The Home Front
Ellesmere Port in 1914
In 1914 Ellesmere Port was a very small place, little more than a village, contained within the working dock and small industrial area centered around where the modern Boat Museum is today, plus the compact terrace housing of the Netherpool area. The small village of Whitby was a mile away on the Chester Road, with agricultural fields between the two settlements. The population of Ellesmere Port was around 10,000 at the outbreak of the war, but unemployment was high due to the local Iron Works, the main employer, laying off the full workforce in 1914. Hundreds consequently volunteered when the call came in August, with the initial group of men joining the Cheshire Regiment appearing to have been named the 'Glorious 514' - the local equivalent of a Pals Battalion. Some of the men signed on locally, others in Birkenhead or Chester, resulting in them being split across the Cheshire, Wirral and Liverpool Regiments. Others had recently migrated to the Port from the Wolverhampton area when the Iron and Steel Works was relocated, and many of them were drawn back to their roots to join regiments there. Nevertheless, this was effectively still an expanding village. There would be few houses in this tight-knit community which would be untouched by the losses, be they relatives, friends, neighbours or workmates.