10-16 November 1916: the Garratt Lane German Baker

The South Western Star of 13 November reports on the case of a baker charged with wilfully breaking the window of the German baker, Bernard Borghorst, 860 Garratt Lane. Patrick Cronin was witnessed breaking the window by the police and claimed it was due to the insult he had received from Borghorst. Borghorst had dismissed him “on account of slackness, business having fallen off ‘owing to this trouble’”. Cronin claimed that he had been brooding over the insult and had he been a bigger man he would have pushed Borghorst in the oven “pretty quick”. Leaving aside the rather Hansel and Gretel like threat, the magistrate, Mr de Grey, supposed that Cronin did not like Germans, prompting the reply of “Of course I don’t, do you?”. de Grey responded that breaking windows was a bad example that encouraged Germans in their abominable behaviour abroad and that Cronin would be better off enlisting and fighting them like a man. He was then discharged from the court on the condition that he enlist.

The unfortunate Bernard Borghorst appears to have gone out of business in Garratt Lane, the bakery stops being listed in trade directories in 1915 and the property is unlisted until 1922 when another baker takes it over. Borghorst died at the German Hospital in Hackney in December 1922, aged 48, having moved to Hornsey.

The same edition of the newspaper reports a change in Mayor in Battersea. John Archer had come to the end of his term and was replaced by Thomas Simmons. The vote was straightforward enough, but the nomination by Mr Willis involved an altercation with Mr Watts, who had responded to a comment on “freedom and oppression side by side” in Belgium by saying there was “a lot of oppression about here”. Mr Watts had an ongoing disagreement with his party about committees, which presumably led to the reported comments – there was a further dispute with Mr Willis later in the evening. The article ends with the simple line: “Mr Watts was not elected on any committees”. Disagreements obviously continued, despite the desire of all present that the new mayor would preside over a meeting celebrating a declaration of peace.

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