Deceptively quiet on the home front

22:31, Jun 16 2014
timaru port marine parade shop
ON THE WHARF: The Timaru Port Marine Parade shop.

In this fortnightly column Carol Bell looks at events locally, nationally and internationally as the world moved towards World War I.

June 1, 1914

There were no obvious preparations for war. It was reported that the Scottish Temperance Act had come into operation, the hotels not opening before 10am. Workmen resented their inability to obtain a drink at the breakfast hour and were agitating that breakfast be deferred. Several hundred Glasgow workers refused to resume work until the hotels were opened.

Under the heading: "A terrible catastrophe" readers were told of the destruction of the Canadian-Pacific steamer Empress of Ireland in the St Lawrence River with the loss of more than 1000 lives. The steamer was hove to in a thick fog at night when she was hit amidships by a collier and sank almost immediately.

At home, the 2nd (SC) Regiment was called out for compulsory parades at Timaru, Ashburton, Geraldine, Temuka, Pleasant Point and Waimate on June 3 to mark the King's birthday.

June 3, 1914


The Caroline Bay Association discussed plans for new bathing sheds on the Marine Parade. The Timaru Borough Council was to be asked to undertake the construction, but failing that, the project would be authorised as a private enterprise.

If that plan was followed it was expected that the bathing accommodation on the parade would be doubled, in addition to which there would be excellent facilities for sun bathing.

June 5, 1914

In what was called a triumph of surgery, a method of sewing hairs into the human scalp to overcome baldness was announced.

One hundred hairs were drawn through punctures in the scalp to every square centimetre, both ends being left free to make 200. Very fine gold wires were used and the hair was knotted in place to hold the hair permanently in position.

Apparently 500 hairs could be put in place within three quarters of an hour and the resultant inflammation disappeared in 10 to 12 days. It's not hard to understand why this procedure did not stand the test of time!

June 10, 1914

M Scannell, D Angland and W Barry invited Irishmen resident in Albury and surrounding districts to a meeting to make arrangements to fittingly celebrate the passing of Home Rule for Ireland.

June 11, 1914

The Timaru Herald celebrated its 50th jubilee with a supplement reviewing its progress. Congratulations were received from the prime minister W F Massey and many other influential New Zealanders and newspapermen.

June 13, 1914

The activities of the suffragettes were reported under the standard heading "Wild Women". Sylvia Pankhurst had held a prayer meeting at her home to pray for the prisoners suffering force feeding. Scriptures were read from an open window and a crowd gathered to voice their displeasure that the suffragettes should show such irreverence. An explosion also took place in Westminster Abbey that was attributed to "the militants".

In the excitement, the story related, the police temporarily detained two inoffensive Danish ladies.

The SC Museum, SC branch of NZ Society of Genealogists, Timaru Herald and volunteers are working on a database of SC participation in World War I, known as SCRoll. Information or memorabilia relating to this period for inclusion in the project would be welcomed. Contact Tony Rippin at the museum or Carol Bell on

The Timaru Herald