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Local News In 1914: Maid Servants, All Out War, And An Albion Win At Crystal Palace


A while ago, the Brighton History Centre re-located to The Keep, a new building near the University of Sussex. The building is a huge archive of many local and countywide resources stretching back hundreds of years.

My feelings about the building are mixed. It’s wonderful to see so much of historical interest housed under a single roof, but, like the new Brighton library, it is vast and a little impersonal, giving the impression of wasted space. However, the staff are most friendly and accommodating-even if I am a bit of a grump about having to travel to the edge of town to get there.

Today’s visit was to take a look at some old newspapers. I’ve written before about the snapshot they give us in to our history, more so than pictures themselves. Today I took in some copies of The Evening Argus from September 1914-one hundred years ago.

A daily publication at the time, the paper seems to be more like the Brighton & Hove Leader was latterly introduced to be. There is much news, but not as much as some other publications. That said, a single subject dominates the entries it makes, and that may be why my view of the paper is slightly skewed.

In the late summer of 1914, Britain was in the early throws of war, and the majority of the reports make news of this-even if the reporting is disturbingly triumphant.

A journey through the pages provides fascinating insight into social attitudes of the time. Page 1 is mainly focussed on advertising, with ‘Articles for sale, exchange or wanted’ providing us with the opportunity to purchase anything from books to blouse busts. The second column of the page is slightly more disturbing with its call to ‘Servants Wanted’. There is an awkward preference given to young females aged 16-17, some adverts being very specific in such request for the live-in lackeys. A number of motor vehicles are also shown for sale in this late Edwardian front page Friday Ad.

On Page 2, the war takes over, the key headline amongst many tales of early successes being ‘Rapid Pursuit Of Enemy’ followed by premature and triumphant takes on Britain’s early excursions. Anyone reading these reports at the time would have believed the spin that the conflict was set to be a short one, especially given the reporting of Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, making a speech at the London Opera House the previous evening. Churchill talks of a ‘substantial turning of the tide’ and goes on to say ‘We have seen the French and British (forces) strong enough, not only to contain and check the devastating avalanche which has swept across the French frontier, but now at last is being rolled steadily back’. Certainly, the German advance was halted at the Battle of Marne during this period, but history suggests advances up until then, and the trench warfare to follow is not something remotely anticipated.

More encouraging news from the continental bloodbath follows on the third page but this is sobered by ‘Today’s Casualty List’ showing names of some of the fallen.

We then start to see other items of interest including sport, with much racing, and reports from the petty sessions in Horsham in which the NSPCC ‘s case concerning a man who was cruel to a child is given air, as is the case of a man late with his wife’s maintenance payments who gets 6 weeks hard labour. The CSA will be very interested to read that report.

At the base of page three we see an advert from Potters, legendary menswear shop on York Place. My parents used to purchase my itchy worsted wool trousers from there when I was a youngster and the advert itself tells us it’s ‘Your Place For Boys Clothing’-so not a lot changed in the following decades. Page 5 continues with adverts, noticeable again for being clothing orientated.

I was very keen to read the paper’s report on football matches concerning Brighton & Hove Albion. Below is such a report reproduced in full on the Albion’s 2-0 victory at now arch-rivals Crystal Palace in the Southern League. The game was played that same day:





Albion Win at Crystal Palace





At the Crystal Palace ground this afternoon (*Sydenham) Brighton & Hove Albion gained a very smart win over the Palace. Rain very steadily through-out the game, and this militated against the attendance, the spectators numbering fewer than 3,000.

Brighton went off very smartly, their forwards being very quick on the ball, and well together. Longstaff, Jones, Miller, Webb and Coomber all put in fine shots, but none of them took effect, thanks to the fine goalkeeping of Johnson.

Little was seen of the palace forwards for some time, but eventually they put in several promising runs. Both Bateman and York centred accurately, but the shooting was weak. Once, however, Whiting lost the ball in running out to clear a rush by Hewitt. The inside-right looked all over a scorer, but Whiting recovered and cleared in thrilling fashion.

 At half-time the score sheet was still blank.

 In the second half Brighton was distinctly the better team. They did something like three-quarters of the pressing but the Palace put up a stubborn defence. Johnson still keeping goal well, and being skilfully supported by Conyer and Colclough, his backs, while Hughes played a strong defensive game at centre-half.

 Try as they would Brighton forwards failed to penetrate the Palace defence until their was only eight minutes to go. Then, however, Jones scored a grand goal with a high drive, after Johnson had fisted out from a corner.

Following this the Palace made one or two spirited attempts to equalise but were well held. In the closing stages Miller put on the Albion’s second point from a corner.

 The winning team had two changes from that which drew with Plymouth Argyle. Booth appearing at right-back and Miller being preferred at inside-right instead of Beech.






*Match played at Sydenham that season.





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