The outbreak of the First World War did not appear to have a significant effect on the membership of the Institute, although the Committee reflected ‘In one way we have been hard hit, and that is in the loss, for a time at any rate, of a very large number of those who have grown up as members of the Institute. We miss their familiar faces and can only hope they may be restored to us in all the vigour of their youth and strength. They deserve well of their country and of their native city.’
At this time, around 230 past and present Institute members had joined the Forces. ‘We think it due to our subscribers and friends to let them know, that they may have been instrumental, through the Florence Institute, in making so large a number of patriotic citizens and soldiers, and that it is due to the latter that their brave efforts should be placed on record. We do not claim that our results have been exceptional, but we think we compare favourably with any other similar Institute in or out of Liverpool. All our seniors have enlisted or volunteered for foreign service. No pressure of any kind has been used, but every encouragement has been given to members to offer their services. A very pleasing feature is the large numbers of letters received from the various camps in Great Britain and Ireland, and from the Continent and the East. Several of our members left early for France and Belgium, and have suffered the untold miseries and hardships of a winter in the water-logged trenches. Yet we have not received a single complaint, nothing but cheery optimism, and a firm conviction that we are going to win, and that they are doing their best to achieve this desired result. Think of the pleasure of keeping in touch with the soldier who, after doing three days in the trenches without sleep, writes home that they have named their dug-out the ‘Midland Adelphi Hotel’, that the banqueting hall is not so large as the Liverpool one, but it is very comfortable! It makes one feel that the City has good cause to be proud of her sons. We sincerely regret to have to record the death of Captain Andrew T.S. MacIver, who was the Commanding Officer of the Cadet Battalion, and as such took a keen interest in ‘B’ Company whose headquarters are at the Institute. Deep sympathy is felt for our Superintendent in the death of his son in France. One other member of the Institute has fallen. We mourn the loss of these fallen heroes.’
The economic prospects for members who remained in the City were good: ‘The Labour market has been entirely upset since August last. Employment in Liverpool has been good, and we have seen little sign of shortness of money. Boys have been in great demand at much higher wages than formerly. We have not been able, when asked, to find a single smart lad for office work. As a rule, our boys seem to take office work as temporary employment, and afterwards to go into trade or to sea in the Navy or merchant service.’
The newsletter began with an exciting programme of events and competitions scheduled for gymnasium members. All leaders would take part in the ‘GIGANTIC FUN FROLIC and Variety Entertainment. This will be managed by a committee of three senior leaders, and we understand they are actively engaged searching for ‘stars’ to illuminate our programme. ‘ It also invited members to attend an important event upcoming at the Institute , the Liverpool and District Ladies Gymnasia League’s Combined Display, on Wednesday 11th February.
The Harriers kept up their runs during the holidays ‘On Christmas morning the Superintendent was surprised and delighted to have a call from the pack on their way round the Park, the compliment and kindly thought will not be forgotten.’ The Harriers were truly unforgotten in the memory of a Florrie Old Boy, Mr George Peck, now living in America. Mr Peck ‘has been good enough to remember his old Club in a substantial manner, by sending a sum of money to purchase prizes for our runners.’ Competitive runners could compete for The Championship Gold Medal and the George A. Peck Prizes, as well as Attendance Medals.
THE FLORENCE INSTITUTE
Registered Office: The Florence Institute Trust Ltd, 377 Mill Street, Liverpool L8 4RF. Charity Registration No: 1109301. Company Registration No: 05330850 (registered in England and Wales).