September 5, 1916 – Advertiser editor sniffs out the stories to make people gossip

It doesn’t matter whether the year is 1916 or 2016, a newspaper editor knows his news angles.

In the midst of a ‘slow week’ of news, the September 5, 1916, edition of the Market Harborough Advertiser still finds the best bulletins to get the readers gossiping.

There is little news coming from the battlefields but the Advertiser has picked up some stories from the town’s magistrates’ court that have everyone talking.

  • John Castledine, landlord of the Railway Inn at Great Bowden, was getting so drunk in his own pub on a regular basis that the Court Chairman said he should ‘not be permitted to remain in the house even a day longer’ – and also fined him 10s 6d (just over 50p).
  • Labourer Thomas Winchurch was found sitting in just his vest and cap in the casual ward of Market Harborough Workhouse having torn up all his other clothes. “His excuse was that the clothes were verminous but that was no excuse as they could have been disinfected,” said the Workhouse Master. Winchurch was given new charity clothes to appear in court but he said the suit he shredded was better. He was sentenced to a months’ hard labour.
  • Hosiery hand John Mattock of Fleckney was fined 30s for using obscene language. PC Hutchison, who made the arrest, said Mattock ‘was a bit excited over the war’.
  • Hannah Buswell, who had been committed to the Market Harborough Asylum, had all her savings awarded by the magistrates to the town’s Board of Guardians – £11 13s 6d – to pay for her upkeep.

And the editor even finds a story in Hampshire with a local angle. An inquest into the death of a ‘young married woman’ who fell under the wheels of a train at Petersfield Railway Station heard of the ‘valuable help’ given by the Vicar of Welford, the Rev F Woodhouse.

The woman ‘fell between the platform and the train and received such fearful injuries that she died an hour later’. Here dress apparently got caught by the train and it ‘dragged her under’.

The news account says the Rev Woodhouse, who was in the area visiting his sister, ‘took practical measures to do all that was humanly possible for the victim of the unfortunate occurrence in such a manner as to win the approbation of everybody who heard of it’.

The report adds: “At the inquest a medical man described the terrible injuries sustained by the deceased, and added that he noticed there was no bleeding going on, and found that tourniquets had been applied most skillfully to both legs. This he was told had been done by the clergyman.”

The Advertiser does have some brief news from the battlefields sourced from the Government’s Press Bureau and there are photographs of young men whose deaths had been reported in the previous week’s paper: Hallaton father of ‘two little children’ Private F Palmer, who was shot by a Turkish sniper just two days after landing in the Persian Gulf, and Private Jack Isaac of Market Harborough, who was killed in action on the Western Front.

  • This column is published every Monday by John Dilley on the Newspapers and the Great War website and will continue until the 100th anniversary of the final armistice in November 2018.
  • My fellow researcher and De Montfort University colleague David Penman is conducting a similar real-time project with the Ashbourne Telegraph. Check out his Great War Reports.
  • Check out this week’s Harborough Mail for current news from the Market Harborough area.




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