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Newspapers: a rich source of social history

Take this selection made by Van Allen of cuttings from newspapers published between 1923 - 1926 and 1932-1936. We learn that 200 Cadbury Bourneville workers came for a fortnight's holiday in August 1924 and football matches were arranged against local teams; that sailors from a couple of warships anchored off Lyme were entertained by tea, a concert part and charabanc trips; that Lyme was visted by a whale, a shark, and an otter "prowling" along Marine Parade. There are contemporary reports of many landslides, including the one in January 1926 that left the gardens looking "more like a ploughed field where an earthquake has taken place."

Lyme seems to suffered greatly from the elements around this time: 2 months earlier, a great storm had badly damaged the Parade and in the summer of 1926 a four hour thunderstorm struck the town: " It began at 3 am and lasted about four hours. The roofs of many houses could not withstand the downpour, and water poured through the roofs into bedrooms and swamped beds and furniture and drenched sleeping people. Other people who sought safety from the lightening downstairs were confronted by the swirling waters in the lower rooms. A woman holding a baby was struck by lightning and became unconscious. Street paving was carried hundreds of yards by the rush of water. Gas mains and electric cables were broken or put out of order, telephones became unworkable, and water pipes burst. Men worked for hours baling out flooded shops and retrieving treasury notes, cheques, and private ledgers. The town club bedrooms were drenched, windows were smashed by large hailstones, and a motor car was found afloat in a garage in nearly five feet of water. Tents in which people were camping out were washed away, and furniture was floating in the streets. The lightening tore a great hole in the main street. A boiler weighing nearly half a ton was swept before the rush of water". What a wonderful picture is conjured up of cheques and banknotes floating out of offices!

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