Posts Tagged ‘1918’

Samuel Coleman killed

August 14, 2016

Today we look at a sad event back in 1918 in which Samuel Coleman, a bootmaker of Market Lavington, was killed. A descendant of the Coleman family gave us this extract but was not 100% certain about what paper he had taken it from.

Extract from The Wiltshire Gazette – July 1918.



Samuel Coleman, bootmaker, of Market Lavington, died in Devizes Cottage Hospital on Monday, from fracture of the skull, four hours after admission, and an inquest was held last evening by Mr. G. S. A. Waylen. About half past five on Monday a military hay-bailing train was turning into a bye-road at Conock off the Devizes road. There were the engine, bailer, trailer, and caravan, and all these could not turn off the road at one pull. The rearmost were still across the road, almost blocking it, when Coleman, riding a bicycle, approached from the Devizes side; at the same time there approached in the opposite direction, a motorcycle with sidecar, driven by Sergeant H. H. Elliott and carrying Flight-Sergt. C. Fletcher, both of the Royal Air Force at Upavon. The approaching parties could not see each other, and although nine men were with the hay-bailer none were on the watch, the reason given for this omission being that the obstruction was but temporary and could not fail to be seen. The motor-cycle and car, and the bicyclist went to pass the caravan, met practically between its tail and the bank, and in the smash Coleman sustained his fatal injuries. Mr. F. J. Maggs of Roundway, motoring home from Salisbury brought him in to Devizes.

The point to which chief attention was given at the inquest was, whether the driver of the motor-cycle acted rashly in trying to pass the obstruction. Witnesses were clear that Coleman was cycling slowly and could easily get by. Elliott admitted that he was going at Eight miles an hour, and said he considered there was just room for him to pass; but Mr. W. W. Hibberd, of Conock, who heard the crash and came to the scene immediately was emphatic that there was not room; he challenged Elliott to push the cycle and car through the opening but he did not try it. Neither did Mr. Maggs consider there was “reasonable room” to get by – certainly not at eight miles an hour.

Sergeant Elliott said he sounded his horn as he approached the bend in the road there, but three or four witnesses said they did not hear a horn.

The jury, which included several practical motorists and elected Mr H. J. Johnson as foreman, returned the following verdict, after a hearing that lasted between two and three hours:- “We find that the deceased was killed by being thrown from his bicycle, and that the primary cause was that the caravan was blocking the road, and we consider that a look-out should have been kept by some of the men attached to the tackle; we consider that the motor-cycle should not have attempted to pass in such a narrow space under the circumstances.”

Note: The funeral of Samuel took place at Market Lavington on 18 July, 1918.

Sad to say, death on the road is nothing new.

H J Merritt gets paid

October 5, 2014

This is another bill paid by Holloway of West Lavington. As is often the case, the bill provides an insight into life in times past – in this case almost 100 years ago.

1918 bill issued by H J Merritt of Market Lavington

1918 bill issued by H J Merritt of Market Lavington

H J (Henry) Merritt was very much the blacksmith and farrier. It was his brother who was more involved with the cycle business. This receipted bill was for horse shoes. In January and February, Mr Holloway had to pay extra for shoes with ‘frost studs’. We assume this was something to make sure horses did not slip on icy roads. By the end of March ordinary shoes were used.

But in this case what we really like about this bill is the sponsor with the advert at the top. Before electricity came to places then oil for lamps was a much wanted commodity and in the advert we see what appears to be a comfortable and reasonably well to do gentleman reading his paper under an oil lamp which is burning ‘Pure Oil’ – the ‘Finest American Lamp Oil’.

These days we just assume we flick a switch when we want light. There are still people alive locally who remember those pre-electricity days.


Calling up the older men

November 10, 2013

The First World War took a dreadful toll on the lives of soldiers. By 1918 all the younger men had been called up and even with the huge help of the allies – Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders and other ‘Empire’ peoples, not to mention the Americans, there were still not enough men. In the UK it was time to call up, or rather ‘call out’ men approaching the age of fifty who had served in the forces before. We have a poster about this call out at Market Lavington Museum. It is large and quite hard to photograph due to a reflective, protective covering. But here it is.

Poster calling out reservists born in 1870/71 for First World War Service

Poster calling out reservists born in 1870/71 for First World War Service

Presumably such notices were posted prominently in every community. The wording is couched in very legal jargon, but the message is clear. Former soldiers born in 1870 and 71 were being called up and would have to serve, like it or not. These were man aged 46 – 48. In terms of fitness they were getting on a bit.

But maybe they made the difference for of course, later that year the allied forces prevailed and the war ended.


October 2, 2013

As our lovely 2013 summer season draws to a close (We shut, officially, on the 30th October) work is in hand, preparing for what we hope will be a very successful 2014. It might be fair to say that 1914 was not the most wonderful of years and we, in common with museums up and down the country, will be marking the centenary of the war we now call the First World War.

Amongst treasures we have at Market Lavington Museum are transcripts of letters sent home, right through the war, by Jack Welch. He was Peggy Gye’s father and he spent most of the war in India. He also took photos whilst there and amongst them is a rather faded one, simply captioned ‘Jack’.

Jack - a World War One photo in the album of Jack Welch of Market Lavington

Jack – a World War One photo in the album of Jack Welch of Market Lavington

We’d better try some jiggery-pokery to improve that.

We think this could be Jack Mullings, also of Market Lavington

We think this could be Jack Mullings, also of Market Lavington

That may be a bit clearer – and so that is Jack – but Jack who?

We don’t think it is Jack Welch for we have other photos of him. There were at least two other local Jacks who were out in India and who get mentioned in the letters home. One is Jack Kellaway and the other is Jack Mullings. We think this person bears a family resemblance to the Mullings family – the basket makers in the village. This is Jack’s brother, Sid.


Sid Mullings, the basket maker, was Jack’s brother

 Jack Mullings did not make it through the war. He was killed in Egypt (Jack Welch was seriously injured). This is Jack’s brief letter home.

April 13th 1918

My dear Mum & Dad

Just a few lines at the earliest possible date to inform you that I have managed to get wounded again on Wednesday, & my writing is consequently poor as I am on my back with a broken leg, & much hope to get to Cairo or perhaps to Blighty this time.
Please forward this letter to Floss, I have sent her a card.
Our Battalion has had an awful time, I am afraid poor old Jack Mullings was killed, also Doug  Joilliffe & many others.

Best Love & Kisses
Ever your Loving

If you are aware of the identity of Jack PLEASE get in touch.

Bill Elisha

July 7, 2013

It’s a sad fact that many items in Market Lavington Museum have arrived because people did not produce descendants to hand things on to.  This was the case with Bill and May Elisha – and both of them were truly community minded people. They probably didn’t push themselves forward, but Bill even became chairman of the Parish Council in the 1970s and he was always a stalwart of the local football club.

Today we look at Bill as a very young man.

Bill Elisha in about 1918. Bill's father set up his tailoring business in Market Lavington in about 1910.

Bill Elisha in about 1918. Bill’s father set up his tailoring business in Market Lavington in about 1910.

William Edward (Bill) Elisha was born in 1902 in Reading. His parents were William George Elisha and Kate (née) Burrows. At the time of the 1901 census William senior was a journeyman tailor and lived with his parents in Reading. His wife, Kate and their daughter lived with her parents in Reading.

Kate died in 1910 and, we speculate, William set out for pastures new for in 1911 he lived at 7 High Street Market Lavington along with his daughter and young William.

William senior had set up business in premises now occupied by the fish and chip shop, on the corner of Chapel Lane.

This photo of Bill Elisha must have been taken when he was about 15 – so in about 1918. It has to be said, he looks every inch a tailor’s son.

Samuel Moore gives his son the news.

June 22, 2013

It is more than two years since we featured a letter from Samuel Moore of the Easterton Jam Factory, to his son Wilf who was serving in France during World War 1. Here we have another.

Samuel Moore of Easterton - headed paper of 1918

Samuel Moore of Easterton – headed paper of 1918

Samuel used his company notepaper and here’s who he was sending to.

The letter was from samuel Moore to his son Wilf who was on WW1 duty in France

The letter was from samuel Moore to his son Wilf who was on WW1 duty in France

Like the previous letter we showed, the date looks like 1915, but we are sure Samuel actually wrote 1918. In the letter, Sam refers to Sunday August 18th as a date on which he was writing. That was in 1918.

The start of the letter

The start of the letter

Let’s transcribe.

Dear Wilfrid I have received your last card & letter and am pleased to hear you are getting on alright. I have had so much to attend to that I have not had time to write to you. Our business has grown to be a very large one. And fruits are very scarce & dear. I have been having a lot of fruit from Hampshire this year. Now everything about here is all different to what it was when you were here. But with all the changes our business of jam making is the best. You can make jams day and night and sell them. I have the large boiler fixed and am putting the building out in line with the front door. I should have said the government fixes all the prices for fruits and jams.

I have had to leave this letter unfinished until this day Sunday August 18th. Since then a great deal has happened. I am now taking fruits and ??? from what is known as the Wiltshire Fruit and Vegetable ???. We are having a lot of blackberries through them at 3d per pound. There are scarcely any apples this year. They are 6d per lb. And plums are not less than 3½d per lb. I have 4 cases of oranges at 50/- per case – 10d per lb – and am using them in my new preserve at 7½d per lb. People rush for it.

Now all that is wanted in the business is money to extend it.

I have plenty of offers but I would rather be my own master.

I now employ several people every week.

Percy Webb – he is just leaving as he will have to join up. ??? Clelford – she works for us constantly.

The rest of the letter is not clear, but for those who would like to try to decypher it, here it is.


The sign off is ‘your loving father S. Moore’.

Lavington from the Hill

April 22, 2013

It is always tempting to snap a photo of Market Lavington from Lavington Hill. It is like an aerial photo, with the village laid out before you. This example is believed to date from about 1970 – and judging by the colours it was the Autumn of that year. This would have been before the Dutch bark beetle caused havoc amongst our elm trees. The colours are very pretty.

Market Lavington from the hill in about 1970

Market Lavington from the hill in about 1970

The obvious building is the church, still there, of course and still looking much the same. To the left of the church is Grove Farmhouse, now consigned to memory. We have our wonderful Community Hall on that site now.

To the right of the church we can just make out our museum building and then the Old House. We can see the barn on Parsonage Lane and the Racquets Court. We can make out houses in Market Place with Spin Hill (the road) rising behind them.

The large white barn like building near the right was the workshop of the Wiltshire Agricultural Engineering Company. Behind that are the scattered houses on the sands.

In the foreground of the village, in front of the church is the little close of houses on Lavington Hill and between them and the church there are the houses on White Street, The Muddle and Church Street.

We like these ordinary photos at the museum – there’s nothing special going on. We just see the village as it was 40 or so years ago.

And of course, we can spot the changes since this photo was taken in about 1918.

Market Lavington from the hill in about 1918

Market Lavington from the hill in about 1918