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This Month in Exeter – 1920

Page added 31st December for the newspapers in January 1920

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Western Times


These newspaper snippets are from the Western Times, and the Exeter, Plymouth Gazette and Express and Echo. It is updated monthly, as we traverse the events of the First World War. The months are in reverse, with January 1918 at the end of the page. Thanks to the British Newspaper Archive


January 1920


About six o'clock last evening a horse attached to a cab belonging to Mr. E. J. Henson, of St. Thomas, Exeter, bolted from the rank at St. David's Station. Galloping the full length of Bonhav-road, it safely negotiated corner of Bridge-street—having knocked down P.C. Newman, who attempted to stop it—and went over the Bridge and through Cowick-street, being finally stopped on Dunsford-hill.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Friday 02 January 1920

Late News

George Weslake, of Cowick-street, St. Thomas, was on Wednesday reported by the Exeter Police as missing, returned to his home yesterday.
Up to last evening no tidings had been received by the Exeter Police of the Newton College boy, Bryan Murphy, who disappeared at Exeter on his way homo for the Christmas holidays.
We have been desired by the secretary of the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital to inform the public that the daily hour for patients attending with recommends has been altered to 2 p.m. (Saturdays p.m.), from the 1st January.
Western Times - Friday 02 January 1920

Youth in Trouble at Exeter

A youth of about 13, named George Vernon, described as a farm labourer, of the Blue Boy Lodging House, Exeter, was, at Exeter Police Court, yesterday, remanded for a week on a charge of stealing, on December 31st, from 26. Stepcote Hill, two metal watches, valued 10s the property of Thomas Griffin. The Chief Constable (Mr. A. F. Nicholson) said the accused had offered to show the police where the watches were. He was also wanted by the County Police, who would arrest him at once if released on bail, Western Times - Saturday 03 January 1920

Accidents in Exeter

Shortly before noon yesterday a live electric overhead wire of the tramway service at the top of Paris-street broke, but fortunately remained suspended at a height which obviated danger to traffic. The tramway officials were promptly notified, and within ten minutes the matter was righted, and the service resumed. A collision between an unladen steam motor wagon and standard gas lamp in Topsham-road, at one o'clock yesterday, proved bad for both. The lamp was bowled over, and the motor vehicle slightly damaged. The latter, curiously enough, was the property the Exeter Gas Company, and was being driven by Edward Callard who, happily, escaped injury. The accident was caused by the wagon skidding. At about three o'clock yesterday, a man named Richard Green, of 29, Fore-street Heavitree, fell down in an epileptic fit in Eaton-place, cutting his chin. P.C. Carpenter rendered assistance, and conveyed the man to the Devon and Exeter Hospital, where Dr. Mills inserted two stitches in the wound. Green was afterwards able to proceed to his home. Western Times - Saturday 10 January 1920

Soldier Stowaway at Exeter

At the Exeter Police Court yesterday, before Mr. George White (Chairman), Mr. H. J. Munro, and Mr. A. T. Loram, a private of the 2nd Leinsters at Colchester, named William de Vine, was charged with travelling on the G.W.R. between Plymouth and Exeter on the 10th without having paid his fare. He was also charged with being an absentee from his regiment without leave. It was stated that he went London from Colchester, and proceeded to Plymouth in as a stowaway. At Plymouth he took the train with the object, of reaching Liverpool. Defendant was fined 20s, and ordered to detained pending the arrival of an escort.
Western Times - Tuesday 13 January 1920



To the Editor of the Daily Gazette.
Sir, —The increasing congestion of traffic in High-street seems to call for a re-organisation of the traffic arrangements for Exeter generally. It will, I think, be conceded that the object of the tramways is to carry people to and from the business centre of the city. I, therefore, make the following suggestions, in the hope that influential members of the community will take the matter Up:—
1 That no trams should run in Highstreet between the London Inn Square and South-street corner (except, of course, when going to and coming from the Depot). That the tram journeys be as follows: 

(a) Pinhoe-road to High-street end of Sidwell-street; 

(b) Heavitree to High-street end of Paris-street; 

(c) Queen-street to St. David's Station as now;

(d) Top of South-street to Alphington-road terminus, and to Dunsford-Hill.
2 The tram line on St. David's-hill to be made single, so as to give more room for other traffic.
3 No motor lorries or pantechnicons to be allowed to pass up or down High-street between South-street and the London Inn Square between the hours 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., unless actually proceeding to a place of business in that area.
4 That a motor 'bus service be instituted run in connexion with the tram termini, and elsewhere where necessary, the vehicles be light single tier busses, carrying about 20 persons. 

The suggested routes are:

(a) Pennsylvania-hill to the London Inn Square;

(b) Countess Wear, via St. Leonards-road, to Bedford Circus; 

(c) Exe Bridge to St. David's Station, via Bonhay-road;

(d) Pinhoe to the tram terminus; 

(e) Alphington to the tram terminus; 

(f) Exminster to the tram terminus at Alphington-road, or in connexion with Countess Wear; 

(g) Cowley Bridge to Buller's Statue. 

A private Company might found to run the motor 'bus service on contract, while the stopping of the trams running High-street would effect a considerable saving: in and also greatly relieve the congestion. 

Yours truly.


Exeter, January 10th. 1920.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Tuesday 13 January 1920

Child's, Body Found in the River

The Exeter Coroner (Mr. W. Linford Brown) held an inquest at the Court House Friday relative to the death of the unknown infant whose body was found in the river near the Sewage Works on Wednesday. Evidence was given by James Albert Westcott, labourer, employed at the Sewage Works, to the effect that the body was found about ten yards from the end the withy bed. It was about two feet from the bank, in about six inches of water, and covered with mud. The river was in flood about ten days ago. Harry Woodhall, Quay-lane, said while walking through Weir-fields on the 7th inst, his little boy called his attention to something in the water. He saw it was the body of a child, which was nude. He communicated with the last witness. Mr. Pereira Gray, police surgeon, who examined the body, said it was a fully developed child, weighing 61bs. 9½ozs. The lungs floated freely in water. On Thursday, with the assistance Mr. C. E. Bell, he made a further examination, opening the skull, discolouration of the bone was seen; there was a clot blood in one part the brain, and a fracture of the occipital bone. The child was born alive, and he considered the cause of death was fracture of the bone of the skull. Witness's opinion was that in being thrown into the river the child's head came into contact with something before it reached the water, and was killed as the result a fracture the skull. Mr. C. E. Bell, surgeon, said all the internal organs were healthy. At the back of the scalp there was a reddish mark. On removing the scalp he found blood directly under the spot. Then he opened the boney skull, and found blood on the surface the brain and fairly large blood clot between the two lobes of the brain. On dissecting the latter, a lateral fracture 2½ inches long was found on the occipital bone. There had undoubtedly been a separate existence. The death was hemorrhage on the brain, the result of the fracture. In answer to a juryman, witness said it was impossible to say how long the child had lived. It was a curious place where the blow was found, and the fracture might have been caused by a direct blow, or in the way Dr. Periera Gray had suggested. The child must have lived after the blow. The inquest was adjourned till February 5th, to enable the police enquiries to be pursued.
Western Times - Tuesday 13 January 1920


Lowest Wage in England Paid in the City

In the “Express and Echo'' on Monday a curious announcement appeared, and on making enquiries we have discovered that it is the outcome another strike in Exeter, The advertisement was as follows:—
HISTORY OF EXETER.-Wanted. First class WOOD and STONE CARVERS. to work on Memorials two the Glorious Dead, at the lowest wage in England.—Apply, by letter only. “42571.” Express and Echo Office Exeter.
According to the secretary of the Strike Committee, Exeter has always been a badly paid area for skilled wood and stone carvers, the City being graded fourth-rate the wage scale. Messrs Dart and Francis, Crediton, declared, were the most generous employers, paying 1s 8d per hour, threepence per hour more than the Exeter firms. The standard rate at Barnstaple is 1s 9d per hour, and as this wage prevails in all towns of similar size in the country, the carvers contend that they are justified in demanding the scale at Exeter. They claim that the justice of their demand is strengthened by the fact that a great deal of their work is sold in towns where much higher wages are paid, thus placing the Exeter firms who transact the business in an unfair position compared with their competitors who pay a higher rate. Negotiation have been in progress for six weeks, the individual employers refusing to concede any advance. It was first agreed to strike on January 3rd but the men decided to work for another week. Saturday another flat refusal being given, they decided to cease work. As far as can be gathered, there are as yet no signs of any attempt at a settlement. Altogether there are 26 men out of an available 39 on strike. These are made up as follows: Messrs. Dart and Francis (Crediton) 5; Messrs. Harry Hems and Son (Exeter), 5; Mr. Herbert Read. 2; Messrs. Wippell and Co., 14.
 Messrs. Wippell's employees belong to the Carpenters' and Joiners' Union, and all the others to the National Furnishing Trades' Union. Both Unions are stated to supporting the strike. The employers are stated not be federated, which will probably make a settlement difficult
Western Times - Wednesday 14 January 1920

Exeter Plumbers DOWN TOOLS.


Members of the Exeter branch of the Operative Plumbers' and Domestic Engineers' Association came out on strike on Saturday. As reported Saturday's "Gazette," the situation was blacker than in some quarters, and the "down tools" action on Saturday morning did not come as a surprise to those connected with the trade. Some time ago the various employers in the building and allied trades of the country were graded, and Exeter was placed in a low grade—Grade D to be precise. The plumbers however, were already in receipt, of 1s 4½ d per hour, which was above the rate for the Grade. Consequently, under the area agreement, they were placed in a higher grade, and became entitled 1s 6d. The agreement was signed by representatives of the employers and employees in the section concerned, but Operative Plumbers' Society of Exeter repudiated the agreement. Members not only assert that they were not consulted before the agreement was signed, but contend that,, at the time of the conference, the employers were not members of the Association. The Secretary of the men’s Association told a "Gazette" representative on Saturday afternoon, that the men on strike numbered about forty. They were sorry to have to down tools, and had tried to come to terms. The men had consented to accept the area agreement as a temporary measure, but his was refused by the employers. Now the men were out for 1s 7½d per hour. The Secretary added that he was in communication with the Area Board at Bristol, but up to Saturday no definite reply had been received."
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Monday 19 January


Mutilated Body Found on the Railway Line


A shocking tragedy was reported from Alphington on Saturday, when the body of a middle-aged man. who had evidently been knocked down a train, was found on the Great Western Railway near Marsh Barton. It was removed under the direction F.S. Bambury of the Alphington institute, and the Coroner was communicated with. The body was subsequently identified as that of Mr. Frank Cross, aged 55, tailor, of 35. East Grove-road, Exeter, and an employee of Messrs. J. and G. Ross, tailors, of High-street, where he had worked for upwards of twenty years. It is stated that he had suffered from pains in the head, and had been greatly depressed for a considerable time. Occasionally during fits of depression he had stayed home, but Friday he was at work, and left to go home about seven o'clock in the evening. Shortly afterwards he went out, stating that he intended to take a walk. He never returned. As the night advanced, and there was sign of him, his friends gave information to the police, and his description was circulated. Nothing further was heard about him until his body was picked up on the railway on Saturday. On him was found a pocket book containing his name and address. Mr. Cross was an exceptionally steady man, and much sympathy will be extended to the widow and family. It probable that the inquest will be held to-day.
Western Times - Monday 19 January 1920

House Hunting in Exeter

The terrible experiences at house hunting in Exeter were related to the Exeter City Bench yesterday, when a settlement was arrived at in case which Mr. S Ernest Crosse and Mr. M. J. McGahey represented the parties. McGahey said the magistrates had probably seen Wednesday's "E. and E." the case an ex-Soldier who, for over nine months, had tried in vain find a house in the City. His client, had been in a similar position. Since the last hearing of the case he had been to enquire about every house he had seen let or had heard rumoured to let. It was always the same tale. The owners did not really want to let, but to sell. He produced a big list of houses he had been to see, he put on the table a thick bundle of advertisements which had been inserted in the local newspapers, and assured the Bench that no advertisement of a house to let in Exeter had gone uninquired into by his client. Yet all his efforts were of no avail, and, he was, today, no nearer to getting a house than he had ever been.
Western Times - Friday 23 January 1920

Church Army Work to be Filmed at Exeter Theatre

It will remembered that when in September last the films showing the work of the Church Army for our soldiers home and abroad were put on the screen at Exeter Theatre the house packed. Those who missed the opportunity then will be glad know that the pictures are be again shown at a matinee at the Theatre on Saturday. The film, which is 4,000 feet, depicts not only the work in its varied aspects done by the Church Army at home and abroad during the war, but that which still being done among the soldiers who form our Army of Occupation on the Rhine and along the lines of communication, and also what is being done at home for the training of ex-Service men and their children. The Rev. D. G. Samuel, late of the C.F., 59th Division, will explain the pictures, and the Archdeacon of Exeter will preside, and a collection will be made for the Church Army Centres. The Church Army has recently purchased the Gold Fish, Chateau at Ypres for use as a hostel for the accommodation of persons visiting the graves of their deceased's soldier relatives who are buried in that sector. It intended to erect a memorial chapel there shortly. Another valuable work being done by the Church assisting people who are too to pay their own expenses to visit the graves of their relatives in the battle area.
Western Times - Friday 23 January 1920

Kut Prisoner Bivouacs at Exeter

James Endicott snores. To that fact his arrest for wandering abroad without visible means of support is attributable. At night P.C. J. Greet was walking along Bonhay-road when he heard strange sounds beneath a threshing machine in Messrs. Norrington's implement yard. On making investigations he discovered Endicott deep in slumber, but with no money in his pocket. Endicott told the Exeter City Bench yesterday that he was taken prisoner war at Kut, and had only been home from India for six days. He got drunk, and did not know what happened. He belonged to Exeter, and served in “S” Battery. R.H.A. Prisoner was discharged.
Western Times - Thursday 29 January 1920

Exeter Motorist's Dilemma

Frederick Smale, Loma Loma, Heavitree-road, Exeter, according Mr. A. J. Tucker, who appeared for him the City Court yesterday, was between, the devil and the deep blue sea. He went for a motor ride after a long illness, and when on the road his side lights went out. He was breaking the law equally going on or by going back to get more candles, so he went on, and yesterday had to pay 30s for driving without lights.—Redvers Robert Martin, of Honiton, was fined 5s for riding without a rear light.
Western Times - Friday 30 January 1920

Cinematograph Service in an Exeter Church

On Sunday, under the auspices of the Old Boys, Southernhay Association, a somewhat daring experiment was tried with great success at the Southernhay Wesleyan Church, when a cinematograph service was held. In the gallery an iron cinematograph box was fixed, and from it were projected some beautiful specimens of animated colour photography. With lights extinguished the congregation heartily joined in the singing of appropriate hymns thrown on the screen. The lesson dealt with the slaying of Goliath by David, and the film which followed illustrated this incident. Then the Rev. Arnaud Scott delivered a short address pointing the lesson that with Divine Aid the apparently weak could accomplish great things. The second film depicted scenes in the life of Christ. The experiment was highly successful. Western Times - Friday 30 January 1920 Exeter's Rats.


In the course of his report to the Market and General Purposes Committee of the Exeter City Council on the results of the "rat week," held from December 29th to January 3rd, Mr. A. Bonham (Sanitary Inspector) says that a striking feature was that 72 of the 344 applications for baits were from householders in the poorest quarters of the city. The other applications included hotel and restaurant keepers, 17 farmers and gardeners, butchers and meat stores, 4 offensive trades, 9 grocers, and 4 Council departments. Only in 81 instances have the returns asked for from applicants been, made. Mr. Bonham estimates that, owing to the effectiveness of the bait, 50 per cent of the baits taken should be the estimated number of rats destroyed, which would work out at 12,500. The following are samples of the general results, judging from the replies received : —" Since using the bait have neither seen nor heard any more rats"; “No sign of rats or mice since the bait was taken "; "Rats all gone" ; "Several mice found dead," etc. In future, unless otherwise instructed, Mr. Bonham proposes to serve notices upon all persons who own or occupy rat-infested premises, requiring compliance with the Rats and Mice Destruction Act, 1919, and to issue poison bait and supervise its use upon payment by the persons concerned of all expenses incurred.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Saturday 31 January 1920

Exeter Carvers' Demands: A Settlement

We are officially informed that the dispute of the Exeter Carvers' Society has been satisfactorily settled on the basis of 1s 9d per hour. Details have been submitted to arbitration to be held at the Chamber of Commerce next Thursday. The chief matter to go before the arbitrator is when the 1s 9d shall become operative. The employers offered 1s 7d now and 2d increase on May 1st, but the men are claiming 1s 8d now and one penny increase on March 1st.
Western Times - Saturday 31 January 1920

Flooding at Exeter Flooding at ExeterExeter and Plymouth Gazette - Tuesday 13 January 1920


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