MEMORY LANE: Trade suffers as war hits the home front

A cutting from the 1914 Buxton Herald
A cutting from the 1914 Buxton Herald

As the British expeditionary force landed in France, the ramifications of the country’s involvement in the ‘European War’ were already being felt back home in High Peak.

Once-bustling printworks, weaving mills and bleachworks - the beating heart of the High Peak’s industrial landscape - fell eerily silent as the conflict overseas impacted on local trade. Working hours were reduced at some factories, others faced indefinite closure.

The Buxton Herald reported how Bugsworth families were “suffering considerably” by the suspension of work at Whitehall Bleachworks. “About 200 people were thrown out of employment,” it said.

Elsewhere, there was talk of boy scouts being mobilised to watch bridges, culverts and guard communication lines.

A civilian volunteer corps was formed in Chinley, while members of rifle clubs in Buxton, Chapel-en-le-Frith and Peak Dale were urged to do their bit on the home defence front. The Buxton Home Defence Association was formed.

One Chinley resident was said to have been approached by an armed sentry and ordered to explain his presence while out walking in the village one evening.

Staff at The Herald were under constant pressure to deliver the latest news from the seat of war. Reports had been received that the local Yeomanry were stationed in Suffolk, the Territorials in Luton.

The appearance of a war plane in the skies above Buxton one afternoon caused great excitement, as well as much speculation.

Due to the commandeering of horses for war purposes, the High Peak Horse Show was cancelled.