October 3, 1916 – WW1 storekeepers keep the home tills jangling despite the horrors at the Front

Despite the continuing slaughter on the Western Front, there is a remarkably ordinary feel to life on the Home Front judging by the October 3, 1916, edition of the Market Harborough Advertiser.

Although there is some war news sourced from the official statements and the Press Bureau, there are absolutely no stories about local soldiers.

The money being spent by town storekeepers gives an insight into that ‘business as usual’ approach with large revenues clearly being made by the publication – in fact around half of the six-page paper is given over to advertisements.

The ads also give a glimpse of what life is like in 1916 Market Harborough. The County Electric Palace cinema on The Square for instance shows no less than 11 different films this week led by two dramas – Royal Love and The Long Arm of the Secret Service.

And clearly people have enough money to travel into Leicester because the Leicester Palace Theatre also advertises on a regular basis and reminds customers that there are ‘late night trains’ and advance bookings can be made by letter, wire or even phone (Leicester 1089).

The infamous Defence of the Realm Act, which principally introduced censorship, is also evident in an advert from Eady & Tulley, the brewers, wine and spirit merchants of Market Harborough. The company is advertising the restricted opening times for selling alcohol, which has been passed down via DORA to the Liquor Control Board.

There is also a hint of how the war is hitting the high street in an advert from Geo Green and Co which says that despite the lighting restrictions that have kept the shop front in the dark in the early evening it the two shops on High Street and St Mary’s Road are open as usual to sell a fine assortment of ‘fancy goods’.

There are a number of advertisements aimed at farmers and the Pytchley Autocar Co boasts a tractor that is the ‘simplest, lightest and best for general use’, all at the princely sum of £285. “We have supplied several locally which are giving great satisfaction,” says the advert.

There are also two adverts from familiar names that are still around today: Beecham’s which promises ‘you will enjoy better health than you have known for many a long day’ and Pears’ Shaving Powder, which is a ‘real boon to shavers in these days of rapid movement’.

  • 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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