25 April – 1 May 1916: Lights Out

Zeppelin raids over Britain, although they had not yet touched Wandsworth, were having effects, with a large increase this week in reported prosecutions for having bright lighting. The last time a Zeppelin had successfully attacked London was October 1915, but in March and April there had been several unsuccessful attacks – unable to reach London, Zeppelins had bombed other parts of the country instead.  The Defence of the Realm Act 1916 had brought in powers to restrict lighting, amongst other things, and over the last few months the local councils had dealt with issues relating to the restrictions.  This included considering whether or not kerbs should be whitened to make them easier to see (Wandsworth Council, April 1915), and carrying out works to comply with the new regulations (Battersea Council, October 1915).

The local papers usually report one or two prosecutions, but the South Western Star of 28 April had almost half a page with details of them all.

James Collins was prosecuted for failing to shade a light from his kitchen window in Sheepcote Lane. When spoken to, he said he “was just doing a bit of reading” – the window was at the back and perhaps, like Henrietta Swash of Haldon Road, he hadn’t realised he was meant to shade back lights.  Both were fined 20 shillings.

Several people blamed others for the light. William Hampton, of Railway Wharf, said that his clerk had forgotten to draw the blinds on the office window and a motor shed.  Arthur Whitney of Bridge Wharf, Wellington Road, said that the office boy had forgotten to draw the blinds on his office.  Whitney was fined 10s but Hampton was fined 40, presumably because more lights were visible in his case.  Fanny Self, who ran a boarding school on Nightingale Lane, was also fined 10s after the children had gone into a room and switched the lights on without drawing the blind.

It seemed that many people blamed their servants for the lights showing, to the extent that magistrate Mr Garrett suggested that “In many cases I find the person really to blame is a servant. In these cases, I think the police should summon the person really responsible”.  Despite that, Mr Gamble was fined 10s.  Given that a maid’s wages (from the Situations Vacant column of the paper) were advertised as £18-20 a year, or sometimes 5s shillings a week, it was probably just as well for the maid that it was her employer who was fined.

South Western Star, available on microfilm

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18-24 April 1916: The Voelker/Volker Gas Mantle Works

We recently discovered a poster in our collections for the Volker Gas Mantle Works. It doesn’t date from this week in 1916, instead it is probably from earlier in the year or possibly even 1915, but as it was a recent find and this week was otherwise fairly quiet in the borough, we thought we would look at this company and what we can find about them.

Volker Mantles Poster

The Voelker Lighting Corporation opened a factory on Garratt Lane in 1895, making incandescent mantles.  Records at the National Archives suggest that the firm was dissolved before 1916, although this presumably just refers to the change of name.  Volker are listed in the street directories until 1925, then became Lighting Trades Ltd – although still gas mantle manufacturers.  The name change took place between the 1914/15 and the 1916/17 directories.

In search of more information about the company, we checked our drainage plans for their building at 57 Garratt Lane and found one from September 1914, where issues over their German name had clearly already arisen as there is a note – presumably requested during the application process, as it is dated October 1914 – at the end of the plans listing shareholders. It lists the directors, (Messrs: Asten of Surbiton; Mardon of Shaftesbury Avenue; Bowden of 121 The Grove, Wandsworth; Garland of 93 Pulborough Road, Wandsworth), and goes on to be explicit that all bar one of the shareholders are residents of the UK.  The only one who wasn’t was an American lawyer called Kellogg, who owned 7000 shares.  At the bottom of the document is a list of German sounding names who were on the list of shareholders when Voelker Lighting Corporation Ltd took over from Voelker Mantle Co in 1905, and an assurance none of them are currently on the shareholders list.

Fairfield 3 214 note

When was the name changed? An article in the Wandsworth Historian from 2006 suggests it was early 1916, a view backed up by the rate books.  Below are three entries in the Wandsworth rate books, the first is for the six month period ending March 1916, where the company appears as “Voelker”.  The next entry is September 1916, and if you look carefully then you can see that the “E” has been scored out.  By the March 1917 book, “Volker” is used.

Voelker - March 1916 rate book

March 1916 rate book

September 1916 rate book

September 1916 rate book

March 1917 rate book

March 1917 rate book

The rate books point to the name being changed as early 1916, and further evidence is found in the Wandsworth Borough News of January 14, 1916, where the works are advertising for staff.  Many of the staff were female, as the image from the book Wandsworth Past at the end of the blog shows, and the ad is for “Girls Wanted” at the Volker works.  This suggests that our newly found poster might be from the end of 1915, as by 1916 adverts were out with the Volker name on them – and rate books, maps (the 1916 OS map shows “Voelker”), and Kelly’s directories just took some time to catch up.

14 January 1914, Wandsworth Borough News

14 January 1914, Wandsworth Borough News

Rate books, refs: MBW/3/2/98, MBW/3/2/114 MBW/3/2/130

Drainage plans, ref: Fairfield 3, 214

Kelly’s directories

Wandsworth Borough News (available on microfilm)

1916 Ordnance Survey map

Wandsworth Past, Dorian Gerhold, 1998

1916 OS map showing the works (c) Crown

1916 OS map showing the works (c) Crown

Volker Works from Wandsworth Past

Volker Works from Wandsworth Past

11-17 April: Holy Trinity School, Ambulances and Shakespeare

Holy Trinity School in Upper Tooting, was last mentioned on the blog with regard to the pupils knitting socks for soldiers in August 1914 – an endeavour which presumably continued but unfortunately isn’t regularly noted in the school log books.  The school was affected by the war in other ways, one of their teachers – D J Davies – was called up to the London Welsh Regiment in October 1914 and did not return to the school until February 1919, by which time he had been awarded a Military Cross.  He took a day off to formally receive it in June 1920.  Another teacher, John Moody left to go to Malta in September 1914 with the territorial army, he was killed on 1 July 1916 (the first day of the Battle of the Somme) and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.  Assistant A C Swain was called up in June 1916, returning to school in March 1919, and another assistant, B C Moore, went for medical examinations but was presumably found unfit to serve, as he remained the school for the rest of the war.

The pupils also continued to contribute to the war effort, including being part of the fundraising across Wandsworth Schools for an ambulance. On 17th April, the ambulance visited the school so that “the boys might see it and its arrangements before going to France”.

Ambulance S12-2-4

 

The Wandsworth Borough News referred to it as a “splendidly equipped ambulance”, having followed the progress of its fundraising in previous weeks. It was to be presented to the “Mayor’s battalion” and visited all the schools across Wandsworth.  The Mayor himself was unable to go with it, being occupied with the Tribunals, but Alderman Cresswell and Miss Edwards, who had organised the fundraising, went round the schools instead.

The ambulance wasn’t the only disruption to the timetable that morning. 2016 marks the four hundredth anniversary of the death of Shakespeare, and you would be forgiven for assuming that the tercentenary in 1916 was over-shadowed by the war and perhaps not marked.  In Holy Trinity School, however, it was marked with Shakespeare songs and recitations, and on the same day as the ambulance visited the last two lessons of the morning were cancelled for standards 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 in favour of a combined practice of the Shakespeare songs for the tercentenary.

Practice Shakespeare S12-2-4

Holy Trinity School, Upper Tooting, logbook, ref: S12/2/4

4-10 April 1916: 3rd London General Hospital

April’s edition of the Gazette of the 3rd London General Hospital covers the usual wide range of subjects, including noting that the magazine was now six months old and talking about its success.  Some rivalry creeps in here, as it refers to one of their artists being sent there and “not to one of the other hospitals with whose magazines ours is in such pleasant rivalry”.  The Gazette benefitted from a group of artists who had joined up as hospital orderlies – some of whom this blog has covered before, such as C RW Nevinson, but for this issue also included Australian artist Private Vernon Lorimer, who was a patient.  The editors were pleased to have reached six months, as a voluntary endeavour often dried up after the first two or three, and felt that the Gazette “was never more alive than it is to-day” – although they did hope for the end of the Gazette when the war itself ended.

There were several articles about the nursing staff, as there often were, this edition including a photograph of Queen Amelie of Portugal, who was one of the nurses.  Although she mainly lived in France after Portugal became a republic, she came to the 3rd London General Hospital to help with the wounded, “performing the ordinary duties of a probationer, going to her ward on arrival, and leaving when her duties were finished”.  Few photographs of her at work existed, as she preferred to focus on what she was doing and not the press – the photographs in the Gazette were presumably taken purely because it was the hospital’s own magazine.

Nursing staff contributed their own articles to the magazine, including one about the first Zeppelin raid. It’s not clear if it refers to the first ever Zeppelin raid over London, or the first one which crossed over the hospital, but it does include an anecdote about a sister who sprang out of bed, dressed in perfect uniform at speed and disappeared to the wards, muttering: “let me die with my men”.

The nurses and artists were also the subject of an illustration by Corporal Irving, showing one nurse in the style of the various artists. Left to right, those are: Stephen de la Bere; C R W Nevinson; Miss VAD Collins; patient Captain Tomkin McRoberts; “as she really looks to the average human eye”.

Nurses and Artists' Styles