Topic: GW - August 1914
5 August 1914, War is Declared, Albury Daily News
Due to the time zone differences, the declaration of war by Britain against Germany, while officially recorded as 4 August 1914, in terms of Australia, did not happen until Wednesday, 5 August 1914.
Apart from being a major regional agricultural service centre, Albury was also the first home to Duntroon and also supported other major military training facilities. The Militia formations at Albury Wodonga included: the 43rd Australian Infantry Regiment, "F" Company; the Australian Field Artillery, 4th Battery; and, the Albury Rifle Club.
Albury was a major regional centre which boasted of a daily newpaper, the Albury Daily News which incorporated the Wodonga Chronicle. It was priced at 1d [one penny or in 2008 AUD, $1.70] and was circulated around the area. The following two pages are indicative of the life experienced in Albury the day the Great War was declared.
War is Declared
This page explores the way the Albury Daily News dealt with the news.
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The stories contain many complaints about British censorship. However, despite that it makes a valient effort to produce news that appears not to be at hand.
Loyalty was a significant theme with stories of the Irish in Great Britain and the Germans in Australia. The South Australian German community was some 10% of the state's population and thus was a significant consideration in any Australian response to a war against the German nation.
The stories that the newspaper can confirm deal with a hoax in Melbourne and a run on the banks in Sydney. These are hauntingly familiar scenes. After the tragedy of 9/11, abundant hoaxes occurred bringing into being anti-hoax laws. The hoax in Melbourne was quite elaborate requiring quite a bit of planning. The run on the banks has brought forward similar problems experienced as a consequence of the collapse within the financial community forcing the governments to guarantee deposits. Now as then, to ensure the stability of the banks, the government guarantee of deposits was an essential policy response. Nothing changes despite the elapse of 95 years.
Albury Activities, 5 August 1914
While the war announcement was a significant story, the life of Albury did not halt but just kept going on, as it did for the duration of the war. This page details quite clearly some of the life that occurred within Albury.
Albury Daily News, Wednesday, 5 August 1914, p. 3.
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Here we see that entertainment was cancelled for unstated reasons. Dame Ellen Terry, GBE (1847 - 1928) was a famous English stage actress specialising in Shakespearean theatre. In 1914, Terry toured Australia lecturing and reciting on Shakespearean heroines. The reason for the cancellation might well have been for health reasons for Dame Terry suffered from cataracts in both eyes. After touring Australia she went to America where she underwent an operation to remove the cataracts. Apparently the operation was only partially successful. The fact that Ellen Terry was in Albury was a significant cultural coup.
Maud Allan (1873? - 1956) was born Beulah Maude Durrant who made a career as a pianist, actress, dancer and choreographer. In 1906, Maud Allen became famous or infamous, for her dance interpretation of Oscar Wilde's play, Salomé. Her Dance of the Seven Veils became so well known it still resonates as an adult burlesque theme. As for Maud Allen, she was from then on known by the sobrequet of "The Salomé Dancer".
The connection with Maud Allen? Very tenuous but the Albury Daily News was not going to miss out on their story. Mr Howard Edie, the manager for Maud Allen was in Albury to make arrangements for the Cherniavsky Brothers to perform in Albury on Friday, 19 August 1914. The Cherniavsky Brothers were a stage act performing in the Maud Allen show that was on stage at that moment in Brisbane but would open in Adelaide later that month.
The Cherniavsky Brothers included violinist Leo, pianist Jan and cellist Mischel, were young men from Minsk who began their stage career in 1904. After the loss of Dame Terry, this was another cultural high point for Albury.
On the more mundane
Nice Steaky Breakfast Bacon is 1/3d per pound or in 2008 AUD, $55.11 per kilo. Mate and Co Butchers were also selling Beef sausages at 8d per pound or in 2008 AUD, $29.39 per kilo. Very expensive meat then and now.
The Hume Shire was calling for tenders to clear 19-50 chains (382m - 1km) on the Balldale-Howlong Road. Albury Council was looking at installing pipes in the culverts near the Globe Hotel in Dean Street. [Dean Street was and still is the main throughfare of Albury which now contains the cappucino strip and shopping malls.] Another contract was for the forming and gravelling of Jones Street. This may seem routine, and it is, but it is this work the kept Albury and surrounding areas operational upon which the governments predicated their ability to support the troops overseas. The ability to do so came back to infrastructure projects such as these, mundane but very necessary.
Abe Nathan's furniture store was another historical institution in Australia. In 1872, the 16-year old Abe Nathan left the East End of London with
10/6 in his pocket worked his passage to Melbourne. He worked for his brother Samuel's furniture business for about 10 years before
striking out on his own with a furniture store at 225 Chapel Street in Prahan, Melbourne. Abe Nathan was very successful with a new method of obtaining customers which he did by offering hire purchase contracts. He was the first business to offer the working man the ability to furnish the humble home from 2/6 per week.
Abe Nathan's association with Albury began after 1908 with the land boom. On speculation, he freighted furniture to Albury for auction. The results exceeded his expectations resulting in him relocating to Albury. Abe Nathan settled in Albury and then expanded his business throughout the Riverina.
The history revealed by a newspaper
A newspaper is a historical snapshot of a particular area on the day the newspaper was published. They contain a wealth of information which can be extracted and used according to the individual taste. The above extracts give an example of the depth of information contained within a simple rural newspaper. Every story contains many more stories, each layered upon each other like onion peels. As one peels away one skin, more appear to reveal a vibrant community brimming with history.
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Citation: Albury Daily News - War Declared