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Armistice 100: Cycle ride from Leeds to Cornwall was “wholly delightful”

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Dateline: September 18, 1918: A hundred years ago today, there was a milk shortage in Leeds and complaints made by residents that they could not even get small quantities required for tea, coffee or cocoa. Hunslet and Holbeck were said to be worse off.

One Hunslet mother said she had been unable to get any cow’s milk for over two months. This situation was made worse by the news that there were in Leeds at that time more dairy cows than there had been in 1914. The problem, then, was working out how to provide an equitable distribution of milk.

After some investigation, it transpired that part of the problem lay with dealers, some of whom were refusing to travel further distances in order to collect milk. While others took up the slack, it meant that all the people who were previously customers with the first dealer were left without milk.

In other news, an upbeat and jaunty letter from one reader who was eager to relate the ridicule he received upon announcing to his friends he planned to cycle from Leeds to Cornwall, which is where his parents lived.

He wrote: “When my annual leave fell due in August, 1915, I decided to do the journey from Leeds to Cornwall on my push-bike... one ardent motorcyclists said it couldn’t be done and that it had taken him three days on his motorbike and that I had an extra 100 miles to do. Nevertheless, I decided to have a cut at it...”

He completed the journey of over 400 miles in a shade over two-and-a-half days, sending a postcard back to Leeds to prove it.

The letter, signed JHOJ (late of Chief Constable’s Office, Leeds), RGA, France, added: “I found the experimental ride wholly delightful.”