The Hush in the High Road

Bowes Park Weekly News, 15 November 1919

The “great silence” on Tuesday came upon the district as a good deal of surprise.  The tram and busmen evidently had their instructions from headquarters, and their vehicles stopped automatically.

Other motor vehicles went ahead gaily along the High-street, Wood Green, when the guns sounded the hour of eleven, and the drivers if they heard of the stop order at all, did not intend a little thing like that to bother them.  However, after puffing ahead for a few yards they became aware that the world had stopped, and they stopped also.

From High-road along to Palmers Green, there was an almost endless line of motor vans with the drivers sitting as if petrified. Walkers did not seem to regard themselves as within the meaning of the act, and they kept ambling along, and shop window gazers went on with their usual occupation.  But the stony regard of the statues at the shop doors compelled a halt within a few seconds, and even the most pre-occupied pram-pushers came to a dead halt, and stood looking at nothing in particular.

It seemed hours, but it was really only a few seconds, before all movement had ceased, and even faces were expressionless and vacant. When a horse pawed its foot the sound seemed magnified a thousand times, and in the strange and deadly silence a pin could have been easily heard to drop.  Many shopkeepers happened to be dressing their windows at the time, and they paused with duster in hand or with goods half placed in position.

No guns went off the mark the end of the stoppage, but the busmen re-started to the tick, and almost immediately the world moved again.  Window cleaners re-commenced, feet shuffled, step ladders scraped and motors hooted with, as it seemed, a fearful din.

The great dead had been universally honoured by signal, and with a sigh of relief and of duty done, the wheels of business along our busy High-road moved on with their usual rapidity.

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