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The Rushden Echo, 10th February 1899, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Urban District Council
The Gas Works

Objection To The Doctor’s Report

Mr. John Claridge presided at the meeting on Wednesday evening, when there were also present:- Messrs. F. Knight (vice-chairman), G. Denton, W. H. Wilkins, G. H. Skinner, G. Miller, T. Swindall, H. Brawne, J. Spencer, P. Cave, G. S. Mason (clerk), W. B. Madin (surveyor), and J. B. Martin (sanitary inspector).


The Finance Committee reported on the correspondence to Mr. J. T. Parker as to claims by Mrs. Harris for compensation for waterworks damage, and her offer to accept £30 to clear all claims up to Sept. 29 last, was agreed to, the Council to pay her £10 a year in future for the use of the well.


The trustees of the Independent Wesleyan chapel presented an amended plan for school-room, which was passed. Plans by Mr. H. Sparrow for four cottages in Glassbrook-road were also passed.

Wooden Buildings

The Surveyor reported the erection of wooden buildings contrary to the bye-laws, and the three defaulters were required to attend the next meeting to show cause why the buildings should not be removed.

Street Name Plates

The Surveyor announced that several persons – whose names did not transpire – had objected to the name plates being affixed to their premises.

The Chairman asked what the position of the Council was.

The Clerk replied that it was the duty of the Council, by Act of Parliament, to cause the houses and buildings in all or any of the streets to be marked with numbers, and also to cause to be put up or printed on a conspicuous part of some house or building at or near each end corner or entrance of every such street the name by which such street was to be known; and, further, that every person who pulled down or defaced any such number or name, or put up any different number or name, was liable to a penalty of 40s. for every such offence; any person who wilfully obstructed any officer of the local authority or any person duly employed by the authority was liable to penalty of £5.

Gas Undertaking

The minutes showed that a meeting of the joint committee for the purpose of receiving reports of committees was held at Higham on February 1st. Mr. Denton reported that the sub-committee had met the directors of the Gas Co., and discussed with them the question of price. A sum of £10 per share had been suggested by this committee as a reasonable figure, and the committee believed that if the Councils were in a position to make a firm offer of this amount it would be favourably entertained. The directors took the view – and in the committee’s opinion probably the correct one – that it might be prejudicial to the interests of the Company to name a price in the absence of any definite offer to purchase on the part of the authorities. Under these circumstances the committee appointed to report on the financial aspect of the question had been asked to base their report on the assumption that the Company would accept £10 per share. In committee there was some difference of opinion as to the wisdom of further entertaining the purchase at such a large sum. It was ultimately resolved, on the proposition of Mr. Denton, seconded by Ald. Patenall, that the question of the purchase be submitted to the ratepayers of the two towns and the town’s meeting be called as soon as possible for this purpose.

The report was adopted.

The Chairman said he had engaged the Public-hall for Tuesday, February 21st. for the town’s meeting at Rushden.

It was left with Messrs. Claridge, Knight, and Mason to make arrangements for the meeting.

Infantile Mortality

The Medical Officer, in his annual report which has already appeared in our columns, referred to the excessive death rate among children in Rushden.

The Chairman thought this infantile mortality was a very serious question. It reflected either upon the parents or the condition of things under which the people were living. There must be a cause for it, and if possible he should like to see the cause removed.

Mr. Denton proposed that the Medical Officer be asked to make a special report on this question and if possible suggest a remedy or point out how the mortality among infants can be lessened.

Mr. Spencer seconded the motion, which was carried.

Medical Officer v. Council

The Chairman said that Dr. Owen, in his annual report, had another fling at the Council for not putting the Notification of Diseases Act into force, but did not show them any particular reason which they should adopt it. He (Mr. Claridge) did not think the Act would remedy the evils. With regard to typhoid it was, of course their duty to do all they could to prevent the fever but he was afraid they would have periodic outbreaks of typhoid. As to the water supply, Dr. Owen might have made the report more favourable. He did not think the doctor had sufficiently taken into account the supplemental supply, from which they had been receiving about 40,000 gallons a day. If the doctor had reckoned that, he thought the supply per head would have been more than 8 gallons. Such a report was rather damaging to the town, and he thought they ought not to let this part go forth without amending it. The Council had been making efforts, which had resulted in failure, but they were now making further attempts to secure a permanent supply in which he hoped they would be successful. The Council had not been idle, and deserved credit for the supply they had.

Mr. Wilkins endorsed Mr. Claridge’s remarks and said that any stranger, reading the doctor’s report, would think the Council were utterly careless, whereas they were doing all they could.

The Chairman said the report was calculated to make people outside think Rushden was worse off than it really was. Nobody in Rushden had suffered from a deficient supply.

Mr. Wilkins: The health of the town shows there had not been much scarcity.

Asked if the report could be altered, the Clerk pointed out that it was the officer’s report, not the council’s.

Mr. Denton thought the report scarcely called for any pronounced action.

The Council concurred.

Lights on Vehicles

The Clerk reported the receipt of the new county bye-law making it compulsory to have a light on vehicles at night all the year round.

Mr. Cave wished they would make vehicular traffic have two lights instead of only one. (Hear, hear.) He thought they should ask the Council to amend the bye-law to this effect. If they met a horse and trap at night with only one light they might mistake it for a bicycle.

The Chairman: It is a source of very great danger.

Mr. Skinner said it was very well for those who had only one trap to ask for two lamps but when they had five or six traps it would come expensive.

Organ Grinders, Mission Bands, and Salvation Army

The Clerk said he had also received a new bye-law prohibiting anyone from playing a musical instrument on a highway within 50 yards of a house after an intimation to desist.

Mr. Spencer: Does this apply to the Salvation Army?

The Clerk: Yes, to everything.

Mr. Spencer thought this a most ridiculous bye-law to make. If the bye-law had been framed to meet the case of organ-grinders alone, the others should have been excluded from it, but now it would stop any band or open air mission.

Mr. Skinner: You would not interfere with a good band.

Mr. Denton said that if the bye-law was intended to put down the Salvation Army and other mission meetings it would become inoperative and would have to be repealed.

The question then dropped.

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