One hundred years ago – December 1916/ January 2017.

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The first three issues of the Gazette in December 1916 are full of seasonal cheer of all varieties.

W.J. Ridge, Wine merchant of 70 High Street has two adverts – one for Old Scotch Whiskies including “Dew off the Highlands”, the other for “Anglo” ales and Oatmeal Stout. Charles Ashton, family grocer trading at Trafalgar House, is the sole agent for W& A Gilbey’s wines and spirits. For the home baker, Tattersalls Stores boast that they have the largest stock, the best of everything at the lowest prices. Among the items for sale are loose Muscatels for cooking at 8d per pound, Chinese figs and the finest Tunis dates are 9d per pound. Tattersalls also offer “Evaporated fruits” – apricots, peaches and pears as well as a wide variety of nuts.

Suggestions for Christmas presents are plentiful. A. M. Morrish at the Quay Café is showing a good selection of chocolates, confectionery and season’s novelties. F. Karslake, draper from London House, heads his advert with the words “Christmas should be enjoyed in a reasonable manner. Our old fashioned custom of giving and receiving presents must not be allowed to pass. It is a glad time of friendship and goodwill of the year.”

If you are looking for practical presents, Heywood & Heywood of Grenville Street offer serviettes, 5 o’clock tea cloths and tea cosies as well as handkerchiefs and Antimony trays. Steward & Co.’s Bazaar at 56a Mill Street has a splendid selection of British-made toys. W. Wood of 10-11 Meddon Street reminds readers that Christmas is the children’s festival and offers dolls, toys games and tea sets.

For the ladies, Robert Yeo at Manchester House(in an advert illustrated with line drawings) suggests that “Suitable and acceptable” presents include aprons and pinafores, whilst Sanguine & Son’s Boot stores in Grenville St. promote their pretty slippers, house shoes and ladies gaiters. For the man in your life you could visit H.I. Meredith at 18 High Street and buy vacuum flasks, shaving requisites and electric pocket lamps, whilst Coles & Lee at the Gazette Offices offer useful leather goods.

The troops have not been forgotten and suggestions include “Swan” fountain pens with ink tablets in tubes, metal cigarette cases and photo cases.

The more extravagant could buy an American organ from J.T. White of 77-78 High Street, a piano from Nicklins in Bridgeland St., watches and jewellery from E. Northwood at 69 Medon St., or furs from Burrows at 17 High Street.

To decorate your home, Perkins and Son, florists on the Quay offer ferns and palms in pots as well as cut flowers supplied fresh daily.

If you were unfortunate to be unwell, Gerrish’s Speedy Cure for coughs and colds can be bought for 1/3 a bottle at E Gerrish, dispensing chemist on The Quay. We are also assured that Mother Seigels Syrup banishes indigestion.

To return to more pressing matters, the 28th December edition reports that Bideford Council are discussing the food shortage and considering the possibility of ploughing up Victoria Park to provide extra allotments. Early in the New Year Bideford Council advertise a Public meeting in the Town Hall for the purpose of considering providing extra Allotments. Northam Council are also concerned about the shortage of vegetable patches, and in particular the shortage of potatoes. The Committee were told that 2 miles from Northam a farmer was holding a large quantity of potatoes waiting for prices to rise. A committee member, Mr Vincent remarks that “the Government should do something” and suggested that as they now controlled the railways they should lead by growing potatoes beside the track. Later in the month a report appears stating that the National Food controller has set and published potato prices. Main crop, of not less than 6 tons will be priced at £5-15-0d per ton, rising to £6-10-0d in the Spring. Locally a 2-acre field at Kiltrasna is available for a period of 3 years for cultivation, but a flood of letters to the Editor decry the notion of ploughing Victoria Park, citing that it is the only pleasant area where the elderly can walk and enjoy.

At the Devon Crown Court 2 local residents are accused of stealing £300 worth of jewellery (£14,500 in today’s value) from their employer, Mrs Elizabeth Daw of Baddesley Grange, Northam. Herbert Clarence Leonard, alias Victor Howard, was employed as a cook but was actually a deserter. His common law wife, who was pregnant, Daisy Fowler, alias Leonard or Howard was a servant and was acquitted of the crime but her partner was found guilty and sentenced to 15 months hard labour. Only a tiny proportion of the jewellery was recovered.

Appearing in the first January edition is an Almanac for the year. In the centre are famous events and personalities for every day throughout the year but around this are local details and information, postal rates and times, bus and train times on both Bideford, Westward Ho! & Appledore Railway and, across the river, the LSWR. Financially the public are served by National Provincial Bank, Fox Fowler & Co Bank, Lloyds Bank and London, City & Midland Bank all in the High Street and Exeter Savings Bank has offices in Bridge Buildings opposite the Town Hall.

These and many more items of local interest are available to read at the Bideford & District Community Archive at the Council Offices, Windmill Lane, Northam. Tel: 01237 471714. Open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. You can also follow us on our Facebook page, Bideford & District Community Archive.

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