One hundred years ago – July 1918.

New Ration books commence distribution on the 6th July, ready for use in the National Rationing Scheme on the 15th July. There are seven different categories, all serially numbered and individually addressed. This work has been completed by the Food Office based in Bideford Town Hall.

The Medical Officer has confirmed that an outbreak of measles has spread across North Devon resulting in Northam School being temporarily closed.

In May it was announced that men aged 43 and above would need to be conscripted to replace casualties from the war. The shortage of skilled tradesmen, artisans and general labour shortages is having a considerable effect on business and especially in farming. A scheme called ‘School Boys to Help with the Harvest’ has been set up and overnight accommodation in barns at Farford Farm for Hartland, Cabbacott for Parkham and Buckland Brewer district and the Parish Rooms at Woolsery have all been organised.

The newspaper has reports every week of Tribunal meetings where local tradesmen plead to be allowed to continue with their business. A local village baker who provides for the entire village of over 1,000 people has been called up and, despite a petition of over 500 names, he was ordered to be available by 15th July. He had to arrange for another village’s baker to cycle over three days each week to keep the supply of bread going. The Northam Tribunal reports on their only conscientious objector, a local school teacher who refused to undertake any work that could been considered helping the war effort His appeal was dismissed and he had to be available from 15th August. The Edgehill School gardener, who provides vegetables for the school from 2 acres as well as milking 16 cows and looking after a local power station providing electricity for the school, had to be available for military service by mid-July.

The labour problem is causing several farms and estates to be put up for sale. This month sees the following: West Fatacott, Hartland, 133 acres: Volehouse Farm, West Putford, 177 acres: Saxworthy Farm, East Putford, 62 acres: Venton Farm Westward Ho! 24 acres. Also Kernstone Farm, Hartland, is selling all livestock and 30 acres of standing crops. Forcewell, Hartland, have 23 acres of standing corn to sell.

The effects of the War has caused the Barnstaple Anchor Brewery to dispose of many local Inns including The Plough at Fremington, The Coach & Horses and The Rising Sun both at Appledore and The New Inn at Abbotsham.

(In last month’s edition the item about rabbit culling at Melbury used the word poaching – it should have read “ No paunching is to be done on the reservoir site” …. in an effort to keep the water unpolluted!!)

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 or visit our website www.bidefordarchive.org.uk.

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