Edwardian/World Wars (1901-1945)

1900. Burton Lazars race course was a popular social event for both rich visitors and locals. The social divide was such that soup had to be distributed through the winters. In 1907, for example, this was on Fridays and Saturdays.

1903. The Remount Depot was established to meet war needs for horses. The Equine Division main block was built in 1895.

1914-18. The First World War took many men and horses from this area. The need for horses at the front led to the requisition of farm horses. The lists of names on the war memorials of the Borough show the horror of the First World War and this would begin the social changes of this century. The economic pressures of wartime caused Collins pork pie factory to close down and the trade never recovered.

1922. Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen, who had ruled Egypt in the first half of the 14th century BC. The expedition led by Lord Carnavon led to many Egyptian inspired building designs. The shop frontage along Sherrard Street dates from the 1920’s and clearly shows the influence.

1914-24. Sir Malcolm Sargent was organist and choirmaster at St. Mary’s Parish Church.

1920-30’s. Edward VIII, while Prince of Wales, met Mrs. Wallis Simpson at Burrough Court, near Melton Mowbray for the first time. It was because she was a divorcee that he was forced to choose between marrying her and becoming King. He abdicated in 1936 and was succeeded by his brother, George VI.

1936. Garner’s Garage was built on the corner of High Street and Wilton Road. The Art Deco design of this garage says a lot about the importance of automobiles. Other builds of this date include the Regal Cinema with its coloured tiling.

1939-45. When Adolf Hitler ordered the invasion of Poland this brought Britain into the Second World War.  A number of Poles managed to get to Britain and a parliament in exile was set up. Nine RAF stations were selected for use by the Polish Resettlement Corps but only Melton Aerodrome near Great Dalby could house families. In 1946 the first contingent of 250 Polish men, women and children arrived in Melton.

1939-45. There was very little bomb damage in Melton Borough by all accounts, though one house in Brook Street was hit and the road rattled with machine gun fire from the plane as it flew on.

1944. Private Dick Burton, age 21, was serving with the 1st Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment at Monte Casino, Italy. On 8th October 1944 his platoon was advancing on the 1,950 foot height when they came under fire from a German machine gun emplacement. The Platoon leader was wounded. Private Burton rushed forward and killed three German gunners. As the assault continued it was again held by two more machine guns. Again Burton rushed forward and when his ammunition was exhausted he grabbed a Bren Gun and firing from the hip and forced the Germans to withdraw. Dick Burton was the only Meltonian to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

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