June 30, 1914 – drunken dancing on a Hearth Street roof but no mention of the shots that started the Great War

The Tuesday publication date for the 1914 version of the Market Harborough Advertiser means there is no time to report the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo two days earlier, an event that is generally considered to be the trigger that eventually started the First World War.

However, the national papers do have the resources and technology to cover the gun shots from Serbian Gavrilo Princep that ended the lives of the Austro-Hungarian heir and his wife Sophie.

The Daily Telegraph on June 29 has extensive reports on pages 13, 14 and 16 but the stories are mainly factual although one of the reports from Paris notes ‘the consequences of the outrage may, it is feared here, be many and perilous’. Nevertheless, there is no hint of the complex domino effect to come with its short and long-term ramifications.

In fact, the Daily Telegraph has only sympathy for the Austro-Hungarians who only weeks later are to become enemies. A leader on page 12 proclaims:

‘We can only say that in this country we are all united in a common feeling of sorrow for the bereaved sufferers and of detestation for a cowardly murder which has shocked the conscience of the whole world.’

The Market Harborough Advertiser on the other hand continues to report on any stories that make people talk, whether it’s local, national or international. Wedding reports, cricket scores and gossip from community groups sit cheek by jowl with news of politics and human tragedy from on the doorstep and around the world.

For instance, there’s a local spin on the sinking of a boat in the English Channel where two Leicester men in a group of five narrowly escaped drowning. How? They stuffed their clothes into the hole created when their boat hit ‘an object’ and bailed out the water with their hats until they were rescued.

There is also a story of a riot in Andover when a woman and her daughter were returned from Winchester Goal for non-payment of a fine following an assault on a neighbour. ‘They were met by a crowd of people which eventually led to a collision with the police’. This apparently continued all Friday night and into Saturday with both residents and police hurt by ‘stone-throwing’.

‘A Sad Tragedy Near Rugby’ is another human interest story that gets the Advertiser readers talking among themselves. The story tells of a labourer who goes shooting starlings with his two young children and puts the gun on the ground when he meets a friend.

The story concludes, ‘A few minutes later he saw his son, aged ten, with the gun in his hand, and his daughter, aged six, on the ground with a wound in her head from which she died half an hour later.’

On page three there’s a blood-thirsty tale from Chicago where five young performing lions, born and raised in captivity, ‘turned on their trainer and after killing him partly devoured the corpse before help arrived’.

However, there are some light-hearted moments from Market Harborough Magistrates’ Court. One Great Bowden man was fined 12s 6d for being found drunk and disorderly while ‘dancing on the roof of an outhouse in Hearth Street’. He had apparently been locked out by his family and had become ‘a bit wild’.

And a Smeeton Westerby labourer was fined 12s for being drunk and disorderly after he rather stupidly wandered into the police station in Kibworth and used ‘bad language’. The court report states, ‘The defendant denied being drunk but caused some amusement by stating that he had been used to having “half a gallon of beer before d’nner” while working at a brewery.’


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