Fund Raising

The First World War prompted a new wave of voluntary activity and the foundation of many charities that provided for service men and their families. The National Relief Fund was set up with Prince Edward, Prince of Wales as treasurer to help families of serving men and those suffering from industrial distress. The Prince of Wales put a message in national newspapers: 

“At such a moment we all stand by one another and it is to the heart of the British people that I confidently make this earnest appeal”.

Within a week donations to the fund reached one million pounds. Tobacco and cigarettes were the most popular causes from the fund, one of the largest charity “Smokers for wounded soldiers and sailors “ popularly know as “SSS” distributed more than a billion cigarettes to the wounded through funds raised such as “Flag Day”

Queen Mary set up the “Work for Women Fund” to create contracts to supply clothing and other items for the army supply department. The Queen gave 75,000 woollen belts as her Christmas present to the troops. The Queen set the scheme up as many women were losing their jobs in the textile and clothing industry due to the export market being closed. Flag Days was and idea of Agnes Morrison who started the collections in September 1914. They were mainly organised by the Red Cross and volunteer collectors to raise funds for wounded soldiers, war widows and prisoner of war families. The public were encouraged to buy pin badges, the women sold flags wearing national dress. By the end of the war Flag Day collections had raised more than £25 million equivalent to £1.75 billion today. 

War Savings Certificates were introduced by the government in June 1916. £1.00 certificates cost 15s-6d and could not be redeemed for five years and held a 29% return at the end of the five years. This helped the war effort.  At the end of the war £207 million war savings certificates had been sold. They then became National Savings Certificates.

Queen Mary

Queen Mary (1867-1953) was born in Kensington Palace and was baptized Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes. She used the names Victoria Mary until she became Queen, and her family called her May. She was consort of King George V, whom she married in 1893.

Although Queen Mary received little formal education, she was able to learn French, German and Italian, and had interests literature, art history and German politics. She shared this interest with her grand-daughters, Princess Elizabeth (now H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth II) and Princess Margaret, by taking them to the theatre, galleries and museums.

She was known for her regal presence and her charitable work. Like many women around the time of the First World War, new opportunities arose in terms of making public contributions to society.

Queen Mary's charitable work included Queen Mary's Needlework Guild, the National Relief Fund, the St John Ambulance Brigade, and the Red Cross. She established the Queen's Work for Women Fund, which was the women's branch of the National Relief Fund.

She supported not only work for women, but also education. In 1934, East London College was renamed Queen Mary College, in honour of Queen Mary, who presented the College with its Royal Charter in that year. She visited the College over the years, and officially opened Lynden Hall for women students in 1938.

To learn more about Queen Mary, her life and involvement with the College, Heather Neill has written an interesting article on her and other women in the QM Magazine, Autumn 2007 edition.

Kingsbury Parish Council


Parish Council meeting the council were given permission from Peel Trustees to allow the Parish Council to let the Recreation Ground for allotment gardens. Provided the council are willing to pay the same agreeable rent to the Peel Trustees and asked whether the council would be prepared to return the land to its present state.

A letter had also been received from the local government board having no objections to the use of the recreation grounds as allotment gardens.

The clerk wrote notices asking residents of Kingsbury who are serious of taking up the allotment gardens, to send in their names to the clerk as soon as possible. Posters were put up in the shops and public houses in the village.

Residents would have to pay 6 months in advance and all residents who require 5cwt of potatoes to contact the clerk.

The allotment gardens were set at 7s 6d for a full plot.

The allotment gardens bordered the Swan public house, Pear Tree Terrace and Sunnyside and it was overseen by Mr Wilks, Kingsbury committee of the Parish Council.

Rent paid to Peel Trustees for the Kingsbury allotments was £6-19s-0d. per annum.

Special Meeting 28/03/1917:

The clerk received a letter from Tamworth Rural National Service Committee asking the council ro arrange fro meetings to be held for the purpose of enrolling all men between 18-61 years who were not in the military or naval uniforms.

The council decided to hold separate meetings at Piccadilly Social Club, Wood End Working Mens Club, Kingsbury Council Schools and Hurley Council School.

The clerk wrote to Colonel Dibley, Mr Takes and Mr R Affleck to act as chairmen at the respective meetings at their earliest convenience.

The clerk had to get 40 large posters printed and 600 small hand bills and to distribute in the best way possible.

The clerk was given full power to arrange the meetings.

The Red Cross Society

The local communities, like so many others in England, worked very hard to raise funds for soldiers and their families. One of the most active fund raising efforts was for the Red Cross which provided essential money and garments for soldiers and local hospitals. In January 1915 the Hurley Red Cross Relief Committee made vests, flannel pants, cardigans, shirts, pyjamas, socks, blankets and sheets.

   In July 1916 a Soldiers' Entertainment organised by the Kingsbury Red Cross Ladies raised a total of £13 0s 4d and in the September Dosthill Red Cross Committee provided over forty pillow cases for Weddington Hall Hospital in Nuneaton. They also sent parcels to all the active soldiers from Dosthill and Whateley. Each parcel contained a pair of socks, a disinfected vest, a tablet of soap, a pack of acidoes (for stomach upsets), a packet of Boracic powder (for body lice), a packet of cigarettes, a currant loaf and quarter pound of butter.

   In February 1917 the Kingsbury Red Cross Committee held a successful whist drive and dance in the Council School which raised £30 towards an operating theatre at Weddington Hall Hospital. People cared and this splendid result was due to the untiring efforts of the Committee and the splendid generosity of the Kingsbury people who supported it by their presence, donations, refreshments and prizes.

   In October 1915 the men of Kingsbury Colliery presented a fully equipped motor ambulance to the British Red Cross Society. The Company subscribed £300 and the men a like sum. The ambulance was despatched to the front and known as the 'Kingsbury Collieries' car. In March 1916 it was described as a 'grand car' by a wounded miner who stumbled across it at his base. Unfortunately no photograph survives of the ambulance but it would have looked like this.

Kingsbury Colliery Patriotic Fund

The 'Kingsbury Collieries Patriotic Fund' was formed in August 1914 to provide maintenance for the families of men who had enlisted. Other collieries appear to have set up similar funds with either the miners paying in weekly sums of money according to their earnings or having money deducted from their wages. That this very important fund was a life saver was emphasised in March 1916 when a miner's wife explained how the fund had prevented her from starving and losing her home. 

The National Egg Collection

In November 1914 the War Office set up a 'National Egg Campaign' with the aim of sending two hundred thousand eggs per week to wounded soldiers and sailors. In March 1915 the Rev de Jersey, vicar of Kingsbury, started a local 'National Egg Collection' and he was appointed in control of Depot No. 434 for Kingsbury and the neighbourhood. He hoped to receive weekly promises of one or more eggs from all households that kept fowls and the eggs would then be despatched to the Central Depot in London. Eggs could be either sent to Kingsbury Vicarage or other arrangements could be made to suit the donors.

Woodbine Cigarettes 

In 1916 the children were asked to bring eggs and cigarettes for wounded soldiers to the Harvest Festival Service. Cigarettes were regularly handed out to soldiers at every fund raising and social event in the village and wider community! 

Fund raising whist drives and sports

Whist drives and dances were regular village events, even in peacetime, and in December 1916 a whist drive and dance was held at Kingsbury Council School on behalf of a fund for sending parcels to over forty Kingsbury soldiers. There were twenty-five tables of players and a string band supplied the music for dancing. About a hundred and forty people came along and the ladies' committee supplied them with refreshments. The amount raised was £17 14s 0d and fifty soldiers from the village were sent 5 shillings each.

   In January 1917 another successful whist drive and dance was held that raised about £13 for the 'Church of England Men's Society Rest Huts for Soldiers'. A cockerel was sold by auction and helped boost the funds by another £3. Some handmade golliwogs raised a further 9 shillings.

   On August Bank Holiday 1917 the Kingsbury miners held a Charity Sports' Day on the Tamworth Castle Sports' Ground and the proceeds were given to Tamworth Hospital. The morning started off dull but by the afternoon the sun was shining and thousands of spectators watched the fun and games. There were plenty of popular races and a tug-of-war event that was open to all collieries in the district. The races started at 2pm, and after the prizes were handed out, the day's events were rounded off by an evening dance. The Kingsbury Colliery Charity Sports Day became an annual August Bank Holiday event with all the money raised going to the local hospital.

The Belgium Relief Fund

In 1914 the Belgium people suffered huge loss of life and property through the barbarity of the Germans when they marched through their country at the start of the war. The local communities, like so many around England, did their share of fund raising to help bring relief to all who had fled to England as refugees.

   In November 1914 a successful smoking concert, for men only it was noted, was held in the billiard room of Kingsbury Colliery Social Club at Piccadilly. The concert was greatly enjoyed and raised £8 3s 6d for the fund. The local organiser explained that when the first refugees came to Tamworth, he had been asked not to find employment for the men for fear it would interfere with the work of British workmen. Fortunately this request was not followed and employment was found locally for the men so that they could keep back part of their wages for when they returned home. The refugees were anxious to work yet there were those who thought they should be sent back to Belgium to fight. This was not practical for several reasons. The men were not trained to fight and they had lost so much ammunition already it left Belgium in no position to equip an army.

   So popular were these smoking concerts that more followed and the colliery manager, William Tate used them as an opportunity to encourage more miners to join up. One held at Wood End Working Men's Club raised £2 5s 1d and by January 1915, the Hurley Belgian Relief Fund Committee had been assisted not only by concerts at Wood End and whist drives at Hurley, but also by collections in the schools and chapels. On one occasion the Sunday School children in Wood End went without their annual prizes by asking their Sunday School teachers to give the money to the Belgian Relief Fund instead.

The National Relief Fund

This fund was yet another set up to help families in distress and the local communities rallied to the cause by holding more whist drives and dances. In October 1914 £4 15s 3d was raised at Kingsbury and by January 1915 the Hurley National Relief Fund Committee had raised upwards of £25, £6 of which had been collected from local farmers. In the February, Kingsbury Colliery gave £100 to the Fund and Colonel Dibley, one of the managing directors, gave £25.