The North Devon Journal Archive

The largest collection we hold by far is the archive of the local newspaper the North Devon Journal. We hold some 133 volumes of the original newspapers which cover over 120 years of news and events in the North Devon area.

North Devon Journal

The Journal was first published in July 1824 and we hold the first full year in hard copy – the only known copy left in the country. We then have a complete run of the newspapers from 1853-1980. We also hold copies of the newspapers on microfilm from 1824-1988 which are available in the public area alongside the more current films which the local studies library look after.

We also hold 29 volumes of North Devon Herald newspapers which was a rival newspaper set up in 1870 and was merged with the Journal in 1941 to become the North Devon Journal-Herald. Some of these copies are the only ones known to have survived.

Journals in Stack

Bound volumes of the North Devon Journal on our shelves. Many of them are now too fragile to handle and so microfilm substitues are used so we can protect the originals for as long as possible.


In the 1980s a project under the auspices of the Manpower Service Commission saw a group of people index the newspapers by hand and create a subject index covering the years 1824/25 and 1853-1895. A surname index was later created by one of the librarians using the original index. While the index has been superseded by the online version of the newspapers, the subject and name index is still useful for finding articles within the newspapers by subject, parish and name.

North Devon Journal Index

More recently volunteers and staff have produced a separate index to the Birth, Marriage and Death notices in the Journal and we now have indexes covering the years 1824-1857, 1868-1876 & 1880-1949. The index is particularly useful when searching for elusive ancestors and possible reports for marriages and funerals which can provide a mine of information on both the person and their family.

The largest section of the archive is the images collection. We hold thousands of glass and film negatives from the Journal which provides a unique and fascinating window on the North Devon area. The Journal started publishing images in its pages in the early part of the 20th Century and used a local photographer to supply them. By the 1940s and 50s they were commonplace and the Journal had its own photographers.

The glass negative collection was given to us in 1983 and contains 5,774 negatives covering the years 1946-1959. In 2011 a grant from the Bideford Bridge Trust allowed us to have them digitsed. These images can be searched and viewed – in a low resolution format – on our online images and NDJ catalogues.


When the Journal moved from its old premises in Barnstaple High Street to Roundswell in the mid 2000s we were given thousands of film negatives covering the year 1963 – 2003. Further grants from the Bideford Bridge Trust allowed us to digitse all of the 1960s and 70s negatives and most of the 1980s and early 1990s negatives. In 2012 we released 2,545 images from the 1960s collection onto the catalogues and we are still in the process of indexing the 4,678 images from the 1970s. We also have some 11,346 individual images covering the 1980s waiting to be indexed and 3,633 images from 1990-1992 awaiting indexing!

In total we have some 27,885 digitised images as part of the North Devon Journal image collection with thousands more waiting to be done as part of a massive future project.

The negatives and digitised copies are all store in date order allowing us to search them by date even without a full index.

Find Out More:

You can find out more about the history of the North Devon Journal by reading our Brief History of the North Devon Journal post

Discover the images we hold via our online catalogue

Visit us to see the microfilm copies for free.

…Barum Athena



Discover the Effects of Beeching’s Axe…On Our Shelves!

Our Assistant Librarian, Sandi, takes a look at the effects of Dr Beeching’s closure of the Railways in North Devon…

This year sees the fiftieth anniversary of the closure of the Devon and Somerset Railway, the rural line that connected Barnstaple and Ilfracombe to Bristol and the rail network to the rest of the country.

The closure was the result of the recommendations made by the Chairman of British Rail, Dr Beeching, in his publication “The Reshaping of British Railways” in 1963 which led to the loss of 8,000 miles of track, 2,000 stations and 70,000 jobs.


Before 1965 trains from Paddington London and the North of England allowed thousands of holidaymakers to use the railways to transport themselves to their annual holidays in rural and coastal Devon. In Colin Maggs’ book on our shelves, “The Barnstaple and Ilfracombe Railway”,  he notes that on 27th July 1957 a Summer Saturday 10,000 passengers used the Barnstaple to Ilfracombe branch line and 5,470 passengers alighted at Ilfracombe.

After the Devon and Somerset closure, a reduced number of trains continued to run from Ilfracombe to Barnstaple connecting via Exeter to the rest of the country. In the microfilms that we hold of the North Devon Journal newspaper of 25th August 1966 titled “Freeze Axe Falls on Railways” a rail spokesman said ‘There is no question of the line closing at the present moment’. That ‘moment’ lasted until 1970 when the Ilfracombe line also closed.

I remember as a small child that travelling to our holiday destination by train was part of the excitement of the holiday. My father would pack a large trunk with all we needed for the holiday a week before we left and trundle it on a sack truck down to the Railway Parcel Office. We carried nothing more in the way of luggage than some sandwiches and my mother’s handbag with the trunk waiting our arrival at our holiday hotel.


Beeching believed buses and coaches would cater for passenger travel needs but when have Devon roads network ever been sufficient for the volume of traffic? Many are single track lanes with grass growing up the middle. This inadequacy is confirmed for 1st September 1966 in the North Devon Journal where an article headed “Yarnscombe Bus Plea Runs in to Trouble” quotes the Assistant County Surveyor “that two corners in particular were almost impossible for a larger (44 seater) bus to negotiate”.

In the ND Journal of 6th October 1966 Mr Tony Lacey the prospective Liberal candidate for Torrington said “These closures will reduce still further the prospects of modern industrial development. Without proper communications it is quite impossible to contemplate the introduction of the modern industry we so badly need”

In the article “Journey’s End Train Packed for Last Runs” in the North Devon Journal dated 6th October 1966, one of the last passengers to ride on the commemorative train organised by the Barnstaple Round Table was 92 year old Mr Ned Cory who well remembered the opening of the track in 1898. Mr Cory thought that the closure was premature and that he ‘feels the roads of the Westcountry are still inadequate to take the additional traffic’.

This addition has a photograph of the MP for North Devon Mr Jeremy Thorpe and other dignitaries boarding the train at Barnstaple.

Another passenger was Mr Albert Doran an 83 year old former Great Western locomotive driver who had driven the fired steam locomotives in the Westcountry for 45 years. In the ND Journal of 29th September 1966 it was reported that he had asked Western Region to drive the last train but his offer was rejected.


The North Devon Link road which opened in 1988 is the only main road into or out of North Devon and North Cornwall from east to west, and was never built with provision for the increase in future traffic. Interestingly they used the GWR Castle Hill viaduct pillars to support the new Link Road.

We did try a shorter coach trip to holiday from London one year, with all our luggage and a small dog who was ‘car sick’ all the way down on the coach. The next year we bought a car and travel sickness tablets for the dog.

There is a beautifully detailed small book also on our shelves ‘The Official Guide to the Great Western Railway’ Illustrated, published in 1912. Like Bradshaw’s Tourist Handbook used by Michael Portillo in the BBC’s programme Great British Railway Journey’s, it contains illustrations, maps and descriptions of the principal towns along the route and ‘tourist districts and watering holes’!


The GWR served the Ocean Liner ports and one advert in the book offers ‘First Class Inclusive Tours from Southampton to the Victoria Falls Rhodesia and Back for 90 Guineas.

I’m sure Dr Beeching believed his plan was fool proof but would he have taken a different view while stationary in a jam between the only main road from Barnstaple and Ilfracombe because the single carriageway road between Ashford and Chivenor is blocked by a car accident? Or queuing in traffic throughout the Summer months on the same road at Braunton to pass though the bottleneck traffic lights. Or sat in a hot car in four lanes of crawling traffic on the motorway from Tiverton to Bristol on a Bank Holiday?

Yes his ‘Axe’ saved money but at what cost to rural economy, the environment and clean air.

…Sandi, Assistant Librarian

Mervyn Ninnis – Trenches Like Canals

Whilst scanning items for our North Devon War Items project on our Facebook page, I came across several stories about the men who served in the war which made me want to find out more about them. One of these men was Mervyn Ninnis of the Devonshire Regiment.

Born on the 9th January 1889, in Barnstaple, his parents were William (a draper) and Ann. Mervyn was one of eight children, two boys and six girls. He went to school in Bear Street until 1898 when he was forced to leave due to being “In very delicate health”.

After being apprenticed to R B Slee, a butcher, he joined the 4th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment towards the end of 1906 at 18 years old. His surviving Army records show he was 5ft 4inches tall and weighed 106 lbs. He had blue eyes and dark brown hair.

By the outbreak of World War One, Mervyn had been transferred to the 2nd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment and was stationed in Egypt. The Battalion was mobilized on the 6th August 1914 and arrived in Southampton at the beginning of October from whence they moved to Winchester to join up with the Eigth Division. They moved out at the beginning of November and soon found themselves in the thick of it around Neuve Chapelle.

14th January 1915 5d Back to the LandIt was from these trenches Mervyn Ninnis wrote to his friends and family back home. The first of his letters to be published in the North Devon Herald on 14th January 1915 came with the heading “Back To The Land”. In it he spoke about the Christmas truce and thanked his relatives for their gifts. In subsequent letters published in both the North Devon Herald and the North Devon Journal he compared the trenches to canals, a theme which runs through his published letters throughout January 1915.

The 11th March saw his letters describing life in the trenches published in both of the local newspapers for a second time. As members of the public back home in Barnstaple and North Devon read about Mervyn’s experiences, he was in the midst of the battle for Neuve Chapelle, being hit by a shell and wounded in the right leg and ankle. Ten officers and 274 men from the 2nd Devons lost their lives in the action which lasted four days.

Mervyn’s brief note home telling his family he was injured was published a week later and then he went quiet.

18th March1915 5f Stopped At Last

North Devon Herald 8th March 1915 page 5 column f

What had happened to Mervyn? He hadn’t been killed as his name didn’t appear on the War Memorial.

A year later and in an article headed Barumite’s Return in the North Devon Herald, I finally discovered what became of him. Mervyn had, at last, returned home to Barnstaple. After being wounded he was sent to Folkstone where he spent three months in a military hospital before being sent to hospitals in Sandgate and Eastbourne, then to a hospital in Croydon, before finally being discharged from both the army and hospital.

On returning home he was quoted as saying “It’s twelve months since I left the fighting line, and I am trying to forget what I saw there.” He went on to say “I have done my bit, and am now satisfied to remain home in Britain.”

However, this is not the end of Mervyn’s story, in 1918 he married Emma Dorcas Glasby at St Mary Magdalene Church, Barnstaple. They had a daughter, Millicent, in 1923. Mervyn became a postman and they lived in Bickington, where he was also a member of the local choir.

Mervyn died 29th April 1962 aged 73.

NDJH 10th May 1962 10a Thank You (2)

Further Reading:

You can view all of Mervyn’s published letters alongside other newspaper articles about his life on our Facebook page

We also hold a pedigree file about him and his family in our collections

You can also access online collections, including service records and school admission registers for free in the North Devon Record Office and Local Studies Library. Please contact us for more details.

…Barum Athena


Discover the Battle of Dujailah & the 1/6th Devons…On Our Shelves

P1000560 (2)Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Dujailah. While it remains one of the less well known battles of the First World War, but for North Devon it was one of the worst. Some 49 officers and men were killed from the 1/6th Devonshire Regiment in one day and hundreds more died as a result of wounds or illness associated with the campaign.

The 1/6th Battalion Devonshire Regiment was a territorial force based in Barnstaple and made up of men recruited from around the North Devon area. Not long after the outbreak of war they were sent to India where they stayed until they received orders to go to Mesopotamia with their Indian counterparts to be a part of the British campaign to relieve a garrison at Kut el Amara. There was plenty of nerves and excitement amongst the men as the time for their departure from India drew near as letters printed in the local newspapers from the Priscott twins show.

Some 40 members of the 1/6th Devons had already been sent to Mesopotamia attached to the Dorestshire Regiment and were among those stranded in the garrison at Kut el Amara. Something which the men were well aware of as Colonel G.B. Oerton wrote in his first hand account “Dujailah” Days…

“No men…ever had a greater incentive to spur them on in an attempt to succour their comrades than they. They would have gone through (and literally did go through), fire and water to achieve this. They had no intention of letting their pals fall into the hands of the Turks, or worse the Arabs if they could possibly prevent it.” [p 5 “Dujailah” Days by Colonel GB Oerton (DP355/OER)]

P1000549 (2)

The 1/6th Devons landed at Basra on the 6th January 1916 and immediately faced a march of some 230 miles to reach the Front at a place called Orah somewhere north of Sheikh Saad.

“The nights at that time of year were bitter: the going, with the river in flood, execrable; the mud was heavy enough to draw the sole’s of men’s boots. There was no fuel to light fires and although, for much of the time the temperature was that of an English winter, the 1st/6th still wore the thin ‘Indian Drill’ uniform.” [p 37 The Bloody Eleventh by WJ Aggett (D355/AGG)]

To make matters worse the men were on half rations throughout the march, and although tired and exhausted they were ready to take their part in the attack. However, things did not go well for them.

“The assault force, in two groups, was to march across the desert at night and attack in the early morning. The Sixth Devons’ task was involved with the attack on the redoubt forming the southern anchor point of the Turkish defence at Dujailah. The approach march went well, but the timing went astray. The Dujailah assault force were horrified to hear the guns of the other group open fire before they were ready, alerting the Turks.” [p23 The 6th Devons and their Origins by John Rowe (DP355/ROW)]

In the subsequent fighting and retreat the 6th Devons suffered their largest loss of life in a single day.

The “[b]attalion behaved splendidly in spite of losing nineteen officers and nearly three hundred men (killed, wounded and missing). Many tales are told of non-commissioned officers and men rallying small parties and driving back determined enemy counter attacks. The officers were almost too brave and most of those killed were picked off as they charged away ahead of the equally gallant men. The heat was terrific and accentuated by a regrettable lack of water. The regimental-sergeant major was mainly responsible for the adequate water supply of the battalion.” [p 15 The Sixth Battalion Devonshire Regiment in the Great War by Lieut-Colonel CL Flick (D355/FLI)]

There are many accounts of the battle within our local collection, but we also have a few items in our General Collection which cover the events in the Middle East. Volume five of The Empire At War by Sir Charles Lucas covers the Indian involvement in the war and Ronald Millar’s Kut; The Death of an Army also covers the events in Mesopotamia

After Dujailah the 6th Devons were pulled back from the front line and spent the rest of the war either guarding the supply routes in Mesopotamia or back in India until the August of 1919 when they finally returned home. Their fallen comrades were not forgotten though, and they commemorated their sacrifice each year by holding an annual “Dujailah Day” reunion.

222-06 (2)

Members of the 6th Devons outside St. Peter’s Church March 1954 [NDJ Archive NDJ-bx 222-06]

You can find out more about our Library Collection via our website and online catalogue. You can also find newspaper articles from the local newspapers covering the events of the First World War on our Facebook page. The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon also has an exhibition running from February 27th – April 9th 2016 called From Devon to Dujailah which shows the experiences of the 6th Devons in Mesopotamia through the eyes of Sgt Vernon C Boyle.

Welcome to 2016

The start of a new year gives us a chance to reflect on some of the things we have discovered over the last year and look forward to some of the things we may find during 2016.


In 2015 we showcased some of the items we have in our general library collection through our new series of Discover…On Our Shelves! posts. June saw the 800th anniversary of the signing of the  Manga Carta, whilst the previous month saw the anniversary of the War of the Roses. We ended the year on the 150th birthday of Rudyard Kipling who spent time in Westward Ho! as a boy.



June also the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo and we took the opportunity to publish a first hand account of the battle by local veteran, Lieut. John Roberts, whose diary can be found in our Document Collection.


The Carnage dreadful beyond description – Lieut. Roberts


We had guest posts by Philip and Millie, both of whom spent time with us on work experience. Philip found out about his Jones ancestors, while Millie researched the history of the White Lion public house in Barnstaple.


1st Edition OS map (1890) showing Newland Corn Mill – The Jones Connection

As part of our World War One Project we continued to post articles taken from the North Devon Journal and North Devon Herald on our Facebook page as well as posting longer articles on Tales From the Archives. There were some troublesome aliens to be dealt with, a Jewell in Barnstaple’s Crown and a visit to a prisoner of war camp to visit a loved one.  October marked the Royal North Devon Hussars’ arrival in Gallipoli and there were several articles, including the eloquent letters from Sergt. Cater, which recounted some their experiences during the Gallipoli and Dardanelles Campaign

13th January 1916 3 b-c RNDH At Gallipoli

We will continue to follow the Royal North Devon Hussars experiences of the First World War throughout 2016 as well as the stories of those both home and abroad whose lives were impacted by the war.

There are also other anniversaries coming up in 2016, which will see commemorations of Shakespeare’s death and the births of Charlotte Bronte, Capability Brown and Beatrix Potter. It will also be the anniversary of the Great Fire of London in 1666 and the Battle of Hastings of 1066.

We are also hoping to have more guest posts from some of the people who work and volunteer with us. It will be another interesting and fascinating year in the archives…Barum Athena.

The Jewell in Barnstaple’s Crown – Twelve Months of War & the Splendid Work of Barnstaple’s Mayoress

As part of our series of newspaper articles from the First World War comes this piece about the work done by Harriette Ellen Jewell during the first year of the war…Barum Athena

Mrs Jewell, Mayoress of Barnstaple [Harper Album 3]

Mrs Jewell, Mayoress of Barnstaple [Harper Album 3]

The war into which, as an Empire, we were so suddenly plunged twelve months since found us quite unprepared in the country, whatever might be said of the naval or military position. We had allowed ourselves to be lulled into a feeling of false security. With the outbreak of war a heavy burden of responsibility was thrown on the municipalities—a far heavier burden than they had ever previously been called upon to bear. Barnstaple, on common with other towns and cities throughout the country—many of them, perhaps, more “before the footlights,” but very few of more ancient origin or possessing a finer record of patriotic traditions—through its representative authority, manfully accepted the task imposed upon it. The surrounding districts of North Devon looked to its metropolis for a lead in the unprecedented situation with which they were faced, and their confidence in the respect was not misplaced. It is to the part the women are playing in the present crisis that the writer would particularly refer in venturing to pass a few observations. It has been characteristic of the English that a leader could always be found in whatever phase of life or society the particular circumstances required. In Barnstaple we have strong successful leaders in the Mayor and Mayoress of the borough, Councillor F. A. Jewell and Mrs. Jewell. The Mayoress immediately set herself to the task before her, and having put her hand to the plough there was no turning back. Mrs. Jewell has not contented herself with the pleasantries of performing opening ceremonies or leading her patronage respecting functions for deserving objects, she has not been satisfied with making speeches at the various functions as to the pleasure it gave her to be present, but her pleasure is derived from the inward satisfaction that she has unostentatiously taken a major share in the work of organisation.

Headline from the North Devon Herald 17th September 1914 page 8

Headline from the North Devon Herald 17th September 1914 page 8

It was the great Napoleon who said that in any great crisis it was the women’s special lot to soften misfortune. Barnstaple’s Mayoress has clearly recognised that the majority of the people of this country seem loathe to admit—the gravity of the situation. “The fack can’t no longer be disguised that a Krysis is on to us,” words attributed to Artemus Ward, seem applicable to present circumstances. Thanks to the admirable foresight of Mrs. Jewell preparations were early astir in Barnstaple. Relief Committees were formed, and various other organisations set up. At such a time numerous charitable institutions, many of them of a promiscuous character, sprang into existence throughout the country, and it became extremely difficult to separate the grain from the chaff. Gifts which were ear-marked for specific purpose did not always reach their proper destination through certain channels. The fact of the Mayoress lending her help and patronage on behalf of a movement, however, is to guarantee as to it genuineness. Mrs. Jewell soon had around her a willing band of helpers ready to work under her direction in bringing to a successful fruition various movements which she had devised. Among the earliest steps taken was the manufacture locally of hundreds of pounds of jam, the ingredients for which were freely given in response to the Mayoress’s appeal. Schoolchildern, willing to do their little bit gladly spent their half holidays in the country lanes picking blackberries for “The Mayoress’s jam.” Nor was this response confined to Barnstaple, but from various parts of North Devon Mrs. Jewell received contributions of fruits, many of them accompanied by beautiful little notes from schoolchildren stating that having seen the appeal in the “Herald” they wished to do something to help. The result of this happy thought of jam making proved an inestimable benefit to the poorer classes of the community last winter.

North Devon Herald 7th January 1915 page 5

North Devon Herald 7th January 1915 page 5

Shortly after the commencement of hostilities Mrs. Jewell convened a meeting of ladies, as a result of which the borough was divided into five districts—the ecclesiastical parishes being chosen as the dividing line—with a responsible head to each district. Consequent upon the endeavours of the respective committees thousands of useful articles have been sent away to the various relief and other organisations. The Mayoress has also raised “a mint of money” towards a number of relief funds. The Prince of Wales and Princess Mary’s Funds were among the first to claim her help and in each case her appeal met with most gratifying results. Towards the Belgian relief fund, Mrs. Jewell was instrumental in raising 100 guineas, which together with nine large cases of excellent clothing were forwarded to the headquarters, a personal letter of grateful thanks being subsequently received. With the arrival of Belgian refugees, Mrs. Jewell immediately set to work to promote a local fund towards the care of refugees as “guests of the borough.” Nicely furnished homes were provided, and at the present time Barnstaple is keeping 100 Belgians. The excellent treatment which the Belgians are receiving in Barnstaple drew from the Archbishop of Malines a few weeks since his personal thanks, together with an expression that nowhere in the country had his compatriots been better looked after than had been the case locally. A club under the patronage of the Mayor and Mayoress has since been opened for the exclusive use of the refugees. Thanks again to the efforts of Mrs. Jewell money enough has been raised to furnish a Barnstaple bed in a Serbian hospital for twelve months. On French flag day the Mayoress and her willing band of helpers raised over £60. In the street collections the local Italian organ-grinders have voluntarily offered their co-operation and have rendered excellent service in this connection. Among the numerous letters of thanks for services rendered which Mrs. Jewell has received is one from Lady Fortescue, the wife of the Lord Lieutenant of the County, for her efforts in obtaining one thousand signatures to a women’s petition as to the desirability of interning all alien enemies residing on or near the coast line. A Belgian pound day which the Mayoress instituted was extremely successful, one thousand pounds of goods and £5 in money being obtained. Then she has organised periodical collections of eggs for the British soldiers, and up to the present has despatched no fewer than 10,500 eggs. In this connection she has received loyal co-operation from the surrounding countryside children from the respective schools forwarding her regular weekly contributions. As soon as the need for sandbags was made know, Mrs. Jewell set

Mr F A Jewell, Mayor

Mr F A Jewell, Mayor

to work, and with the aid of the various committees, etc., coupled with the splendid work of the children of Holsworthy Grammar School, she has been enabled to dispatch no fewer than 3,500. It is estimated that ten sandbags are equivalent to the saving of one life, so that on that basis 350 British soldiers owe their lives at the present time to the iniative and labours of the Mayoress of Barnstaple. In a hundred and one other ways has Mrs. Jewell assisted in helping to tide over the present crisis—thousands of garments of one kind and another, hundreds of knitted belts and socks, respecting which local schoolchildren gave valuable help, have been forwarded by her to the proper quarters—but her crowning effort was the splendid assistance which she rendered Mrs. Trefusis, the wife of the Bishop of Crediton, in promoting the great county bazaar at Exeter, and subsequently the highly successful county bazaar in Barnstaple. Mrs. Jewell has a record standing to her credit, of which she may well feel proud, a pride which will find an echo in the sentiments of all Barumites far and near.

The Mayoress, in one of those delightful little impromptu speeches of which she is capable, once quoted the words of anonymous writer as the goal which her hearers should aim at, which seem applicable to the conclusion of a few words of appreciation of her labours in North Devon–”I expect to pass through this world but once, any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to my fellow creatures, let me do it now : let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

transcript taken from the North Devon Herald 5th August 1915 page 5 column f. This just one of many articles about  North Devon’s experiences during World War One published in the local newspapers. For more visit our North Devon War Items Album on our Facebook Page…Barum Athena

Police and Troublesome Aliens

Police and Troublesome Aliens...A German Heavily Fined from the North DEvon Herald 6th May 1915

Police and Troublesome Aliens…A German Heavily Fined from the North Devon Herald 6th May 1915

During the First World War German citizens, or enemy aliens, were required to register with the authorities and had strict restrictions placed on their movements. The following article, taken from the North Devon Herald in May 1915, involves the case of a German alien, Fritz Adler, who was fined £20 (roughly £1,400 in today’s money) for breaching the regulations when he hired a pony and joined two local hunts…Barum Athena

At Braunton Sessions held in Barnstaple yesterday (Wednesday), the magistrates imposed a heavy fines on an alien enemy for proceeding beyond the five-mile limit from his place of registration without a permit. This is the second case of this character which has come before the County Bench during the past month. The magistrates present were Mr. W. P. Hiern (in the chair), Mr. Comer Clarke, and Mr. Geo. Norman.

Fritz Adler, described as an alien enemy, of German nationality, was summoned for proceeding beyond the five-mile limit from his registered place of residence at Lynton on April 24th and on April 27th.

Mr. R. E. C. Balsdon appeared for the defendant, and pleaded guilty.

Supt. Hulland, in outlining the case, said that the defendant was a German by birth. He came to England some time in the year 1900. On March 25th of this year the defendant came to Lynton from London, bringing with him a permit from the London police and certificate of registration. The police-sergeant at Parracombe went to Lynton and re-registered Adler on the 27th March. The regulations were explained to him, but he already knew them, and produced his certificate of registration which showed that no registered alien must travel more than five miles form his registered place of residence. He should prove to the Bench that on the 24th of last month the defendant attended a meet of the hounds at Brendon Two Gates, seven miles from Lynton; and another meet of the hounds at Whitstone Cross on the 27th, the latter place being in the county of Somerset, and ten miles from Lynton. They did not wish to be unduly severe, but the defendant was educated, and there could be no question of ignorance. Considering the way in which they (the police) treated the men of that nationality, he thought they (enemy aliens) should accord them similar treatment, and not give all that trouble. The police got any amount of trouble and complaints. The defendant hired a horse and attended various meets of hounds. Where he went during the day no one knew. Once he left Lynton, no one knew what he did until he returned. They felt it was a very serious case. It might be possible that he wanted to meet someone out that way; they did not know.

P.S. Champion, of Parracombe, gave evidence as to re-registering the defendant on his arrival at Lynton.

Charles Price, chauffeur, of Goring-on-Thames, who has been staying at Countisbury, gave evidence to the effect that on the 24th of last month he attended a meet of the Devon and Somerset Hounds at Brendon Two Gates. He saw the defendant present. On the 27th April he attended the meet of the hounds at Whitstone Cross, Porlock, the defendant being again present.

P.C. Bibbings, stationed at Lynton, said that Brendon Two Gates and Whitstone Cross were seven and nine miles respectively from the defendant’s registered place of residence at Lynton. When he told the defendant he should report him, Adler replied that he did not know he was outside the five mile limit.

Mr. R. E. C. Balsdon said his client had been resident in this country for the past fifteen years. He was at present in partnership with an Englishman, a Mr. Freeland, as a taximeter manufacturer; and was a householder in London. His client also appreciated the fact that German subjects in this country in the main were allowed to be at large subject to those restrictions, while Englishmen in Germany were interned. Up to that unfortunate incident he had obeyed those restrictions in every respect. He had come to Lynton with his wife and family for the benefit of his health, and was informed that some exercise on horseback would do him good. Consequently he learnt to ride, hired a pony at Lynton, and went to Brendon Two Gates and to Whitstone Cross, and on each occasion worked back towards Lynton with the hounds. Had the place at which the defendant was seen been on the coast, or had the gentleman been seen making suspicious signals, or had his movements been of a suspicious character, one might have thought that the case was worthy of the remarks made by the superintendent. The explanation of the whole matter was that he travelled the distance, which was unknown to him in all good faith; he did not think that he had exceeded the limit. It was a perfectly innocent breach of the law. His client felt additionally sorry that he had broken the regulations, because he had had extreme courtesy from everyone since the outbreak of war. If it were not that he did not wish to appear a traitor to the country by birth, he (the speaker) ventured to suggest that his sympathies were far more for the country which he had adopted as his place of residence.

The Chairman: Are you going to prove that?

Mr. R. E. C. Balsdon: No, sir

The Chairman: Then I do not think you had better say that.

Mr. Balsdon, in conclusion, said his client was totally exempt from military service, so that he was not a dangerous alien enemy in the sense that if he could slip out of this country he would go back and fight against England.

The Chairman said there were a couple of points which Mr. Balsdon had omitted to mention. One was as to whether the defendant possessed a thorought[sic] knowledge of the English language.

Mr. Balsdon: He speaks English fluently.

The Chairman: The other point is that the German mile is very much more than an English mile. You did say he was deceived by the use of the word mile.

Mr. Balsdon: He has not instructed me in that. He was so honest in his instructions that I do not think he was deceived.

The Bench imposed a fine of £20 and costs.

transcript taken from the North Devon Herald 6th May 1915 page 8 comun b. This just one of many articles about enemy aliens in North Devon during World War One published in the local newspapers. For more visit our North Devon War Items Album on our Facebook Page…Barum Athena