On Armistice Day, November 11, Glendale Local History Society members were given an entertaining talk by Philip Rowett on Wartime Laws in Northumberland. It cast a light on some of the strange laws in operation during the Second World War.
We were told of many instances where individuals were fined for displaying a light during the blackout. The blackout was not popular and people walking home found themselves lost in park shrubberies. But the courts seem to have generated a significant amount through fines.
All vehicles had to have headlights screened and the speed limit in blackout areas was 20mph. The owners of cars parked on the wrong side of the road would find themselves in court.
Public transport was not exempt. Individuals queuing for buses had to queue at no more than two abreast and could be fined for queue jumping.
Shopkeepers were subject to stringent regulations and could be fined for selling goods for which they did not hold a licence. All had restricted hours and the volume of goods sold was strictly limited. Rationing was a major issue and the use of ration coupons in some areas of Northumberland gave rise to concern about the recycling of coupons.
The Cornhill area seems to have had a particularly strong adherence to the rules and the zealous nature of the local police was noted. The area was deliberately avoided by some lorry drivers who feared being stopped for the smallest infringement.
The talk focussed on some of the more humorous and curious laws. However, it was apparent that underlying the stringent regulations was fear in relation to a potential German invasion. It is now hard to fully understand the anxiety which gripped the country at that time.
The next meeting takes place at the Cheviot Centre, Wooler, on Wednesday. December 9, at 7.30pm. Attendees can enjoy an early Christmas celebration with mulled wine and mince pies followed by a talk by Jeremy Patterson on The Romans and their wine.