A Record of the Naval, Military, Social, Commercial and Industrial activities of the
citizens of Liverpool, Birkenhead, Bootle and Wallasey.

Reproduced from the 'Liverpool Courier' - a special report in 76 parts

 

WAR-TIME ACTIVITIES OF THE LIVERPOOL CORPORATION: (D) THE TOWN HALL ORGANISATION AND NATIONAL WAR FINANCE

11 May 1920 Part LXIX (69)

   The main purpose of this series of articles has been to reveal to Liverpolitans themselves, the magnitude of the efforts which, as a community, they have contributed to the achievement of victory. Laudation has been unnecessary. So far, the facts we have been able to record, form the fullest justification for the claim embodied in our title that Liverpool has more than shared the national burden. Not the least part of that burden was the financing of the war. As our readers know the cost of the war to this country, as to all the Allies, became colossal. Wealth abounds in Liverpool and it has been freely placed at the disposal of the British Government throughout the war, but candour compels us to admit that during one period Liverpool's efforts in this direction fell far short of those which were exerted by some of the other great provincial cities. That Liverpool, when roused from its absorption in other activities, should not only have made up the leeway which had been lost but have finished at the head of the list of great provincial cities in the emulative competition of 1918 in regard to contributions to national war finance, is a fact of which every Liverpolitan can be proud.
   Turning to the consideration of the efforts by which this gratifying result was achieved we find that they divide naturally into two classes, (a) the sale of war certificates, (b) the subscriptions to war loans and war bonds. For convenience, we shall deal with the war certificates first. As our readers are aware a war-savings certificate is a document which can be purchased from the British Government for the sum of 15s. 6d., and which will be redeemed at the end of five years from the date of issue for the sum of 1 sterling. It offered to all the opportunity to share in the financing of the war, and as the certificates could be purchased by sixpenny instalments, there were very few indeed who were debarred by financial considerations. The first activities to advance Liverpool's participation in this scheme were set in motion by Lord Mayor Mather, who appointed a committee, of which he was the active chairman, Sir James Hope Simpson the hon. treasurer, and Miss Mather the hon. secretary. In December, 1916, Lord Mayor Muspratt, being dissatisfied with the progress made up to that time, called a meeting at the Town Hall, at which arrangements were made to infuse vigour into the campaign. "The Liverpool Local Central Committee for War Savings" was appointed, with Lord Mayor Muspratt as chairman and Miss Mather and the Councillor Wethered as joint hon. secretaries, Sir James Hope Simpson continuing to act as hon. treasurer. Miss Mather retired in February, 1917, and Mr. Horace Muspratt succeeded to her post, being joined on the death of Councillor Wethered by the late Councillor Harrison. Some time after the death of the latter, Miss E.F. Fairbairn, who had been one of the most active spirits associated with the effort, became joint hon. secretary, resigning that position only in September, 1919. At the meeting convened by Lord Mayor Muspratt in December, 1916, a propaganda sub-committee was also appointed, of which Mr. Councillor Skelton acted as chairman and Messrs. E.S. Murch and B. Furness as joint hon. secretaries.
   A happy inspiration led the committee to invoke the aid of the Ward Political Association. Their enforced inactivity in political matters, owing to the suspension of elections for the period of the war, left these well-organised bodies absolutely free to share in such an enterprise, to which their machinery could be easily adapted. To each of these organisations was delegated the responsibility for securing the establishment of as many War Savings Associations as possible in the area which it controlled, and upon them too was cast the duty of organising public meetings and house-to-house canvassing, to bring home to every citizen their share of the responsibility for financing the war. Up to this time the number of these associations had not exceeded seventy. Six weeks after the inception of the campaign the efforts of the workers connected with the various Ward Political Associations had been so successful that nearly 350 new associations had been affiliated with the Central Committee, whilst the number of subscribers had risen from a few thousands to more than eighty thousand. Within a few weeks the number of associations had again increased to 500, but even this figure, large as it is, does not fully represent the effect of the effort. Churches, chapels, clubs, factories, workshops, and business establishments of various kinds were represented in the list of associations, but in some instances one association represented a large number of collecting branches. Two examples may be given, each of which possess over 50 branches, the membership of each organisation running into thousands. Another important result of the efforts of the Central Committee resulted from a conference of head teachers of the elementary schools, and we are happy to be able to state that, with a single exception, every such school in the city of Liverpool organised a War Savings Association, thus affording to the thousands of scholars regular opportunities to contribute to the national effort, besides affording them a valuable object lesson in the advantages of thrift. We need scarcely say that, with the growth and the number of these associations, the responsibilities of the Central Committee became increasingly severe. When the first flush of enthusiasm had died away the success of the movement depended upon the capacity of those who had undertaken the responsible duties in each association to maintain their own interest and sustain that of their members. Only by the aid of an efficient and zealous central organisation could that capacity be fully developed. Fortunately for Liverpool, Mr. Horace Muspratt had been ready to sacrifice practically all other interests and devote his marked business ability to the work of the committee. Behind his quiet yet genial manner there is resoluteness of purpose which, combined with a thorough grasp of the personalities of the situation, have enabled Liverpool to achieve far greater results than would have been possible but for the zeal and devotion which he has shown, and which has been so admirably emulated, not only by Miss E.M. Fairbairn, but also by the thousands of workers who must be nameless, but who throughout those years have cheerfully sacrificed their leisure in order to that victory might be achieved, and that Liverpool's reputation for patriotism might be maintained. The services of Mr. Muspratt have been officially recognised by the award to him of the Order of the British Empire, whilst Miss Fairbairn received the award of the M.B.E.
   A great share of the credit for the success of the War Savings Associations must be given to the chairman and the secretaries of the propaganda sub-committee. Councillor Skelton rendered yeoman service not only in organising, but also in addressing numerous public meetings: whilst to the organising ability which has placed Mr. Murch and Mr. Furness in their respective official positions must be attributed in a great degree the celerity and thoroughness with which the Ward Political Associations responded to the call.
   Whilst we are unable to give a list of the chief provincial cities with the totals of War-Savings Certificates sold by each, we are able to affirm from official assurances that Liverpool headed the list with a decided preponderance. The Liverpool Local Central Committee for War Savings record the direct purchase through the affiliated societies, of no less than one and a quarter million War-Savings Certificates. This does not include those purchased by individuals direct from the post offices or through bankers, and as these purchasers must have been largely induced by the propaganda carried on by the committee it is of interest to learn that in all probability Liverpool's total purchase of these certificates reaches three millions.
   Another laurel which must be recorded to the credit of the Central Committee is the fact that it was entrusted with the organisation of the "Tank Week" for the sale of the National War Bonds. How successfully that undertaking was carried out is evidenced by the following quotation from an official account of the matter:-
   "The National War Bonds had just been issued, the competition of towns had been inaugurated, when the "tank" was instituted as a means of stimulating interest in them. London had done only passably during the first fortnight, and Liverpool was one of the cities chosen to attempt to popularise tanks in the country. One million was the sum suggested by the authorities, who would have been satisfied had we reached that, yet in spite of ignorance of how to work the idea best, conservatism of the part of many leading firms, and many other disadvantages, which have since vanished before experience, in a week we had collected just over two million. Nor was this the sole nor most important result. Competition had been started at a large figure, every town was aflame with determination to beat us, and the success of the tanks was assured from that moment."

THE WAR LOANS AND WAR BONDS.

   So far as Liverpool's investments in the earlier war loans are concerned it is impossible for us to afford our readers any particulars as none have ever been vouchsafed to the public. With the advent of that form of security known as National War Bonds, however, there was called into play that spirit of emulation which always makes a powerful appeal to the British character and which was so successfully exploited in Liverpool that as in the case of War Savings Certificates, so we stand proudly at the head of the list of provincial cities in regard to the sale of the National War Bonds. It was in October, 1917, that the Government decided to have recourse to this novel method of war-finance, which permitted a continuous effort to be made for the mobilisation of the nation's capital on voluntary lines. Between October, 1917, and the 4th October, 1918, the amount raised by the sale of National War Bonds in Liverpool reached the magnificent total of 39,506,035. When this form of security was withdrawn from issue on the 18th January, 1919, the total had reached 39,506,035.
   The story of that achievement is closely linked with the Lord Mayoralty of Major Dr. Utting, whose term of office was perhaps the most eventful that has been known. Possessing a forceful yet genial personality, a mind fertile in suggestion and capable of inspiring enthusiasm in others and of harnessing the emotions thus aroused to the service of great causes, Dr. Utting's year of office will be remembered not merely for the power and influence of his oratory in public and private, but also for the substantial achievements which were so largely the result of his unbounded energy and exalted enthusiasm for every worthy cause.
   The vast majority of Liverpolitans will hold him in high regard for the manner in which, defying the Lords of the Admiralty, he gave Liverpool, for the first time, the chance to welcome with music and banners, the troops who landed on our shores and marched through our streets. They recollect with gratitude the efforts he made to entertain the representatives of France, of Italy, of Serbia, and particularly of our American cousins, whose local celebrations of their Independence Day in 1918, was the occasion of an outburst of feeling which drew closer the ties of friendship and kinship betwixt us and them.
   Yet side by side with the performance of all these memorable Mayoral activities, Dr. Utting's year of office was crowned by a series of financial achievements which have rendered his year of office a record from that standpoint alone. We refer to the fact that there was raised through the Town Hall organisation under Dr. Utting's direction a sum of no less than that 300,000 for war Charities such as the Prisoners of War Fund, the Y.M.C.A. and the British Red Cross.
   The raising of funds by the Government for carrying on the war had reached a critical stage by the time Dr. Utting had been elected Lord Mayor of Liverpool. That appeal to the spirit of emulation, to which we have already referred, was one which was bound to evoke an instantaneous and wholehearted response from such a leader. With the approach of the "Business Men's War Bond Week" which was to represent the top notch of competitive efforts as between the great cities, Dr. Utting's resourcefulness and vigour were speedily manifested. The bankers, the insurance magnates, the legal fraternity, the presidents of Liverpool's great trade associations, were invited in their turn to meet his lordship. No stone was left unturned to put Liverpool in the only place compatible with her prestige. When the "Week" came the Town Hall was practically devoted to the effort. The Bank of England staff were accommodated therein, and the interest evinced as the figures mounted day by day was astounding. By the end of the week, the total amount of War Bonds which had been subscribed was 13,013,746 9s 6d., a sum which not only sufficed to put Liverpool at the head of provincial cities but was over eight millions ahead of Manchester, which occupied the second place, and ten millions ahead of Birmingham, which ranked third in the list.
   There is one aspect of Liverpool's part in the financing of the war to which we must refer, although it is in no way connected with the work of the Town Hall organisation. We have it on the highest authority that, in addition to subscribing to the various War Loans and purchasing War Bonds, many of Liverpool's great trading companies, firms, and private individuals invested Liverpool money in Exchequer Bonds and Treasury Bills. There have been periods when many millions of such securities were held on Liverpool account. Money invested in these securities was particularly useful to the Government in bridging the gap between the various issues of War Loans, and pending the receipt of the proceeds from the issue of War Bonds.
 

(To be Continued.)

 
 

READ Part LXVIII (68) WAR-TIME ACTIVITIES OF THE LIVERPOOL CORPORATION: (c) The Administration of the Town Hall Funds.

READ Part LXX (70) WAR-TIME ACTIVITIES OF THE LIVERPOOL CORPORATION: The Lambeth Road National Shell and Aircraft Factory

 
 
 
 

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