June 09, 1914 – Suffragette arson attack near Market Harborough thwarted by new-fangled gadget

The June 9, 1914, edition of the Market Harborough Advertiser is another jam-packed eight-pager providing an eclectic mix of local, national and international news which advertisers obviously love.

Page one is full of display adverts with Eaton & Co taking virtually a third of the space. Eaton & Co is clearly the go-to company for farmers  who require the services of ‘agents for all makers of implements’. And the company is clearly at the forefront of new technology boasting a telephone – a device which not many would have access to, demonstrated by the company’s single digit phone number: a simple 7.

There are more display adverts dotted around the paper but page 4 is the big money spinner with so many classified adverts they spill onto page 5. And at one shilling (5p in today’s money) for 20 words that is not to be sneezed at.

Clearly the advertisers are persuaded by the paper’s house ad which declares it is ‘supreme in circulation and influence’. The advertisement continues: ‘There is one essential factor to be considered in choosing an Advertising Medium, viz – The NUMBER AND CLASS (paper’s emphasis) of people with whom it can bring one into direct touch. Obviously a newspaper which is sold largely to the Upper, Middle, and Working classes must be of the greatest use to the general advertiser.’

New technology is also evident in other parts of the paper. Although there are no images in the paper apart from hand drawings, there are plenty of amateur photographers in the areas otherwise there would be no business for AH Nash whose store at 2 High Street offers ‘plates and papers, cameras, developers etc.’

And motorists are also making their mark according to a story involving the Chief Constable of Rutland Constabulary. He is quoted as saying: ‘In consequence of receiving numerous complaints of motorists driving at an excessive speed…I have had several cars timed over measured portions of the dangerous roads and find that the complaints are well founded.’

In the news columns of the paper, there is still no hint of war. However, more arson attacks by Suffragettes – ‘the mad work of the women’ – still dominate almost every page. A fire at a 400-year-old church in Henley-on-Thames gets almost equal billing in the Market Harborough Advertiser and the Daily Telegraph although the national titles did not cover the attempts to burn down Nevill Holt Hall and Church, the latter thwarted by another new-fangled gadget called a ‘Minimax Fire Extinguisher’.

There is a huge number of community and sporting stories from the Harborough area including cricket, football, flower arranging and music. In fact readers are taken to task for not supporting the Territorial Army concert in Little Bowden ‘Rec’. Apparently many people enjoyed the music outside the paying area and they are sarcastically criticised by the paper for not paying the ‘enormous sum of 2d’. The paper goes on: ‘Surely many who listened outside the enclosure …could have been expected to show a little public spirited support instead of demonstrating the “something for nothing” spirit.’

The national papers cover the sinking of the Empress of Ireland in much detail and the Advertiser puts its own local spin on the story by reporting there are two fatalities related to people who live in the Market Harborough area. There is also a link to another incident at seas, this time to the Royal Edward, which nearly suffered the same fate as the Titanic when it hit an iceberg in the north Atlantic in thick fog.

An eyewitness account provides us with quotes any tabloid newspaper today would welcome and any TV station would love to broadcast as a ‘sound bite’. As the ship hit the iceberg ‘the shock was tremendous’, says the eyewitness. ‘The whole fabric of the vessel trembled… There were 1,100 people on board and all came pouring on deck, the women crying and praying aloud.’

The lifeboats were launched with women and children given priority but not everyone was chivalrous. ‘One man tried to get into the women’s boat. The second officer seized an axe and felled him with the back of it. This stopped the symptoms of panic.’

Not quite the politically correct response that would ensue today, perhaps?

For all the current news from the Harborough area go to the Harborough Mail website


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