Cheltenham and the other pandemic – the Spanish ‘Flu

 

Many commentators today are likening the Covid-19 pandemic to that of the Spanish flu which hit the world in 1917-1920.  It was named as neutral Spain had no need to censor its newspapers and therefore the  first reports of the ‘flu appeared in Spanish newspapers, particularly  as the Spanish King Alfonso XIII was seriously ill with the disease.  The first wave of the ‘flu was relatively mild in the summer of 1918, peaked heavily in October 1918 with a more virulent strain of the disease,   and not fading out  until April 1920.  Eventually more died worldwide than all the civilian and military deaths of the first World War.   Death rates were highest amongst the 20-40 year olds – the age of most of the soldiers returning to their homes after the war.  There were no antibiotics or means of treating the illness. Continue reading “Cheltenham and the other pandemic – the Spanish ‘Flu”

Slippers for soldiers

THE COUNTY COBBLERS and THE BELGRAVIA WORKROOMS

From the collection of Neela Mann

No 8 Queen’s Parade, Cheltenham was home to the Gloucester County Association for Voluntary Organisations – a house lent by the Mayor William Nash Skillicorne and his sister Edith.  One of the tasks carried out here was the cutting out and construction of slippers for men at rest stations and in military hospitals, under the chief cutter, the Revd. Cuthbert W. Birley, and run by Mrs Ernest Rogers.  The voluntary workers – men and women – called themselves The County Cobblers. They paid for the material for the slippers themselves and at the start of the war were making 136 pairs of slippers a week!

“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe

With the sewing of slippers she has much to do

So kindly please help her all people who can

To make the soft slippers for some wounded man”

This poem (found in an autograph book kept by Mabel Owen) is by a soldier in Naunton Park Hospital, Cheltenham.  He obviously appreciated the slippers, which were probably a pair of those made at 8 Queen’s Parade.

Continue reading “Slippers for soldiers”

Recognition for WW1 Projection

Last Friday, Cheltenham Borough Council, along with some key partners, attended the Audio Visual awards in London.

The Cheltenham Remembers projection was nominated for public sector project of the year and we were up against some big international names! We were pipped to the post by the European Parliament.

It was a fascinating evening and we felt incredibly proud of the achievement of being a finalist. 

John Chandler : Cheltenham’s Forgotten WW1 Inventor

The First World War sparked innovation in medicine and technology at a rate unseen in almost any other period of history.  The work of talented metalworker and inventor John Chandler is today largely forgotten but the legacies of his inventions live on.

John Edgar Chandler was born in Cheltenham in 1873. A new documentary film created by University of Gloucestershire students explores his contribution to the war effort.

Continue reading “John Chandler : Cheltenham’s Forgotten WW1 Inventor”

Remarkable Women of Cheltenham – Part 1

Extracts from Cheltenham in the Great War by Neela Mann (2016, The History Press)

“Cheltenham’s Prisoners of War and two remarkable ladies      

The large basement at Dumfries House, in Bayshill (now County House) became the source of a life line to 197 Prisoners of War (POWs) from Cheltenham.  The house was the home of Mrs Elphinstone Shaw, wife of an Indian Army Colonel and daughter and sister in law of Indian Army Generals.  Having been married in India, Mrs Shaw returned to Cheltenham in 1895 to join her sister and family. 

Mrs Shaw and the basement at Dumfries House
Continue reading “Remarkable Women of Cheltenham – Part 1”

New WW1 Resources

A fascinating glimpse into life in Cheltenham during the First World War. The gallery below shows a small selection of the material relating to WW1 held at Cheltenham Local & Family History Library (Chester Walk, Cheltenham GL50 3JT). You can also view several wartime programmes and leaflets from their collection by visiting our new WW1 Library page, which we will be adding to over the coming months.

Continue reading “New WW1 Resources”

The Cheltenham Aviation Industry

H.H. Martin was a Cheltenham based company that originally specialised in architectural decoration. During the First World War, the company developed; and in early 1918 the Gloucestershire aircraft company was formed. Thus beginning the thriving aviation industry in Cheltenham.

By April 1918, approximately 45 aircraft were being made in Cheltenham every week. Much of this productivity was due to the hard work of local women who were called upon to fill the gaps on the workforce.

Continue reading “The Cheltenham Aviation Industry”

Leave your thoughts at the ‘Listening Stations’

Marking the 100 years since the end of World War One,  residents and visitors will see ‘Listening Stations’ popping up around the town as part of the Cheltenham Remembers project. https://thelisteningstationcheltenham.tumblr.com.

A year-long arts programme of community engagement is focusing on the significance of World War One. As part of this the ‘Listening Stations’ are being created throughout June and July and are situated at locations including The Wilson, Leisure Centre, Cheltenham Library, The Town Hall and Hester’s Way Community Centre.

Continue reading “Leave your thoughts at the ‘Listening Stations’”

RAF 100 Exhibition

If you missed out on visiting the exhibition  at the Jet Age Museum (created by the RAF Association for Cheltenham Remembers), you can still watch this video which gives an overview of the story behind the formation of the RAF in 1918 and the development of the local aviation industry in Cheltenham during the First World War.

With thanks to Air Vice Marshal Tony Mason CB. CBE. DL of the Cheltenham branch of the RAF Association.