11-18 August 1914: Wandsworth Council reacts to the outbreak of war

Wandsworth Town Hall 1911
This photograph shows Wandsworth before the war – the building was the Town Hall on Wandsworth High Street, which was re-built in the 1930s. The first meeting of Wandsworth Borough Council after the outbreak of war was on 12 August 1914, and it seems to have been convened specially. Two councillors were reported as having been called up for active service – Cllr M H Anderson RN and Cllr Major R F L Turner. (Lieutenant Maxwell Henry Anderson lived in Streatham Park, and Major Robert Frederick Lewis Turner in Southfields). The first actions the Council took relating to the war both concerned helping those in difficulties. The Prince of Wales National Relief Fund had been swiftly set up to help those in financial hardship because of the war and Wandsworth agreed to contribute £2000 to this. Using the value of money in 1910 as a guide, this would be about £114,120.00 today. The Council also responded to a request from the Local Government Board and formed a committee to prevent and relieve financial distress caused by war in the local area.
The only committee report at the meeting was from the General Purposes Committee – reporting on the early effects of war – the Committee had to report that the Medical Officer of Health had been called up for duties with the Territorial Force, as had several other members of staff, and that alternative arrangements were being made. The necessary leave was granted and instructions were made to pay these men half wages – an issue which will come up again in the future. The Committee also reported on the suggestion that schemes should be set up to help with the probable lack of work the War was likely to cause. Several schemes were proposed, including embankments at Southfield Slop Shoot and Bell Lane Wharf, development of Putney Vale Cemetery and sifting material at Garratt Park and Lonesome Shoots. Further reports included that the Town Hall was to be used for the enrolment of special constables, for local representatives of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Family Association and for an Army Recruiting Depot. The borough was clearly prepared to help the burgeoning war effort.

Wandsworth Borough Council minutes, 1914.
Postcard – Wandsworth Town Hall, c1911.

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