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Tickhill Urban District Council – the Great War 1914-18

In many respects, life proceeded as usual judging by the Council’s minute book. There were still the regular issues such as clearing out drains, responding to the Medical Officer’s concerns over unfit housing, non payment of rates, the price of gas, passenger services on the railway and roadmen’s wages. Proposals for a new “water scheme” appeared and were shelved. Diseases continued to cause concern, as one typical MOH quarterly report will indicate where there were 2 cases of tuberculosis, 6 of diphtheria and 1 of scarlet fever. At one stage in 1916, the 2 Elementary Schools were closed for 20 days owing to an epidemic of measles with the Infant School following later. Whooping cough closed the latter school the following year.

The first response to the outbreak of war was the establishment of a War Distress Committee in August 1914 “to deal with any distress which might arise as a consequence of the war”. In May 1915 a Major A Smith, Recruiting Officer, Pontefract, asked the Council’s assistance to draw up a list of all men of military age who had not yet enlisted, while a special meeting was called after the passing of the National Registration Act in 1915 to make arrangements for its local implementation. At the same time concern was being expressed at the shortage of agricultural labour - letters show local farmers asking to borrow the UDC’s roadmen to assist with harvest.

In February 1916 a new fear, that of air raids, led to a decision to issue warning leaflets to urge shopkeepers and householders to keep windows “in complete darkness”. In August of the same year “sympathy and condolences” were sent to the Walker family on the report that Mr J Walker was missing in action.  The War Charities Act (1916) gave the Council the task of issuing licences for the raising of funds for servicemen. In the following year the Tickhill National Schools asked for such a licence to collect funds to send a parcel to all Tickhill soldiers at Christmas.

The seriousness of the conflict can be seen in the decision in January 1917 to institute a Roll of Honour where all men of the district serving or who had served in Army, Navy or Flying Corps were to be recorded.  In August of the same year a Local Food Control Committee was appointed but its duties were not specified.

When the war finally ended the Council immediately called a public meeting to come up with a scheme for “providing a memorial to the boys who have fallen in the Great War”, while the April following saw a meeting arranged to consider peace celebrations but the outcome is not recorded in the minute book.

John Hoare - 2014