Chauffeur’s wartime story told in Snape exhibition

This story was published 22 August 2017

The tribunal of a chauffeur whose boss appealed for his exemption from First World War service is told in an exhibition of County Record Office papers.

Peter Brown in uniform

A display of North Riding Military Tribunal papers 1916-1918 from the County Record Office in Northallerton will form part of a Snape Local History Group exhibition at the Old Joiner’s Workshop, Laurel Grove, Snape. The exhibition is part of the Annual Fruit and Flower Show and Snape Textile Group’s Exhibition on Monday, 28 August.

Last year, the County Record Office was awarded £8,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to make the Military Tribunal Papers widely available. Volunteers are listing, conserving and digitising these records.

The papers include the case of Peter Brown, a chauffeur, of Snape. Ovington Stephenson, secretary to William Gray, owner of Thorp Perrow, appealed on behalf of Peter Brown, Mr Gray’s chauffeur.

He wrote: “He is required for the purpose of looking after cars and driving his employer (William Gray, Chairman of William Gray & Co Ltd, West Hartlepool) to and from various stations in connection with his business, such as Bedale, Northallerton, Ripon, Harrogate and occasionally York and West Hartlepool. The firm has important work in hand for the Admiralty and the Minister of Munitions and it is essential that Mr Gray should personally attend his works and also see officials in London and elsewhere.”

Mr Gray’s work was of national importance and therefore Peter Brown was indispensable to Mr Gray. The North Riding Appeal Tribunal granted an exemption until 1 January 1917, after which there could be a further appeal or Peter Brown would go into the army. Visitors to the exhibition in Snape can find out what happened to Peter next.

County Councillor Greg White, Executive Member for the County Record Office, said: “The County Record Office is a wonderful resource to help us understand the stories that give North Yorkshire its heritage, so it’s important to be able to take those stories out to share with people who live in the places where they happened.”

The records that volunteers are listing can be found in the North Yorkshire County Record Office online catalogue,