Christmas 100 years ago

The Christmas tide of 1911 will probably be long associated with boisterous winds and driving sheets of rain’ reported the Poole and East Dorset Herald for 28th December. ‘Generally trade all round has been very quiet and many have not reaped the harvest they anticipated’.  . . ‘It was only when one gazed at the well provisioned shops, or heard familiar vocal or instrumental strains, that thoughts of Christmastide came.

Hunt’s Bible and Book Warehouse, 82 High Street was advertising ‘Christmas Decorations – A splendid assortment of Garlands, Paper Flowers, Flags etc., suitable for Decorations now showing. Also an immense variety of Paper Serviettes, Tray Cloths, Dish Papers, Pie Collars, Cake Frills, Dessert Papers, Souflé Cases etc. always in stock.’

1911 fashion

No doubt the well-to-do women of the town were studying the delights of evening frocks in figured silk and lace or the ‘Paris mode in evening mantles’ as described by the Herald’s columnist, Cousin Kate, while planning their outfits for social engagements over the festive season. Maybe some of them anticipated a present of jewellery as advertised enthusiastically by James Cole, Jeweller at 83, High Street. ‘I can imagine no more pleasing gift, either for lady or gentleman, of whatever age, than a piece of jewellery, watches, clocks, rings, brooches, bangles, necklets, lockets, charms, match boxes, cigarette cases in gold and silver and an endless variety of Useful Presents suitable for all classes from which to make a selection.’ More feasible for many would be twist of Keene’s Harbour Mixture tobacco from their shop at 145 High Street, ‘a treat to smokers’ at 41/2d an ounce.

Cole's shop

One sad piece of news just before Christmas was the death of Mr William Henry Yeatman J.P. a partner in the prominent milling company with steam mills on the Quay and an office at 63, High Street. Mr. Yeatman had been very active in public affairs, serving as a town councillor, Mayor of the Borough and a Harbour Commissioner besides all sorts of charitable activities. His funeral was held on 21st at St. Paul’s Church in the presence of an array of councillors, aldermen and dignitaries including the Mayor, Councillor J.A.Hawkes. The bell was tolled and flags flew at half mast from St Paul’s and the Guildhall.

The shop of J. A. Hawkes, Mayor in 1911

There were also happier gatherings in Poole that Christmas in the form of concerts, recitals, whist drives and sales of work. The Mayor and Sheriff, Councillor F. Hudson, gave 2 cwt of coal to each household receiving outdoor relief and to the inmates of the almshouses. An estimated 50 tons of coal were distributed to 500 households. At the workhouse in Longfleet, ‘a mid-day dinner was served consisting of 200 lbs of beef, vegetables, plum pudding and minerals.’

For some, the celebrations got out of hand. Elizabeth Harvey of Parkstone was brought before the Poole court for using obscene language in High Street, Longfleet. She claimed that her husband knocked her down three times, but she denied she had used the words that were alleged. A fine of 5s and costs was imposed and the Mayor who was presiding said that although there might have been provocation, the bad language must be stopped. The Bench, however, thought that the husband was greatly to blame.



Poole and East Dorset Herald

Census 1911

1911 Directory of Dorsetshire


About Poole High Street Project

Contact: Jenny Oliver -
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