Hornsey after the War

As the Great War ended there were many issues occupying the minds of Hornsey folk which will be highlighted during 2019 through selected Hornsey Journal articles on this website.

Five years of horrific industrial warfare had stunned the people of Hornsey who in 1914 had firmly believed that the conflict would be over by Christmas. Grief over the loss of so many men and women, and the physical and mental scarring of so many more, hung heavily over the borough. There was also a very strong desire to honour the ‘supreme sacrifice’ of the fallen and to keep their memory alive thorough building a fitting war memorial.

During the war personalised street shrines had sprung up in Hornsey to remember those fighting and dying. Now local churches and schools were planning their own memorials. What form was the Borough of Hornsey memorial to take? Opinions were strongly divided as the first article in this series illustrates.

Other issues looming large

  • The shortage of food as a result of enemy naval action in which 40% of British shipping had been sunk. This led to the establishment of national kitchens to provide nourishing meals.
  • The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-19 which laid low some, whilst taking the lives of others, particularly children and young adults. The creation of the NHS was thirty years away.
  • The housing shortage. All building in the borough had come to a halt in 1916 and there was a desperate need for more housing.
  • The removal of wartime controls on prices, profits and wages led to spiralling inflation and higher prices.
  • The changing position of women; some gaining the right to vote whilst others lost their jobs to the men returning from the theatres of war.
  • Industrial and social unrest up and down the country which Hornsey residents read about in the Hornsey Journal with increasing alarm.

A word of caution

As a mostly prosperous, middle class area, the borough of Hornsey was relatively unscathed by the turbulence of the post-war years, in comparison with urban areas of heavy industry and poor working class living conditions. An indicator of Hornsey’s response to an ever changing world is the fact that from 1885 the Hornsey Parliamentary Constituency returned a Conservative Unionist MP for over one hundred years.

Website editor’s note

For more detail on some of these issues, find out how to order HHS Bulletin 60, to be published in early March, which will include an article by Nick Allaway on ‘Hornsey After The Great War’ and one on ‘The Flu Pandemic of 1918’ by Dr. Eleri Rowlands.

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