Jan 27th 1915
My dear mother.
Another man & myself are getting a house here. Do you think it will do. We are to pay £2.5.0 a week, 4 bedrooms a bathroom, & 2 sitting rooms. A fortnight’s notice on either side & I fancy Gas. I’m trying to work it out.
Charwoman if necessary……3/6 per week
Garage for car………………..5/-
Then there’s the food to be bought & I’ve no idea what that is likely to cost, anyhow I don’t fancy it can cost either of us more than 3 guineas a week. Do you think so?
Write & say what you think as you must have had some experience.
If we take it we shall move in on Monday I fancy.
Many thanks for your letter at the Hospital. I always think old Hill is an old fool, however I will go & see him. Many thanks for the handkerchiefs. I haven’t seen Mrs Rayner yet. It’s quite cold here, in spite of saying Bournemouth is so warm.
Well good bye for the present.
Your loving son
It’s hard comparing money then and now because we can’t compare like for like in terms of skills, manufactured goods or commodities. For example the range of values given on http://www.measuringworth.com/ppoweruk/ for the £2/5/- rent varies from £157 to £891 if it’s something a private person is buying or even as much as £1211 if it’s income, wealth or investment costs.
This range almost makes these comparisons meaningless, but for interest’s sake this table shows the Real Prices (based on Retail Prices) and the Labour Cost (which uses “the relative wage a worker would use to buy the commodity using one of the wage indexes”). And at least it’s easier to compare the sums against each other when you see them in decimalised currency rather than guineas, pounds, shillings and pence.
Whatever the actual sums, I am astonished at how much he’s spending relatively on rent and on coal. He must be joking about the 3 guineas on food: Richard has a dry sense of humour and it’s sometimes hard to tell when he’s joking but he’s certainly teasing his mother when he says “you must have had some experience”. She’d been a single parent of ten children, after all.
With those caveats, here is how Richard’s budget might look in 2014 money using the calculator at http://www.measuringworth.com/ppoweruk/
|Item||1915||2015 “Real Price”||2015 “Labour Cost”|
|Charwoman if necessary||3/6 per week||£12.24||£52.92|
|Garage for car||5/-||£17.48||£75.60|
Here is Richard in his car in the summer of 1915. I am curious to know if he’d already got one so soon after arriving in England or whether the five bob a week for a garage was planning ahead for when the weather was warmer.