Warrington Archives Podcast 2: News from the Districts

Philip Jeffs presents the first episode in a new series of podcasts, looking at interesting finds from Warrington’s Archives.

Listen using the player below, or scroll down to read a full transcript.


Hello, and welcome to the second in our series of Warrington Archives podcasts looking at interesting news articles from the town’s historic newspapers. 

This time we have stuck with the year 1943 and are going to look at a page of “News from the Districts”, a feature found in most editions of the Guardian giving local news from the villages around the Borough. 

As you can imagine the war effort takes up most of the news in 1943 and in the news from the districts section we get a fascinating record of life on the Home Front. 

In Thelwall we hear that the Jamboree Whist Committee has held a successful whist drive in the Scout Hut raising £15.00 as a donation towards the war effort. Prizes including a war savings certificate given by Norman Wood and eggs donated by Mrs Kite. 

In Burtonwood a Village Produce Society is being set up to help villagers produce more homegrown  vegetables, pigs, and poultry as part of the Dig for Victory campaign.  

We read that Stockton Heath and East Runcorn, Wings for Victory Week has raised the astonishing sum of £187’000 exceeding their government issued target of £160’000. Interestingly the article records that £130’000 of that sum came from small savings. 

Wings for Victory Week was a national fund-raising event held in 1943. People were encouraged to by war savings bonds to help the government raise money. Each county in Britain was set a target for the amount of money it should raise. In turn, districts within each county were set individual targets to make up this total. Where the target was reached, commemorative plaques were awarded by the Air Ministry to recognise the achievement.

If we move on a bit we have the news from Lymm and this, I think is a really fun little article. I’ll read you a section of the article first and then I’ll explain to you about the gist of it. 

Council officials went to considerable trouble to prepare the schedule – not because they wanted to do the job, for they had no opinion in the matter – but simply because, having once set their hands to the task, they wished to do it to the best of their ability.

Apparently this schedule was not adhered to by those delegated by the Ministry to remove the gates and railings, Some of the railings enumerated in the schedule were taken away and others were left.   

Consequently, there has been a great deal of criticism – and a completely erroneous assumption that discrimination has been shown by the Council. 

So, in effect we are sort of hearing that Lymm Council were ordered by the Ministry of Works to prepare a schedule of railings and gates appropriate for removal, (some of course had to be left for safety reasons if for example they stop pedestrians falling down a dangerous drop, or stop children running into a road from their playground).  The Ministry of Supply then arranged workmen to remove the said metalwork based on this schedule. But, a number of Lymm residents appear to have felt that Council had made their decisions based more upon whether they liked the person in question or not. The Council of course here are replying to say that they had been even handed in their list, but that then the Ministry of Supply had not followed it accurately, taking some railings and leaving others. So, it shows you that there will always be little squabbles in life and even in war, things like this will become bigger issues than they need to be. 

But it’s quite a fun little story and it leads us again into a little bit of research, because I’m sure that many of you out there have heard the old stories which say that the iron gathered in the War effort was never actually used, some people have said to me that it was too poor quality for the War Effort or that Cat Iron doesn’t build spitfires, and certainly it is true that the material gathered was largely of a poor grade, but its also true that scrap iron was used in the production of steel, about 10% I think of steel production was scrap iron, so there was a use for it. However academics looking at the subject of War reclamation have never found any record of these large quantities of scrap iron being delivered to steel works, so what did happen? The likely answer seems to be that with over 1 million tons of iron gathered by 1944, there was simply far more scrap iron than the factories could process. 

Records can be found of vast stacks of railings standing in scrapyards, railway sidings and disused quarries across the country long after the war had ended. So possibly a lot of this metal was stored up for when it was needed and then the war came to an end before that date ever came. The truth is we may never know exactly what happened, but certainly the scrap metal drive helped people to feel that they were doing their bit for the war effort and gave a very visible example of their contribution.

One last article I want to mention today is only brief, but it made me smile. In the Penketh and Great Sankey section we have an article with the headline “Superstition Defied: Bridesmaids in Green!” The article is then a standard wedding announcement listing the main attendees, describing the bride’s dress and so on. The wedding was between Eddy Wood and Miss Rylda Ivy Chambers and took place at St Mary’s Sankey. 

So in one page, even in the few articles we have looked at today, we have a real picture of homefront life, there’s vast national fundraising schemes and tiny local ones, there’s digging for victory and giving up your garden gate, and of course there’s life carrying on with weddings, births, and funerals. 

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed hearing about a few more newspaper articles today.

Keep an eye on our website for the next Archives Podcast when we will look some more interesting newspaper articles from Warrington’s history.