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Charles Binyon's diary: February 1919

Diary Entry

FEB 1 Saturday – 30o.  Dull.  Snow still on the ground and the roads very bad.  To Aldington Kilns.  Then to shed across the fields.  Posting nominal ledger in the afternoon.  My men crate making.

The strikes at Belfast and the Clyde still continue.

The Peace Conference has apparently settled the question of the disposal of the German colonies on the lines of the League of Nations.

FEB 2 Sunday – 30o.  Dull.  Slight thaw.  Church at 11 am and 6.30 pm.  Read “The Days of Auld Lang Syne” Ian McLaren with great pleasure.  Visited HJC in the afternoon and found him in bed.

FEB 3 Monday – 30o.  Dull.  Slight thaw but snow still on the ground.  The condition of the roads has improved very much.  Went to Evesham by 9.40 train.  Police Court at 11 am.  General Licensing Session.  The licence of The Fish and Anchor was opposed by a man who said he was refused reasonable refreshment there, and yet there were several men drinking inside.  This will be heard on March 3rd.  All other licences renewed.  Then we had an application for a separation order, the husband having absolutely deserted the wife and gone to live with another woman.  Order made and £2 a week maintenance.  Then another similar application contested.  Very unsatisfactory case.  The man said when he came home from France he found his wife in deb t and many of his possessions sold, so he sold all the rest and left her.  Order not made but 15/- maintenance for two children.  Then a cyclist without a light but only 20 minutes after lighting up time.  Fine 5/-.  Another cyclist without a rear light late at night.  Also 5/-.  Man failing to deliver up swine movement licence 2/6.  This took us until nearly 2 pm.  Williams and I had some coffee and buns.  Later to a Ruri-decanal Conference.  We had the question of Easter offerings.  Shawcross of Bengeworth introduced the subject, then March of Sedgeberrow suggested pooling the offerings and moved a resolution.  I told them that if the incumbents wish to pool them, there is nothing to prevent them doing so, if however they were against it, no resolution of the Conference would make the slightest difference.  I also said I was against Easter offerings altogether, and that it detracted from a Vicar’s influence etc, but I only gone one supporter.  Vicar and I had tea together after just to show there was no ill-feeling.  Got home at 6.30.  HJC better.

[Petty Sessions, Ruri-Decanal Conference, Easter Offerings written in red in margin.]

FEB 4 Tuesday – 28o.  Roads bad again.  Bright sun all the morning, milder.  My men shifting belladonna root to kilns in the morning.  Sprout picking Under Badsey in the afternoon.  Confirmation held at Badsey in the afternoon.  Bishop Fison came.  In the evening I met the Reconstruction Committee and discussed financial matters with them.

FEB 5 Wednesday – Snow nearly all day, but milder.  My men have packed and sent off 25 bags of sprouts to Wolverhampton.  I went on Jo to Evesham and had an interview with J B Wright, then to Smith & Roberts where we went into H Hall’s affairs and have now nearly completed the documents for probate, but I shall have to take out letters of administration for Mrs Hall’s estate, and to find two bondsmen, as there was no will in her case.

I called at Lowles to examine the seeds of D Metel.  Only 4 are growing after 17 days!  Very bad riding back.  Visited Mrs Hall, the Vicarage and school in the afternoon to complete the information required and to obtain the bondsmen.

In the evening I was picked up at Wilkins by car with A Butler, F Cope and E Wadams and we went to Honeybourne School to hold an enquiry into the Housing Question.  The applicants were all railway men, and their spokesman, Oldacre, presented their case clearly and courteously.  There was however much friction between the agricultural men and the railway men, and I had to call the former sharply to order.  There were 10 definite applications.  It appeared that the GWR now employ nearly 50 men at Honeybourne, over 30 of whom have only been there since the new line to Cheltenham was opened.  The appear to have been occupying cottages formerly occupied by farm labourers.  Some of these are now required by the farmers.  The GWR refuse to build and say they pay two-thirds of the rates in the parish.  The situation is complicated by the fact that Cow Honeybourne is in Gloucestershire, so we have no control there, but the Pebworth Council have built 10 cottages and propose to build more.  The railway men require a better cottage with a parlour and said they would willingly pay 1/6 a week more rent.  They also said they did not wish the scheme to be a charge on the rates.

All London Tubes stopped by strike.

[Honeybourne Housing Enquiry underlined in red in margin.]

FEB 6 Thursday – Dull, thaw.  Snow disappearing.  My men at shed crate making and packing belladonna for Aldington.  Letter from HDB saying that a lot of our belladonna leaf is one the way to America.  Went to Aldington in the afternoon.  Engine stopped tonight for the season.  In the evening we had a Purchasing Committee meeting and decided to order 20 tons of Dissolved Bone from Morris & Griffin.  This we can sell at £9.10.0.  Also made arrangements for buying 30 gross 12 lb chips and gross bonnets.  General Committee followed.  WJ rather restive.  We decided to give £3.3.0 prize for Asparagus Show for best bundle grown by one of our members, no bud to exceed 12” in length.

Strikes continue.  LSWR and LB&SCR affected.

[LBG Committee written in red in margin.]

FEB 7 Friday – Fine and bright.  Cold searching wind, but drying.  All except FTJ digging at the Sand – belladonna roots – and helping to clear out Hall’s shed.  FTJ and I went to the Fourteens and met J Addis and picked out sash bars and other timber and took it down to Addis’ barn.  Then I went to the shed and we took off the mud-hole covers and emptied the boiler.  In the afternoon I went to school and went through the list of old scholars with FEA.  The County Council want a Memorial Board with a list of all scholars who have served in the Army in the war.

FEB 8 Saturday – A perfect winter day.  Minimum 18o.  Thawed slightly in the sun.  Hill all covered with snow, but only a few little patches left here.  All men digging sprout ground at Garnetts.  On an average each man dug 25 square yards and hour.  This means it would take one man 4 weeks to dig an acre, and that it would cost £5.10.0.  This includes the two Germans.  Went to shed and paid off Wilkes, then to Kilns.  In the afternoon I dug 2 hours with EM and the Germans.

Venus quite bright now.  I could just see Mars above her.

[Cost of digging underlined in red in margin.]

FEB 9 Sunday – Minimum 14o.  Another beautiful day.  Church at 11.  Actually 10 chimers present.  Sermon on Proverbs – fools and the wise.  Went on Jo after dinner to post letters at Bengeworth.  Then to Hinton then I turned off to Childwickham from there to Buckland Cross.  The day was hazy and the hills all clad with snow looked immense and one could imagine the black woods to be masses of rock.  Then back through Broadway and Willersey.  This was the first ride this year.

[Very Hard Frost written in red in margin.]

FEB 10 Monday – Minimum 17o.  Not quite so bright, cold wind freezing all day.  The ground is too hard to dig, so we had the alleys hoed.  Then FJ and Germans carted the bricks from the Fourteens to the Sand.  Westbury and I to the kilns where we loaded up all the dry belladonna root.  We sent off one truck load over 3 tons and two bags of henbane total 121 lb, 87 bags in all.  At Beeholme at night.

[Very Hard Frost written in red in margin.]

FEB 11 Tuesday – Minimum 17o.  Very bright day, sun quite powerful at midday.  Cleaning up at Garnetts, alleys all hoed and raked off.  FTJ and EM hauling bricks.  We have now 1500 at the Sand.  Went to Evesham and swore the affidavit for H Hall’s probate, and for taking out letters of administration for Mrs H Hall.  River frozen halfway across in places.  Shifted stoves and various odds and ends from Hall shed in the afternoon.

Venus and Mars about 1½o apart.  Mars invisible without the telescope.

[Very Hard Frost written in red in margin and Venus symbol.]

FEB 12 Wednesday – Minimum 17o.  Beautiful day.  Sun warm at midday.  Much more white frost this morning.  Elm trees all covered.  AJT and GW sowing.  Slag at Garnetts.  FJ and EM carting material for greenhouse building.  Boiler and pipes shifted.  To office all the afternoon.

Opening of New Parliament.  Lloyd George’s speech on Labour unrest.

FEB 13 Thursday – Minimum 17o again.  Beautiful day.  Men taking a holiday.  Warmer in the sun than of later.  To office all day.  Parish Council in the evening.  Chief business the question of a war memorial.  The idea is to have a Parish Hall and Reading Room.  A public meeting to be called later.

Questions of Labour unrest debated in Parliament.  Some of the sensational papers appear to think Germany may start fighting again!

[Parish Council written in red in margin.]

FEB 14 Friday – Minimum only 27o.  Steady dry thaw all day.  Curious to see how the parts of the roads that have been in shadow are all greasy, whereas the parts exposed to the sun are dry.  One side Lanket Lane is very greasy the other quite dry.  J Addis and FJ are cleaning the sash bars.  Went to office in the afternoon and finished cash entries in the nominal ledger.  Did Bought Book at night.

FEB 15 Saturday – Minimum 32o.  Dull, steady thaw about 36o most of the day, rather foggy.  AJT, EM and GW trimmed and washed the belladonna root at the Sand.  FJ and Germans cleaned Waldren’s parsnips.  Went to kiln at 12 am.  Did accounts in the afternoon with DSMcD.

League of Nations Covenant announced by President Wilson.

FEB 16 Sunday – Dull, cold mizzle, raining hard all the evening with NE wind.  Church at 8 and 11.

FEB 17 Monday – Wet, much rain in the night.  Brooks all full.  Water over the road on back way to Evesham and Blackminster meadows flooded, water just coming over the road at 9.30 am.  AJT and EM at Drying Shed.  FJ cleaning bars.  I went by train to Evesham.  Had my hair cut.  Only one case at the Police Court – non-attendance at school.  Fined 10/-.  Had a talk with Dicks the Architect.  He tells me no local builder is yet in a position to take up contracts for housing.  HJC at night.  Snow instead of rain after 6 pm.

German offensive in Poland.  Ultimatum from Foch.

[Petty Sessions written in red in margin.]

FEB 18 Tuesday – Snow 1 inch deep.  Floods still out.  Dull morning, bright and fine afternoon.  FJ cleaning bars for the greenhouse.  AJT and EM crate making at the shed.  F Bubb, DSMcD and I sorted out tomato cans.  We rejected every can which did not weigh 2 lb 2 oz, as we had some complaints as to short weight.  Accounts in the afternoon.  In the evening went to the school.  E Beck gave an address on joining the Evesham Market Gardening Association.  Very interesting but some of it very debatable.  The proposal as to foreign competition was to prevent any produce grown by cheap labour from coming in to the country at all – a very difficult matter to carry out.  Mr B said if this was carried out, we would not fear their competition, but it appeared to me as if he overlooked climatic advantages which were very much more important than labour.  Quite a good attendance.

Labour unrest still prominent.  Germans accept Foch’s terms.

FEB 19 Wednesday – 24o.  Rain later.  All men (except GW) digging the sprout ground at Garnetts.  Later on AJT and EM came down to the drying she and cleaned the engine.  I interviewed T Higgins with regard to the electric fittings.  Put church clock on 3 minutes and put farthing on the pendulum bob to accelerate the speed.  Called at Seward House and told JS that I would not nominate Game for the County Council.

FEB 20 Thursday – Quite mild 38o at 7.30 am!  Rain on and off.  Went to L&B Station and travelled to Birmingham in company with Wheatley, who was going to a meeting of butchers.  He gave me much interesting information about the grading of animals.  At Birmingham I made my way to High Street and called at the General Electric Company and ordered a Voltmeter and various fittings for the Drying Shed.  Then went to the Midland Institute in Paradise Street where the Housing Conference was being held.  The Lord May, S Brown, said that housing conditions were at the bottom of much of the unrest.  It was a national question.  He was evidently afraid that high wages would make it difficult to retain foreign trade.  He said that at present prices if there was no loss, the rents would have to be 25/- a week.  To my mind it is a great mistake to get estimates at present as prices are unreal.  We then discussed the last circular from the Government.  The chief points in this are:

  1. The loss incurred by Local Authorities will be limited as nearly as possible to the produce of 1d rate.  The Government make up the deficit.
  2. The conditions are (a) that the scheme must be submitted before February 1920 and carried out by February 1921; (b) due economy in erection and management and the rents to be as nearly as possible at the economic level; (c) not more than 12 houses to the acre in urban and 8 to the acre in rural districts.
  3. Loans to be raised if possible locally.
  4. The transition period to last until 31 March 1927.  After that a revised balance sheet showing the actual expenditure incurred and the actual rents obtained.  If then it appears that the charges are likely to exceed the produce of 1d rate an annual subsidy will be made to that extent.
  5. Commissioners are to be appointed and have a district under him.
  6. Schemes can be dealt with in stages.
  7. Fittings of all sorts to be standardised and supplied by Government.
  8. Inland Revenue officers will give opinions as to site value and if required negotiate for the sale.

The large town councils disliked the idea of Commissioners but all the rest approved.  It was considered that dealing with schemes in stages would be most helpful.

After the session was over I made my way to Deritend and spent the night with Father John L Lopes who has not long returned from Rome.  We had an interesting chat.

Attempted assassination of Clemenceau.

[Housing Conference at Birmingham written in red in margin.]

FEB 21 Friday – Mild and wet.  Walked through Smithfield Market then on to the Conference.  We discussed the memorandum issued by the Housing and Town Planning Council and discussed widths of roads.  72 feet was given as the minimum distance between the building lines.  Grass on each side of the road recommended.  Councillor James addressed the Conference and told us what Birmingham was doing.  They are planning arterial roads of 120 feet.  In the built-on parts these roads are to be 110 feet.  At present all that is done is that all new buildings must be set back to comply with this.  The Secretary told us that the day of big parks was over but that small open spaces and many of them were the best.  We had some debate on concrete.  We were told not to use this too much.  I made a small speech on sewering country schemes, and was in consequence taken to be the Surveyor to our Council!  It looks as if no one else is supposed to have any technical knowledge.  I left Birmingham Snow Hill at 5.55 and travelled with Mr Feek.  At Evesham I called on AJT and left some of the electric fittings there.

FEB 22 Saturday – Wet again much of the time.  Floods still out.  Went down to the shed.  AJT and I helped.  T Higgins to fix the Dynamo and shunt regulation etc.  We also fixed wood along the roof to carry the conduit tubing.

Assassination of the Bavarian President, Eisner.

FEB 23 Sunday – Dull but fine.  Church at 11 and 6.30.

FEB 24 Monday – 27o.  Bright.  All men digging at Garnetts until midday.  Sprout picking Under Badsey after.  Went to office and then to Evesham.  At 10.45 we met to draw up a report on Honeybourne Housing.  We decided that 16 houses should be erected and that steps should be taken to procure the land.  At the Sanitary Committee at 11 we made progress with several schemes and fixed up Bretforton site.  In the case of Hampton £484 an acre is asked and so we recommended that the opinion of the Inland Revenue Department be asked as to the value.  We decided to do the same at Middle Littleton, where the owners want us to join in making a road.  The County Insurance Committee wish us to make special provision for tuberculous cases.  This will be considered later on.  Influenzal pneumonia is now made a notifiable disease.  We decided to have forms of application printed for would-be tenants of our cottages asking them for certain information.  At the Highway Committee we gave permission for the erection of a wayside cross at Sedgeberrow for a war memorial.

At the Guardians’ meeting it was decided to keep the whole of the £125 left by J Dorrell, as his next of kin had already had a fair share of the money.  JD appears to have been in possession of this money for 18 months.  I said it spoke well for our Infirmary that he would have elected to stay there.  At the District Council meeting I fully explained the new Government circular, and we had quite a brisk discussion on Honeybourne.  J Ashwin thought that the community ought not to be called upon to provide houses for railwaymen.  I retorted that we were instructed to build houses for the working classes and were not to discriminate between workers and that the scarcity was caused by the war and it was therefore a national question.  He was not convinced but did not divide the Council on the report.  The estimate for Badsey Parish Special Expenses was that a called of £250 instead of the £300 usually raised would be sufficient, as we have a balance in hand of £350.  The position is that the Water Rate does not yield enough by £37 but that the Sanitary Rate brings in about the same amount over the expense.

We had a formal meeting of the Food and Coal Control Committees afterward.  Williams and I went up in the town and had coffee and cakes.  Then I called at Smith & Roberts and found I had to reswear the affidavit concerning Mrs Hall’s property.

An old age pension committee followed at 4.  Game was there and we had an interesting talk afterwards.  He said he was going to retire from the County Council after this term and told me I had better take it on.  I got back at 5.20, and had to get to the office at 6 to meet the Reconstruction Committee.  They showed us their report which recommended that appointment of three Managing Directors, and that two Department Managers should be appointed, one for produce, the other for requisites etc .

Murders in Bavarian Parliament.

[RDC, Badsey Special Expenses, LBG written in red in margin.]

FEB 25 Tuesday – 23o.  Fine and bright.  All digging at Garnetts until midday.  The sprout picking Under Badsey.  Went to the office and started the analysis of the Cash Book.  In the afternoon went Under Badsey.  We have got 29 pots ready for Leeds.

Coal commission Bill introduced.  500,000 miners have declared for a strike on March 15.

FEB 26 Wednesday – 26o.  Dull, cold rain later.  All digging at Garnetts in the morning.  Then FJ and Germans picked sprouts for Mrs Cave, AJT and Co went to weigh up parsnips at Waldren’s.  Later FJ and I prepared frames for sprouts.  I called in at the Mission Room in the evening.  The Band of Hope children were giving an entertainment – recitations, action songs etc, really very well done.

FEB 27 Thursday – 32o.  Cold wind, bright sun.  The sprout piece at Garnetts is now dug and the alleys begun.  We have had notice that the Germans’ wages are to be increased to 7½d an hour.

Today I have been helping DSMcD to copy the lengthy report of the LBG Reconstruction Committee.  In the evening we had a parish meeting to discuss the question of a war memorial.  J Sladden was voted to the chair.  After discussion I proposed that the memorial take the form of a Village Hall and Reading Room, this was seconded by W Stanford and carried, and a committee was formed to carry this out.

The Government has introduced a bill to establish a “Ministry of Ways and Communications” and the “Ministry of Health”.

[War Memorial written in margin.]

FEB 28 Friday – 27o.  Very foggy in the Black Country.  Beautiful in Shropshire.  I left L&B at 7.57 and went without a change to Wellington.  Engine there “County of Stafford”.  Arrived at Shrewsbury at 12.28.  Had dinner then I visited the Abbey Church, which was locked.  They sent a small boy with me.  The church is very fine and very interesting.  It has been very much restored.  Most of the nave is Norman with short stout columns.  There is a large Norman triforium, the arches of which have been partly filled up with Gothic work.  Norman clerestory.  One round headed window to each bay.  The arches are in square [?].  The two western bays are Gothic, also the transept except that the Central Tower (now non-existent) arches are round.  The chancel is I believe modern.  Early English in style with a vaulted roof.  The west tower does not rise much above the roof and is famed for the very large Perpendicular west window which makes it look almost unsafe.  Open wood roof to the nave.

At 2.30 I went into the Shire Hall to a meeting of the AOS.  Colonel Sykes was very full of a grievance.  He regarded his society as being very much under-represented.  He also suggested having County Societies, but this idea did not meet with approval as it was considered that the AOS could do all that was necessary for buying in bulk.  We tried to speed up the payment for loss sustained by cheesemakers.  We were also told the millers would not pay full price to farmers for their grain saying it was not first grade.  A Society with a large turnover ought to be able to deal with this difficulty.  The famer must sell, as he wants the money, has no storage and uses hired sacks.  Later we discussed allotments and I was appointed to the allotment sub-committee.  I intend to give it a chance, but if it is muddled by the AOS I shall leave it alone.  I am not at all impressed with the new AOS management so far.

After the meeting I walked round the town.  I admired St Mary’s with a tall spire (200 feet), very fine decorated east window and Early English transept.  Fine [?] but round [?] curious chancel arch with two open windows leading into the chancel which is as high as the nave.  The tower is Norman below and of red sandstone like the abbey with white stone belfry and [?].  St Chad is a most peculiar 18th century church.  The main body is round with a gallery all round very much like a theatre.  Curious circular vestibule.  Shrewsbury strikes me as an interesting and cheerful town.  I stayed the night at the Cleveland Hotel close to the station.  There was an interesting discussion going on between a Yorkshireman and a Lancashire man concerning their native counties.

[Shrewsbury, AOS Committee written in red in margin.]

Diary Images
Type of Document
Seven pages in a hard-covered notebook containing diary entries 1919-1925
Location of Document
In private ownership