Harry Rutherford's
Festival of Britain Mural

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Hyde In War Time (1914-16) Pages23-24


Rallying under the Standard.
Recruiting Schemes.


On Monday, 9th November. 1914 a scene unique in its character and surroundings was witnessed in the Hyde Council Chamber. At the call of the newly elected Mayor (Councillor Stanley Welch), the crowded assembly rose and sang "God Save the King" Probably this was the first occasion in the history of the Corporation that the National Anthem had been sung during the Council proceedings.


One of the most memorable meetings in the history of Hyde took place in the new Public Hall, on the evening of Monday, 4th January, 1915. It was a recruiting meeting, and the principal speaker was Mr. Will Crooks, the Labour M.P. for Woolwich, whose speech will never be forgotten. The Mayor (Councillor Welch) was the Chairman. On the platform was a numerous assembly of local Aldermen Counsellor, Magistrates, Employers of labour, and other prominent townsmen. It had been intimated that only very limited accommodation for ladies would be available, and with the exception of forty to fifty, the crowded audience, numbering considerably over a thousand, consisted solely of men. In a telegram to the Mayor, which was read to the meeting, Mr. Leadbitter Knott, who at that time was in military training preparing to go to the front, said: "I am sure Hyde will give place to none in the courage and patriotism of its young mem." While the speech was not without humour, there was in it intense patriotism, tremendous seriousness, and an imperial breadth that completely captured the imagination of the audienc. Mr. Crooks had twice been round the world, and he roused the audience to a high pitch of enthusiasm in speaking of the strong brotherly feeling he had met with in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, where he had come across men from the "Old Country." in industrial centres on the prairie, in lumber camps, in the neighbourhood of the "Rockies." etc. He had found the Union Jack flying on shacks, tents, bungalows, and in camps; and in out-of-the-way places there had fallen upon his ears such music as "Abide with me, fast falls the eventide.“ There are few men in the Country who have experienced the many classes of which the British Empire is composed, to a greater expect than Mr. Crooks, who was born in poor surroundings, was brought up in a Poor Law institution, and twelve months after his visit to Hyde was honoured by the King in being created a Privy Councillor. His concluding remarks are well worth placing upon a Permanent record. "God never gave to man or women an opportunity but He meant it as an obligation," he said. "What is the, first law Of life ? Duty ! Shirk it if you dare. The Kaiser has outraged every canon of decency, and it remains for us to deal with him. Every phase of our public life in serving in the fight. The Duchess of Westminster, the Duchess of Sutherland, and many an aristocratic lady, has gone to nurse and succour our soldiers; they are serving their day and generation as they ought; so is ‘Tommy’s wife in remaining at home and looking after ‘Tommy’s’ little ones. She is doing her best. . . . Love of home is the inspiration that enables our men to fight and work. We are fighting for our wives, our children, and our homes. Everyone who enlists now will save three men from death” At the close of Mr. Crook’s historic speech, the Mayor made a strong appeal for everyone of military age to join the Army at once. There was a splendid response, between sixty and seventy men immediately coming forward and offering themselves, and they went on the platform and stood in line at the rear. Three lusty cheers were given for the recruits, and the Denton Original Band “Tipperary,” the scene being of a most rousing character. This meeting resulted in the immediate addition of about a hundred to the recruits from the town.



Front row: Miss P. Kerfoot (Typist for Committee), Messrs. (Cr.) J. Parry, (Ald.) T. Perrin J.P., A. A. Smith (Hon Secretary), A. Slater (Hon. Secretary), J. Hall Brooks, A. Williamson, J.P., and Miss A. Buckley (Typist for Committee.)
Back row: Messrs. W. Redfern, C.H. Brogdon, F.A.I., J. Diggle, A.M.I.C.E., J. Wilding, (Cr.) W. Pope. (Ald.) L. Kenny, J.P., W. Oldham.
Photo, Searle, Hyde.

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