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Life in Wolverton 100 Years Ago

  • Life in Wolverton 100 Years Ago

In 2014 and 2015, to mark the anniversary of the opening of World War I, we published Wolverton During World War I in two volumes. This material is now being re-issued as a single volume, somewhat abriodged, as individual biographies have been taken out. Nevertheless, this presents a single volume account of the town during that period. Wolverton in 1914 was the second largest town in Buckinghamshire and was in its prime as an industrial centre. The L&NWR carriage works employed over 5,000 and was the mainstay of the North Bucks economy. Life did not go on as normal during this period. Many, many young men volunteered for service and their place was taken by older men who came out of retirement and, for the first time, women. Women were not paid anything close to a man’s wage in that era and in 1915 the women at McCorquodales were compelled to go on strike, and this may have been the first strike by women anywhere in the country. This unprecedented war, fought on a scale unknown to history, brought about much change. Central government introduced many controls, such as restricting licensing hours and rationing food, and many of these measures remained after the war. Local government by parish disappeared and very soon after the end of the war the Wolverton Urban District Council came into being. The railways were commandeered for the movement of troops and supplies and the carriage works were turned in part to the manufacture of munitions. It is fair to say that the railways were never properly compensated for their committment to the war efort and the lack of investment in the railways made many companies look a lttle threadbare as Britain entered the 1920s. Wolverton could not fail to feel the impact and the railways began a long period of slow decline which was worsened by the second World War and Nationalisation in 1948. Therefore the period described in this book may represent a high water mark for Wolverton as a railway town. John A. Taylor has been writing about the history of North Bucks and Milton Keynes for well over 40 years and has many published books in print.