Historian Arthur Nicholls, Kendal, delves into the archives to see what the Gazette was reporting in the months leading up to the declaration of war.

There was nothing published in July in The Westmorland Gazette to indicated the imminence of war. The only military concern was with the Irish question and the Campaign for Irish Home Rule.

July 4: Life proceeded on its normal course. The customary attractions were maintained.

A Motor Cycle Trials competition was held at Underley. The Autumn Cattle Show was staged at Penrith. The Westmorland Gazette continued to report on local events such as Harvest Festivals, Weddings and Obituaries and Sales of Work.

Cricket and Football matches were reported on and a regular motoring column commented on the delights of motoring. There was a lecture on ‘The War of Eight Nations’ with slides showing towns in France, Belgium and Germany, and The Kendal Debating Society held a debate on ‘Censorship in any form is unnecessary in times of peace’. The motion failed with a majority in favour of censorship.

July 11: The St. Thomas’s Communicants’ Guild enjoyed an outing. They went by train to Windermere and walked to Bowness. They rowed across to Waterloo Gardens for tea after which they climbed up the steep wooded hill which rose from the edge of the Lake, reaching the top hot and tired. From the summit they had a magnificent view of the lakes and hills.

Windermere Rifle Association held a shooting competition under conditions nearly approximate to actual service, with marching and change of position combined with firing.

Crime and its punishment were not ignored and wool stealing was considered a serious offence in a county were wool-growing was important business. In a case before the Kendal Quarter Session a batch of stolen wool was brought in as evidence but it proved impossible to identify it. However, they bags containing the wool were and the thieves were convicted. Dapper Dick commented that they would have been better to have dropped the bags and carried off the wool.

Advertisements appeared as usual in the newspaper:

  • ‘Cook General wanted for family in Kendal’
  • ‘To Let. Desirable dwelling house on Sunnyside, Kendal, with Right of Use of Fletcher Park’
  • ‘Simpson’s Daily Coach Trips (to such as Kentmere, Levens and Sizergh)’
  • ‘Have you a bad leg? Use Grasshopper Ointment’
  • ‘For the Summer Season get a ‘K’ cycle’
  • ‘R.W & T.K. Thompson - Holiday and Travelling Outfits’
  • ‘Webb’s Sale of Bedding Plants

Boy Scout Camps were featured.

‘The Burneside Scouthouse is a hive of industry. Proficiency badges are awarded for first-aid, cycling, nature study and other subjects but badge winning takes second place to thorough training in General Scouting. The Kendal Company, with thirty boys, meets in the Anchorite House and its forte is Swedish Drill and physical culture. Many of their gymnastic pyramids are distinctively clever and attractive. Lady Bagot gave her patronage to the Troop allowing it to be called ‘Lady Bagot’s Own.’ Both Troops took part in Scout Camps at this time.’

The Town Council received protests against its sale of Corporation land in High Tenter Field for building sites. It was feared that if sold to a speculative builder the houses would be too expensive for working class men. The slogan ‘Homes fit for heroes’ did not arise until the end of the Great War.

July 18: There was still no reference to the possibility of war.
An Advertisement featured ‘The Isle of Man - The Pleasure Isle - Daily services’

A photograph showed Edward Swainson of Nibthwaite at the age of 95 having just completed a recent climb to the summit of ‘Coniston Old Man’.

As he could not find a seat in a Furness train, a traveller hired a trap and sent the account to the company which refused to pay the bill and was sued. The man had been offered a seat in t he guard’s van but declined it. He lost his case as he did not realise that the company regulations stated that tickets were only issued on there being room in the train.

The motoring column instanced hazards on the road under the headings: Motor cycle on fire on Shap Road - Bicycle accident at Sawrey - A Forgetful Motor Drive (he took out a car without number plates) - Runaway Horse at Newby Bridge - Carnforth Cyclist’s Speed.

July 25: The fifteenth annual sports for school children took place in Abbot Hall grounds. Unfortunately, showers of rain fell frequently during the afternoon
making the turf slippery. The anxious children were kept under excellent control by marshalls and the programme proceeded successfully.

August 1: Plans were discussed by the Town Council to widen Finkle Street or to make another street to relieve the traffic.

The annual Church Parade by the National Union of Railwaymen in aid of the orphans was held on Sunday afternoon and was well attended. Headed by the Borough Band, it featured a procession formed of local NUR members, Kendal Trades Council, boot and shoe operatives, printers, gas workers and members of the Co-operative Society. £14 was given to the Orphans Fund.

A lecture on rose budding and growing was given by W.H Little of the Armstrong College at Newcastle-on-Tyne. He gave many useful hints and showed that rose growing was not as difficult as many thought.

Miss Inez Howard’s company presented the very popular play at St.George’s Hall, Kendal, Entitled ‘The Rosary’. There was a late train to Windermere which was appreciated by the audience attending from there.

War was close at hand but our little world seemed to continue heedless. The 4th Border Regiment (Westmorland and Cumberland Territorials), under the command of Lieutenant W.M. Donald, went to camp at Carnarvon on August 2 for 25 days.