We have featured the Wolverhampton Council Communications Books in a previous blog post. These are large scrapbooks with incoming letters and reports pasted in them, and our collection of these volumes date from 1888 to 1961. One of our volunteers has looked through the volumes that cover the First World War period. There are various themes addressed during this period.
Rationing and food shortages were a high priority. On 27 October 1915 there is a letter from the Wolverhampton Branch of the National Women’s Labour League, asking for support for nursing mothers due to the high price of milk. They ask for “an adequate supply of milk at a price within the reach of the poorest class of the community”, in order to ensure the “physical well-being of future citizens”. The Council received a letter from a Fred Evans on 30 October 1916, stating that some potato growers were withholding their stock to force up prices. He suggested that the Council take over and control stocks before the situation got out of hand. It was further suggested on 1 January 1917 that parts of West Park be dug up, in order to plant potatoes and other vegetables.
Work and employment was also addressed. The Clerical and Commercial Employments Committee sent a letter to the Council on 6 November 1915, discussing arrangements for the training of women to take over clerical and commercial jobs vacated by men serving with the Forces. Emergency training classes were going to be arranged, and the wages to be paid would be the same as the men who were engaged in similar duties. On 22 June 1916, the Council received a circular from the Town Clerk of Bolton, suggesting resolutions to deal with the numbers of unemployed soldiers who would return to the labour market at the end of the war.
Civic arrangements were also key. On 29 October 1915, the Mayor (A. Baldwin Bantock) received a telegram from the Queen at Buckingham Palace, thanking him for his best wishes and a speedy recovery to the King, after an accident whilst inspecting the Army in the field. Arrangements were being made on 10 March 1916 for the loan to Wolverhampton of a captured German gun. The gun weighed approximately 1 ton and was due to arrive by rail on 22 March. The HQ Northern Command (York) suggested that the most be made of the reception and exhibition of the gun, to ensure it was placed in a prominent position during its month’s stay.