On The Home Front - BlackoutWhen 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.At Horsham there was on Tuesday much uncertainty as to what was really required. The first poster issued by the Police authorities apparently prohibited vehicular lights, but late in the evening it was accepted that motors and cycles were to be allowed lights and this was made clear by Wednesday’s notices. At midday on Thursday later instructions were received. It appears the restrictions put in force on the two previous days applied to places within fifteen miles of the coast, and that businesses and dwellings could be lighted as usual. The only restriction related to lights directly showing upwards, so that the 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!