Battersea Borough Council met on 14th October. One of the many items reported to the Council was that there had been 76 entries to the Battersea & Chrysanthemum Society in connection with the Garden Competitions on the Council’s housing estates, so life in many ways continued as normal around the borough. The war was having an influence on the matters considered by the Council though, the membership of the local relief committee was discussed, as was the need to employ temporary staff in place of those who had joined up. Other areas were affected as well – Messrs Ernst & Co were struggling to fulfil their contract to remove ashes from the Electricity Generating Station due to the war – exactly how the war had caused this is not specified. The meeting also agreed Morden Cemetery getting a new horse to replace one recently commandeered by the Army, so perhaps businesses were experiencing the same sort of problems.
Slightly less obvious ways that the war was having an impact on Council business included the free uses of rooms in Council buildings. Rooms at Nine Elms and Latchmere Baths were used as workrooms for unemployed female works in connection with the Queen Mary’s Work for Women Fund, on request of the Mayoress. A room at the Central Library (Battersea Library on Lavender Hill) was given to the Battersea Battalion of the National Reserve for use as an office – the minutes do not specify which room but it must either have been in the basement or the office space on the second floor – now both used for storage. According to the South Western Star, most debate time was spent on the Highways Committee report, including the restricted lighting regulations brought in by the Home Office and the vexed question of whether or not Shirley Grove ought to be tarmacked.
The paper also prints a letter from a sailor whose friend had been wounded when HMS Pathfinder was torpedoed and was home on leave. The sailor was out in Battersea wearing civilian clothes to avoid being “gaped at by everyone” when he was given a white feather by a young woman in the street, implying he was too much of a coward to sign up. The writer of the letter refers to this as “both silly and childish. No doubt it is well meant, but it often goes home to the wrong man”. The original recipient of the letter had contacted the Home Secretary to see if anything could be done about stopping the white feather campaign. The campaign was popular, but intensely disliked by some and both the campaign and the debate over it carried on.
Battrsea Borough Council minutes, 1914 – ref: MBB/1/15
South Western Star available on microfilm