1st Jan 1916. Christmas at Rugby



As usual, Christmas was made very enjoyable for the girls of the Hamilton Home. On Christmas morning each child received a present from the House Committee and also from the Matron, Assistant Matron, Miss H Pryde, and the Matron of St Margaret’s, Nidd. Miss L Devon sent each child a sausage for breakfast, Mrs Blagden and the Rev W H Payne-Smith gave the pork for dinner ; Mrs S R Hart sent fruit and nuts ; Mrs Sporborg mince pies ; Mrs Colbeck cakes and sweets ; Miss Loverock, Christmas cake ; Mrs Hefford, cakes ; Mrs Blagden and Mrs Evers, crackers ; and Miss Winifred Mann, oranges, apples, and nuts. The Rector is also making a Christmas gift to the private chapel, and Miss Head has made a quantity of lace for the same purpose. Extra fare was provided at all the meals, and the evening was spent in dancing and music. On Monday the 14 girls were each allowed to invite a friend to tea, which was served in the committee room. Amongst those who attended were the Rector (Rev C M Blagden), Rev T F Simcox, Mrs Hart, Mrs Evers, Mrs Sporborg, and Mrs Hoare. After tea the Rector presented prizes to four girls—May Ison, Irene Chown, Annie Keyte, and Alice Kingston—in recognition of the progress they have made. The first three prizes were given by the committee and the other by Mrs James, who called in to see the children while they were at dinner. Nuts, fruit, and sweets were distributed amongst the children, who thoroughly enjoyed themselves with games and dancing till 9 o’clock. The Home was prettily decorated with evergreens and paper festoons by the Matron and Assistant Matron. Flowers and holly for decorating were kindly sent by Mrs Barnett, of Bilton Hall.


The juvenile inmates of the McClure and Townsend Homes, Charles Street, spent a very enjoyable Christmas. The Rev R S Mitchison (Chairman of the Board of Guardians) kindly sent turkeys for dinner and cakes and fruit for tea, which, it is needless to say, were thoroughly appreciated by the children, who were also regaled with other suitable fare. Mr J G Satchell sent gifts of money for purchasing presents for the children, and great excitement prevailed when the little ones, who were early astir, compared the presents which Santa Claus had placed in their stockings. Other gifts were received from the Rev C T Aston, books and chocolate ; Mrs Salter, oranges and books ; Mrs C P Evers, toys and scrap book ; Mrs Clement Dukes and Mrs Dewar, sweets ; Mrs Taylor, Clifton Road, cards ; Mrs Wise, toys ; Misses Townsend, Hillmorton Road, fruit ; Misses Townsend, Kings Newnham, preserved fruit ; and Miss Macaulay, a scrap book. Miss McClure visited the homes during the dinner hour and gave each child a penny, and Mr and the Misses Satchell paid visits during the afternoon.


Special fare was provided for the inmates of the Fellowship Belgian Refugee Home on Christmas Day, in addition to a Christmas tree, which was loaded with presents. Each child received handkerchiefs and toys from the tree, and small presents were also given to the adults. Two friends also sent slippers for each child. A plentiful supply of oranges and apples was also provided.


A real English Christmas was spent by the Belgian guests at Newton House and The Beeches, Clifton. Both houses were nicely decorated for the occasion, and a sumptuous tea was provided. Christmas trees, heavily laden with presents given by members of the committee and friends, were also provided, and each child received an acceptable gift. At The Beeches one of the boys made a speech in French of welcome and thanks to those present.


The convalescent soldiers at Te Hira spent a most enjoyable Christmas. At three o’clock the Rector (Rev C M Blagden) conducted a religious service in the hospital. A Christmas tree was arranged for the men, but owing to the limited accommodation at the hospital, Mr W N Wilson kindly placed the dining hall at his house at their disposal. The tree was hung with suitable and useful gifts, provided by the nurses and a few friends, and each soldier received several of these. Carols were sung, and the men were unanimous in their expression of gratitude for what was done for them, and all say they will never forget the pleasant Christmas they spent at Rugby.


As a result of the efforts of the Rugby Carol Party, which, under the direction of Mr George Hidden, sang carols in the town during the week preceding Christmas Day on behalf of the Blind Soldiers and Sailors’ Fund, a cheque for £32 16s 4d has been forwarded to the National Institute for the Blind. The ringing, which was very good, was much appreciated, and everywhere the singers were heartily welcomed. The choir, which consisted of 36 voices, was very enthusiastic, and sallied forth each evening in all weathers, but owing to lack of time it was impossible to visit every part of the town. The National Institute wishes to thank the choir and the public who supported them so generously and willingly, for the handsome donation.


The infants attending the Market Place Wesleyan Sunday School had a tea and Christmas party on Thursday. Games were indulged in, and the little folk had a happy time. Mr W Butcher and Mr T Holdom had most to do with the arrangements.


Christmas Day, 1915, will long be cherished in the memory of the patients who happened to be in the Hospital of St Cross. Although, owing to the war, the decorations were on a less elaborate scale than usual, no efforts were spared to make the festival a really happy one, and that the staff succeeded in their endeavours was proved by the smiling faces all around. The patients were awakened early in the morning, and, there was great excitement in the Children’s Ward while the mysterious contents of their stockings were brought to light. When this excitement had abated somewhat, the sisters and nurses, in conformity! with their usual custom, visited all the wards and sang carols, which were much appreciated. The ladies also visited the Nursing Home and sang to the patients there. Immediately after the dressings were over. Father Christmas appeared on the scene and handed round presents to the patients. An excellent breakfast was provided, but the meal of the day was the dinner, which consisted of turkey, plum pudding, jelly, custards, wines, etc. This was thoroughly, enjoyed by all, and proved to be one of the best Christmas dinners ever served in the Hospital. After dinner crackers and fruit were distributed. In the afternoon the Rev F W Worcester conducted a service in the chapel, which had been decorated by Miss Dukes and Miss Elsee. This was followed by a substantial and appetising tea, consisting of Christmas cake and other dainties, after which an adjournment was made to the Children’s Wing, where games were indulged in till bedtime.—On Monday afternoon the patients, with a few visitors, assembled in the hall for tea, after which a short entertainment was given in the Children’s Wing to all the patients. This consisted of a play, “ The Eviction,” and a duologue, “ The Geese and the Cherry Brandy.” The artistes were Miss Dukes, Mrs Morgan, and Mr Arthur Eckersley, assisted by Mr Morgan, and their efforts gave the greatest pleasure to the patients and the staff.


An effort, made by St Andrew’s Mission Church Council to provide Mr S J Swift, of 198 Oxford Street, Rugby (who is partially paralysed) with a self-propelling chair, has been remarkably successful. Quite a large number of people have taken a practical interest in the matter, with the result that, after defraying the cost-£35, including accessories-there was a balance of about £9 to hand to Mr Swift.

THE BROTHERHOOD.—Mr W H Clay presided over a good attendance at the Rugby Brotherhood on Sunday last. Mr J E Cox, J.P, was the speaker, and his subject was : “ A Brave Man.” Mr A R Woodhams sang “ Ave Maria ” (from “ Cavaleria Rusticana ”) and “ Nazareth,” and Mr Aincham, leader of the band, played a violin solo, “ Cavatina.” Three letters, thanking the Brotherhood for the gift of the Journal each month and the Christmas cards, were received from members in the trenches.

WHIST DRIVE AND DANCE.—On Wednesday evening in last week the annual whist drive and dance, in connection with the B.T.H. Winding Department, was held in the Church House, and a very pleasant time was spent. Messrs W Busby and F Brickwood were the M.C.’s for whist. During an interval a short programme was gone through by Miss L Eales, Mr C Mewis (humorous), and Mr O E Piercey (cornet solo). Dancing was afterwards indulged in to music supplied by Mr R Woodhams. The M.C.’s were Messrs W Busby, A Taylor, and J Twigger.

BOXING NIGHT DANCE.— Mr Flowers held his annual ball in the Co-Operative Hall on Monday evening, and, as on former occasions, this was very successful. Upwards of 200 were present, and dancing was kept up until 4 a.m. on Tuesday to excellent music supplied by Mr Flowers’ orchestra. Evergreens and Japanese lanterns were utilised for decorating the room, and the effect was very pretty, especially in the twilight waltzes. Refreshments were provided by the Co-operative Society. The company was unanimously of opinion that the dance was the best held during the present season, and Mr Flowers deserves congratulation upon the success of his efforts.

THE EMPIRE.—Mr Morris is providing an excellent holiday programme at the Empire this week. The principal attraction is the side-splitting comedy sketch, “ Helping a Pal,” which is presented by Johnny McElroy and his company. The sketch is abounding in humorous and ludicrous situations, and keeps the audience in peals of laughter for the whole twenty minutes. Irving and West make their first appearance here in an acrobatic and dancing act, and have created a very favourable impression. The return visit of Barlow and Brookes, comic baritone and tenor, is very popular, and their humorous interlude was much enjoyed. The pictures this week are of more than ordinary interest. During the first three nights the final numbers of “ The Black Box.” were shown, and a new serial, “ The Broken Coin ”—featuring Lucille Love and Francis Ford—which promises to be even more enthralling than its three predecessors, commenced.

GUESSING COMPETITION.—The weight of the bacon pig exhibited at Mr A Robotham’s shop was 22 score 16 lbs, and the guessing ranged from 5 scores to 26 cwt (probably intended for scores). The nearest guess was made by Mr W Lawson, 22 score 5lbs ; Mr H Groom came next with 22 score 4 lbs, and there were 7 guesses of 22 score. The pig at the Craven Road shop weighed 19 score 17 ¾ lbs. Mr J Hems hit the exact weight, and two others, Mr C Core and J Hilliard, put it at 19 score 19 lbs. The money received, amounting to £2 11s 1d, has been handed over to the Local Prisoners of War Fund.


For a fortnight before Christmas the staff at Rugby Post Office were busy, mainly with parcels sent from the district to soldiers at the front. These have been exceptionally numerous, special arrangements having to be made in some instances to bring them in from the country. On the whole, the pressure of work just about Christmas time was not so overwhelming as had been anticipated. Owing to the fact that the High Street office is now closed, there has, of course, been a good deal to do at the Central Office, and at times the energies of the staff were taxed to the utmost ; but all worked with a will and any obstacles were quickly overcome.

On Christmas Day about 900 parcels were delivered in Rugby, and there was an equal number distributed on Boxing Day. It was noticed that very little poultry was sent through the post this year, and there was also a marked falling off in Christmas cards compared with previous years. The usual staff, depleted by 50% owing to the war, was supplemented by temporary helpers to the number of from 35 to 40, of whom 15 were women. Mails from the villages kept good time, in spite of the heavy state of the roads. The new postal rates were not observed as they should have been by some people, and as a consequence a proportion of the correspondence had to be surcharged.

THE BANKS in Rugby will be closed to the public to-day (Saturday), in accordance with proclamation, to enable the depleted staffs to balance up the accounts for the year.


19th Dec 1914. Post Early for Christmas


In view of the great strain on the officials of the Post Office at holiday time an official announcement has been issued giving hints to the public to facilitate the delivery of Christmas cards, postal packets, and letters. The following are among the recommendations: Letters, &c, should be posted early in the day on December 21, 22, 23, 24, and 31 ; Christmas cards should be posted not later than the morning of Wednesday, the 23rd ; supplies of postage stamps should  be purchased beforehand.


From the Rugby postal district 24 sorting clerks and postmen have joined the colours, and it has been necessary to fill the vacancies by assistants who have had experience in some office, as well as retired female sorting clerks, who are now married. The places of postmen who have left for the war are being occupied by temporary men obtained through the Labour Exchange, and who are now getting somewhat accustomed to the work. At the same time, there is no doubt during the Christmas season the staff, both indoor and out, will have to be extended to its utmost capacity in order to deal successfully with the exceptional pressure.


In previous years the postmen at Rugby have made a collection of Christmas-boxes ; but this year, in consequence of the war, the men have decided not to adopt this course. At the same time, if any generous townspeople care to “tip” the postmen during the forthcoming festive season, they will naturally be grateful to receive such acknowledgement of their services to the public.


Twelve Belgian refugees, who have recently reached England from Holland, arrived in Rugby on Wednesday evening as the guests of the Fellowship Relief Committee, and are now comfortably housed at the home furnished for them at 39 Albert Street. A member of one of the families—a baby—is ill, and has been left behind in hospital ; but will join the party later. The guests are of the artisan class, and are apparently of just the type the committee were hoping to be able to entertain. There are two families. One consists of a man, his wife, and four children, with whom is also attached a single man. The other family consists of a man and his wife and two daughters. One of the latter is married, and has a little boy. The two groups were brought over to London from Holland on Sunday and Tuesday respectively. One of the men is an engine driver, and the other is a tailor. Two lady members of the committee accompanied them from London ; others met the guests at the railway station, and gave them a cordial greeting, conducting them to the home, where the refreshment committee had an appetising meal in readiness, the house looking warm and inviting. The refugees have already settled down happily in their new quarters. A large number of townspeople have assisted in gifts or loans of furniture and in many other ways, and the committee desire to publicly thank all who have afforded those responsible for the arrangements so much support and practical encouragement.

The guests of Holy Trinity Church Relief Committee, 11 in number, were sent down from London to Rugby on Saturday. They consist of three families, the men being a dock labourer, a fireman in a factory, and a carpenter respectively. They are refugees from Antwerp, who at the time of the bombardment fled into Holland. At Rugby Station they were met by the Rev R W Dugdale, Mrs St Hill, and Mr Marple ; whilst other members of the committee prepared tea at the house that has been furnished at 67 Albert Street. Some of the refugees visited the Empire on Thursday night, and greatly enjoyed the entertainment.


During the past week the figures for recruiting in Rugby and district have shown a distinctly upward tendency, 15 having been drafted to the various depots and 30 others are waiting for final approval. In order to meet the convenience of intending recruits who do not wish to leave home until after Christmas the majority of the men now coming in are only put through the primary examinations and will come up for final approval after Christmas.

The Parliamentary Recruiting Committee census paper, so far as Rugby is concerned, has been very successful, and men are coming in every day. Of those who signified their desire to serve, if necessary, quite half were married men. Most of the recruits enrolled at Rugby this week have come in from the country districts.


Mr E G Roscoe, Clifton-on-Dunsmore, is No 1 of a gun crew in the Anti-Aircraft Corps, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

One wounded Belgian and six wounded English soldiers were brought to the Red Cross Hospital at Rugby on Tuesday, coming by train from Birmingham. One was a bad amputation case, and to convey this man to the Hospital the “ Mary Wood ” ambulance was used.

Mr H K Ault, of Lloyds Bank, has joined the Public Schools’ Battalion.


Pte Sidney Beard, son of Mr and Mrs C J Beard, of 46 Murray Road, who belongs to the 2nd Royal Warwickshire Regiment, is now a prisoner of war at Gottingen, near Hanover. Writing to his parents on November 30th, he says : “ It is nearly six weeks since [missing] and during that time I have written five letters two being addressed to you. For some reason or another, I haven’t received a single answer from anyone.” There is very little information given in the letter, for obvious reasons, but the request for “ cake, cheese, jam, butter, tea, cocoa, sugar, and milk, in fact, anything to eat,” seems to indicate clearly that incarcerated British soldiers in the enemy’s hands are not faring at all sumptuously.


Amongst those badly wounded in recent engagements, and now in hospital, are the following St Matthew’s “ old boys ” :—Lance-Corpl Frank Chater, 7th Dragoon Guards ; Pte A W Botterill, 1st Coldstream Guards ; Bandsman John Milne, 2nd Scottish Rifles ; and Sergt H Dougen, 3rd Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Sergt H Lee, 2nd Royal Warwickshire Regiment, has also been wounded, but is recovering, and is now in Rugby.

Second-Lieut F S Neville, 6th Northamptonshire Regiment, formerly assistant master at St Matthew’s Boys’ School, has been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.


Amongst those killed on the recent naval battle off the Falkland Islands in which the British sank four German cruisers, was Walter John Kind, of the Royal Marines. Mr Kind, who was 29 years of age, was a naval reservist, and prior to the war he was employed in the power station at the B.T.H., where be was very popular among his fellow workers. The news of his death was conveyed to his father, who resides at Wellington Street, Leicester, on Saturday ; but no details were available. A sad feature of the affair is that the unfortunate young man was engaged to be married to a Rugby lady.

Midshipman Lawlor who died of typhus fever on board his ship while engaged in the transport of camels in the Persian Gulf. He was a grandson of Mr J Lawlor, a Rugby Guardian, and formerly stationmaster at Marton, where he was well known.


Mrs W J Hutt, of Church Lane, Clifton, recently received a letter from a friend of her husband’s at the front, stating that the latter, Pte W J Hutt (7698), Northamptonshire Regiment, had been killed in action on November 5th. No official news, however, has been sent to Mrs Hutt, who is staying with friends at Canons Ashby. Pte Hutt, who was a reservist, had been employed for some years by the B.T.H Company, and was in the winding department when he was called up. He has resided in Rugby and Clifton for some years.



DEAR SIR,—I have received a letter from Colonel Elton, officer commanding the 7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, appealing for funds to enable him to give the men under his command a good time on Christmas Day, and asking me, as chairman of the Council, to make an appeal for subscriptions from Rugby to carry out his proposal. The number of men stationed at Witham belonging to the 7th Battalion, and which includes our own Rugby Company, is about 900. I shall be extremely glad to receive subscriptions for this purpose, and any sent to me at the Benn Buildings will be acknowledged, and I will see that the amount goes to Col Elton.—Yours faithfully,

J J McKINNELL, Chairman U.D Council.

Benn Buildings, Rugby, Dec 17.