1-7 December 1914: The Home Defence League, absent Councillors and the Cinema

On 2nd December Wandsworth Borough Council had their regular meeting – not quite the last of the year as they met fortnightly and therefore held another on the 16th. The meeting included the first leave of absence of a Councillor being agreed by the Council, Councillor James Allsop was granted two months owing to his absence on His Majesty’s Service at Pembroke Dock. The length of time granted was presumably an indication that the general feeling was still that the war would not last much longer.

An application from the Home Defence League gave a slightly different picture. The Balham and Wandsworth Branch applied to the Council for the loan of six of the Council’s picks and spades for trench digging on weekends. After some debate, the Borough Engineer was authorised to lend the League as many as could be spared and might be required. The minutes do not record where the trenches were to be dug, or why. The Tooting and Balham Gazette report that the discussion on the loan was a high point of a meeting otherwise described as “dull and uninteresting”. The Gazette was also keen that the League received more publicity and that efforts were being made to get the Government to recognise such voluntary organisations. The local branch of the League had some 2000 members by December 1914, the newspaper comment wished to know how many of those members were actually eligible for active service and if they were being encouraged to join up.

The Armed Forces were also a focal point of the upcoming films at the Tooting Pavilion on Mitcham Road. For the first part of the week the film was “The Three Musketeers” but it was to be followed by a special exclusive called “The German Spy Peril”, dealing with the ways and means of acquiring useful information for Germany. Apparently this was a popular theme, as there was also a reference to the Scala Theatre, London, showing a series on the “Fighting Forces of Europe”.

1914 Wandworth Borough Council minutes, ref: MBW/1/14

Tooting and Balham Gazette available on microfilm

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