Joy of Cranleigh – What was happening in Cranleigh in October 1917?

St Nicolas church, postcard post-marked 1910 (Francis Frith, courtesy of Mrs Vera Wilkinson)

Food production, fund-raising, war deaths and injuries were all on Cranleigh people’s minds this month. The incredible vehicle in the picture (below) is a Ford car pulling the ‘Eros Tractor attachment’. It was demonstrated at Tuesley Farm, Godalming. The aim behind it was to bring more land into cultivation for food. The Surrey Advertiser reported that it converted the vehicle ‘into a farm tractor capable of doing the work of three or four horses’. It could ‘plough a stubble field with a 2-farrow plough’, and was efficient in both shallow and deep ploughing. The car could be converted back to use on the road in half an hour. ‘And it can be operated with ease by a lady driver’. The attachment cost £90, and was available from the Victoria Motor Works, 21 High Street,


The Eros Tractor attachment

‘Our Day’ was held to raise funds for the Red Cross. Flags were sold in the streets of Cranleigh raising £25, and a sale of work by wounded soldiers, organised by Miss Hester Godfrey at Oaklands Military Hospital, raised £60. All the boys of Cranleigh Prep School, with their headmaster, the Rev. Reginald Mertens, marched down into the village with the Officer Training Corps band and ‘a full display of every available flag’. They presented the hospital with £3 15s, collected among themselves by the sale of flags. ‘The wounded soldiers all turned out to greet us, cheers and counter-cheers were given, and we all marched home again in the early hours of the afternoon’.


Advert for the tractor attachment

The Hambledon Tribunal had been meeting regularly to consider exemptions from military service. This month the case of George Collins came before it. George, who was described as ‘36, single, pork butcher and farm hand’, had taken over the running of Collins’ Stores in the High Street when his brother enlisted in the Army. The Tribunal allowed him to remain exempt, on condition that he worked three full days per week on Collins’ Farm. The farm has now been absorbed into the Baynards estate.


Collins’ advert of 1932

Sergeant Ernest Cutting, of the Tank Corps, was killed in France by a stray shell on September 29th. Aged 24 and single, he was a former assistant master at Cranleigh Church of England Schools. The headmaster, Mr H.J. Hayman, commented that ‘The late Sergeant had regularly corresponded with the children in his class, and his letters had been eagerly responded to.’ How ghastly for the children to hear of his death!


Children in the Council Infants’ School, about 1910 (Cover pic of Cranleigh Voices, comp. Betty Seymour & Myrtle Warrington)

Two months previously, a memorial service had been held at the parish church for Staff-Sergeant Charles H. Vince, 31, Army Service Corps, formerly the church organist. He had been fighting against the Turks in the deserts of Mesopotamia, where the temperature sometimes reached 124˚ in the shade. He died of heat stroke at the base hospital, Basra. An old boy of the Royal Grammar School, Guildford, he studied music at Trinity College, London, and had been conductor of Guildford Operatic Society and Cranleigh Choral Society.



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