This article about the 1919 national railway strike by Clemmie Butler-Brown, a sixth former then on work experience with Hornsey Historical Society, was first published on the website in October 2019. With more rail strikes planned for the coming weeks, it is interesting to read again.
Each month in 2019, using Hornsey Journal extracts, we have looked at the issues facing Hornsey and the country in 1919 and at their impact locally and nationally.
A Politician’s Promise in November 1919 which came to nothing – plus ca change !
Does reading the Hornsey Journal extract from November 1919 give you a feeling of déjà vu? Not only was the fervent promise to get a tube to Muswell Hill within three years not kept, an underground line to this north London suburb never materialised. Why did William Kennedy Jones, Conservative and Unionist MP for Hornsey at the time, make such an extravagant promise to his constituents? What were the issues?
The ongoing fractious debate and depth of feeling felt over the type of borough war memorial best for Hornsey was highlighted in the first of the series Hornsey in 1919. What happened in the intervening months between January and August 1919? Was Hornsey any nearer deciding on the nature of its borough war memorial?
An Armistice had ended the Great War on 11 November 1918. The peace treaty between the Allies and Germany was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly 5 years after Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination triggered the conflict. The other Central Powers signed separate treaties. What was Hornsey’s response to these events and why were the children involved?
For many of us it is a shock to read the Tender (Hornsey Journal 30 May 1919) for the supply of provisions to a workhouse. Surely the workhouse, such a spectre hanging over the lives of the Victorian poor, had gone by 1919? If it hadn’t, why was the workhouse in Edmonton not in Hornsey? When did this degrading system end?
The Representation of the People Act 1918 extended the franchise in parliamentary elections (right to vote) to men aged 21 and over, whether or not they owned property, and to women aged 30 and over who resided in the constituency or occupied land or premises with a rateable value above £5 (or whose husbands did).
At the same time, it extended the local government franchise to include women aged 21 and over on the same terms as men.
William Foster Watson (see Hornsey Journal 14 March 1919 and 24 March 1919) used the stage of the Royal Albert Hall and the dock of Bow Street Police Court as platforms from which to proclaim his radical political beliefs. Today most of us know little or nothing about the events and organisations mentioned. What was the British Socialist Party? What was ‘Hands Off Russia’ about? Why were there strikes during and after the war? Who was George Lansbury?