© Barns Green - A Local History of The Great War 2014
On The Home Front - Blackout
When a “Blackout” is mentioned in the context of war, we immediately think of the Second World War, but a Blackout was imposed
during World War One from January 1915.
The German Navy had launched a devastating attack on the north east coast in December 1914, killing 137 people and injuring nearly
600 more. German Zeppelin airships had also carried out successful bombing raids over Kent and Essex, reaching as far as London, so
in January 1915 the Government ordered a blackout over all coastal facing counties. There was much confusion over what the
“blackout” meant. In 1915, public radio transmissions were still ten years away and telephones were a rare luxury, telegrams were the
main means of quick communication. The confusion was reported in the West Sussex County Times.
local authorities can illuminate the town as usual provided there is a screen above the light. (WSCT January 1915)
Within months the blackout was extended and eventually was a true, no lights at all, blackout. Barns Green residents were not too
concerned initially as there was no electricity in the village anyway (Horsham town had its own local power generator and Christ’s
Hospital School and Marlands House had their own generators). As the war dragged on the blackout was rigorously enforced and local
people found themselves appearing at the Horsham Petty Sessions for “showing a light”. The magistrates could impose fines or even a
prison sentence! Later in the war a zeppelin did get as far as Horsham, it did no damage, but did give the local insurance agent a
unique sales opportunity!