John’s WW1 blog: Debate rumbles on over the clocks going forward

An advert giving the times available at Market Harborough's swimming baths from April 6, 1915.
An advert giving the times available at Market Harborough's swimming baths from April 6, 1915.

APRIL 6, 1915: Trade is dominating the Market Harborough Advertiser this week and, in particular, the thorny issue of what became known as Daylight Saving Time (DST) or more commonly today ‘changing the clocks’.

DST was first proposed many years before the war, but never enacted as law. In a letter to the editor, one local tradesman complains that the lack of DST is causing problems for many of Market Harborough’s shopkeepers.

Advertising Easter goods in the Mail's forerunner, The Market Harborough Advertiser, from April 6, 1915.

Advertising Easter goods in the Mail's forerunner, The Market Harborough Advertiser, from April 6, 1915.

“The shopkeeper and his assistants have no chance to enjoy the summer evenings until an absurdly late hour,” writes the correspondent.

“Shops are now supposed to close at 7 o’ clock with the exception of Thursdays and Saturdays. This means the poor shopkeeper seldom gets away until 7.30pm when his opportunity for recreation is very limited indeed. The situation applies with equal force as regards the assistants.”

It seems a little ironic that this issue is so prominent when in last week’s Advertiser the focus was on the terrible carnage of war and the need for more young men in the district to join up.

DST was in fact introduced in 1916 but in light of the current situation, the correspondent’s answer to this vexed question is simple: “If all the shopkeepers in the town united to open their premises at 7.30 – even 7 o’ clock if you like – and close at 6.30 or 6 o’ clock, the public would not be inconvenienced in the slightest. It would only mean if they had any shopping to do they would get it done earlier.”

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)

Elsewhere in the paper, tradesmen are continuing to use the newspaper as a vehicle for promoting their products – and what a wide array there is.

Geo Green and Co, in the High Street and in St Mary’s Road, is gearing up for Lent with Bibles, books for confirmation, Holy Communion Books and even Easter postcards for sale.

The Eady & Dulley Ltd brewery is promoting the benefits of India Pale Ale as ‘pure, brilliant, healthful’ and, perhaps a little boastfully, the ‘finest ale in the world’.

The County Electric Palace cinema, of The Square, has ‘special Easter attractions’ to draw in the twice-nightly crowds. Showing on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday is Loved and Lost, ‘unquestionably one of the most beautiful and brilliant products of dramatic genius’, and David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, ‘the greatest novelist of all times’.

And the public swimming baths in Northampton Road are advertising their opening times – not mixed of course. For instance, on Mondays, women were permitted from 6am to 1pm and men from 4.30pm to 9pm.

Prices were 6d for first-class (two towels free), 4d for second-class (one towel free) and 2d for third-class (presumably no towels available).

There was one session available for ‘family bathing’ from 1pm-4pm on Mondays.

“Parties desiring sole use of the bath must give due notice to the caretaker. Any two or more families may combine and use the bath jointly. Terms: 5s per hour for a party not exceeding ten; over ten, 6d per head.”

A forerunner, perhaps, of today’s ubiquitous ‘swimming parties’?

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.