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Transcribed by Gill and Jim Hollis
Rushden Urban District Council
January/February 1946
The Rushden Echo and Argus, 11th January, 1946

Council Defies Ministry On House Plans
Prefab Delay Also Causes Anger

Resenting departmental objection to housing plans, Rushden Urban Council decided on Wednesday to “stand on its dignity” and defy the Government.

The Clerk, (Mr. T. L. Watts), said there was now only one point at issue with Ministry. In one type of house the kitchen and kitchen recess had been placed at the front and given a southern aspect. The Ministry, however, did not approve; they said it would get hot in the summer.

“We say that the room with the recess will be the main living room, and should be given a southern aspect for that reason,” added the Clerk.

“When the plans were being drafted,” said Coun. Dilks, “the authorities urged the necessity of economising in fuel, and the fact of giving the houses a southern aspect shows that the Council considered that in detail.”

Mrs. Muxlow: If we don’t approve of the Ministry’s suggestion, what is the ultimate outcome? Who has the last word?

The Clerk: I am afraid they have.

Mrs. Muxlow: Why discuss it then?

“Too Much Ministry”

Coun.Weale: Surely we know the requirements of our own people. We are getting too much Ministry, and I think the time has come when local authorities must and should determine that they are going to have something to say in regard to their own houses. It is a most disturbing thing – it is playing the fool with us. The time has come when we should stand on our dignity and tell the Ministry that we know what we want.

Coun. Sugars: I hope we do stand on our dignity. I only wish we had done so in days gone by. It applies not only to Ministries, but to County Councils and so forth.

The Chairman (Coun. H. Waring) said that if he were offered a house with a southern aspect he should certainly prefer it to the other arrangement. At his own house he saved a ton of coal a year because there was a southern aspect.

Common Sense

The Surveyor (Mr. J. W. Lloyd) said that 18 houses fronting a road were affected. In other cases the kitchens and living rooms were at the back and had a certain amount of screening from the outbuildings.

Proposing that the Council should adhere to its plans, Coun. Allebone declared: “The whole tendency in recent times has been to give everybody more light and air. It is only common sense – I don’t know if the Ministry have any; I don’t think they have – that the southern aspect gives healthy conditions.

Coun. Capon seconded, and the resolution was carried.

Coun.Dilks mentioned as “another disquieting bit” the fact that the plans for converting “The Shrubbery” into flats were not yet passed, though six months had elapsed since the Council requisitioned the building.

Empty Bungalows

Another breeze blew up when the prefabricated housing site was mentioned.

“One hardly knows how to express one’s feelings,” said Coun. Dilks, who is chairman of the Housing Committee. “We have got 19 bungalows there, and at the present moment there are no signs whatever of any internal fittings. What use the 19 are, as they are, I leave for the Council to think out for themselves.”

Describing the position as “disgusting,” Mr. Dilks recalled that the Council had complied with the wish of the Government in pushing forward with the utmost speed. The latest information, he said, was that things were completely chaotic and that no promise whatever could be made as to when the parts would be delivered.

Taking up the complaint, Coun. Bailey moved that the Chairman or Clerk should personally visit the Ministry of Works.

“We first started on this scheme last April,” he said. “Since then we have had nothing but broken pledges and promises, and in almost everything we have been thwarted. A month ago we were told that the Minister of Health himself had taken up the matter of these internal parts, but what has happened? Instead of improving, the position has deteriorated – it is absolutely intolerable.”

Private builders, added Mr. Bailey had already completed houses in the town.

Seconded by Coun. Richardson Mr. Bailey’s proposition was carried.

Dangerous Pipes

At the suggestion of Coun.Paragreen it was decided to press the N.F.S. for removal of water pipes connected to the now empty static basins.

Mr. Paragreen said the pipes still lying along Moor-road and Station-road were dangerous because people sometimes forgot they were there.

Minutes showed that in advertising for a new Clerk to succeed Mr. T. L. Watts, who has resigned, the Council is offering a minimum of £550 per annum, rising by £50 annually to £700, plus cost-of-living bonus (at present £59). The official will also be Clerk to the Water Board at a salary of £100 per annum.

Latest choice of external colours for the ready-made bungalows is deep cream, with gutters and woodwork of bright green, alternated with brown.

No Offers

Up to the last meeting of the Housing Committee, it was reported, there had been no offers of accommodation for homeless families.

Building plans were as follows:- Bungalow, Hall-avenue, Mrs. Trusler; store-room, Glassbrook-road, Mr. R. E. Fensome; garage, Blinco-road, Mr. E. E. James.

A list of building plans approved during 1945 included 12 houses, five bungalows, and additions to nine houses.

The Council’s plan to re-organise its depot administration has been held up by two factors – the F.F.S. continuing to hold the Fire Station house, and the R.A.F.’s decision to remove the large building near the cemetery.

It was decided to set up a Road Safety Committee for Rushden incorporating the old local committee of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, whose members are Mr. A. Allebone, Mr. W. J. A. Peck, Mr. W. A. E. Sherwood and Police Inspector R. E. Valentine. The Council’s own representatives are Messrs. Allen, Bailey and Sugars, with the Chairman.

A resolution was passed asking the County Council to consider making an order declaring Crabb-street to be a one-way street for traffic.

Eleven births and seven deaths were reported by the Medical Officer. Disease cases notified were: Tuberculosis 1, scarlet fever 4, pneumonia 4, erysipelas 2, measles 1, whooping cough 1.

Capital expenditure proposed by the Health Committee during 1946 amounts to £3,000, covering the purchase of refuse collection vehicles and a gulley emptier.

Grant Expected

The Financial Officer (Mr. B. W. Williams) reported that under a Bill now before Parliament the Council may receive supplementary grants for three years. The amount likely to be received this year is £1,474, which is equal to a rate of 4.27 pence in the £.

Following the dispute at last month’s meeting, no decision has been made regarding the wages award to refuse collectors, as the Provincial Council is to consider the question again.

Mr. E. O. B. Yorke, acting Deputy Surveyor at Kettering, has been appointed as engineering assistant in the surveyor’s department.

Coun. Richardson was re-elected to the Tuberculosis After-Care Committee.

After Coun.Allen, replying to Coun. Sugars, had carefully explained that the absence of a report on milk samples was due to the Inspector having been exceptionally busy over the Christmas period, the Chairman put in a different explanation. “Some of the samples,” he said, “were dropped and smashed.”

Members in attendance were Couns. H. Waring (Chairman), J. George (Vice-Chairman), A. H. Bailey, J. Roe, C.C., A. Allebone, J.P., C.A., T. W. Cox, F. Green, J.P., Mrs. O. A. H. Muxlow, J. Allen, W. E. Capon, A. F. Weale, T. J. Swindall, J. E. Dilks, J. H. J. Paragreen, W. J. Sawford, E. A. Sugars, and J. T. Richardson.


The Rushden Echo and Argus, 4th January, 1946, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Mrs. O. A. H. Muxlow
(Rushden’s Only Woman Councillor)
Maternity Home Needed

Rushden’s first and only woman councillor, Mrs. O. A. H. Muxlow, emphasised that the great need during the coming year would be for houses.

“Babies cannot be born in Grandma’s house,” she said. “It does not work.”

Mrs. Muxlow, who has been on the Council’s Housing Committee for nearly eight years, hoped that more women would take an interest in local affairs and thought that local government was a sphere in which women should be especially active.

“I believe there are some women standing as candidates in the coming election,” she went on, “although I do not think they are in our party.

“I also want to see a nice, up-to-date maternity home, infant welfare centre and ante-natal clinic. We have been in the old one for 15 years now, and it is time we had a new one.”

Mrs. Muxlow said that she was just going to a meeting of the School Managers.

“I do not know if we shall hear any more about the new secondary school that is to be erected in the town,” she said, “but it was certainly needed. Of course, we shall really need a junior school for the Higham-road building estate if the Hayway school is to become a secondary school. The nearest school will be at Higham Ferrers, and there will certainly be a lot of children living on the estate, which will be occupied by young people. Higham School is already crowded.”

Mrs. Muxlow said that another improvement she hoped to see in the New Year was the provision of a water tower under the new water scheme to provide sufficient pressure to lay water on to the houses in the proposed Upper Queen-street estate.

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 15th February, 1946

Public To Inspect First Prefab. House
Ex-Service Tenants Have Been Chosen

Some of Rushden’s prefabricated bungalows have been allocated to tenants – all ex-service men – and one of the dwellings will be open for public inspection from the end of next week.

Coun. J. E. Dilks, as chairman of the Housing Committee, told Rushden Urban Council on Wednesday that 41 of the bungalows had arrived and 33 had been erected. The internal fittings were now arriving faster than the builders could put them in, and the Clerk of the Works thought that in three months the whole site would be practically finished.

Mr. Dilks said he thought the Council would agree that the inhabitants should be allowed to inspect a completed bungalow and see how their money was being spent and what the dwellings were like. The Clerk of the Works was therefore arranging to have one bungalow completed in time for an inspection period to begin on Saturday, February 23rd.

Coun. Capon: May I suggest that a doormat be provided and that the chairman of the committee entertain us to tea?

The Doubter

Coun. Allebone foresaw “a tremendous number of visitors” on the Saturday and Sunday. “It needs two men on duty,” he added anxiously, “otherwise it will want rebuilding if it is like some of the houses I’ve seen.”

Admitting that the site was “a quagmire,” Mr. Dilks promised to take all precautions, including a covering for the floor. It was then agreed to have a bungalow open to the public for a week.

When Coun. Sawford enquired if the committee was letting the prefabs as they became finished, Mr. Dilks replied that the first eight had already been allocated – every one to an ex-Service man.

Mrs. Muxlow: Has anything been done about the paths? They are very rough and children will have nasty falls on them.

Mr. Dilks said the Clerk of Works had promised to complete the paths as soon as possible.

Conversion Farce

Continued delay in the proposed conversion of “The Shrubbery” into flats was explained by the news that the Ministry of Health Regional Office has suggested amendments to the plan which would increase costs to about £150.

This brought Coun. Weale to his feet with an outburst against the Ministry.

“It is about time,” he said, “that some responsible person in the Ministry knew something about this dilly-dallying. Last time it was a question of ‘about turn’ for some of our houses. Now they are delaying the conversion of this house into flats.

“Had this work been put into the hands of a private contractor we would have had three families in the house by now. The delay month by month is a grave reflection on the Ministry.”

The Surveyor (Mr. J. W. Lloyd) said an official of the Ministry had been down since the last meeting of the Housing Committee, and he hoped to hear from the Ministry before next week’s meeting.

600 Want Houses

There are now about 600 applicants for houses, reported the Housing Manager (Mr. H. C. Allen), and the great majority of them are serving with or have been discharged from H.M. Forces. Last year 378 applications were received, compared with 165 in 1944.

Only four applicants – who filled casual vacancies – could be accommodated last year.

According to the Housing Committee’s report, it is hoped to invite tenders for the first 28 permanent houses by the middle of February.

A resolution was passed giving the Rushden Home Hospital Committee authority to convert into a hospital the house they have bought in Hayway.

Licences to erect four houses and two bungalows in Hall-avenue were issued to Messrs. M. M. Drabble, Ltd.

In a personal statement relative to the housing subsidy Coun.Dilks, who is Chairman of the Housing Committee, said that after consultation with the Clerk and the Chief Financial Officer he told the Press that the subsidy would make a difference of 8s. 6d. a week to the rents, but he did not say that the amount of the rent would be 8s. 6d.

“Had I made a statement like that, I think the Council would have been justified in asking me to hand in my resignation,” added Mr. Dilks amid laughter.

Blanket History

Referring to a story in the “Evening Telegraph” about some of Rushden’s A.R.P. blankets being on sale at Kettering, Coun. Capon said the particulars given were “quite all right.” The procedure followed by the Council in selling the blankets was that laid down by the Ministry.

There were three tenders from Rushden and one from Kettering, but there was a marked variation in the prices offered.

Acting on the suggestion of the Ministry, the Clerk sought an amended offer from the four tenderers. Two local tenderers increased their price and accepted a proportion of the blankets, and the firm at Kettering agreed to take the rest, also at an increased price. The blankets secured by local firms had been on sale to the public.

Coun. Roe pointed out that bed ticks and mattress covers had also been retained in Rushden. “We are not asleep very often when these things are available,” he said.

Mr. Capon said that the A.R.P. camp beds had also been advertised but the only offer made was by a Kettering house – of 1s. 6d. each, which was only the value of the wood. The Council had therefore decided that the public should shortly have the opportunity of buying them at 2s. 6d. each.

Elm Avenue Ruined
Councillors Protest at Hall Path Closure

A protest by Coun. Bailey against the continued closure of the Hall Park footpath through the avenue of fine old elms led to serious news about the elms themselves – they are dying as the result of concreting carried out by the military.

A Hall-avenue resident had written to the Council asking for the gates barring the footpath to be opened for the convenience of children and others who wished to reach the town by the most direct route.

The Clerk (Mr. T. L. Watts) reported that the footpath could not be opened without the consent of the military, as the land was still under requisition. The W.D. Land Agent could not give permission, as it was expected that some of the buildings adjacent to the path would be re-occupied shortly.

Coun. Bailey said he was certain the members would have great sympathy with the residents of Hall-avenue, and he wondered whether they could not devise some method of approach whereby commonsense could override officialdom. It seemed rather ridiculous that when the war was over they could not get back this part of their park.

“Stupid Officialdom”

Coun. Allen said there was no earthly reason why the path should not have been used during the last six or nine months. It was most unfortunate for the children who had to make a wide detour to get to school and for the adults also.

“I think this is a piece of stupid officialdom that we should protest against,” added Mr. Allen.

“Is there any other authority that we can approach?” asked Coun. Richardson.

Mr. Bailey pressed for a strong protest to the War Department – “especially when we know what is happening in nearby military quarters.”

Coun. Capon: “There is a question of compensation which cannot be agreed in five minutes.”

The Chairman (Coun. H. Waring): “This is not the worst of it. There are signs that we shall lose that beautiful avenue of trees through the concreting around them. That is most deplorable.”

The Surveyor: I am afraid the trees have already gone.

In spite of the various protests and regrets the debate closed without any special resolution being put forward.

Restaurant News

A report on the British Restaurant showed that 17,103 main meals were served last quarter and that the financial position was satisfactory. Mrs. Dale Wright, of Northampton, had been appointed supervisor, and attempts were being made to find another cook.

In view of staffing difficulties the War Emergency Committee turned down a proposal to serve cups of tea at the restaurant in the mornings.

Mr. Capon informed the Council that a cook had now been secured for the restaurant.

Couns. Waring and Allen were appointed to attend a conference regarding the proposed appointment of a Medical Officer of Health to serve Higham Ferrers, Irthlingborough, Rushden, Wellingborough Rural district and Wellingborough Urban District in addition to acting as Assistant County Medical Officer.

Coun. Allen said he understood there would be a population of 60,000, and that looked like a full-time job without being an Assistant County Medical Officer. The Council’s representatives were not going to the conference to vote on anything but simply to obtain information.

Shelter Dangers

Coun. Roe said it was time the public A.R.P. shelters came down. Some were very dangerous, and he saw what was nearly an accident in Rectory-road recently.

“We will do all we can to pull them down when we get the labour,” replied Coun. Sawford.

Commenting on the issue of a notice calling upon a Newton-road property owner to provide a water supply to a house by repairing the well, Coun. Allen said that even owners had rights and should not always be called before the public authority when the shortage of building labour was perhaps responsible.

In reply to the Council’s letter the County Education Committee stated that they had agreed in principle to the provision of special ‘buses for school children (including ‘buses from Rushden to Wellingborough), but the ‘Bus Company were not yet in a position to run these services.

In view of a circular from the Local Government Boundary Commission the question of what action can be taken in connection with the projected amalgamation of Rushden and Higham Ferrers is to be placed on the agenda for the May meeting of the Finance Committee.

Tributes To Clerk

Extremely cordial parting tributes were paid to the Clerk (Mr. T. L. Watts), who will be leaving on Saturday, and whose successor, Mr. A. G. Crowdy (due to take up duty next month), sat beside him.

The Chairman said Mr. Watts was one of the best servants the Council had ever had – a man whose mind acted correctly and almost instantaneously when a problem was posed; whose efficiency had matched all situations. Mr. Watts was tactful, firm, courteous and considerate and the Urban Council of Sunbury was to be congratulated on having secured him.

Coun. Capon said that if Mr. Watts had not risen to the occasion in the recent difficulties he was quite sure the British Restaurant would have been closed by now.

The Clerk was complimented by seven other councillors, and Mr. B. W. Williams spoke on behalf of the officers.

A resolution of thanks and good wishes was carried. In reply Mr. Watts said that every member and officer of the Council had been kindly, courteous and considerate. “May I express the hope,” he added, “that not too many of you will be disappointed on March 30th.

Mr. Crowdy was welcomed and in reply said he felt sure he was going to like Rushden and the Council.

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