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The Rushden Echo, 8th December 1899, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Urban District Council

The Purchase of The Gasworks

At a meeting of this Council on Wednesday night there were present Messrs. Fred Knight (chairman), G. Denton (vice-chairman), J. Claridge, W. H. Wilkins, G. Miller, Paul Cave, J. Spencer, J. S. Clipson, G. H. Skinner, T. Swindall, and G. Fountain, with the Clerk (Mr. G. S. Mason), the Surveyor ( Mr. W. B. Madin), the Medical Officer (Dr. Owen), and the Sanitary Inspector ( Mr. J. B. Martin).


Referring to a minute regarding the making up of Robinson-road, Mr. Miller said Mr. W. Ainge, secretary of the Athletic Club, said the club would give up 6 feet of their land on condition that 3 feet of it was taken on account of the Club’s apportionment.

This matter was referred to a committee.

Plans, Etc.

A meeting of the Plans, Highways and Lighting Committee was held on Wednesday, November 22nd Present:- Messrs. F. Knight (chairman), P. Cave, J. Claridge, W. H. Wilkins, J. S. Clipson, and T. Swindall.

Plans were presented by:-

Mr. W. B. Woodward for school room in Moor-road and passed subject to a separate w.c. being provided.

Mr. J. W. Cooper for three houses in Queen-street and passed.

Washbrook-road – Footpath on North Side. – The sub-committee reported that after inspecting the site referred to in Mr. John Denton’s letter, they were of opinion that for the present the existing path was sufficient and advised the Committee to this effect.

The Committee agreed.

Elm Grove – Mr. John Willmott. – The Sub-Committee reported that they had visited Elm Grove with regard to Mr. John Willmott’s fence, and considered the decision already arrived at should be adhered to. The Committee adopted this opinion.

Spencer Park-road. – An application was received from Messrs. E. Claridge and C. E. Bayes for public lamps to be provided in this street. The Surveyor was instructed to place one lamp about half way along the street.

The report was adopted.

The Towns Water Supply

A meeting of the Waterworks Committee of the Rushden Urban Council was held on Wednesday, November 22nd. Present:- Messrs. F. Knight (chairman), G. Denton (vice-chairman), P. Cave, J. Claridge, J. S. Clipson, G. Fountain, G. Miller, J. Spencer, T. Swindall, W. H. Wilkins.

Bedford-road Well. – Letters were received from Mr. Eunson and Mr. Whitaker in reply to the observations made by the Committee on the latter’s report.

They both favoured the idea of a new well, the site suggested by Mr. Whitaker being at the northern boundary of the Council’s land leaving as much room as possible for running headings in a westerly direction.

With regard to the boring Mr. Whitaker remarked that he had not before him sufficient definite information to take it into account, but in the light of further investigation he was now led to think it did go through the Great Oolite.

Mr. Eunson’s estimate and specification for sinking a new well were submitted and it was resolved that the Council advertise for tenders to carry out the work.

It was also resolved that the Council be recommended to apply to the Local Government Board for a sanction to a loan for the purpose.

Wymington. – With regard to Wymington, Mr. Whitaker now said he was specially referring to the neighbourhood of the tank lower down the valley but that his remarks also applied to other sites and he was glad to hear the Council were communicating with the Midland Railway as to the neighbourhood of Well No2.

Mr. Spencer mentioned that he had heard a number of complaints to the effect that residents on the Windmill Estate were unable to get any water on Sunday mornings.

The Surveyor said that it had been necessary to shut the water off from 9 to12 on Sunday mornings and from 3 to 4.

The Council decided to keep the water on during the daytime as an experiment while the rainy weather lasts, no alternative being made with regard to cutting off at night.

Finance, Etc.

A meeting of the Finance, Cemetery and Sanitary Committee was held on Wednesday, November 29th, 1899. Present:- Mr. F. Knight (chairman), G. Denton (vice-chairman), Messrs. J. Spencer, G. Miller, G. Fountain, G. H. Skinner, and John Claridge.

A number of accounts were examined and passed for payment.

Cemetery. – Various matters as to the Cemetery were under consideration and the Chairman was requested to see the caretaker thereon.

Public Urinals. – Plans for the construction of a Public Urinal at the north-side of the Midland Railway Bridge near Mr. Franklins ground were before the Committee and it was resolved to apply to the Midland Railway Co. for permission to put up an iron erection of four stalls on their ground at that site.

Infectious Diseases Notification Act 1899. – The Clerk submitted specimens of Poster and Hand Bill giving notice of the extension of the operations of this Act to the District. He was instructed to have a number printed and circulated and also to supply the Medical Officer and the medical men of the town with all necessary forms.

The report was adopted.

The Scarlet Fever Outbreak

The Medical Officer reported that since his last report six cases of scarlet fever had been notified, but he could not trace the origin in any particular case. Two cases of typhoid fever had occurred in Pemberton-street, two children in one family being affected – one a girl aged 13, and the other a boy, aged 8.

The Sanitary Inspector said the girl was knocked down in the street one day and went home felling unwell. As she did not get any better Dr. Baker was called in. Symptoms of typhoid fever developed, and subsequently the girl’s little brother developed similar symptoms. Both cases were going on well.

Dr. Owen said most of the patents previously reported as suffering from scarlet fever were better, and there was a great improvement all round. The six cases he had reported that night were practically the only ones now existing. A Mrs. Clark had died from the disease, but she was a very weakly woman.

The Purchase of The Gasworks

At the last meeting Mr. Spencer gave notice that he would move a resolution on the subject of the purchase of the gasworks. He now moved “that in the opinion of this Council the gas supply should be in the hands of the town, and that a committee be appointed to obtain full information respecting the Company, with a view to laying it before a town’s meeting at an early date.” He said that 12months ago the company was not incorporated, and when they applied for an Act of Incorporation a purchase clause was inserted. Since the passing of the Act, he believed the position of the Company had considerably improved. He thought they could not look to the outside public to bring the matter of purchase forward, and his idea in moving that resolution was to get information and lay it before the town. When the question came before them it was said their hands were full. That would be the case at any time and they only had about 2½ years in which to decide upon the question of purchase. He had seen no reason to alter his opinion that the purchase would be very beneficial to the town.

Mr. Swindall seconded the motion and thought they ought to lose no time in putting information before the public. Six months ago the report presented by the committee was somewhat unfavourable, but a supplementary report very much altered the complexion of affairs. If that had been sent in sooner he believed that there would have been many more in favour of the proposal than there were at the public meeting that was held. He believed that gasworks and similar undertakings should be held by municipal authorities, and he had not heard of a case in which an authority had been sorry they took over such works.

Mr. Wilkins thought they should have the information referred to before passing an opinion.

Mr. Claridge agreed with Mr. Wilkins.

Mr. Wilkins thought that if they were of opinion that the gasworks should be purchased they should not call a town’s meeting until they had prepared a Bill for the purchase.

Mr. Denton said they decided to refer the subject to a public meeting, and that public meeting having been in favour of deferring the matter for a twelvemonth before again bringing it before a town’s meeting? He thought a meeting called at present would probably be abortive. Personally, he was sorry that the town did not see their way to take the concern over when they had a chance on moderate terms, but it was a question now whether in view of the increased financial importance of the undertaking it would be worth while taking on an additional burden.

Mr. Spencer’s idea was that the sooner they dealt with the matter the better. He thought the matter should be brought before the electors at election times. He was willing to withdraw the first part of his motion with regard to the opinion of the Council. He understood that the value of the undertaking, if fixed by arbitration, would be assessed as it was before the passing of the Act of Incorporation.

The Clerk said that it was not the case. The increased value of the concern would be taken into consideration, but the value would be assessed as if the Company were not incorporated, which would mean a difference of six or seven years’ purchase.

Mr. Clipson said that when the matter was brought before the town’s meeting it did not appear to outsiders to be much of “a catch.” He thought the Council should keep their hands clear, because electric light was coming greatly into favour and a number of towns were being supplied with electric generated by means of dust destructors. He thought the time had gone by for the purchase of the Gas Company, though he did not believe the advent of electricity would affect the Company, because gas would be used more and more for power.

Mr. Miller said he should support the principle of the purchase of the Company, though he felt they were rather ploughing the sands after the meeting in the New Hall.

The Chairman thought there could hardly be two opinions as to the desirability of such undertakings being in the hands of local authorities, but at the meeting that was held before they were sat on. If they had no further figures he thought the result of another public meeting would be worse than the last. He certainly thought that the town should possess the gasworks, but he did not believe the townspeople wanted the undertaking.

Mr. Skinner and Mr. Claridge thought the initiative in the matter should come from the town.

It was pointed out by the Chairman that the figures alluded to by Mr. Spencer would be of little value unless an expert was employed to estimate the value of the works.

Mr. Wilkins observed that they could decide on that matter when they got the information.

Mr. Fountain was in favour of the purchase and thought it would be beneficial to the town, though not such a benefit as some people thought.

Mr. Spencer amended his motion as follows:-

“That a committee be appointed to obtain full information with respect to the Gas Company, and report to the Council at the earliest date.”

The Clerk mentioned that the next balance-sheet of the Company would not be published until after the close of the year.

The motion as altered, was then put and agreed to, and a committee was appointed.

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