John’s First World War blog: Town’s first motor car newspaper advert

An excerpt from the Harborough Mail's forerunner, the Market Harborough Advertiser, from February 23, 1915.
An excerpt from the Harborough Mail's forerunner, the Market Harborough Advertiser, from February 23, 1915.

FEBRUARY 23, 1915: Virtually a whole page is taken up with a list of the young men from the town and villages around Market Harborough who are fighting in the war in the February 23, 1915, edition of the Advertiser.

Compiled by Frederick Shindler, there are hundreds of names of servicemen and judging by the stories in the newspaper, they are all still fighting fit.

An excerpt from the Harborough Mail's forerunner, the Market Harborough Advertiser, from February 23, 1915. NNL-150223-095910001

An excerpt from the Harborough Mail's forerunner, the Market Harborough Advertiser, from February 23, 1915. NNL-150223-095910001

‘Shindler’s List’ will become a regular feature in the paper but there are very few other local tales from the war in the editorial columns – a passing reference to one man on leave (Sgt F Biddle whose parents live in Caxton Street, Harborough) and another in a prisoner-of-war camp (Pte W Margetts whose parents live in Newcombe Street in town).

The rest of the publication seems to reflect that everyone else is getting on with things.

Remarkably, there is an advert – the first to be published in the newspaper – for a motor car.

The princely sum of £125 will buy you a Ford: ‘The quintessence of comfortable economical reliable motoring service’.

Former Harborough Mail editor John Dilley with a copy of the 1914 Market Harborough Advertiser. '(MAIL PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER)

Former Harborough Mail editor John Dilley with a copy of the 1914 Market Harborough Advertiser. '(MAIL PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER)

The advert marks another printing innovation for the newspaper. It is almost completely black with the words and the line drawing of the car etched in white.

Other classified adverts show there is a thriving housing market with several columns of accommodation for lease or sale.

For example there is a six-bedroom cottage to rent in Thorpe Langton for just £10 per annum and other cottages in Market Harborough for weekly prices of between 2s/9d and 6s/6d a week (about 14p to 33p).

Those prices obviously seem very low compared to 2015, however, allotments are not quite so cheap.

Five plots in Connaught Road, Harborough, cost between 5s and 11s per annum (25p to 55p).

There are many jobs being advertised too. One in particular catches the eye: “Required, boy, 16, as Hall Boy under a Butler. Must understand cleaning boots and knives, and have good references. Apply to the Butler, Gumley Hall, Market Harborough.”

Other professionals are putting their skills to commercial use. Mr J Lake, of 91 Northampton Road, is advertising private lessons in shorthand and typewriting and Mr Alphonse Cabus, of Abbey Street, ‘will be glad to receive pupils for teaching French, Flemish and Dutch’.

The longest editorial reports are reserved for the weekly activities of those living in the villages surrounding Market Harborough.

For instance on Thursday at the Baptist Chapel in Husbands Bosworth many villagers were entertained by the Market Harborough Jubilee Hall choir.

Former Harborough Mail editor (1992-1996) John Dilley is compiling a real-time blog looking at the Mail’s forerunner, The Market Harborough Advertiser, during the 1914 war years while also looking at national newspaper coverage from The Daily Telegraph during the same week 100 years ago.

Follow the blog every Monday by visiting http://newspapersandthegreatwar.wordpress.com.