WW1: Midlothian Remembers

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The Advertiser returns with its regular series remembering the months in the lead up to the start of World War 1 in 1914.

100 years ago Midlothian, along with the rest of Britain, would enter the First World War. 100 years ago this week, however, the people of Midlothian had other thoughts on their minds.

After Council Officials were given a pay rise the week before, The Journal sought to defend the officials from a backlash: “The people of Dalkeith cannot complain of the increases made to the salaries of Burgh officials. Inquiries at the officials of towns of the same size as Dalkeith brought out the fact that the ducal town of Midlothian was considerably behind. With the claim for a minimum standard wage, his is not a state of matters that could be allowed consistently to continue, and it is satisfactory to find that the Town Council recognised.”

The paper had a more positive tone for Bonnyrigg, however: “Bonnyrigg is getting on. Having dealt effectively with the sewage problem the Council turned it’s attention to the question of public lavatory accommodation.”

Gorebridge residents had enjoyed a show, according to the May 22 edition of The Midlothian Journal: “On Sunday afternoon in Newbyre’s Park the local band carried through a most successful programme of sacred and secular music. There was a large turnout of residents, and the programme was much appreciated.”

Newtongrange locals had a different kind of week: “Newtongrange on Tuesday gad a fair share of visitors from the City, but it was rather a pity that all the shops and places of refreshment were closed. However, luckily it could be seen that most of those who had come to the village were provided with baskets containing the wants for the inner man.”

School was out in Roslin: “Much to the delight of the children, the school was closed on Tuesday, and the youngsters spent a most happy day just as they pleased.”

Agriculture was also a hot-button issue around the county: “It strikes one as peculiar, to say the least of it, whereas Lasswade, with only three acres of land, contributed to the total assessment of the burgh the sum of £4 from that land (In tax contributions). Penicuik, with 15 acres devoted to agriculture, should only on that amount contribute £4 to the £3461.”

The national column of The Journal was surprisingly quiet during this week in 1914, featuring just a few short anecdotes from the House of Commons and a piece on ‘The Sayings of Public Men’. Soon though, it would be anything but quiet. World War One would be declared in July, and the local issues facing Mildothian people wouldn’t seem as important.

If you have any anecdotes, memories, or thoughts from the time, then get involved.