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War Time Trade - 1914

The Rushden Echo, 14th August 1914, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Buying Boots in Rushden and District

  The representative of the Army Clothing Department, Mr. F. J. Lovell, formerly of Rushden, who was accompanied by Mr. Swaysland, technical boot making instructor for the County, on Saturday last sat at the Waverley Hotel, Rushden, for the purpose of receiving samples of footwear suitable for army purposes.  Practically the whole of the Rushden and district manufacturers responded to the invitation to meet Mr. Lovell, whose visit has resulted in several orders being placed for stock lines.  We understand that Mr. Lovell has been authorised by the War Office to immediately purchase any boots suited to the requirements of Recruits and Territorials.

  Interviewed by a representative of the “Rushden Echo,” one of the principal Rushden manufacturers said that the outlook for the general trade was poor, but that the Army boot manufacturers will be hard at work.  It is reported that Messrs. Adams Bros., of Raunds, are working in three shifts, night and day.  The War Office are inviting tenders for future supplies, and in a circular accompanying such invitation it is stated that contractors will be permitted under certain conditions, to keep their employees at work for longer hours than are permitted by the Factory Acts.

  After having interviewed the various manufacturers of the town on Saturday Mr. Lovell visited the C.W.S. works at Rushden, and being there shown samples of just the kind of boot required by the War Office at once placed a large order, of which Mr. Tysoe has since received confirmation.  The boots sold by the C.W.S., amounting in all to about 4,000 pairs, consisted entirely of stock lines for societies.  The manager’s idea in disposing of the same was in order to provide more work for the district during the present crisis, anticipating that the regular supplies will not be wanted in such large quantities for so long as the war lasts.  The number of boots sold are to be again put in hand immediately to meet the ordinary requirements of the various societies.  The representative of the War Office expressed himself as well pleased with the style of the boots supplied by the C.W.S., which were of the heavy chrome Derby style, all leather, and therefore very suitable for the Territorial Forces.

  Mr. Lovell was informed that should the War Office require to repeat the order, the firm are in a position to supply a further 4,000 pairs on demand.  In reply to a question from our representative Mr. Tysoe said that his firm were well placed with orders irrespective of the extra demand for army footwear, so that there is therefore no likelihood of the firm having to go on short time for some time to come.

Rushden Argus, 18th September, 1914, transcribed by John Collins

French Army Order - Exciting Trip to Paris by Rushden Manufacturers

Messrs C W Horrell, G H Groome, and F Sharwood spent an interesting and exciting time in a trip to Paris recently undertaken on behalf of the Rushden Shoe Manufacturers’ Association, in search of orders for French Army boots. The journey at that time was no picnic, for it took 25 hours to get to Paris from London, and 29 hours to get back, and food en route was practically nil. They went on board at Southampton at midnight, and on waking up in the morning found themselves still in Southampton Water. All the way across the Channel there was thick fog, and they were frequently hailed and examined by warships.

The journey took 12 hours instead of seven, and they arrived at Havre on Sunday afternoon at four o’clock. They had the boat practically to themselves, the only other passengers being some Red Cross nurses going to the front, but the conditions were reversed on returning, for men-of- war crowded with troops.

The journey to Paris was extremely tedious, for there were innumerable stops for troop trains to pass, and the three-hour run lengthened to 13 hours. Every hundred yards was a soldier on guard, and at every wood was a company of soldiers. The fact that the party were British obtained for them everywhere what comfort and help that could be given.

Arriving at Paris, the deputation went to the War Office, where they found “things were worked very differently there from England”. All matters were worked through one department, and each one, whether a widow enquiring for a pension or a manufacturer after orders, had to fill up a form stating their business. These forms were dealt with in batches by a Council, which was always sitting, and the inquirer had to attend perhaps for days until his or her name was called out, and then the form, with a reply written on, was handed to them.

One deputation waited from Monday after lunch until Tuesday at 5.30 pm for their reply, but meanwhile they had obtained an introduction to the Head of the French Buying Commission from the Ministry of War, They were referred to the Technical Institute, where they were very kindly received by smart business men. They were very successful, and obtained orders for 75,000 pairs, and could have had three times the quantity if they desired. The boots have to be delivered by October 31st. They also secured an option of 144,000 pairs to be delivered commencing in November at the rate of 12,000 pairs a week. The boots were very highly approved of. The association members have now tendered for the boots to the association, and the orders are now issued.

In Paris the deputation saw many unique sights. For instance, 75 percent of the shops of the gay city were closed, and all the places of amusement except the cinemas were not open, and neither love nor money could buy a taxi ride. Thousands and thousands of people were leaving Paris, and the long lines of refugees were pitiable to see. They saw over 100 barges of these poor people, and batches of wounded soldiers were continually arriving. They inspected the wrecks of many magnificent shops belonging to the Germans. Everywhere “Les Anglais” were welcomed and cheered.

The party had an unpleasant taste of war one evening. They were taking tea in the magnificent but almost deserted Hotel de Louyre, when they noticed the people pointing to the sky. They went out and saw a German Warplane fling overhead, and as it passed over them they heard a loud explosion. Later they heard that the bomb had dropped in the next street. But the following night was the most exciting for “it was just like being in a battle”. An aeroplane was flying over the city, and the soldiers kept up a rapid fire with rifles and machine guns, one of the latter being close to the party. They were very disappointed that it was not brought down.

In the course of an interesting talk with two “Tommies” who had arrived from the front line in a motor-car, covered with dust and a week’s beard, they found that one of them, who was walking lame, had cut a bullet from his leg with a pocket knife. The soldiers were on despatch work between the front line and Paris.

The rumour about the Russian troops was just the same as in England; no one had seen them, but most believed they were in France.

When they went to the station to return home they were refused admission, as the tickets were overdue. The train was the last one out of Paris, and at ten minutes to train time they were still outside. Eventually, however, the fact that they were English enabled them to entrain at the last moment.

The journey from Paris to Havre lasted from 9 am to 7 pm, and during this time they had no food. At one place they saw trains and troops standing in a siding, and the soldiers had amused themselves by cutting down the trees for miles, and had decorated the train from end to end with the branches.

The boat left Havre at 10.30 at night, and Southampton was reached at 6.30 am, Rushden eventually being reached at 4.30, after a most eventful journey.

Rushden Argus, 2nd October, 1914, transcribed by John Collins

Appointment—Mr G H Clarke has been appointed by the Rushden and District Boot and Shoe Manufacturers’ Association as inspector of the French Army boots now being made at the various factories.

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