Life at home in Spalding during 1914-15 war years

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Our thoughts now are of the people going through war a hundred years ago.

However, reading a report from the medical officer for the East Elloe Rural District Council in 1915, Dr E Evans, life was grim for many people even without the war.

Dr Evans’ remarks were made in the annual report on the sanitary conditions of the district for the year 1914.

During the year there had been 225 births, making a birth rate of 25.42 per 1,000 of the estimated population.

The number of deaths registered in the district was 99, giving a death rate of 11.18, although taking account of local residents who died outside the district, the death rate rose to 11.73.

However, the infant mortality rate was 102.2, due chiefly to “artificial feeding, ignorance and sometimes carelessness” by parents. He noted the reason for artificial feeding was so mothers could work on the land, but said infants were being entrusted to unsuitable people.

He said the difficulty of obtaining milk was “very great indeed” on “the Marsh side”.

The district was almost entirely agricultural, with the potato crop giving plenty of employment all year round, and in spring and harvest women and children also worked on the land.

Turning his attention to housing, Dr Evans said many village and hamlet cottages were “old and dilapidated”. He said: “Though it is impossible owing to the dearth of houses to close them, constant attempts are made to render them more habitable by raising roofs, increasing the means of ventilation and repairing generally. It is especially the sleeping accommodation that is bad, for in many the roofs begin two or three feet above the floor. Overcrowding is common, the worst cases alone being dealt with, as the only alternative would be the workhouse.”