Leeds nostalgia: 1946 ‘illegitimate’ birthrate blamed on war

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On this day 70 years ago, Yorkshire was in flood, with the River Dearne bursting its banks. Water levels on the rivers Aire and Calder were also being carefully monitored,

However, the previous 48 hours had seen a slight let up in rainfall, which saw flood waters recede to the point where people in Allerton Bywater said they felt no cause for alarm.

In other (shocking) news, it was reported in the YEP the illegitimate birthrate in Leeds in 1945 was the highest for 32 years, representing 10.8 per cent of total births.

The Medical Officer of Health (J Johnstone Jervis), said: “The war is the excuse that at once springs to mind, and while it does not explain some of the increase, it is not the whole explanation. Even before the war, moral standards showed a tendency to crumble and there was an increase not only in promiscuity but also in juvenile crime and delinquency.

“Unfortunately, the war has accentuated this deterioration by removing moral barriers and safeguards. Parental authority and home influence are not the restraining force they once were, while self-discipline, indeed discipline of any kind, among the young is lamentably lacking.

“Unless and until there is a return to a more ordered way of life with higher personal and social ideals, there seems little hope of improvement.”

However, there were also fewer cases of tuberculosis and diphtheria, with only two deaths during the year and none at all from scarlet fever.

It was also reported that a Christmas stocking which contained money for the blind, was stolen from a shop in Scarborough.

Finally, Pudsey’s best known newsagent, J H Sharp, who had recently retired, was conducting his 59th annual Whitsuntide walk and hoped to make it 60 the following year.

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