Friends Meeting House, Clare Road

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Quakers were well known pacifists and not surprisingly opposed the involvement of Britain in the European war. Their meeting house was located on Clare Road. Their objection to war on the grounds of conscience was well understood by the government and was one of the reasons that it built an appeal system into the Military Service Bill. In the event it was not just Quakers who were to lodge appeals on the grounds of conscience.

The ground floor became a day nursery in 1992 . Halifax Civic Trust have a blue plaque on the wall marking its use.

Neutrality League urges Britain to keep out of the European War.

E.W. Collinson, a local Quaker, inserted a huge one page advert in the Halifax Guardian and the Halifax Evening Courier and organised a mass distribution of leaflets to Halifax households. Its message was that the war had nothing to do with Britain and she should stay out. The League linked the message to the unwelcome spectre of a victorious and dominant Russia. It was assisted by about 50 members of Square Church PSA Brotherhood who met to divide Halifax into districts for the purpose of distributing 30,000 handbills. Despite protests from some of the attendees that ‘it was already too late’ the distribution went ahead. The advert appeared in the newspapers on the very day that Britain declared war.

 

Acrimonious anti-conscription meeting on 18 January 1916

Meetings were convened by the No-Conscription Fellowship in an attempt to counter the conscription threat. One such meeting was held on 18 January 1916 at the Friends Meeting Place and was reported in the Halifax Courier of 22 January. The no-conscription movement had been unable to persuade any bill posting companies to circulate details of their meeting and the local newspapers had refused to accept advertisements, telling us immediately of the practical difficulties the no-conscription movement was having just to get itself heard. The fact that uniformed police were present suggests that the meeting was well known in advance, and that it was likely to be disrupted, possibly with violence. The account also hinted that the police presence was not an entirely unbiased body of bystanders.

The meeting was packed, and significantly included a contingent of khaki clad soldiers, who it seems had come to disrupt the meeting.

Despite repeated disruptions the meeting was able to reach a conclusion and pass its motion to resist conscription.

Halifax Courier 22 January 1916