30 March – 5 April 1915: Wage Increases and the Wonder of the Telephone

Following on from local arguments (see here for more information) about what the women in the Tooting workroom should be paid, the Tooting and Balham Gazette reported that when the Queen had visited the workroom she had expressed the opinion that 10s a week “seemed scarcely sufficient renumeration…in view of the increased cost of living”.  This apparently caused her to intervene and increase the number of hours offered, as the paper reported that the pay may be raised by up to 15%, whilst the number of hours possible increased from 40 to 46 hours a week.  The newspaper also reflects on the overall effect of the war on Tooting:

Remarkable as it may appear at first sight to be, the war has been something of a blessing in disguise for Tooting.  It was anticipated a few months ago that in the early part of the present year a great deal of distress would arise in Tooting owing to unemployment through the war.  Quite the contrary has been the case, and, as a matter of fact, just now there is a scarcity of labour, and many employers, especially traders, are very much agitated in their minds as to how they are going to “carry on” owing to the lack of workers and assistants.

The newspaper also reports on a recent recruiting rally held at Tooting, with a military band – apparently a successful rally as the recruiting sergeant was very pleased with the results and informed the paper that over 800 recruits had passed through his hands since the outbreak of war.

On a more day to day note, there is a report on a recent meeting of the Balham and Tooting Traders’ Association, which mainly focused on the paper presented by Mr T Ball on “The Telephone as a Useful Adjunct for the Little Shop”.  Printed immediately beside this is an advert for Tom Ball & Co, 161 Balham High Road, asking “Have you rung up Streatham 1795 yet?” and explaining how the telephone is part of their service to the customer.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mr Ball’s talk was mainly enthusiastic about the possibilities created by having a telephone in the shop, summing up that telephones can: “save you time; save your money; bring you business; save life; bring you pleasure”.  Perhaps the 30% of the Association who were not yet on the telephone took note.

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