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This Month in Exeter – 1918

Many changes in wartime city

Page added 30th December 2017 for the newspapers in January 1918

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Western Times


These newspaper snippets are from the Western Times, and the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette. It is updated monthly, as we traverse the events of the First World War. The months are in reverse, with January 1917 at the end of the page. Thanks to the British Newspaper Archive

January 1918


To the Editor the ''Western Times."
Sir,—Did you notice this in last week's "Spectator?" In a 'review of "The Story of V.A.D. Work in the Great War," by Thekla Bowser, that done in Devon and Exeter comes in for particular notice. The writer says: "Devon has not been behind in supplying some instances of exceptionally quick work. At one of the Hospitals a telegram was received at nine o'clock on a Sunday morning that patients would be sent from Southampton in the course of the day. No patient had previously been received, nor had the staff been summoned. By 4.30 p.m. patients had been put to bed. and treatment begun."
And again: "At Exeter on a Sunday October, 1914, a telephone message was received that a hospital must be opened immediately for the reception of sick from the local garrison. On the following Monday a hospital with beds fully equipped was ready, and patients were received during the day."
We know here what our V.A.D.'s have done, can do, and are doing every day, and it is as gratifying to us as rightfully must be to them to find it so fully recognised and appreciated elsewhere.
Yours truly,
Hamlyns, Exwick. Exeter,
December 29th.
Western Times - Tuesday 01 January 1918

Cowick Street fire

Just before one o'clock yesterday afternoon a fire broke out at the rope works of Messrs. J. C. Clogg and Co., Cowick-street, St. Thomas. Exeter. The outbreak was caused by a furnace containing tar catching alight. James Stidston, an employee, raised the alarm, and the Exeter fire brigade were called, but the flames had been extinguished before their arrival. The damage, which is covered by insurance, is estimated at £25.
Western Times - Thursday 03 January 1918

Runaway at Exeter

A good deal of excitement was caused in St. Sidwell's and Bath-road shortly before 4 o'clock yesterday by a runaway pony, which started from the vicinity of Paris-street. It was attached to a light trap, reported to be the property of Colonel Garratt. and went at full pelt up Sidwell-street into Bath-road. Shortly after entering the latter thoroughfare it struck an oil waggon, standing near Kendall's Buildings, with the result that the two horses in the waggon bolted, and, before they were checked, the shafts of the vehicle were smashed. Meanwhile the pony raced on over the hill into Pinhoe-road. Near the Tramway Terminus it struck the kerbing, and narrowly missed a ladder on which a builder was standing doing repairs to a newsagent's shop roof. Just below this the trap tilted one wheel, and the seat and luggage were thrown out. The runaway, however, managed to right the vehicle, and went tearing on towards Whipton. Near Willoughby House, at the rise of the next hill, it was pluckily stopped by Sergt. Way, home on leave, the trap being overturned. Despite its gallop of well over a mile, most of the way through a busy thoroughfare, no one was injured.
Western Times - Friday 04 January 1918

West - Countrymen Well Represented

Devonshire has a prominent place in the New Year's Honour List. number of her sons having been singled out for Royal favour. The following are among the new Knights: Sir James G. Owen The Knighthood conferred on Air. James G. Owen may be regarded as official recognition the work for our soldiers and sailors which he and Mrs. Owen have been doing during their Mayoralty. It is also Royal approval of the many activities of Exeter during the war.
Mr. Owen, eldest son of Mr. George Owen, late collector of H.M. Customs, is a journalist by profession, joining the staff of the Western Morning News," Plymouth, for training in 1889. After a short engagement at Bournemouth, Mr. Owen became editor and joint proprietor of the Bideford Gazette" in 1894. In the year 1901 he became managing director of the “Western Times" Company, Exeter. He founded the Echo in February, 1904. This new journal absorbed the old-established Devon Evening Express in September, 1904, and the paper then became the “Express and Echo." The following year Mr. Owen began to take an active part in civic affairs. He became a Governor the Royal Albert Memorial in 1905, and has since taken a keen interest in the development of University College, Exeter. He is Chairman of the College Endowment Committee. In 1910-11 Mr. Owen served as Sheriff of the City. He was appointed to the City Magistracy in 1912; was Chairman of Exeter Chamber of Commerce in 1913; and became Mayor in 1914, and has served continually since, being now in his fourth term. November last Mr. Owen was honoured by nomination as a Justice of the County of Devon, and now the further honour of a Knighthood has been conferred upon him. Of the work of the Mayoress—hospitality, comforts, prisoners of war—it is quite unnecessary to say anything. Probably there no name more widely known amongst His Majesty's Forces than that of the Mayoress of Exeter. Thousands of letters from the fighting lines and from the Colonies attest to the regard in which she is held. The Mayor and Mayoress have one child, Margery, who is now doing war work at the Admiralty, in Whitehall. London.
Western Times - Friday 04 January 1918

Local News

Twelve degrees of frost were registered yesterday at Messrs. Veitch and Son's nurseries, Exeter, and 18 at Killerton on the grass. The river Exe had a thin coating of ice near the bridge in the morning on the higher side.
Western Times - Saturday 05 January 1918


After the temporary thaw on Wednesday night the frost has once more set in, and Thursday night was the coldest in this winter. At the Devon and Exeter Institution nine degrees of frost were registered, and doubtless, at more exposed spots they recorded still lower figures.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Saturday 05 January 1918

Market Auction Opened by the Mayoress

Exeter Y.M.C.A Hut Week was carried one stage further yesterday by a market and auction held at the Y.M.C.A Hall, King's Alley, opened the Mayoress of Exeter…
Mr. Thomas, welcoming the Mayoress, said it was the first public function Lady Owen had taken part in since the honour of a knight hood had been conferred on the Mayor, and they extended their hearty congratulations to them. Sir James, he understood, was the first Mayor of Exeter to be knighted since 1686, when Thomas Jefford received that honour from King James the Second. During that long period Exeter had lived up to the motto, "Semper Fidelis," and the King had recognised that evidence of faithfulness by the honour extended to their Mayor and Mayoress.
Lady Owen, received the applause, and acknowledged these kind congratulations in the name of the City. She could only accept them as an honour to the city and county generally. "Somebody had to be the victim," she jocularly remarked, "and we have been this time!"-laughter). Without the co-operation of their fellow-workers any effort of the Mayor and herself would have been as nothing. Proceeding, Lady Owen said that they all knew and recognised the good work of the Y.M.C.A. for their fighting men since the beginning of the war, and she referred to instances which had come to her personal knowledge. The Y.M.C.A. stepped in just at the right time, and had done wonders. She rejoiced to see the energy Mrs. Thomas had thrown into this work. Whatever the success of the Hut Week— and it was going to be a success–a large share would be due to her efforts. In conclusion, Lady Owen commended the provision of beds for soldiers who came to the city, and had nowhere else to stay. The Depot had a little scare in helping to do something for them in this way. The Soldiers’ Association was one of the finest works which was being done in the city—(applause)…
Western Times - Saturday 05 January 1918

Warning in Regard to Exwick Lights

At Police Court yesterday. Wm. Jeal, laundry manager, of Exwick, was fined 7s 6d for failing to obscure lights the Exwick Steam Laundry on the night of Dec. 31st. A special constables’s attention was drawn to several naked lights in the building, and he at once reported the matter, having previously cautioned defendant.—The Chairman remarked that this sort of offence had been quite common at Exwick; in fact, the lights there were worse than anywhere in the city. The Magistrates present were Messrs. H. Hall (in the-chair). H. B. Varwell. J. Stocker. P. C. M. Veitch. and A. McCrea.
Western Times - Saturday 05 January 1918


Charged with being drunk and disorderly in Little Queen-street, Exeter, the previous evening, Christopher Martin, farmer, of Broadclyst, on Saturday informed the Exeter Bench that he had had a few glasses of rum and water, but did not think he was drunk. The evidence showed, however, that he entered the Queen's Hotel and called for some whiskey. Having it, the barmaid, noticing that he was apparently drunk and annoying customers, took it away and called the manageress, who requested Martin to leave. As he refused to do so the police were summoned, and Martin was ejected. Told by the police to go home, Martin refused, and, attempting to enter the hotel despite police warning, was taken to the Police Station, where Dr. Pereira Gray pronounced him to be drunk. This was not defendant's first appearance at Court for being drunk, and he was fined 20s.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Monday 14 January 1918

Accident to an International Footballer Exeter.

"Dave" Holland, of one of H.M.S ships, the old Devon County and International Rugby forward, and subsequently a Northern player, who was one of the Royal Navy team that met the R.F.A. Cadets in the Rugby football match at the County Ground, Exeter, on Saturday afternoon, met with a nasty accident later in the evening. Holland was on a tramcar proceeding up High-street, when he slipped on the platform and fell into the road. He struck his head heavily in the fall, and was rendered unconscious. He was conveyed too the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital where the house surgeon, Mr. E. Domville, inserted three stitches in a contused scalp wound. Holland quicky rallied, and was able to proceed to Plymouth yesterday.
Western Times - Monday 14 January 1918

Fields Submerged in Exe Valley

In consequence of the melting of the snow on the hills, the heavy rain Tuesday night, and a big Spring tide, which caused the river Exe to rise rapidly and abnormally, the low lying ground along the river banks was yesterday the scene of the most serious flood that has been experienced for many years. The district between the City and Topsham, including the Clyst St. Mary marshes, and the fields lying between the river and the Canal, and the Alphington side of the Canal as far as Turf seem to have fared the worst. Mr. C. J. Hannaford, of the Double Locks, says the flood is the highest he remembers, and he has had experience of the locality for a considerable period. Not only were the fields submerged, but the water nearly covered the hedges. Cattle belonging to Mr. J. G. Bragg were seen standing in the water which was up to their backs. Attempts to reach them with horses failed, and the chance of saving them were not too rosy. At some places the water was six or seven feet deep. It was reported that two bullocks were seen being washed down the river. The majority of the houses bordering on the river between Exeter and Topsham were flooded in the basements yesterday morning, and the plight of the occupiers was pathetic.
Western Times - Thursday 17 January 1918

Little Boy Drowned in Bonhay Leat, Exeter

A little boy, aged 3½ years, was drowned in the leat, at Exeter, yesterday. The child is the son of Mr. B. Guppy, a fireman in the employ the G.W.R , and who lives at 51, Bonhay-road. How the boy got into the water is uncertain, but he was seen being carried down the leat, which was in flood, and behind the premises of Mr. Dann, of Bridge-street, a City Council employee named Coombes was able to clutch the child and pull it on to the bank. Artificial means were tried to restore animation but unhappily without success. Efforts were continued for nearly an hour by Supt. Bowden, of the St. John Ambulance Corps, assisted by P.C.s Parish and Reed, and Mr. J. W. Henson, of Bonhay-road. The body was afterwards taken to the mortuary to await an inquest.
Western Times - Thursday 17 January 1918

Into Alphington Street Houses

In the vicinity of Alphington many fields and lanes were under water during the night and early morning. Some of the bye-roads were impassable and the water rushed along like a mill race. Cattle were got to places of safety with some difficulty. Actual damage, however, was not serious. The flooding had abated considerably towards noon, and except in the low lying places near the river the water had practically disappeared.
Portions of Alphington-street, Exeter, were under water. The water came up through the sewers with great force, and in some cases it entered dwellings and business premises causing a good deal of inconvenience.
Western Times - Thursday 17 January 1918

Streets of Adventure

Streets more or less level with the river at Exeter speedily became flooded. Among the worst affected was Okehampton-road, where the water at places was knee-deep, and the flooding stretched from near the King's Hall to within a few yards of the railway bridge. Traffic proceeded only at considerable inconvenience, many of the horses not taking kindly to this new experience. Residents on the side nearest the river were unable to leave their houses without the assistance of vehicles or planks. In Commercial-road similar scenes were witnessed, and part of Exe Island was flooded. The Exe also overflowed parts of Gervase-avenue, the water proceeding on the top portion of Alphington-road, where temporary expedients had to be adopted for pedestrians. In the worst affected parts a number of business premises had closed. These conditions continued till mid-day, and the abatement, if any, was so slow that they bid fair to last for some time. Exwick fields were also submerged.
Western Times - Thursday 17 January 1918

Port Royal Experiences

Along the quayside the water had overflowed to within a yard or two of the warehouses, and further down at Port Royal, and the approaches to it, the footway skirting the houses was impassable, the water being knee-deep. All that indicated a thoroughfare was the iron railing, half submerged. But for the back approaches all the people residing here would have been cut off, and in fact it was stated that the female occupant of one tenement was actually kept prisoner in the flood. A corner shop abutting on to the waterside footpath of Jubilee-road was so badly flooded that business had practically to be suspended, and the occupants were reduced to placing planks and blocks of wood indoors in order to move from room to room. This was probably one of the worst cases in Exeter from the flood, and the private residents nearby were in scarcely better plight. Boats moored outside the railings could not be reached.
A few enquiries at this spot elicited that such flooding had not occurred for some twenty years, and people seemed to be taken by surprise. The volume of water in the Exe was tremendous, and its powerful swirl carried down huge planks of wood, boat stays and other debris, and it was stated that even a wagon had been washed away from further upstream. Such was the volume and force of the water that the rope which guides the ferry across the river at the Quay threw up a bank of water resembling a weir. Of course, ferrying was impossible. Many people hearing of the flooding, visited the neighbourhood during the day.
Western Times - Thursday 17 January 1918

Yacht Wrecked at Exeter

During the afternoon a yacht belonging to Mr. Christopher Taylor (Messrs. Taylor and Bodley) was forced from its moorings by a tree washing down the river, and carried over the weir below Port Royal, where it was smashed and sunk.
Western Times - Thursday 17 January 1918

Death of a Topsham Fisherman

The Deputy Coroner (Mr. Hamilton Brown) held an inquest at St. Thomas Infirmary on Saturday evening, relative to the death of William Charles Oak, 54, fisherman, of Monmouth-hill, Topsham. who died at the Thomas Poor Law Institution on Wednesday.
Evidence was given by Robert Oak, brother, to the effect that on Friday, December 28th, deceased went to clean an upstair window at the house of Mr. Hexter. Returning home half hour later, deceased said he could hardly walk, and he was in pain all over. He explained that the ladder had slipped away from under him, and he fell. Deceased then went to bed, and attended until January 8th by Dr. Macpherson. He was then taken to the St Thomas Infirmary. Dr. Black, medical officer at the St. Thomas' Infirmary, said deceased was suffering from broken ribs. He was unable to eat or sleep properly. Death was due to uraemia, accelerated by the fall.
The jury returned verdict of "Accidental! Death."
Western Times - Tuesday 22 January 1918

Expert Demonstrations at Exeter

The Exeter food exhibition, which is being held in Messrs. Colson and Co's premises, High-street, will not fail for lack of experts. Mr. E. S. Plummer, chairman of the Food Committee —under whose auspices the exhibition is being held—and Mr. H. Armitage, the hon. secretary, are in constant touch with the authorities, and for yesterday—the second day of the exhibition—and onwards for some time they secured Mr. F. W. Hunter, specialist from the Ministry Food, who comes with high recommendations in the new art of saving wheat and flour by the liberal substitution of potatoes. Of course the urgent necessity for saving cereal foods needs emphasis.
Many good recipes fail because they are above the heads of the ordinary housewife or else contain unfamiliar or expensive ingredients. Potatoes however, are plain sailing. All that is required is a few hints to set people in the right track. Mr. Hunter, seen by our representative, went straight to a point.
“There is no finality in the use of potatoes, he said." Experiments which I have made allow me to use large or small quantities of potatoes as necessity arises. Keep experimenting, and it is surprising what you can do. Take bread. I have worked out a method of using potatoes which you can use as much potato as flour—a thing unheard before”
“Will the bread made in that way, 'keep'?" he was asked.
"I recognise that is a difficulty with some people," replied Mr, Hunter. " I made some bread last week in the proportion of one-half flour and one-half potatoes, and I had some for breakfast the morning I left for Exeter—one day short of a week. Ordinarily you don't want to keep the bread for any length of time. It is easy to regulate the quantity baked."
“Where have people gone wrong in the use of potatoes in bread?" was another question.
Mr. Hunter stated that trouble arose when cooked potatoes were added to flour. People did not treat the mixture properly. When the yeast was added it had the effect of turning the cooked starch contained in the potato into sugar. "The whole secret," he added, “is to keep the dough under control. It must have no liberty. If it rises high, knock it down flat—knock the gas out of it. Knead the dough well, pull it about so that air can get into it. Otherwise there will be trouble through the oxygen being taken from the starch. There is not the same effect with raw starch. A couple of hours is long enough to leave the dough before baking." …
Western Times - Thursday 31 January 1918

Knighthood for Exeter's Mayor
An Excellent Exeter Record
An Excellent Exeter RecordSee article left
Western Times - Friday 04 January 19187

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