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The Rushden Echo, 8th & 22nd April, 1898, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Urban District Council

8th April 1898

The last meeting of the old Council was held on Wednesday evening in the Vestry-hall, there being present – Messrs. John Claridge (chairman), F. Knight (vice-chairman), H. Brawn, G. Denton, J. Spencer, W. H. Wilkins, G. Miller, T. Swindall, with the Clerk (Mr. G. S. Mason) and the Sanitary Inspector (Mr. J. B. Martin).

Committee Work

The report of the Committee was passed –

Plans. – Plans were presented by – Mr. J. Button for house in Park-road, passed subject to evidence being supplied to the surveyor as to party wall; Mr. C. G. Ward, for new shop fronts to his premises at the corner of High-street and Newton-road, passed subject to the scale of plan agreeing with the committee’s suggestions at meeting on site; the Rev. Mr. Crook for house in Oakley-road, referred back for alterations; Messrs. Allibone and Hide (as spelt in the newspaper) for additions to factories in Glassbrook-road, passed; Rushden School Board for infants’ schools in Newton-road, adjourned; Mr. J. Jones, four houses on Victoria estate, passed. On the subject of Mr. Ward’s new building in Church-lane, the surveyor reported that Mr. Ward had appeared for certificate of completion in respect to the new building and that on accepting the same he found the air space rather less than that required by the bye-law. The plan as presented showed sufficient space but this did not agree with the facts. The Surveyor was instructed to withhold the certificate of completion.

Phipps’ New Hotel. – The Surveyor reported that he had received a letter from Mr. Dorman, the architect, asking the Council to lay the sewers in front of this hotel at once, as it was feared the water in the cellar would damage the building. The Surveyor was instructed to reply that the Council proposed to lay the sewer in question very shortly but they did not see how it would assist in draining the cellar, and to remind Mr. Dorman that it had been pointed out to him at the time his plans were passed, and that he would have to adopt other means of draining the cellar.

Outfall Sewer. – The Surveyor was instructed to obtain quotations for Stanford jointed pipes for this work.

The Surveyor’s office. – Mr. Hudson was appointed temporary assistant at £2 a week.

Waterworks Supplemental Supply. – The Surveyor was instructed to proceed with the construction of the collecting tank in Mr. Goosey’s field. The Clerk reported that he had received Mr. Eunson’s report in reply to the letter of the Local Government Board of March 22 which he had forwarded to the Board. A copy of Mr. Eunson’s report was read.

The balance in hand was reported to be £2,471 1s. 6d.

Council v. Contractors

Mr. Swindall said that at the last committee meeting the question of continuing the present sewer from Sartoris-road to the present outfall was discussed, and the Surveyor was instructed to do the work. Some uncertainty, however, prevailed among the members as to whether the Surveyor was instructed to proceed with the work or merely to prepare particulars. He (Mr. Swindall) now moved that the resolution be rescinded. He objected to the work being done by the Council as they would require 25 men for the work and could not draw them from the present staff. It would be inconvenient to get the proper class of men at this time of the year, and he was afraid the wage bill would be rather high. After giving other reasons, he said there was nearly a mile of sewer to be laid, besides manholes, and this was a job which could very well be done by contract. Where they could save the ratepayers’ money by doing the work themselves they ought to do it, but it should be let by contract when such a case would result in a saving. The question of efficiency was the chief point.

In reply to Mr. Denton, the Surveyor said it would be necessary to engage more men if the Council did the work. There were men in whom he had confidence for this class of work.

The Chairman : It is a very much easier job than making a sewer through the streets.

Mr. Swindall : You would get a lower tender.

Mr. Wilkins said Mr. Swindall assumed the work would be done cheaper by tender but he (Mr. Wilkins) was not sure this would be so.

Mr. Spencer thought the Council should do the work themselves. They had the greater part of the plant, and part of their present staff would be available. He was opposed to the contract system, as it had not always been satisfactory, and, besides, they never knew what the extras were going to cost.

Mr. Swindall said that if contracts in the past had not been satisfactory that was the fault of those who overlooked the work. If the Council did this work there would be a tendency to do other jobs.

Mr. Denton : Not unless this is satisfactory, and if it is satisfactory it will show we are on the right tract.

Mr. Spencer said they were not compelled to find work for the Rushden contractors.

Mr. Knight said that even if they let the work by contract it was not sure that Rushden men would get it. One contract had gone to Nottingham and another to Wellingborough. This was a fair piece of work on which to try the experiment of doing the work themselves.

Mr. Miller said that while he agreed that private work ought not to be done by the Council, it was the practice of most public bodies now to undertake such works as sewerage, water, and the other larger schemes.

There was no seconder, and the motion fell through.

Mr. Thos. Wilmott

The Clerk said he had received a communication from Mr. Wilmott stating that “he was very much surprised at some of the statements made at the last Council meeting. He could not understand how the clerk assumed he was referring to the roads when he distinctly said sewerage. He had no recollection of seeing Mr. Wilkins on the matter at all. He remembered Mr. Claridge calling soon after the letter was sent, and Mr. Claridge promised to see Mr. Mason. He had not heard from the clerk, and certainly he was entitled to an answer.” Mr. Wilmott also said he enclosed a copy of the letter he first wrote to the Clerk so that the Council could judge for themselves.

The Clerk said he had no recollection of receiving a letter exactly like the one Mr. Wilmott now sent, although he had one in pretty much the same words. Of course, Mr. Wilmott was entitled to a reply and he (Mr. Mason) at the time thought that the best reply would be to get a man who was thoroughly interested in the matter to see Mr. Wilkins. He (Mr. Mason) had that day written to Mr. Wilmott saying he had intended no discourtesy.

Mr. Wilkins : I am perfectly satisfied that I saw Mr. Wilmott the same night that the letter was received. I happened to be in Mr. Mason’s office when the letter came. Mr. Mason has a record of my visit to his office on that day and the succeeding day.

The Clerk said that Mr. Wilmott’s last letter was handed to him by Mr. Parkin. It was not in Mr. Wilmott’s handwriting.

Mr. Wilkins thought it was Mr. Parkin who had discovered the mare’s nest and not Mr. Wilmott.

In answer to Mr. Denton, the Clerk said the Council had done all they could do in the matter of the payment for the Windmill estate sewers, referred to by Mr. Wilmott.

Mr. Denton : I suppose Mr. Wilmott intended to convey the idea that the sewers had been made on the Windmill estate and the owners had not been called upon to pay. He was under the impression that there was a power by which we as a Council could have obliged the owners to contribute to the cost of the sewers.

The Chairman : That is what he thought, evidently. I told him at the time we were not in a position to do so.

Mr. Spencer thought those who were tutoring Mr. Wilmott in this matter were acting very wrongly. (Hear, hear.)

The members present having expressed their confidence in the clerk, the matter dropped.


The Chairman said that as that was the last meeting of the Council he wished to thank the members for their forbearance. He specially thanked Mr. Wilkins, the Clerk, and the Surveyor for their valuable assistance. During the year they had dealt with the water question and had made improvements in High-street, Little-street, Manning’s-lane, and Harborough-road.

On the motion of Mr. Wilkins, seconded by Mr. Denton, and supported by Mr. Miller, a hearty vote of thanks was passed to Mr. Claridge for his able services in the chair during the year.

22nd April 1898

Mr. Claridge Re-Elected Chairman - and Mr. Knight Vice-Chairman

The first meeting of the new Council was held on Wednesday evening in the Vestry-hall. There were present – Messrs. John Claridge, W. H. Wilkins, F. Knight, G. Denton, G. H. Skinner, B. Mortimer, W. H. Brawn, T. Swindall, John Spencer, G. Miller, and G. Fountain (a new member), Mr. Paul Cave, who is abroad, being the only absentee.

In Committee,

the following work was done:-

The Council and Private Works. – Mrs. Skinner wrote drawing attention to works of drainage being done by the Council on private property and asking if the same principle did not apply to her property in Dell Close. The clerk was requested to explain the position to Mrs. Skinner and inform her that the Council had no alternative but to request payment of the account rendered for the work done.

Phipps’ New Hotel. – A letter was received from the architect with reference to the sewer, and it was agreed that if it was found possible to deepen the sewer opposite the new hotel and Messrs. Phipps would pay the additional expense occasioned thereby, the Council would assent to such a course. - The surveyor was instructed to take the levels.

Chairman and Vice-Chairman

Mr. Claridge (the chairman of the last Council) said he hoped the Council would this year appoint a new chairman. He had held the position 12 months. The task was rather an arduous one, taking up a lot of time, and he would like to be freed.

Mr. Knight (vice-chairman of the late Council) moved the re-election of Mr. Claridge as chairman. Their good opinion of Mr. Claridge 12 months ago, he said, had been fully maintained. Mr. Claridge had presided over the meetings with ability, and the fairness with which he had treated every individual was such that none of them could find fault. (Hear, hear.) Another reason for Mr. Claridge’s re-election was the fact that they had before them two important questions – the extension of the sewerage scheme and the water supply. Mr. Claridge had these questions at his finger ends, and he (Mr. Knight) hoped that during the coming year they would be carried to a successful issue. Mr. Claridge, too, had claims to re-election through the very minute and plodding way in which he had carried out all the detail work outside the Council. Nothing had been too much trouble to him. He had conducted the celebrations of the jubilee very successfully, and the visit of the Northamptonshire Agricultural Society to Rushden during the coming year would not be less interesting and important to the town. Mr. Claridge was chairman of the local committee and was certainly entitled to the support of the members. (Hear, hear.)

Mr. Wilkins seconded, though his opinions on the desirability of having a new chairman every year had undergone no change. He should be sorry if the result of appointing Mr. Claridge for a second year had any tendency to perpetuate the old and bad system of leaving a chairman in office until the chair became a fossilised institution. But even if they adopted the policy of changing every year it would occasionally arise that a man would fill the duties with such success that it would be only right to re-elect him, and Mr. Claridge’s was certainly a case of that sort.

The motion was carried unanimously.

Mr. Claridge thanked the members for their confidence and said he only accepted the office on the distinct understanding that he would not occupy the position next year. He quite endorsed Mr. Wilkins’s remarks on the desirability of changing the chairman. He had pleasure in moving that Mr. Knight be re-elected vice-chairman. Mr. Knight, he said, took great interest in the work of the Council and attended to the duties of the office most assiduously.

Mr. Denton seconded, and said Mr. Knight had certainly a right to occupy the chair when Mr. Claridge vacated it.

The motion was carried unanimously.

Attendances of Members

The Clerk (Mr. Mason) presented a list of the attendances of members at the meetings.

Mr. Swindall thought the list should be out earlier another year, before the elections, so that the public would know how the members had attended.

Mr. Mason explained that he was instructed to prepare the list up to the end of the Council year, which did not terminate till the middle of April.

It was arranged that in future the list should be made up as far as possible before the elections.

No Politics!

With regard to the appointment of committees Mr. Wilkins thought they could not do better than continue the system adopted last year, viz., appointing five members on the Finance Committee and the whole Council on the General Committee.

Mr. Miller and Mr. Spencer advocated special committees for different work, but a proposal to this effect was defeated by seven to three.

The members of the late Finance Committee were Messrs. Claridge, Knight, Denton, Miller, and Wilkins.

Mr. Miller asked to be relieved from the Finance Committee as he could not very well attend on a Monday, the day of meeting. He moved that the committee consist of the other four retiring members and Mr. Mortimer.

As an amendment Mr. Wilkins moved the substitution of Mr. Swindall for Mr. Mortimer on the ground that Mr. Swindall, as a builder, would be a very useful member of the committee.

Mr. Swindall said they knew no politics in that Council, but he thought there ought to be a member of the Conservative party on that committee.

Mr. Wilkins said the work of that Council had never been transacted on political lines and it was discreditable that politics should have been introduced.

Mr. Miller said the fact remained that the elections were fought on political grounds, and they would not satisfy the public unless members from each side were elected on the committee.

The Chairman said that Mr. Swindall had technical knowledge which would be very helpful on the committee.

Mr. Skinner : There are other matters before the committee besides building questions.

Mr. Denton wished to resign in favour of Mr. Mortimer.

The Chairman : But Mr. Denton, being a County Councillor, is most useful on this committee.

Mr. Spencer said it should be clear there that no man was appointed to an office because of his political creed. He would move the election of the whole six (Messrs. Claridge, Knight, Denton, Wilkins, Mortimer, and Swindall).

Mr. Miller : I think it is a great reflection upon Mr. Mortimer that there should have been a discussion. He is quite able to take my place.

Mr. Wilkins : I look upon Mr. Swindall as the more suitable for this committee.

By a majority of one, the Council decided to appoint six members on the committee, and the six named by Mr. Spencer were elected.

The Waterworks Loan

The Clerk read a letter from the Local Government Board sanctioning the borrowing of £650 for experimental boring operations and stating that, though the loan was to be paid in five years, if they were satisfied on the completion of the boring that an adequate supply of water could be obtained they would be prepared to sanction the re-borrowing of so much of the loan as was outstanding.

The Clerk said it was gratifying that the sanction had been obtained without further trouble.

The Council then dealt with the water supply in committee.

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