George Wyatt Peachey 1914-20

Last updated: July 2008


When World War 1 was breaking out George Peachey and Henry Norris were about to embark on one of the most testing trials of a friendship: they were going on holiday together.  Not on their own, in fact the party was quite a large one: Edith Norris was going, of course, and so were another couple, Walter Middleton and his wife.  Walter Middleton was another councillor of the London Borough of Fulham; he ran an engineering business in the Fulham Road.  The Middleton’s son would be travelling with them to France; he would then head off to Paris while his seniors went by car to Germany, taking a ten-day motor tour of the Rhine Valley.  I can only suppose that they had no idea of the danger they were in because despite the fact that the peace of Europe was rapidly unravelling, they set out on their holiday as planned, on Saturday morning 1 August 1914. 


On their return, it was George Peachey who spoke to the press, describing what had happened to them.  The travellers had sent a car on ahead, to be collected at Boulogne, and that had all worked and they had driven as far as Dunkirk by the Saturday night.  However, it was clear as they drove along that France was preparing for war.  Despite their misgivings they’d decided to go on, and on the Sunday 2 August 1914 they’d crossed the border after what Peachey described as “a little difficulty”, and entered Belgium.  Peachey joked with the reporter from the Fulham Chronicle that the party’s luggage had caused them a lot of trouble and that, “It was my bag that the authorities wanted to open every time.”  He was making light of it, safely back in England, but when the party arrived in Ostend (which they found practically deserted) they could see that matters had taken what Peachey called, “a serious turn” and they’d taken the decision to go home “as soon as we possibly could.”  They had returned to Boulogne the same day and found rooms at the Folkestone Hotel.  However, the queue waiting for the ferry sailing at 11 on the Monday morning (3 August 1914) was so long that when the ship arrived their car was turned away.  They’d had to wait for 24 hours with the Folkestone Hotel all but shut-down, before eventually getting on a boat on the Tuesday morning.  (Tuesday 4 August 1914, the day the UK declared war on Germany).  Peachey described the boat trip as “a terrible crush”.  They’d had to leave the car behind (Middleton junior stayed with it); and the authorities at Boulogne had been turning away all those without British passports.  Back in England that evening, Peachey and the Norrises had taken the train back to London at once but of course the Middletons were concerned about their son, and had stayed waiting for him.  He and the car arrived during the night of Tuesday 4-Wednesday 5 August and the three of them returned to Fulham later in the day - the first day of the Great War. 


Henry Norris, as mayor of Fulham, immediately returned to the town hall to take charge of a borough now at war.  George Peachey, however, had time to speak to the reporter from the local newspaper about the travellers’ experiences.  With typical English phlegm he told the Fulham Chronicle that, “the greatest trouble we had during the whole of the time...was to get English sovereigns exchanged”.  The friendship of the two men seems to have survived their experiences; though of course they didn’t spend the two weeks together in the same travelling group that was originally planned.


As the mayor of a borough one of the first things Henry Norris had to do on the outbreak of war was set up the Fulham branch of the National Relief Fund.  George Peachey had attended the local committee’s first meeting, on Saturday 8 August 1914, at the town hall.  The first meeting of its general committee took place on Thursday 13 August, and George Peachey was elected to its executive committee, which I think oversaw the daily running of the fund. He’d already donated £10 to the fund, which was meant to help the families of the men who were volunteering to fight.  The committee met to do its work regularly on Thursday evenings at Fulham Town Hall, after this date.  The NRF’s work was then sub-divided to consider applications for its money and to dole the money out.  These sub-divisions were on local authority ward lines and George Peachey chaired Town Ward’s local committee.


In the midst of all this, Fulham councillor Winfield died; on Monday 31 August 1914 George Peachey went to his funeral, at St Clement’s Church and the old Fulham cemetery.


One way of raising money for the National Relief Fund was to hold what the local press described as a “grand patriotic concert”.  George Peachey went to the first of these events to be held in Fulham on Thursday 1 October 1914; it had been organised by the Fulham Conservative Club at their functions hall in Shorrold’s Road.  Another typical fund-raising event was a whist-drive.  George Peachey went to one organised by Sand’s End Conservative and Unionist Party at their King’s Hall on Wednesday 14 October 1914.


I’ve written in my files on Henry Norris and the London County Council about Oswald Stoll’s battle over at least a decade with the London authorities to have a huge music hall built on his property in Fulham Road.  Stoll’s latest application was dealt with at a hearing (I presume at Fulham Town Hall) on Friday 13 November 1914.  The applications were always opposed by local church groups and usually by the London Borough of Fulham but on this occasion Stoll had George Peachey as a witness on his side, arguing that the music hall would regenerate an area in decline.  One of his remarks while giving evidence caused a lot of laughter in court although Peachey himself doesn’t seem to have thought he’d said anything funny.  Stoll’s application was refused (yet again) but by only one vote.


The war was meant to be over by Christmas of course. 


On Wednesday 27 January 1915 there was another whist-drive to raise money for the National Relief Fund.  This one was organised by the Council and took place at the Fulham Town Hall.  Peachey had been one of the organisers so of course he was present at the event.  Henry and Edith Norris and the Middletons all went to it.


In March 1915 Peachey’s period as a trustee of Fulham Waste Land and Lygon Almshouses was up for renewal.  He was reappointed to serve until 24 March 1919.  By this time Henry Norris was also a trustee; he too was reappointed, until the same date.


On Thursday 11 March 1915 there was a big audience at the Fulham Town Hall for another concert in aid of the National Relief Fund.  George Peachey went to the concert, with Henry and Edith Norris.

Most institutions were trying to continue with business as normal at this stage, while the war continued (this was the spring of the Dardanelles disaster).  George Peachey was still active in the Fulham Philanthropic Society and at least this far into the war it was still holding its monthly summer meetings at the King’s Head High Street Fulham.  One which Peachey attended was held on Tuesday 29 June 1915, probably the last one before the summer break.


July-November 1915 was a quiet time for Peachey; unless he was helping organise the ‘war census’ which took place in August-September, organised by the local councils and with the aim of  setting up a card index of the names and current addresses of all young men in the borough - an enormous undertaking, with the house calls mostly undertaken by volunteers. 


9 November was mayor-making day but in wartime the tendency was to stick with the mayor you already had.  So on 9 November 1915 Henry Norris was elected mayor again.  When membership of the borough’s standing committees was dealt with Peachey continued to serve on the Finance committee, where he was vice-chairman, and on the ratings Assessment committee; but he was no longer on the Public Health committee.  With Henry and Edith Norris, and William Hayes Fisher and his wife, Peachey went on Sunday morning 13 November 1915 to All Saints Fulham for the service which traditionally started the new mayoral year.


By the autumn of 1915 everyday life was beginning to close down all over England.  The Fulham Philanthropic Society decided it would not be holding its annual dinner this year.  Instead it advertised in the local press for donations.


Sunday 2 January 1916 was a Day of National Intercession, during which people were to pray for an early end to the war.  On Wednesday 29 December 1915, the last meeting of Fulham Council that year, Henry Norris told the other councillors that he would be going to Fulham parish church on the Day of Intercession and he wanted as many councillors as possible to accompany him, after their poor showing at the mayoral service in November.  Peachey was one of those councillors who took the strong hint and went to the church service on Sunday 2 January 1916.


The endgame of the war census was the drawing up of a list of young men ready to volunteer when they were called.  Part of it was the setting up in each borough of a tribunal to interview those young men who had not been willing to volunteer.  But before these tribunals could get themselves going the first of the national service acts had been passed (at breakneck speed in January 1916) and they had been turned into something even more serious - instead of hearing excuses why young men shouldn’t volunteer, they would hear reasons why young men weren’t able to be called up.  The law laid down a set of exemptions to military service.   The tribunals were to judge whether the circumstances of the men before them fitted any of them.  If they didn’t, then the men would have to go to the trenches.  The tribunals were organised by the local council and local councillors elected the juries who were to sit in judgement at them (a sore point in Fulham and no doubt elsewhere).  At the meeting of Fulham Military Service Tribunal on Wednesday 9 February 1916 George Peachey and a Mr W A White were elected (I’m not clear whether that’s by the other councillors or just by the councillors on the tribunal jury) to represent the local Recruiting Officer’s interests at Fulham Military Tribunal.  This was a serious commitment of time and energy and the records show that George Peachey did not shirk his responsibilities: the Tribunal met 236 times and Peachey missed only a handful of meetings.  Especially in its first few months the Tribunal was in session, hearing cases, for several hours on Thursday and Friday evenings and all day on Saturdays.  I’d say that until the tribunals were disbanded when the fighting stopped in November 1918, this was the single largest consumer of time in Peachey’s life; it was also his major contribution towards the war effort, and he was awarded an OBE for it when the war was over.


On Monday 3 April 1916 George Peachey went with Mr and Mrs Hayes Fisher and Edith Norris to the funeral of the Rev Muriel, vicar of Fulham.  Henry Norris was unable to attend.


Later that spring George Peachey took on another commitment that was a function of wartime.  Local elections had been suspended in 1915; when elected representatives died or resigned they were now replaced by appointees.  By this method, not by being elected, George Peachey found himself a member of Fulham Board of Guardians, the body that ran the local poor law; Edith Norris was an elected member.  On Wednesday 12 April 1916 he attended his first meeting.  A continual source of aggravation for the Fulham Board of Guardians during the war was the military’s commandeering of its hospital.  In theory, the War Office and the Fulham Board of Guardians were now supposed to run the hospital between them; but in practice the War Office did much as it liked.  On 12 April 1916 the Guardians discussed whether they should stop the construction of a temporary building in the grounds of the hospital which the YMCA would use as a recreation hut for patients able to walk around.  The War Office had let work begin on the hut without obtaining the Board of Guardian’s consent. It was Peachey who asked the War Office’s Major Parsons whether the hut was really necessary.  Eventually, though, the meeting decided that - necessary or not - it was going to be built anyway; they agreed to let the building work continue.


The Fulham Board of Guardians held its main meeting on Thursday afternoons at its offices on Fulham Palace Road, where Charing Cross Hospital now is; normally they took place every fortnight but by the time Peachey became a Guardian, they were only being held once a month; and that continued to be the case until the Armistice.  The regular meetings of the London Borough of Fulham, on Wednesday evenings, were also down to one a month rather than one a fortnight, by this stage in the war.


The next meeting of the Fulham Board of Guardians which Peachey attended, however, was actually the Board’s AGM, on Tuesday 25 April 1916.  The fall-out from the YMCA hut continued to rumble: some Guardians questioned the Rev Propert’s handling of the War Office officials, saying he hadn’t been tough enough on them.  However, Propert was still re-elected as chairman to serve for the next 12 months.


So: by April 1916 Peachey is very busy at Fulham Military Service Tribunal and Fulham Board of Guardians.  I shan’t mention his commitments there unless there was something special going on.  Until November 1918 I’ll just do the diary of other events he had time to attend; and some he didn’t: on Monday 10 July 1916 the much-disputed YMCA hut was officially opened by Princess Louise; but neither Peachey nor Edith Norris attended the ceremony.


Peachey had attended the induction of Fulham’s new vicar, the Rev Gerald Marshall, on Sunday 9 July 1916; again William Hayes Fisher and his wife were there, Peachey must have got to know them both pretty well.  Neither Henry Norris nor Edith were able to attend.


I hope Peachey’s other commitments didn’t lead him to have to miss out on Fulham’s second flower show, organised under the auspices of the Royal Horticultural Society at The Field, Clancarty Road from 27-29 July 1916; but none of the press coverage mentions his having been there.  On Saturday 5 August 1916, however, he was present at All Saints Fulham and afterwards at the Fulham cemetery for the funeral of his freemasons’ and Fulham Council acquaintance E G Easton; Henry and Edith Norris went to this.


The sessions of the Fulham Military Service Tribunal were open to the public, I think, and were also covered in detail by the local press.  The names of those claiming exemption were given (poor souls) but the names of the jury members and military representatives present at the session were not unless they asked a particular question.  Occasionally, therefore, the press gives a glimpse of Peachey at work.  At the session on Thursday evening 19 October 1916, when it got to the claim by Messrs Hunt Limited’s van driver that his job was too important to the firm for him to do his military service, it was George Peachey who said that surely a replacement driver could be found - someone over the age of being called up. 


By early 1917 the tribunal was not needing to do quite as many sessions: it was meeting in the evening on Mondays and Fridays.  Sessions continued all the way through August, there was no summer break.


In the first few months of 1917 Peachey seems to have missed more meetings of Fulham Board of Guardians than he attended.


On Monday morning 9 July 1917, George Peachey was present at the Fulham Town Hall when Henry Norris, as mayor of Fulham, officially opened Fulham’s child welfare exhibition.


George Peachey and Mr White may have divided up the military tribunal’s sessions between them by doing one session each: Mr White was mentioned as having been at the Fulham Military Service Tribunal session on Monday 22 October 1917; so perhaps during that period of 1917 Peachey did Fridays.  The report of the Fulham Chronicle on that particular session remarked, “There was a good attendance of members” as if by now there usually wasn’t.  By the winter of 1917 the tribunal was holding a session on Wednesdays.  Peachey was the military representative at the session on Wednesday 7 November, which again was described by Fulham Chronicle as well-attended, as if they usually weren’t.


On Thursday 22 November 1917 George Peachey went to a concert at Fulham Town Hall that was organised to raise funds for the local branch of the British Red Cross.  Edith Norris attended this; as the mayoress of the borough she was ex officio a senior member of the Red Cross.  Henry Norris wasn’t able to go.


The difficult winter of 1917-18 was another period where George Peachey missed more meetings of Fulham Board of Guardians than he attended.



On Thursday evening 18 April 1918 George Peachey attended the concert Edith Norris had organised to raise funds for her favourite charity in Fulham, Fulham Day Nursery - a place where women could leave their children while they were at work.  Mr and Mrs Hayes Fisher and Henry Norris were also there, to hear Edith and her daughters take leading roles in the musical entertainment.


Because so many of its members were above military service age, the freemasons lodges of London had continued to hold meetings regularly although they did cut down on the number of dinners.  On Thursday 2 May 1918, George Peachey was installed as Worshipful Master of Fulham Lodge number 2512, to serve for one year - the year that happened to include the Armistice.


Even as early as spring 1918 there was a distinct feeling in England that the end of the war might be in sight this time.  However, the miltary call-up was still continuing and the Fulham Military Service Tribunal was still in session.  Peachey was the military representative at the sessions on Monday 13 May and Friday 24 May 1918.  At the session on Friday 7 June 1918 he got into a discussion of the details of the gradings given by the Tribunal when men who were claiming exemption through illness underwent the necessary medical examinations.


After the terrible weather of summer 1917, there were food shortages.  On Tuesday 11 June 1918 at lunch-time George Peachey attended the opening of Fulham’s third public kitchen, on a site at the corner of North End Road and Star Road.  These kitchens were run by the London Borough of Fulham’s Food Committee; Peachey wasn’t a member as far as I know.  As the mayoress, Edith Norris performed the opening ceremony; Henry Norris couldn’t attend.


During the summer of 1918 Peachey attended nearly all the Thursday meetings of Fulham Board of Guardians.  At the one held on Thursday 10 October 1918 - with revolution in Europe and the end of the fighting only weeks away - he took part in a discussion about an alternative plan the Poor Law unions were trying to put forward to head off planned Government reform of the way what we’d call social security was distributed.


October 1918 - the flu.  11 November 1918 - the Armistice.  December 1918 - William Hayes Fisher gets a peerage and becomes Lord Downham; and the General Election was held in which Henry Norris became MP for Fulham East.


Though the fighting was over, people were still going hungry.  On Wednesday 15 January 1919 George Peachey was present at the opening of a fourth Council-run public kitchen, at 155 Dawes Road.  Again, Edith Norris did the opening ceremony.


The early months of 1919 saw many events celebrating the end of the fighting (though the Peace was not signed until June).  On Monday 10 February 1919 George Peachey, Henry Norris and Cyril Cobb of the LCC were all amongst the guests at a dinner organised by Fulham Traders’ Association which later became Fulham Chamber of Commerce.  Many members of the Association were known to George Peachey, either as fellow members of Fulham Lodge number 2512, or as members of the local Conservative Party.  The dinner was held at a familiar venue: the Clarendon Restaurant in Hammersmith.


The end of the fighting had also brought a resumption of local democracy: elections to the Boards of Guardians were due in England on Saturday 5 April 1919.  By 21 March 1919 George Peachey had decided to stand for election.  He was chosen as a (Conservative Party) candidate for Sand’s End ward which Edith Norris already represented.  Edith Norris got in again, but George Peachey wasn’t elected - perhaps because he hadn’t stood as candidate before, perhaps because his record of attendance at meetings hadn’t been all that good.


On Wednesday 2 April 1919 the London Borough of Fulham considered the final report of Fulham’s Military Service Tribunal.  The statistics showed that Peachey had attended 229 of its 236 meetings.


At the London Borough of Fulham’s regular Wednesday evening meeting on 2 April 1919 George Peachey and Henry Norris were reappointed trustees of Fulham Waste Land and Lygon Almshouses, to serve until 24 Mar 1923.


On Wednesday 29 April 1919 there was a dance at Fulham Town Hall in aid of the Hostel for Fulham Children.  George Peachey had hired the room.  I haven’t found out anything more about the Hostel; perhaps Peachey was a member of its governing committee.


On Friday 30 May 1919 George Peachey, the Downhams, Henry and Edith Norris, the Middletons and many others were guests of the Fulham Municipal Officers’ Association at the Clarendon Restaurant, Hammersmith.  The Association was holding a dinner to celebrate the safe return of colleagues who had fought in the war (two had not returned).


At the usual Wednesday evening meeting of London Borough of Fulham on 2 July 1919, Henry Norris as mayor allowed in a deputation led by Mr R M Gentry (who became the next mayor).  They were complaining that certain social groups (which the Fulham Chronicle didn’t name in its report) seemed to have a monopoly on hiring the function rooms at the town hall and no other organisations could get a look in.  Norris and Mr Gentry had a discussion over whether anyone might be profiteering over hire of the Council’s public rooms; in the aftermath of World War 1 to be accused of profiteering was the last insult.  Peachey entered into the discussion by asking how many members there were in the societies Gentry was representing.  It seems a strange subject for a deputation to the local Council, but local authority elections were going to be held in November 1919 - the first since 1912.  Gentry was a trade union activist and leader of the local (relatively new) Labour Party.


As requested by central Government the London Borough of Fulham was putting together a programme for council-built housing.  Its first housing committee was formed at the Wednesday evening meeting on 30 July 1919 and George Peachey was elected to it.  A site had already been suggested for the housing, the most unlikely one in the borough: Hurlingham Club’s second polo pitch.  (Just as if!  The Club was able to fend this idea off very easily.)  No sooner had this new committee been formed than it was rent with dispute over which architect the Council should employ; Peachey seems to have not been a member of either of the factions that arose in the dispute.


In August and September 1919 George Peachey was on another committee organising an event for children.  On Tuesday 16 and Wednesday 17 September 1919 at the Hurlingham Club, all of Fulham’s 28000 school-children, in two batches, were entertained to sports, a fair, ginger beer and cakes.  As one of the organisers Peachey was present for all of both afternoons.


It seems that the Conservatives in Fulham, who had reigned at Fulham Council since 1912 with no opposition whatsoever, had an inkling that their reign was over.  Few of the councillors that Peachey had known for so long were intending to stand in the local elections due on 1 November 1919; including Henry Norris.  However, George Peachey did stand, in Town Ward as usual.


On Thursday 16 October 1919 Henry and Edith Norris gave their last big reception as mayor and mayoress of Fulham, at the Fulham Town Hall.  It was a big affair, though not quite as big as the one of March 1913.  George Peachey was amongst the guests though this time he didn’t take his sister Mabel Whitelock.


The local elections of November 1919 resulted in a big defeat for the Conservatives, in Fulham.  They might have drawn comfort from knowing that it had been the same in a lot of urban boroughs; and that it had been even worse for the independent Liberals (that is, the ones not in the central Government coalition) - in Fulham they got no seats at all, just like 1912.  The Labour Party had the gains and ended with a majority of 9 in Fulham over the Conservatives.  R M Gentry was elected mayor.  Several women were elected, the first female councillors in Fulham.  Conservative Councillor Flèche, whose wife was a friend of Edith Norris, underwent the humiliation of standing and being defeated; and in Sand’s End all six councillors were now Labour - they’d all been Conservative before.  But Peachey defied the general trend by being re-elected in Town Ward.  The mayor-making meeting of 10 November 1919 will have been an uncomfortable occasion for Peachey, having to watch Henry Norris endure some slighting remarks from the new councillors, some cat-calls from the public gallery, and coming bottom in the voting for the new aldermen of the borough while Gentry was elected at once.  When Norris had left the town hall and the business of the new Council began, though, Peachey was re-elected to the Finance committee and to the new Housing committee.  At the end of November he was also appointed to serve on committee of the Council’s tubercolosis dispensary.


The war did still loom very large in people’s lives in 1920.  The residents of Fulham took a long time, however, to decide what kind of memorial to their war dead they wanted to have.  George Peachey went to a meeting of the Fulham War Memorial Fund committee at Fulham Town Hall on 29 March 1920 at which various options were debated - a statue, a building, a charitable fund - but no firm decision was reached.


George Peachey got his OBE on 30 March 1920, as part of a huge number of civilians whose work during World War 1 was being given official notice.  Another man that George Peachey may have just met also got an OBE in the same batch: Charles Crisp, manager of the London office of Norwich Union and a director of Arsenal FC since 1913.


On Tuesday 4 May 1920 George Peachey went with Henry and Edith Norris to a dinner at the Clarendon Restaurant in Hammersmith, given by the Conservative party in Lillie Ward (the one just north of his own Town Ward).


On 20 May 1920 there was an incident at the King’s Head Hotel, High Street Fulham in which George Peachey got embroiled and in all my reading about him this is the only time I’ve read about when he seems to have lost his temper and his cool; in fact, he behaved rather like Henry Norris might have done under similar circumstances!   Albert Feaviour, the licenses at the King’s Head, was caught over-charging for his beer.  This was against the recently enacted profiteering laws and he was charged with an offence.  And George Peachey was charged with him.  In due course, at the West London Magistrates’ Court, they were both found guilty of the offence and fined £2/2 each.  The point was, that it was the local council’s duty to prosecute in such cases; so the prosecution was led by deputy Town Clerk Mr Townend, someone Peachey knew well.  All very embarrassing but why was Peachey involved at all?  In this diary of his life one thing he has not been doing is running the King’s Head Hotel and Peachey made that fact clear to the magistrate as the case was being heard, explaining that although his name was on the lease of the King’s Head freehold, he had never been involved in the business that leased it.


The case came to the attention of the (now Labour dominated) London Borough of Fulham at the Council meeting on Wednesday evening, 9 June 1920 and one man, Councillor Baker, got up and questioned whether George Peachey could still be considered a fit person to be a member of the Council.  Cue uproar in the meeting during which Peachey complained that Mr Townend had promised him that he’d keep his name out of the case.  Councillor Baker withdrew his original remark but their was more uproar in which Councillor Banfield suggested that - if Peachey was telling the truth - this was a bad reflection on Mr Townend.


Peachey took no part at all in the subsequent discussion about what part he had really played in this profiteering case.  The other councillors formed into two camps: one not seeing why Peachey should have been able to get his name left out of a criminal case (when others couldn’t who didn’t have the advantage of knowing the Town Clerk personally); and the other saying that if the only connection Peachey had with the case was his name on the King’s Head’s lease, he couldn’t be held accountable for what went on in the pub.  In the end, the councillors couldn’t reach a decision.  The matter was referred to the Law and Parliament standing committee for further argument; and no one demanded that Peachey resign.


It didn’t end there, though.  On Friday 18 June 1920 some letters appeared in the Fulham Chronicle at the request of Mr Townend.  They were:


First item: a letter dated 10 June 1920 (the day after the Council meeting) from Townend to Peachey, strenuously denying he had ever promised Peachey that he would delete Peachey’s name from the prosecution documents in the court case; the letter went further, saying that Peachey knew perfectly well that Townend had never made such a promise.  During all the argument in the Council meeting Townend had been prevented by professional etiquette (he was only a Council employee, not an elected representative) from defending himself against Peachey’s accusation and he now felt that his reputation as a solicitor and Council employee had been challenged.  Townend therefore demanded that Peachey make a public statement that Townend had made no such promise.  If Peachey didn’t do this, Townend would sue him for slander. 


It’s a very Henry Norris situation!


Second item: a reply from Peachey, dated 11 June 1920, in which he admitted he’d spoken very clumsily during the Council meeting and stating that he’d never meant to suggest Townend had promised to keep his name off the summons issued to Albert Feaviour as the licensee.  Peachey went on to try to explain what he had wanted from Townend and makes it clear that before the case got to court, he had talked to Townend about it.  He’d wanted Townend - when he was called to give evidence - to make it clear to the court that Peachey’s only involvement was connected with the lease and that he had no financial interest at all in the King’s Head business, which was solely under Feaviour’s management.  Peachey had hoped that if Townend had explained this to the magistrate, the magistrate would agree to withdrawing Peachey’s name from the list of defendants. 


Peachey was big enough in his letter to acknowledge that the way he’d spoken at the Council meeting had caused Townend a great deal of distress.  He blamed his behaviour (which was very out of character) on the fact of his being “gibed at in open Council...when I was a perfectly innocent victim”; he admitted he should have taken more care with his riposte to Councillor Baker. 


However, Peachey’s letter hadn’t calmed Townend down.


Third item: a second letter from Townend to Peachey and dated the same day as Peachey’s, in which Townend was saying that he couldn’t allow Peachey to suggest that he (Townend) had agreed to ask the magistrate to withdraw Peachey’s name from the indictment.  He (Townend) had not agreed to do any such thing.  He had only agreed to explain to the court that Peachey had no financial interest in Feaviour’s business; and that he had done, as newspaper reports of the case would agree.  Townend finished this second letter by warning Peachey that he would now send the all three letters to the Fulham Chronicle to be published.


It was a very Henry Norris situation  - except that Peachey was the slanderer, not the slandered;  and also that Peachey was a very different character.


As the London Borough of Fulham’s Law and Parliament standing committee tried to sort the situation out and smooth down all the ruffled feathers, both Peachey and Townend were interviewed by the committee’s members.  Peachey won’t have liked the letters being published for the local population to read, but he was able to admit his fault in the matter, and to understand the distress he had unthinkingly caused.  As a result, at the next Wednesday meeting of the London Borough of Fulham, on 30 June 1920, a statement was read saying that both men had withdrawn their allegations and “all misunderstandings have been cleared up”   Both parties were now happy to let the matter rest - not a very Henry Norris situation!  The whole incident is, I think, an interesting reflection on Peachey’s care for his public reputation; when it was impugned again, by the Football Association in 1927, he took action to protect it, again.


So far Peachey had led a blameless and football-free life.  However, thanks to Henry Norris, in 1920 that changed.






Copyright Sally Davis July 2008