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What have toilet paper, packaging, leg warmers and firelighters all got in common?

Answer: They were some of the essential uses to which the Gloucester Citizen was put in the 1920s and 1930s.

In those days the paper’s news content wasn’t always a reader’s highest priority – and one life-long-reader, Les Pugh, has been recalling how being entertaining and informing was only one of the paper’s many uses.

The Citizen was most valuable in the winter when most families had open fires and lighting them would have been a problem with them. In fact everyone saved their newspapers during the summer months knowing that demand would exceed supply in the depth of winter,” said Les.

“In those days too, toilet paper was unknown and everyone carefully folded newspaper pages, tore them into squares and hung them on a piece of string in the earth closets which were always situated as far from the house as possible.”

Les and his family also used The Citizen to guard against wet weather, by tying pages around their legs and under trousers to keep them warm and dry, and stuffing their wet boots with paper to dry them out.

“Another use which I think has died out completely was the making of paper spills which were lit from the fire,” said Les.

“The spills were made by cutting the paper into strips about two inches wide, rolling them to make a spiral which was twisted on the end to prevent it unrolling.

“These were generally kept in a vase on the mantelpiece above the fire and when lit were used to light the oil lamp, candles and, in my father’s case, to light his pipe.”

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