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Tony Flynn
100 YEARS AGO: ECCLES TAKES TO THE STREETS AS PEACE IS DECLARED
Yesterday I looked at how Salford celebrated the signing of the Peace Armistice that signalled the end of of a bloody, savage and basically needless war that dragged on for over four and a half years.

Today we look at how the Borough of Eccles received the news and how they celebrated.

This is how the Eccles and Patricroft Journal broke the news to its readers.

At 10.30am on Monday 11th November a group of wounded soldiers from one of the local hospitals were stood outside the newspapers offices on Church Street when the news came through by telegram, and a poster was quickly displayed in the front window for all to see.

Elsewhere in Eccles it was reported that the Managing Director of a local spinning mill received the news by telephone  and immediately informed the workforce to go home and celebrate on full pay, a rather generous offer.

By 11am the news had spread to Patricroft and Peel Green, once again the workers from the local factories and mills poured out onto the streets unable to contain their joy.

Factory sirens, hooters and whistles were sounded from the numerous factories along with ships moored on the local Manchester Ship Canal all eager to join in the long awaited celebrations.

In the article it says that local schoolchildren excluded from school by the Medical Officer owing to the Influenza epidemic paraded through the streets waving small home made flags.

The 1918 Spanish Flu Epidemic would go on to kill an estimated 50–100 million people worldwide.

One paragraph stood out for me,

Quote

 

"Mill girls boisterously gamboled in groups and a party of girl munition workers in the district made their first public appearance outside their workplace in breeches and tunics.

At the usual hour of returning to work after dinner, there was a general exodus of rubber workers, shell fillers, machine minders and factory hands on trams for Manchester"

 

I assume the girl munition workers were from the Gardners Engineering Works in Peel Green which During World War I  made munitions and parts for heavy guns and engines for tanks.

Church bells were heard ringing throughout the Borough a sign of once happier times.

Even as news came through of the cessation of hostilities  news was still coming to local residents news of deaths and disablement of  relatives, a sobering thought.

Another striking feature of the day was the number of cars and lorries that were bedecked with flags and bunting driving through the town.

We were also told that the Anti-Aircraft guns in Winton which were supposed to be secret, how do you hide them? fired a number of blank rounds in celebration, no doubt alarming quite a few people.

As dusk approached local children began letting off fireworks which they had presumably hidden away for this big day with rockets lighting up the night sky.

A large crowd gathered outside Eccles Town Hall and the Mayor Alderman Bethel gave them a congratulation speech, adding that it was with great sorrow that so many young men had been killed in the conflict.

Boy Scouts with Chinese Lanterns congregated outside the Carnegie Library and marched through Eccles with Eccles Borough Band joining in later on in the evening.

The Salvation Army Band even got in on the act and paraded through the Borough, finishing off at Eccles Cross where they played the National Anthem at 11pm, a time usually when most people would be safely tucked up in bed.

The people fully deserved to let their hair down and dance in the streets but for many, many residents it must have a day tinged with sadness and regret at the thought odf so many loved one's who would never be coming home again.


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