By sheer coincidence I was in London when war was declared. It happened like this. Being August Bank Holiday my mother wanted to give us a treet. A big row took place because my father was late coming home from his allotment. After getting ready we found ourselves at Kew Bridge landing stage. There was a large queue for the boat going to Windsor but on the boat going up to Westminster there was plenty of room. So to London we went and landed at Westminster Pier, walked around to the Houses of Parliament where war was declered.That explained why Chelsea Embankment was full of soldiers when we passed it. Next day several of our relations were called up on reserve and less than a month later one was a prisoner of war. My mother’s reaction was to get as much tea, sugar and anything that would store, this proved a wise move. Rationing was not introduced before 1916 and hours were spent lining up for butter, margarine, etc. In October 1914 the Royal Garrison Artillery on their way to France were billetted on the town for a night. Beds had to be found for the men, and us kids had had the time of our lives watching the great big guns being put in the Market and “White Hart” yard. Workpeople were being drafted into the town, for war work at the Gramophone Works and a big filling factory at Hayes known to us as Hayes Arsenal. We had to take in two lodgers, both from Beeston, Nottingham and both turned out to be professional football players who had played for Notts. County. One of them played for Chelsea several times ( H. Pacey ) and later played a big part in Botwell Mission Football Club’s success. 1915 was a very busy time for the town. The Marylebone School in South Road was taken over as an Australian hospital, and with it the newly built Beaconsfield Road School for officers’ and administration block. The King’s Hall was opened on October 11th 1916 by the Lord Mayor of London, Lord Wakefield, the Rev. Broadbelt being in charge.
The Maypole Institute was turned into a military hospital and under V.A.D. staff and Dr. Chill treated 3,300 patients of whom 2,520 came straight from France ( only 4 deaths ). It closed February 1919.