During the First World War, Wolverhampton Borough Council expanded its responsibilities to assist with the national and international situation. This included setting up new committees and sub-committees to deal with recruitment, registration and war loans, among other areas.
But the Council was also involved in looking after other, perhaps more surprising, aspects of the war. For example, the main library was in correspondence with members of the Australian Expeditionary Force, based in Egypt, answering a request to send a parcel of books to the troops. This was to counteract the concerns there was that
those of us who know Egypt are fully conscious that the country is crowded out with insidious French novels and pernicious problem works, but that clean, healthy English literature scarcely exists and is certainly not within reach of the brave men who have splendidly answered the King’s call to arms.”
The people who ran West Park did their bit for the war effort too, growing vegetables in the park and breeding rabbits and ducks. Other activities the Council were involved with included the work of Mayor Frank Myatt and his wife, who organised supplies and provisions for soldiers at training camps. There were also committees set up for the Utilisation and Feeding of Horses Committee and for Pig-Keeping, as well as one that looked after the price and rationing of coal, the Household Fuel and Lighting Committee.
As today, the Council looked after many aspects of daily life, and the war led to a need for far greater Council intervention. I will explore the war work of the other local Councils, including Bilston, Tettenhall and Wednesfield, in future blog posts.