. They had told him there were six of them, but he had never seen more than three at a time. They blindfolded him whenever they took him anywhere, and when he was not blindfolded they always wore masks. He was able to give their Christian names and described the colour and make of the two motor-cars which they had used. Two of the men he had seen for a short time without masks while he was being kidnapped. They had threatened him with harm if he cried out, but they had not hurt him and they had fed him well. Once they had passed a car full of policemen. Sometimes when in the car they had made him lie hidden in a trunk.
He thought that one house on which he has been kept for four days was somewhere near Issaquah, but was unable to describe the outside of it because he had been taken in and out of it blindfolded. He had been chained up occasionally to keep him from running away.’
What a feat of endurance and bravery from a nine-year-old boy!
On the 24th of May thousands of children throughout the country had a day off school to celebrate Empire Day. This day of festivities was introduced in the early 1900s with the aim, ‘to nurture a sense of collective identity and imperial responsibility among young empire citizens.’ Children attended fetes, sang patriotic songs and were told daring tales of adventure about the likes of General Gordon, Clive of India and Wolfe of Quebec, great heroes of the empire. In Lowestoft hundreds of children took part in a performance where every child wore a particular colour where they were then choreographed to form different shapes and patterns. The show concluded with them forming a Union Jack.
This week also saw the first ever cinema on a train. The London and North Eastern Railway Companies, in conjunction with Pathé Equipment and Pictures Limited, enabled passengers on certain express trains between London and Leeds to watch an hour-long film. The cinema coach was run first on the 10.10am train from Kings Cross to Leeds and then on the 3.15pm back again.
This week Mrs H. B. Tate, MP for Willesden, was adopted as a potential Conservative candidate for the Frome Division of Somerset. The Times noted that, ‘she believed that the time had come when a certain number of women should help represent the population’, and that, ‘she did not believe that women M.P.s should represent only women’s interests or that there was any such thing as women’s questions.’
A news story from this week that made a little less sense was titled, ‘Moth Frenzy’. After an advertisement was issued by the English House Copenhagen Company saying that, ‘Living Moths [were] to be Bought’ there was a frenzy where over 9,000 moths were sent in. 2,000 were delivered in bottles via the postal service. One man telephoned to say that he had caught a dozen moths which he proposed to deliver in a plain van and another offered a settee which he warranted to be full of moths. The advertiser announced that they needed moths for testing a new chemical that was supposed to make all fabrics moth-proof. It would be interesting to know whether it worked – if not that has got to be one of the biggest moth infestations in history.
This was the week in which King George V celebrated his silver jubilee. Here are some extracts from The Times describing the festivities that surrounded the event:
‘London became a playground at the week-end. The bedecked streets and illuminated buildings, the golden sunshine and warm May nights, above all, the vast crowds that these magnetic influences drew forth, invested the workaday City with a happy excitement. They made the gayest of preludes to to-day’s common act of thanksgiving for 25 completed years of King George’s reign…It is doubtful if Oxford Street had ever before been so packed to bursting as on Saturday night. The combined traffic of roadway and pavement was so prodigious in quantity that in terms of movement it may be said to have cancelled it out…’
‘In Piccadilly-Circus the basin of the Eros fountain was rimmed with people sitting shoulder to shoulder, and the steps were similarly used as seats by the weary but cheerful. They rested in hundreds on the steps of the Nelson Column and round the fountains in Trafalgar Square. Regent Street, Piccadilly, the Strand, and Fleet Street, and the space before Buckingham Palace all had their droves of sightseers. They sat in families on the grass beside the Mall picnicking on sandwiches. Wherever a building was floodlit, there stood a gazing multitude…’
‘The carnival spirit was abroad among them [the crowds]. Red, white, and blue caps were worn. Union Jacks were waved, and patriotic favours were everywhere, in lapels and on the bonnets of motor-cars, throwing back from the pavements small echoes of the decorations overhead. Creeping taxicabs were filled with standing and vocal groups; some sat on the roofs. Outside restaurants and cafes waited patient queues. Not till the small hours of Sunday did the massed formations dwindle to manageable size.’
28th April – 4th May:
This week witnessed the death of Santa Claus. Mr. James F. Martin, a postmaster at a general store in Southern Indiana, died at the age of sixty. He lived in a village called Santa Claus and for 28 years kept alive the faith of thousands of children in the reality of the jolly bearded man in red. Letters written by children to Santa Claus were sent to him at Christmas by knowing parents. He answered every single letter and came to have nationwide celebrity. The correspondent that wrote this report on the death of Santa Claus worried that the magic would soon come to an end and remarked that, ‘there is no one to take his place unless it is the Federal Government. But who but grown-ups will ever believe in a synthetic Santa Claus living in Washington?’
Fiction also became fact in England this week in 1935. An article titled, ‘Dragons for the Zoo’ reported that two dragons were presented to the London Zoo. They were a gift from Lord Moyne who captured them on the Island of Komodo in the Dutch East Indies where he had been studying them in their wild state.
The glorious weather couldn’t last long and this week it was back to thundery storms and heavy rainfall. On the 21st of April Princess Elizabeth celebrated her 9th birthday at Windsor Castle. In the morning she attended Divine Service in the Private Chapel with the King, Queen and other members of the royal family. The afternoon was spent at the windows of the royal apartments listening to the bands of the royal horseguards which played on the east terrace by command of the King. Later the Princess had a birthday tea party which was attended by the King and Queen, the Duke and Duchess of York, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, the Duke of Gloucester, and Princess Victoria.
In the week leading up to Easter, which fell on the 21st April, the weather had improved and England was finally bathed in sun. The Royal family were out and about this week soaking up the warmth and two of their dogs were prize winners at the King’s Lynn Kennel Society Dog show. Princess Elizabeth joined her family to attend the Royal Maundy at Westminster Abbey. The King was 70 years old and the customary distribution of Maundy Money was therefore given to 70 pensioners of each sex. It was the young princess’s job to hand each pensioner £1 and as many pence as the King was in years of age. The money was specially minted for the occasion and consisted of silver pennies, twopences, threepences.
Mid-April saw the first use of cat’s-eyes on British roads. 1935 was a year of road safety; with the introduction of the 30m/p/h speed limit, compulsory driving tests, and research into the most efficient methods of reducing deaths on roads. It was calculated in The Times this week that 238, 946 people died in road accidents in 1934 and that 200 children had been killed since the start of the new year.
This was also a week of extreme weather, on both sides of the Atlantic. Great Britain finally thawed out after having been covered under a blanket of snow since the previous month. What came now was heavy rain, flooding roads and houses. Mississippi was hit by a powerful tornado and the mid-west of America was suffering from continuous dust storms, the drifts high enough to cover fences and carts.
31 March – 6 April:
This week two famous birthdays were celebrated. The 7th of April marked the anniversary of William Wordsworth’s birth in 1770. In commemoration the sound of bird’s song, recorded at Dove Cottage where Wordsworth once lived, was broadcast across the Atlantic to America and Canada. An early form of tweeting? Earlier on in the week it was the 70th birthday of Lord Derby. To celebrate 3,000 people attended a tribute at Public Hall in Preston where performers each represented a different phase of Lancashire life. Lord Derby was given a gold rosewater dish and a message of greeting signed by over 80,000 Lancashire residents.
A dismembered body was found in the Grand Union Canal at Brentford, was there any link to the ‘Legs in a Bag’ story from a few weeks before? The police at Scotland Yard thought so and they spent this week dragging the water and questioning local residents in the hope of identifying the murder victim(s). Two breakthroughs were made; a youth testified that he had seen a man acting strangely throwing a parcel into the canal, and analysis at the Yard discovered that the paper bag in which the legs had been found was from the Hanwell Mental Hospital. The plot thickened…
In the week that it was agreed the White Star Line should be closed two peers appeared before a judge charged with fraud. The Duke of Manchester, William Angus Drogo, was believed to have defrauded two men out of £400 and £250,while an engineer took Sir Thomas Lipton to court in order to retrieve £10,000 worth of an IOU for work he had done for the man.
A week for motor news. On the 10th March an article appeared headlined, ‘Motorist Aged Four.’ In Portsmouth four-year-old Raymond Edmunds was missed by his mother after she left him in a pushcart. He was found later driving a motor car. Then, in France the police prided themselves on having caught alleged tobacco smugglers after a 30 mile pursuit in a police car – a long way from the days of the Bow Street Runners. Also it was in this week that a 30m/p/h speed limit was enforced on roads in built-up areas.
As the ‘Legs on a Train’ investigation picks up pace another mystery enters the pages of The Times. Lady Young, wife of the Governor of North Rhodesia, disappeared after the light aircraft she was travelling in crashed. The search lasted six days until she was found, unharmed, with the pilot hundreds of miles from the crash site. Back in England another search was underway – the search for the inside of a mummy. For the first time in Great Britain an Egyptian mummy was x-rayed at Hull.
24 February – 2 March:
Heavy snow falls in the north of England and again the papers are filled with stories of intrigue and wonder. Perhaps the biggest mystery of the week was the case of ‘Legs on a Train’. Under this headline readers of The Times heard how a bag had been found in a third-class carriage at Waterloo Station. Inside the bag was a pair of man’s legs. It was not known who they belonged to and the investigations carried on for the rest of the month.
That was not the only humorous headline used in the week. An article titled ‘Cyclists Upset by a Policeman’s Shout’ reported how two Oxford students had been charged 2s 6d for both riding a bicycle at the same time and an editorial headlined ‘Fairy Rings: Fiction and Fungus’ went into a lengthy report on the history and science of mushrooms and fairy tales.
In the week when it was announced that civil servants no longer had to work a six-day week a lot of monkey-business went on. The London Zoo announced that a baby chimpanzee had been born and that mother and child were doing well. The chimp was named Jubilee, a tribute to the upcoming Silver Jubilee of King George V. On a less happy note a boy of sixteen was mauled to death by a bear at Mr. Tyrwhitt-Drake’s private zoo in Maidstone. The lad had his arm amputated and died from an infection to the wound.
With 239,000 more people out of work tensions were running high and in Cumberland a mob of 500 men stoned a Relief Office and any police officers who stood in the way. With the hopes and joys of Christmas long in the past, the wintry weather was taking its toll on labourers and work was scarce.
It wasn’t just the economy that was refusing to move forward. Sir Ambrose Fleming, presiding at a crowded meeting at Essex Hall in the Strand, launched a public protest against, ‘the teaching of organic evolution as a scientific truth.’ The meeting was attended by many eminent people, including peers and MPs.
Not much news except for a crime that differed a little from the rest. In Finchley £10,000 was stolen from a house. The money was locked in a safe. On having failed to open it the burglars then lowered the safe from the bedroom window. They were caught, of course.
27 January – 2 February:
A week of campaigns:
The government announces that Persia will now be called Iran.
Selfridges hosts an exhibition on pedestrian crossings and signals. Concerned by the increasing number of deaths caused in road accidents the government were keen make people aware of measures for improving safety on the roads.
In Yorkshire a collection of farmers banded together and waged war against a common enemy – wood pigeons. They had been plagued by the birds for several months and had had enough, shooting over 500 pigeons in just one night. There were gangs of armed men posted on every corner of the woods.
With heavy snow on the ground and a lunar eclipse in the sky the news turned a little wild. At a proposal before the Court of Common Council the Lord Mayor discussed the possibility of building an airport in the City of London. Though this might not seem extraordinary to us today members of the council in 1935 thought the Lord Mayor’s proposal was absurd. A news story that made me smile centred on a government scheme to reduce the level of poverty that was introduced in the 1930s where unemployment centres provided the poor with allotments so they could breed rabbits. This week the British Rabbit Council issued a general call for assistance as they were finding it hard to provide enough rabbits to the unemployed stating that, ‘gifts of live rabbits suitable for breeding will be welcomed by the BRC through the honorary secretary, Mr. C. O. Sayers , 47 Wandle St, Morden, Surrey.’ How successful this appeal was I do not know.
A quiet week of news with just two items of possible interest. A nine-year-old girl was taken to court charged with shooting and killing her seventeen-year-old brother. The evidence brought forward suggested that the gun had gone off accidentally and, after a wordy warning from the judge about the dangers of children playing with guns, the girl was released. On a lighter note the London Zoo announced some new members to its bizarre family; a collection of chameleons. People flocked to see the new attraction.
After a mild Christmas it turned colder this week. Winter eventually arrived and with it, seemingly, a spate of crime. The police reported a series of armed bank robberies in the city of Manchester and in Buckinghamshire a strike was called at the Hyde Heath School. It was not the teachers, though, who called for action. Children who commuted in from surrounding villages demanded cheaper bus fares and refused to attend school, much to the dismay of truancy officers. The situation was resolved by the end of the week.
News from the warmer parts of the world: the Rev. Frederick L’Oste (Tasmania) turned 106 years old, officially becoming the world’s oldest man and the Duke and Duchess of Kent began their voyage to the West Indies.
30 December – 5 January:
This week was one of excitement on many levels. Under a blanket of drizzle and set in, what had been so far, a mild winter, The Times celebrated its 150th birthday. The paper was filled with anecdotes by old journalists and tributes to the history of the prestigious paper. Selfridges opened its doors to the New Year sales, reporting a boom in trade in spite of the economic downturn. In Lewes and Thame parishioners of the Southease Church were delighted to discover a medieval wall painting hidden under layers of white-wash. But perhaps the most unusual story of excitement was headlined, ‘Ice-Cream for the Nation.’ The fifth National Dairy and Ice Cream Exhibition opened at Olympia. According to the reports in the middle of Empire Hall there was a ‘cascade of “milk” flowing down an illuminated staircase between grassy borders. [It] makes a striking centrepiece for the whole exhibition.’ And what was being exhibited in this Willy Wonka-type backdrop…the new electric powered milk delivery vans. The future of milk delivery!