One hundred years ago; December 1917/ January 1918.

Christmas is coming and in spite of the War, Bideford plans to celebrate the season. The Christmas Market will take place on Friday 21st December. Coles and Lee, trading from the Gazette Office, suggest that handbags make excellent presents, as do wallets, photo cases and pocket books. Prices range from 1/3d to 38/6d, (which would be about £130 today.) Mrs Karslake of London House offers picture books “for the little ones, who must be remembered” and mufflers for soldiers and sailors.

On the food front, Bideford Guardians will increase out-relief for Christmas week; adults will receive 1/6d instead of 1/- and children 1/- instead of the usual 6d. Extra Christmas fare will be provided for the residents, but due to Food Control regulations they would have to do without the usual puddings.

Farleigh’s Stores have received a “very choice” parcel of Government flour, priced at 1/4d for a 7lb bag. They also advertise tinned salmon, which at 1/2d a tin is equal in nutrition to 2/6d worth of meat. The retail price of butter is fixed at 2/4d (weight not specified) and sugar is still strictly rationed.

At Lavington Chapel’s Sale of Work, War Ration Tea will be served at 6d each. The opening ceremony will be performed by the Mayor, Councillor A R Adams.

In other news, Mr Kelly, headmaster of Langtree School, would like to set up a library and appeals for books suitable for juvenile reading. Gifts to the various local hospitals in December include some unusual items – a football, hot-water bottles, pillows with cases and brawn.

On the farming front, Army horses are now in the district and available for ploughing – the ground is very wet and tractors are struggling.

January begins with a screening of Charlie Chaplin’s new film “The Immigrant” at the Palace Cinema.

Bideford Municipal Science, Art and Technical College offers a wide range of courses for the new term including pottery, chemistry, magnetism and electricity. A class for embroidery will be opened if sufficient numbers join. Bideford Grammar School’s next term will begin on 10th January, with Edgehill following on the 15th. Mrs Frank Braund’s elocution classes recommence on 25th January at Friendship’s Hotel.

Stewart & Co. 52 & 56a Mill Street are holding a remnant sale over two days. Mr J Woolf of Barnstaple Street, who attends the Pannier Market on Tuesdays and Saturdays, advertises for 1,000 rabbits, any number of new laid eggs – and moleskins. We believe the moleskins were used inside shoes to prevent blisters and also by plumbers. (Does anyone know of other uses?)

These and many more items of local interest are available to read at the Bideford Community Archive at the Council Offices, Windmill Lane, Northam. Tel: 01237 471714. Open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings or visit our website www.bidefordarchive.org.uk.

The Archive volunteers wish all Buzz readers a good Christmas and New Year. We look forward to helping you with your research in 2018.

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