It was November 1913, a year before the outbreak of a devastating war. The East Dorset Herald was reporting the ‘Death of Dr. Russel Wallace – The Grand Old Man of Science’ at his residence, Old Orchard, Broadstone. From an unpromising childhood with poor schooling and no scientific training to speak of, he rose to become ‘a stimulating and original thinker, a finely trained observer, a naturalist of world-wide reputation, a vigorous conversationalist, a notable explorer and great traveller’. ‘His supreme achievement was his discovery of the process of Natural Selection simultaneously with Darwin’. During his adventurous career he travelled in the Amazon (being shipwrecked on the return voyage) and later journeyed around the Malay Archipelago, observing and collecting specimens of the flora and fauna. It was here, while suffering from a bout of fever, that he conceived the theory of natural selection. Back in England, he wrote a series of books on his travels and observations. By the time of his death at the age of 90, Alfred Russel Wallace had lived in Poole for about 13 years, first in Parkstone later in Broadstone. The funeral was held at Broadstone cemetery where his grave is now marked by a fossilised tree.
The same issue of the paper carried a report of a meeting of the Poole Temperance Society where members urged that the sale of intoxicating liquors should be banned on Sundays ‘believing that such sale is wrong in principle because it gives a privileged position to an admittedly dangerous trade’ and ‘prevents the enjoyment of the Day of Rest by barmaids and other employees, besides placing temptation in the way of young people and others’. A prayer was offered by the High Street stationer and post-master, Mr. C. T. Snook.
Shop assistants in Parkstone were agitating for earlier closing hours. They wanted shops to close at 7.00pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1.00pm on Wednesdays, 8.00pm on Fridays and 10.00pm on Saturdays. This would mean a mere 58 hour working week (or 64 hours if the shops opened at 8.00am). We can only imagine what their working hours currently were if this was a reduction!
The High Street ironmongers Sharp and Son were advertising patent ‘Esse’ stoves for anthracite or coke and also offering to estimate for ‘the complete installation of Baths, Lavatories, Water Closets, etc. . . .Our special knowledge of and long experience in Sanitary Engineering is a guarantee that any such work entrusted to us will be carried out in a thoroughly satisfactory manner.’ Meanwhile, the High Street outfitters were in competition for the winter season’s trade. Loader’s, tailors and outfitters at 67, High Street were offering a ‘Smart Line in Raincoats – Well-tailored, Cravenette Finish from 30/-‘ [£1.50] while J. E. Tydeman’s (No. 58) were advertising the ‘British Farmer Waterproof at 37/6’ [£1.87]. H. J. Travers’ and Co. Clothing Stores at No. 52 urged shoppers to buy their overcoats from the ‘Largest and best assorted stock in the district’. The proprietor, H. J. Travers, was reported as receiving the Kearsley Club at the annual presentation of prizes of the Poole Yacht Club for his expertise with his yacht, Mistral.
H. Ayre at 92, High Street was among the suppliers of ‘Harrison’s Reliable Nursery Pomade, guaranteed to kill all nits and vermin, beautifies and strengthens the hair’ and several local traders offered infallible potions for getting rid of rats. At No. 10, High Street, G. Wilby advertised his services as a rag, skin, bottle and iron merchant, useful for turning waste items into cash. Another well patronised business was Tuson’s the pawnbrokers at No. 70.
The report on proceedings at the local police courts included a case of theft by Charles Blake, formerly working as a shop manager for butchers W. and R. Fletcher Ltd. at No. 123 High Street. He was accused of stealing £4 1s 9d [£1.08] from his employers, which was the money in hand after trading on Saturday. On Monday morning, he failed to turn up for work and was later arrested in Birmingham. He had been employed at the shop for about 8 years having started as an errand boy and worked his way up to manager at a wage of 30s [£1.50] a week plus whatever meat he needed. What had induced him to sacrifice his position for not much more than two weeks’ wages? Annoyingly, his motive was not explained. As he had previously been ‘of exemplary character’ and had already made restitution of the money, the Bench decided to bind him over in the sum of £20. Fletcher’s seemed unlikely to re-employ him but as he had apparently got another job in the meantime we can only hope things turned out well for Charles Blake.