There is much of interest to be found by trawling through the pages of old local newspapers. On 7th October 1908, the Bognor Regis Observer carried a report about the popularity of the Women’s Suffrage movement in Midhurst, West Sussex:
Midhurst seems to be taking kindly to the Women’s Suffrage movement. Upwards of three hundred attended a meeting at the New Inn assembly rooms on Wednesday, when Mrs. Arncliff Sennett gave an eloquent address in favour of the movement. The speaker was able to speak from experience of the indignity of being arrested, having herself been taken into custody by the police for demonstrating in the House of Commons. A resolution in favour of Women’s Suffrage was carried.
However, not everyone was happy with this development:
At the Midhurst Revision Court on Tuesday, Mr. C. E. Taylor, J.P., asked to be struck off the Parliamentary Register because he did not wish to be annoyed by canvassers—particularly lady canvassers at election times. The Revising Barrister said he did not have power to do that, but suggested that he could become disqualified by sending the overseer a post dated cheque for poor rates. One of the Parliamentary agents said that Mr. Taylor was not at all interested in politics, but his wife was a suffragette.
Not a very supportive husband! The same edition also carried a story about a Midhurst man who was sent to prison for six weeks’ hard labour for stealing a bicycle, and tried to blame it all on his girlfriend:
The evidence showed that prisoner, who had eloped with a Midhurst girl, went to a cycle establishment at Petworth and hired bicycles for himself and girl. He failed to return them, and subsequently offered one for sale at Horsham. When taken into custody prisoner said, “Don’t be hard on me: I have been led away by that girl.” It was explained that prisoner had been sentenced to six weeks’ hard labour for theft in London, and the girl had been sent to a Home.
Finally, from the same issue, there was a movement to decrease the opening hours of shops. Nowadays most shops in Midhurst close somewhere between 4pm and 5.30pm, as per any small town, but in 1908 it was a very different picture and small businesses tended to be open much longer hours:
There is a movement on foot to close shops at seven o’clock instead of eight during the winter months, and at a meeting of shopkeepers the other evening it was decided to canvas the tradesmen on the matter. Opinion as to the desirability of early closing is divided. Mr. Ketterer is strongly opposed to it and at the meeting said “If other tradesmen wish to shut, let them do so, but if all West Street closes I shall keep open.” The Vicar caused a laugh by suggesting that if one tradesmen kept open the others should put a notice on their doors: “This shop is shut at seven, and Mr.—, who sells the same things, keeps open until eight.”
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