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Rushden Echo and Argus, April 1931, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Urban District Council

Final Meeting of Retiring Council

A Farewell to Mr. F. Knight, J.P.

Mr. G. W. Coles’s Review of Year of Office

The out-going Rushden Urban Council held its final meeting, before passing out of office, on Monday, and in accordance with the usual custom, complimentary speeches were made and votes of thanks to the retiring chairman and vice-chairman for their services during the year were heartily carried.

On this occasion, however, the Council had another task, one tinged with regret, for the members had to bid farewell to Mr. Fred Knight, J.P., who after many years’ service as a Councillor did not seek re-election this year on the grounds of ill-health.

It fell to Mr. G. W. Coles to make a gracious farewell speech and he was well-supported by all the members, many of whom added their tributes to the work of Mr. Knight.

Responding, Mr. Knight sketched the growth and development of Rushden, with which he has been intimately connected for so many years, and in dealing with the acquisition of Rushden Hall, urged its preservation as a quiet retreat for middle-aged and elderly people. The children have their recreation grounds already, he said.

It was a fitting and honourable retirement, free from any excessive sentiment, yet accompanied by the regret of all the members, coupled with best wishes for the future. There was a feeling, which will be shared by all, that the retirement of the “father” of the Council closes a chapter in its history.

The members present were : Messrs. G. W. Coles, J.P. (in the chair), L. Perkins, M.B.E., B.Sc. (vice-chair), T. Wilmott, F. Knight, J.P., J. Spencer, J.P., C. W. Horrell, C.A., A. Allebone, C.C., T. Swindall, J. Allen, J. Richardson, C. Claridge, F. Green, A. Wilmott, J. Roe, T. F. B. Newberry, J. Hornsby, L. Tysoe, with the Clerk, Mr. Mason, the Surveyor, Mr. J. W. Lloyd, and the Sanitary Inspector, Mr. F. S. Piper.

An apology for absence was received from Dr. D. G. Greenfield.

In paying a tribute to Mr. Knight, Mr. Coles remarked that they were pleased to see him, although it was the last meeting at which he would be present. “We cannot let this time go by,” said Mr. Coles, without expressing to him, our deep gratitude and appreciation for his valued services to the town of Rushden. He is the father of the Council and has always maintained an interest in anything that has been for the public good of the town and I am very pleased that when the time has come for him to retire that he has done it of his own free will. We should have been deeply grieved if he had lost his seat in the election – but I do not think that he ever would have done so.

“We sincerely hope that in his retirement he will enjoy good health and take an active interest in the welfare of the town, as he has done in the past.

“I therefore have pleasure in moving that we place on record our appreciation of the long and valuable services rendered by Mr. Knight, and we trust he will be long spared to enjoy the rest he so richly deserves.” (Applause.)

Other members of the Council then added their tributes.

Mr. T. Wilmott spoke in praise of Mr. Knight’s energetic and painstaking work, and his valued services as a member of the Council.

Mr. Swindall said that the Rating Committee, at their meeting earlier in the evening, passed a similar resolution to be recorded on their minutes.

Mr. Tysoe said he had sat by the side of Mr. Knight in the Council Chamber for three years. “I am sorry he is leaving us,” continued Mr. Tysoe. “He has won the respect and esteem of everyone, and as a new-comer, three years ago, I should like to add my tribute.”

Mr. Spencer remarked that he had been associated with Mr. Knight for a very long time. “I know I am described as the forthcoming “father” of the Council,” he said, “and certainly I was on the Council at the start and shall be the only one left of the first twelve.

34 and 31 Years

“Mr. Swindall, however, has had a more continuous service than I and I believe he has been a member for about 34 years, and I have served for 31.

“I have always looked upon Mr. Knight as a friend, and he has always worked for the best interests of the town.”

Mr. A. Wilmott said that although he was a newcomer to Council work he was not a newcomer to the work of Mr. Knight. “I have been connected with him in one way or another for over 50 years, and I can say from experience that he is a sport and has always played the game. I do not know whether he has ever made a century at cricket, but I hope he will make a century this time! And I hope I shall be here to see him top that century!”

Mr. Allen said he would like, as a newcomer, and also as a colleague of Mr. Knight’s in the South Ward, to add his tribute to the great work that Mr. Knight had done for the Council and the town. All of them would miss his sane commonsense and his keenness in everything he undertook.

Mr. Allebone said that as Mr. Knight was the ‘father’ of the Council, he had been mentioned as the ‘baby’ of the Council. During the few years he had been associated with him, Mr. Knight had taken a fatherly interest in him, and Mr. Allebone said he appreciated his services very much indeed. “We shall all miss him because we often referred to him on many matters” he concluded.

Mr. Green remarked that when he became a member of the Council, Mr. Knight gave him the best advice it was possible to give. That advice was: Think before you speak and don’t speak before you think.

The chairman remarked, in conclusion, that every word spoken was quite sincere, and he then put the resolution, which was carried with acclamation.

Growth of Rushden

In a fitting response Mr. Knight said: “I appreciate very much the kind words and although I am afraid I am not deserving of quite all of them – yet at the same time, as you say, I have tried to do what is best for the town over a long period. I have known Rushden longer that anyone here and so it has been a very great pleasure to see the growth and improvement of Rushden during my lifetime. I can go back so far as to remember when Rushden was merely an agricultural village with only one street, and that street only contained practically all thatched houses.

“To-day it is very different and the improvements date from when a public body came into force – the old Local Board. Very great credit is due to that Board and to the Council which followed after, for the great improvements made in Rushden, which has grown into a very clean and a very busy town. Strangers always speak of the cleanliness of the streets.

“We were fortunate, before the war in providing one of the finest water supplies in the Kingdom and there is no doubt that Rushden benefits by that to-day, because, without plenty of clear, healthy water no town can thrive as it should.

“Then we got the sewerage scheme. We hear very little about it and the simple reason is that there is nothing to complain about! Everything works so perfectly. Where could we find the money to-day if we had not got those services? Then we have these buildings, which are a credit to the town. The fire brigade and station are perhaps the best I have seen, and I have seen and been in a great many of them.

“Even before the war,” continued Mr. Knight, “the Council provided a recreation ground, which is to-day practically second to none for providing enjoyment for the young people. We have also had one given to us at the top of the town and we are thank-full for it. Last but not least, this Council was wise enough – although we perhaps thought we were spending money we ought not to spend to buy Rushden Hall.

Pleasure at Hall Purchase

“Nothing done by the Council has given greater pleasure than the purchase of that estate and the appreciation was shown at the last election when the electors could not do any other than return every member of the old Council. I think that was because of the wisdom and judgment in purchasing that estate for the middle-aged and old people.

“I hope it will be retained for that purpose. Rushden has recreation grounds for the children to play in and if the Hall grounds are used for that purpose they will soon be spoilt and the lovely grounds and trees will be spoilt with them. I hope you will keep that in view and keep the estate for what it is now.”

Mr. Knight also paid a tribute to the Clerk, Mr. Mason, and the other officers of the Council. “Mr. Mason,” he said, “has been an officer and the chief officer of the Council since its inception and no one – not even any member of the Council – has ever taken a greater interest in the work than he has done. He has always thought of economy, always thought of the best and always discouraged wastefulness and that is a great deal in any Clerk of a Council.

“We have also been successful with our other officers and the work has been done satisfactorily by our surveyors, inspectors and the managers at Sywell and at the sewage farm. We have never had anything to complain of and that is a fortunate thing for any public body.”

The fact that everything in the past had been satisfactory, and the success of the Council with regard to what had been done in Rushden, was largely due to the work of the clerical staff and the managers of the Council. They were very grateful to them for what they had done.

“In conclusion I can only wish success to the Council in the future as I maintain it has been successful in the past, and I hope you sill enjoy the best of health and see Rushden prosper in the future as in the past. For we are all proud of what it has become and I hope you will long live to enjoy the pleasures of this work. I thank you gentlemen, very much.” (Applause)

Thanks To Mr. Coles

Mr. Coles, who had so ably praised the work of Mr. Knight, was then, in his turn, thanked by the Council for the way in which he had carried out his duties, as chairman, during the year.

Mr. Horrell said that as this was the last meeting of the Council it would be ungrateful of them if they did not express their thanks to Mr. Coles for the way in which he had conducted the business of the Council. When they elected him as their chairman twelve months ago they knew Mr. Coles as a man who had had considerable experience in conducting public meetings in other directions and capacities and he was quite sure that everyone felt justified in voting him to the chair. Mr. Coles, also, had not only conducted the business of the Council in an able and efficient manner but had represented the town on many occasions to the satisfaction of himself and of every member of the Council. Mr. Coles would be able to look back upon this year of office as a satisfactory one and he had given general satisfaction to every member of the Council – he had been impartial and the business had been ably and well conducted.

Mr. Allebone said he was pleased to associate himself with the remarks made by Mr. Horrell. They were satisfied in electing Mr. Coles to the chair that no member of the Council had a keener interest in the affairs of the town. “His attendances during the year have been 100 per cent. The attendances of the Council members as a rule are extraordinarily good but the fact that Mr. Coles attended every committee meeting during the year shows the zeal he put into the work.”

A motion expressing the thanks of the Council was put by the vice-chairman, Mr. Perkins, and carried with applause.

Replying, Mr. Coles, said that he accepted the office of chairman with very great pleasure but also with a “sort of trembling feeling,” afraid that during the year he would not be able to carry out the duties to the satisfaction of the members and of himself. But as the year had gone by he had grown accustomed to the duties, which became second nature. It had been to him the year of his life and the greatest events in connection with it had been the civic service, which he was pleased that every member attended, and which was well-supported by the town, and secondly the opening of Rushden Hall grounds. That was the great event of one’s life-time, and he would always carry very pleasing memories of that occasion as long as he lived.

Housing Committee Work

“It has also been a great year for the Housing Committee, for a hundred houses have been built during the year.

“I have received many invitations out,” continued Mr. Coles, “and have only once had to decline. I have always accepted whenever possible, feeling it my duty as chairman, if only to say a work of encouragement concerning the town. I have also been received in a handsome manner by all the bodies in the town.”

Mr. Coles also expressed thanks to his colleagues on the Council – he appreciated their co-operation very much; to the Clerk, who had been more than a friend and would be to anyone who was chairman (applause), and who had given him every assistance; to Mr. Piper and Mr. Lloyd who had carried out their duties in a very satisfactory manner, and to the Press.

In conclusion, Mr. Coles said he would tender best thanks to the vice-chairman. He himself had set out to attend every meeting and had been favoured with good health, but had he been unable to do so, Mr. Perkins would have been ready to take his place.

Mr. Spencer, seconding, said Mr. Perkins had other work in connection with the Council to which he devoted a great deal of time. Not everything came to light, but Mr. Perkins did a gret amount of work which they all appreciated.

The Council carried unanimously a motion expressing thanks to Mr. Perkins.

In replying, Mr. Perkins said he noticed that it had been said that a hundred houses had been built during the year. It seemed more like a hundred thousand! (Laughter). He had never had such a lot of public work in all his life as had accumulated during the last six months. But they had broken the back of it and he thought things would be much easier now and he believed the housing problem was being solved.

Mr. Perkins caused amusement by remarking that Mr. Knight had not passed on the prescription for carrying on work without showing signs of old age.

“I thank you for the vote,” concluded Mr. Perkins, “for it is thanks for work in other directions for which one gets many more hard words than kind ones.”

Committee Reports

Hayway Reconstruction

On the recommendation of the Plans, Highways and Lighting Committee, plans were approved as follows : Two houses in Purvis-road for Messrs. Tyler and Barnwell, subject to the drains being separately connected with the sewer; two houses in Wymington-road for Messrs. Hadaway and Bailey, subject to the drains being separately connected with the sewer; house in Higham-road for Mr. J. T. Swindall; emergency staircase at factory in Crabb-street for Messrs. W. E. Sargent Ltd.; coal and fodder store in Kimbolton-road for Mr. E. Thompson.

It was resolved to cease lighting on the 9th May next, the all-night lamps to be continued as usual.

The Surveyor submitted his estimate for the reconstruction of Hayway including footpaths on each side and storm water drains, and the Highways committee recommended the Council to instruct the Surveyor to prepare a detailed specification and invite tenders for the work with a view to applying to the Ministry of Health for sanction to a loan for carrying out the work. – The Council agreed to this course.

A notice was received from the Rushden and District Electric Supply Company, Ltd., of their intention to lay a cable in Kings Road.

The Surveyor reported that serious damage had been done to several of the trees recently planted on the Wellingborough and Bedford-roads.

The Surveyor was instructed to call the attention of the police to the matter and the Council agreed to take proceedings against anyone reported as causing damage to any of the trees on the public roads.

Submitting the report, Mr. Horrell said that reluctant as the Council might be to prosecute offenders that might be the only course in the interests of the ratepayers of the town.

Tenders were received for carting for the ensuing six months and the Council were recommended to apportion the work between Messrs. Spriggs, Folkes, Adams and Corby, at the respective prices quoted by them - This was agreed to.

Small-Pox Hospital

Tenders were received for the ensuing year’s supply of road materials and the chairman of the Highways Committee and the Surveyor were appointed a sub-committee to consider the tenders and place the necessary orders.

The report of the Health and Sanitary Committee stated that the Sanitary Inspector reported that since the last meeting a number of nuisances had been dealt with and he gave a detailed statement as to his visits and inspections during the past month.

The quarterly report of the Veterinary Inspector was received from which it appeared that on the 16th and 17th of March, he made his usual examination of the dairy cows in milk in the urban district of Rushden, visiting 16 premises and inspecting 147 cows. The whole of the cows were clinically normal and the majority in good condition.

The Health and Sanitary Committee considered the report very satisfactory.

The Health and Sanitary Committee had had under consideration the remuneration to be paid to the Medical practitioner attending patients when residing in the small-pox hospital and they recommended the Council to adopt the following scale :- Number of patients not exceeding five, £3 3s. per week; number of patients upwards of five and exceeding ten, £5 5s. per week.

The Clerk was requested to see Dr. Muriset and ascertain if this scale would be satisfactory to him. – This was approved.

The recommendation of the Health and Sanitary Committee with regard to the acceptance of Mr. A. T. Nichols’ tender for the renovation and repair of the Cemetery Lodge, at a cost of £38 15s. 6d., was approved and confirmed.

Mr. Claridge’s Gift

Mr. Coles stated that a member of the Council (Mr. C. Claridge) had generously offered to present a very nice framed print, in splendid condition, of Queen Victoria’s jubilee celebration in 1887 and he hoped the Council would agree to accept the gift.

Mr. J. Spencer seconded and the Council accepted the print and on the motion of Mr. Swindall the best thanks of the Council were tendered to Mr. Claridge for his gift.


Forty Years’ Public Service

Cricketer and Rugger Player

When Mr. Fred Knight, J.P., made his final speech as a member of the Rushden Urban District Council, he could look back upon a longer period of service than any other man has given to the town’s own administrative authority. The Local Board was the first local governing body representing modern ideas of democratic control, and it was formed in 1891. Mr. Knight was then nominated as a prospective candidate, but withdrew under a party arrangement which, though designed to avoid a contest, failed on account of an independent candidate’s persistence.

In April, 1892, three members of the Board retired according to a system of rotation then in force, and at the election Mr. Knight was returned at the head of the poll. From that date he has not once failed to retain the confidence of the electors, and his voluntary retirement thus closes 39 years’ continuous membership of the Local Board and Urban District Council. Personal landmarks of that long period are Mr. Knight’s three years in the Council chair – in 1900-1901, when Queen Victoria died and King Edward came to the throne; in 1910-1911, the year of King George’s accession, and in 1919-1920.

Mr. Knight’s honoured position as ‘Father’ of the Council was enhanced by the date and place of his birth, the date being 1849 and the place, Rushden. He was the youngest son of parents who were very well known in the town, and he will be 82 at his next birthday.

Friendship With Sir J. Crockett

For his education Mr. Knight went with the late Mr. George Denton and others who have since been prominent in the town’s life to a school conducted at Higham Ferrers by Mr. John Sanderson. He was then apprenticed to the late Mr. William Colson, one of the earliest Rushden boot manufacturers, and, as befitted the times, it was no easy apprenticeship, for he became accustomed to remain at work until seven or eight o’clock on a Saturday evening. From Colson’s he went to work for Messrs. Abbott and Bird, of Kettering (now T. Bird and Sons), and side by side with him worked James Crockett, afterwards Sir James Crockett, of Northampton. The two youths formed a friendship which endured to the end of Sir James’ long and notable life.

It was in 1870 that Mr. Knight, at the age of 21, returned to Rushden and founded his own business as a manufacturer of boots and shoes, and he was thus established when he married Miss Bradfield, daughter of the late Rev. R. Bradfield – whose death occurred in 1929. When the Rushden Manufacturers’ Association was formed Mr. Knight was the first chairman, and after the local strike of 1890 he signed the first wages statement agreement between the manufacturers and workers.

Like many others who have stood out for their devotion to public service, Mr. Knight was, in his younger days an accomplished and enthusiastic sportsman. For many years captain of the Rushden Cricket Club, he was a good bat, often topping the averages. The team in those days was a strong one, holding a local supremacy, and its members included George Denton, John Claridge, John Thomas Colson and other useful players.

30 Years a Magistrate

Mr. Knight was one who helped to form the first Rushden Rugby Football Club, in whose ranks were Mr. G. S. Mason and the late Mr. Charles Bull – players of considerable repute – Mr. C. L. Bradfield and other well-known names. Mr. Knight played back, and was a good place kicker. He was equally fond of fishing, and was a regular follower of the Oakley Hounds.

To-day, as always, Mr. Knight is identified with the Liberal Party, and in his earlier days he took an active part in party affairs. He has however, touched public life from so many angles that as a candidate for public offices he has invariably received a considerable amount of non-party support. For 30 years a county magistrate, he is the senior Justice and one of the chairmen of the Wellingborough Bench; a member of the Higham Ferrers and Rushden Water Board; a member of the Old Age Pensions Committee and director of the Rushden and Higham Ferrers District Gas Company.

One of the most important passages in Mr. Knight’s life-story relates to the Rushden Volunteer Fire Brigade. The facts, stated briefly, are that Mr. Knight was a member for 42 years and captain for 35 years, retiring with the rank of Hon. Captain and being succeeded in the command by his elder son, Mr. R. F. Knight, the present chief officer.

To the biographical outline has to be added a fact which to his friends is till more gratifying – that at the age of 81, Mr. Knight has been impelled by no physical infirmity in deciding to rest from Council work. He remains active in business and in several branches of public service; his tall, upright figure is the envy of young men; his memory of men and matters is sound. For these reasons congratulations may well be added to the townspeople’s grateful thanks.

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 24th April 1931

Mr. L. Perkins becomes Chairman
Mr. J. Roe Succeeds to Vice-Chair

The annual meeting of the Rushden Urban District Council was held on Wednesday evening, this being the first meeting of the newly elected Council.

The only business before the meeting was the election of the chairman, vice-chairman, committees, etc., and Mr. L. Perkins, M.B.E., B.Sc., was unanimously elected to the chair, having been vice-chairman during the past year, on the proposition of Mr. G. W. Coles, J.P., the retiring chairman. Mr. J. Roe was elected vice-chairman.

The members present were:- Messrs. A. Allebone, C.C., C. W. Horrell, C.A., D. G. Greenfield, M.D., T. Wilmott, A. Wilmott, J. Hornsby, G. W. Coles, J.P., J. Spencer, J.P., J. Allen, W. E. Capon, F. Green, L. Tysoe, T. Swindall, J. T. Richardson, L. Perkins, M.B.E., B.Sc., C. Claridge, T. F. B. Newberry, J. Roe, with the Clerk, Mr. G. S. Mason, the Surveyor, Mr. J. W. Lloyd, and the Sanitary Inspector, Mr. F. S. Piper.

Mr. Coles proposed the election of Mr. Perkins as chairman of the Council. “I am very pleased,” he said, “to be in a position to propose that Mr. Leonard Perkins, who is the present vice-chairman, becomes chairman for the ensuing year. Mr. Perkins needs no commendation from me to you. You are all familiar with him and know his work and his worth. I am satisfied that the experience he has had quite fits him for the position. He has been a member of the Council for many years and has previously held the position of chairman to the satisfaction of himself, of the Council, and of the townspeople. I am quite certain, on this occasion, that you will have no cause to regret the appointment, which I hope you will make to-night.”

Seconding the proposition, Mr. C. Claridge said Mr. Perkins had had considerable experience as chairman and they were quite satisfied that he would carry out the duties to their complete satisfaction. “I need say no more, except that I have very great pleasure in seconding the proposition,” said Mr. Claridge.

Mr. Coles then put the proposition, which was carried unanimously, and he then welcomed Mr. Perkins to the chair, with a handshake, and the wish that he would have a good year of office.

Mr. Perkins said his first duty was to thank the Council for conferring the honour upon him. It was 21 years since he first entered the Council, he remarked, and although had a little reticence at coming in at the time, he believed he had got over that. Some ten years ago he was elected chairman, and so he would not show any nervousness on this occasion. “But I do feel,” he said “that it is a position of some responsibility, not merely in the Council Buildings and in committee meetings, but also in other ways, and I shall be pleased at all times to serve not only the Council, but also the town in any way I am called upon during the year.

“I have had an excellent example set me during the past year. Mr. Coles rose to the occasion admirably and the business was carried out expediously.”

Taken Larger Classes

However, this would happen this year, he was sure, because the Council was thoroughly well disciplined and they never had any of those scenes which, they read, occurred in other districts.

Mr. Perkins remarked that he had been used to “taking larger classes” and he was sure that everything would be satisfactory during the year from the point of view of the chairman. “I again thank you for appointing me to this position,” he concluded.

Alderman C. W. Horrell then rose to propose the election of Mr. J. Rose as vice-chairman, and at the outset he remarked that he would like to say how much they regretted the loss he had sustained by the death of his brother, and he had the deep sympathy of every member of the Council. (Hear, hear.)

“Mr. Roe,” continued Mr. Horrell, “has been in the Council for the last six years and he has held one of the most important offices, that of the chairman of the Finance Committee, and he has carried out his duties in such a manner as to give entire satisfaction to every member of the Council. I am quite sure that when he moves from the vice-chair to the chair he will have the confidence of every member.

“I hope,” said Mr. Horrell, addressing the chairman, “that he will have a successful year as your assistant in the vice-chair.”

Mr. J. Spencer, seconded, also referred to their regret and sympathy at Mr. Roe’s bereavement. He said he had watched Mr. Roe’s advent to the Council with interest, and he was sure he was thoroughly qualified to take the position of vice-chairman.

Welcoming Mr. Roe to the vice-chair, Mr. Perkins remarked that he had followed Mr. Roe in another office in the town, and now Mr. Roe was following him into the vice-chair.

Expressing his thanks to the Council, Mr. Roe tendered his thanks to Mr. Horrell, Mr. Spencer, and the members for their expressions of sympathy in the loss he had sustained.

He had thought seriously whether or not he should take the position, but he believed that if there was anything he could do for the town, he ought to do it. (Hear, hear.)

The business of the Council, he continued, was carried on very simply and the vice-chairman had very little to do, providing the chairman had health and strength, which they hoped Mr. Perkins would enjoy, to carry out his duties. If however, he was called upon to take the chair, he would be prepared to give his best services.

Industrial Sunday

On the proposition of Mr. T. Swindall, Mr. A. Wilmott was appointed a representative of the Council on the Higham Ferrers and Rushden Water Board in succession to Mr. F. Knight.

The Council also approved the re-election of their three nominees on the School Managers, and recommended to the county authorities that six other members be re-appointed.

The Committees of the Council were also appointed.

An invitation was received from the Rev. Barwell Spriggs, asking the Council if they would attend the evening service at St. Peter’s Church on “Industrial Sunday” April 26th. The invitation intimated that invitations had been extended to all factory directors and managers and employers of labour in the town.

The invitation was accepted on the proposition of Mr. G. W. Coles, seconded by Mr. C. Claridge.


Mr. L. Perkins the New Chairman
Twenty-One Years’ Council Service - Efforts in Rushden Housing Schemes

Having occupied the position of vice-chairman of the Council during the past year, Mr. L. Perkins, M.B.E., B.Sc., succeeds to the chair for the second time, and incidentally during the year in which he attains his “majority” as a Councillor, it having been 21 years since he was first elected.

It was in 1904 that Mr. Perkins came to Rushden from Leeds, becoming headmaster at Newton-road Schools in March of that year. From that time onwards Rushden children have had the benefit of his teaching and guidance which he was qualified to give, having taken his B.Sc. (Lond.) degree in 1903 and having had seven years’ experience of high school teaching before coming to Rushden.

In addition to his day school-duties Mr. Perkins has always been associated with Evening School work in the town. He started the first Evening School about six months after his arrival in the town and soon had a hundred students attending the classes. In the year before the outbreak of the Great War, there were nearly 600 Evening School students. The war, naturally, caused a decrease in numbers but classes were continued in Mr. Perkins’s absence on active services.

He was in Canada in August 1914, and consequently did not enlist until April 1915, when he joined the Artists Rifles Corps, being commissioned in the Northants in the following July. Mr. Perkins carried out recruiting work in Rushden for some time, but in September 1916 went to France, being posted to the Berkshire Infantry. In 1917 he was appointed Staff-Officer at the 9th Corps Headquarters. He was mentioned in dispatches and on one occasion personally complimented by the late Field Marshal Earl Haig. Invalided home in 1918, Mr. Perkins was kept on home service until his demobilisation the following year.

After The War

Mr Leonard Perkins
Mr. Leonard Perkins
After the war he took up the threads of his work and interests in Rushden. He started to build up, once again, the Evening School, which is now flourishing successfully, with nearly 500 students. A decrease in the number was inevitable on account of the opening of the Rushden Boot and Shoe School which necessarily took away a number of the students. The school is of course, now the Rushden Evening Institute.

When the Intermediate School was opened in Rushden in 1925, Mr. Perkins was unanimously appointed the Principal and holds that position at the present time. He is a good disciplinarian and never resorts to corporal punishment.

Mr. Perkins is also a co-opted member of the County Education Committee. Formerly a teachers’ representative he became an ordinary member when that office was abolished and he has to his credit 12 years valued service on the Committee.

Some years ago he acted as an “occasional” inspector of schools in Yorkshire and Durham, but declined the offer of an inspectorship which was made to him.

In dealing with his services to Education mention must certainly be made of the recognition of these services, in 1926, when on the recommendation of the Board of Education his name appeared in the list of the King’s Birthday Honours and he was commanded to go to Buckingham Palace to be invested with the insignia of Member of the Order of the British Empire.

Mr. Perkins was first elected a Councillor four years before the war.

He resigned his seat during part of the War period but afterwards took up public work again and it was not long before he was elected chairman of the Council (some ten years ago).

Two Aspects

Two aspects of Mr. Perkins’s service on the Council may be noted; his active work in connection with the provision of playing fields and sports grounds and also in the matter of housing. He was prominent in connection with the provision of the bowling green and tennis courts in Spencer Park while he has also advocated and supported strongly the laying out of school playing fields.

For the past six year, however, housing has been his especial care and he has been the chairman of the Housing Committee, a position he, however relinquishes, on becoming the chairman of the Council although he is an ex-officio member of all Council committees.

It is in no small measure due to his energies that such great strides have been made, something like 400 houses having been erected.

For some years after the war building in Rushden was spasmodic and a year in which some houses were erected was followed by one in which little was done. Renewed energy was put into the work, however, when Mr. Perkins became a member of the committee six years ago, since which date building had been accelerated and a steady rate has been maintained. Last year something like a hundred houses were built. Some years ago he contributed to the local papers a series of articles examining the various housing schemes which it was possible for the Council to adopt.

The new chairman is a great traveller and in addition to visiting Canada has been to nearly every capital in Europe, including that of Russia.

Mr. Perkins this year fills the office of Worshipful Master of the Pemberton Lodge of Freemasons.


The Council’s New Vice-Chairman
Mr. J. Roe a Unanimous Choice - Valued Work on Finance Committee

The choice of the Council for the position of vice-chairman has fallen upon a man who is deservedly popular with all the members.

Mr. Roe holds the respect and esteem of the members, firstly because of the efficiency of his work, especially in connection with the Finance Committee, of which he has been chairman for the past two years and secondly because of his quiet and assuming way in which he carries out his duties. The members of the Council are noted for the expeditious way in which the business is conducted, without unnecessary speechmaking and Mr. Roe is among the least obtrusive of all. When he does rise to speak he is brief and to the point, but his remarks and opinions are to be seriously considered.

Mr. Roe has had six years’ service on the Council, being elected in 1925, as a representative of the East Ward, for which he has sat ever since. He was placed second on the poll in 1925, with 568 votes, was third in 1928 with 672 votes, and at the recent elections went back to second place, having had 737 electors record in his favour.

Mr James Roe
Mr. James Roe
He has served on various committees but his name is particularly associated with the Finance Committee, of which he has been a member ever since his election to the Council.

Mr. Roe was a keen supporter of the purchase of Rushden Hall and was in no small measure responsible for its acquisition by the town. He recommended the purchase of the estate to the Finance Committee and had charge of preliminary arrangements before the scheme was actually sanctioned by the Council. He also maintained an active interest in the Swimming Baths controversy.

Although he sits on the Council in the Conservative interest he emphasises that he is not a keen politician and believes it would be desirable if politics were eliminated from local elections altogether. Mr. Roe is a member of the Rushden Conservative Club but has held no office in connection with the club.

Mr. Roe is a well-known member of St. Mary’s Church and has acted as sidesman for many years and is also treasurer of the Parish Church Central Fund.

He has taken a great interest in sport and like his late brother is fond of shooting.

He is also a well-known Freemason and the new home for the Pemberton Lodge was built during his year as the Worshipful Master.

The local Chamber of Trade when in existence always found in him a staunch supporter, he ably filled the office of president some years ago.

Mr. Roe came to Rushden 26 years ago with his late brother, Mr. W. Roe, and took over the business of Mr. H. F. Robinson, draper, of High-street, where they have traded very successfully under the style of Roe Bros.

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