In our series The Great War – Through a London Child’s Eye, we’re following “The Private Diary of Edward Hampton” to learn about life as a child in London 1916, half way through the First World War.
Changes in London
Anti-German sentiment resulted in Sainsbury’s rebranded their popular “German sausage” to“luncheon meat“
Even German Shepherd dogs became known as ‘Alsatians’ because people didn’t want to own dogs they thought were German!
Pubs called The King of Prussia – once very popular name in London became a rarity – and were renamed patriotically.
There was a rise in pubs called King of Belgium.
German-sounding surnames were changed to sound British. The House of Windsor replaced the historic name of ‘Saxe-Coburg-Gotha’.
Areas of London changed. The pre-war face of London began to alter.
The biggest shift was in the former German quarter of the West End, north of Oxford Street and west of Tottenham Court Road.
The mass internment of men had stripped the trading backbone from the area with German cafes bakers and butchers restaurants and delicatessens all or largely gone its clubs and meeting rooms closed its homes broken up even women and children forcibly removed a country that left long ago or perhaps had never visited.
Changing roles of women
With so many men overseas as soldiers, women started to take over more and more jobs.
These included porters in the London markets, workers operating machinery in factories, women shop assistants and as ticket collectors on the trains, buses, trams and underground. he newly opened Bakerloo line extension was entirely staffed by women).
The newly opened Bakerloo line on the London Underground was entirely staffed by women!
Some women were employed to install and maintain domestic gas meters…
Local housewives were apparently very pleased with a change and said that the women were quieter and quicker than men!
Surprising Laws Passed During The First World War
- Whistling for London taxis was banned in case it should be mistaken for an air raid warning
- People were forbidden to loiter near bridges and tunnels or to light bonfires.
- British Summer Time was instituted in May 1916 to maximise working hours in the day, particularly in agriculture.
- A blackout was introduced in certain towns and cities to protect against air raids.
- Press censorship was introduced, severely limiting the reporting of war news. Many publications were also banned.
- Private correspondence was also censored. Military censors examined 300,000 private telegrams in 1916 alone.
- Fines were issued for making white flour instead of wholewheat and for allowing rats to invade wheat stores.
- Further restrictions on food production eventually led to the introduction of rationing in 1918.
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The Great War – Through a London Child’s Eye is supported by The National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.