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Transcribed by Gill and Jim Hollis
Rushden Urban District Council

15th July, 1932

Rushden’s Serious Birth-Rate
“Future Of Town May Be In Jeopardy”
Council’s Health Talk
Museum to be Formed at the Hall

That in 1931 the local birth-rate was the lowest on record, and only a fraction higher than the death-rate was the disclosure made at the Rushden Urban District Council’s meeting on Wednesday, when Dr. O. A. J. N. Muriset M.O.H., presented the town’s bill of health.

The members present were Mr. J. Roe, J.P., (Chairman), Mr. J. Spencer, J.P. (vice-chairman), Dr. D. G. Greenfield, Messrs. C. Claridge, F. Green, J. Allen, W. E. Capon, L. Tysoe, C. W. Horrell, C.A., T. Swindall, A. Wilmott, L. Perkins, M.B.E., G. W. Coles, J.P., J. Hornsby, A. Allebone, C.C., and J. T. Richardson.

In commenting upon the annual health report, which had been printed and circulated to the members, Dr. Muriset said the chief item that called for mention was that there had been a tremendous drop in the birth rate, which at 11.27 was the lowest ever recorded in the town. It compared rather badly with that of England and Wales, which was 15.8, and there were only seven more births than deaths.

The death rate (10.78) was rather higher than in the previous year, but it was not extraordinarily high, and compared favourably with that of England and Wales. The infant mortality rate was also a little higher, but was still an excellent figure.

More Heart Disease

The tuberculosis death figures were quite satisfactory, as were those of cancer, which were about the average for the last ten years. The figure for heart disease still crept up.

The figures for respiratory diseases were considerably higher, and he thought it was accounted for by the greater number of cases of pneumonia, as they had a definite epidemic of pneumonia.

The number of cases of scarlet fever was rather higher than in the previous year, but he thought it could be regarded as fairly satisfactory, because the cases had all been of an extremely mild character, and some of them they might think were doubtful.

On the whole the health of the town was fairly satisfactory, particularly when they compared it with the report for England as a whole. The only thing in which they were worse than England and Wales was the birth rate.

The Chairman observed that the only thing they need be alarmed about was the birth rate.

Mr. Wilmott said he was glad that the doctor mentioned the birth rate. “It is lamentable in one sense,” Mr. Wilmott continued, “because it is birth control or something of the sort that is doing it. I think it is very bad that the birth rate is so low in a town of this size, and the only other thing I can say is that I hope it will increase this year.”

To emphasize his point, Mr. Wilmott drew attention to the following paragraph in the report:

“It may be interesting to note here that the number of births, namely 161, only exceeds the number of deaths by 7, and that the difference between the birth rate and the death rate is only .49. Should this state of affairs continue, the future of Rushden will be in serious jeopardy.”

Mr. Coles referred to the remarkable increase of pneumonia and wondered if the position had been aggravated by the lower standard of living due to the depression in various trades.

Healthier Children

Mr. Swindall said that as Chairman of the Sanitary Committee he was pleased with the report, and he was not so pessimistic as his friend Mr. Wilmott in regard to the birth rate. They would see that only seven deaths occurred among infants under one year of age, and other infantile deaths were very few, so that if there were not so many born into the world they were taken better care of than they were years ago, and that was a very pleasant feature. It was due to the care at home and in the schools, and to the work the County Council put in that the children were in far better health and condition now than they were years ago.

In reply to Mr. Coles, Dr. Muriset said he hardly thought the present situation could have very much influence with regard to pneumonia, because in any case it was largely to be accounted for by the abnormal weather conditions they had, and also by a quite definite epidemic of influenza, which was a very great cause of respiratory trouble. He did not think that next year they would see anything like the number of cases of pneumonia or anything like the number of deaths from these causes. Most of the deaths last year had been amongst people who were actually at work when they were taken ill.

“You all know my views on the birth rate,” said Mr. Spencer. “I always say that where it is possible for people to have children it is a great mistake not to have one. No home is complete without a child. Probably economic conditions have been some factor, but I hope the time will come when they will be better – when people will lead a natural life and the streets and schools will be full of children.”

Mr. F. S. F. Piper, Sanitary Inspector, also gave his report, and both will be dealt with in detail in next week’s “Echo and Argus.”

Gifts for Hall

The Rushden Hall sub-committee reported that Mrs. Joseph Knight, of Irchester-road, had offered to present to the Council a few cases of stuffed birds, together with other stuffed animals and fishes, for exhibition in the Hall. Mrs. H. H. Hobbs, of Griffith-street, had presented an old print of the Hall, and both gifts were accepted with thanks.

The Hall Committee then asked for authority to accept suitable articles with a view to the formation of a small museum, the room or rooms to be utilized to be considered at a future meeting.

Mr. Coles said the Parks Committee considered whether they could not make Rushden Hall itself more attractive – a little more interesting – and they spent some considerable time in discussing the best way of doing so. The result was that they recommended that a room should be set aside for the reception and exhibition of various articles that people who resided in Rushden or the neighbourhood cared to give or loan – oil paintings, water colours, photographs of local interest, stuffed animals or birds, or anything of an antique nature would be welcomed and would be given a show.

The Council would be responsible for their safety, and anything given on loan would be returned on application.

It was felt that this would be the beginning of what they hoped would be a very attractive room at the Hall. It was no new matter; it was discussed by the Parks Committee at least 18 months ago, but at that time they seemed doubtful as to whether it was the right step to adopt. The committee, however, had now accepted some gifts subject to the Council’s approval, and there were other promises. There was no idea of a display of a great nature, but what they wanted was to make a beginning, and specialisation and that sort of thing could come along later.

Mr. Wilmott seconded, and the report was adopted.

Lower Interest

With reference to a loan mentioned on the minutes of the last meeting, Mr. Perkins asked whether it had been arranged, and whether the Council would be able to borrow money at a lower rate of interest, seeing that the War Loan rate had gone down from 5 to 3½ per cent.

The Chairman: You may rest assured that the Finance Committee are watching this question very carefully at the present time, and will endeavour to arrange the lowest rate of interest possible.

In a letter Mr. C. J. Potton complained of the flooding of his garden in Irchester-road by surface water crossing the road and flowing into the field adjoining, but the Highways Committee were unable to accept responsibility for surface water causing a flood.

Mr. Claridge said he expected that the Surveyor and Committee had had all the facts before them, but inasmuch as the flooding had been caused without a doubt by the road being made lower and a drain being put in for the Council houses he thought Mr. Potton had a legitimate grievance. He had no flooding when he lived there, and he did not think the onus should be put on Mr. Potton when it was the alterations made by the Council that had caused the trouble.

Mr. Allebone: I can only promise Mr. Claridge that at the next meeting of the committee we will have a survey of the drains of that area, and if anything can be done you can rest assured that we will do it.

West Street Problem

The Clerk (Mr. G. S. Mason) reported that as instructed he had communicated with the owners and occupiers of property in West-street with regard to the street being used as a parking place for cars, explaining that the Council would do everything in their power to avoid a nuisance and would make all necessary regulations, including one to restrict the time during which the parking place would be used.

Replies opposing the Council’s proposals had been received from practically the whole of the owners and occupiers, and the Highways Committee now recommended the Council not to proceed further in the matter but to remove the notices which had been exhibited on the Council’s property forbidding parking in the street.

The Clerk reported that Mr. Wheeler had agreed to give up his right to the freehold in the path at the rear of Purvis-road provided that the Council arranged with adjoining owners for providing and maintaining a footpath as provided in the conveyance from Mr. Sartoris to the Allotment Society. The offer was duly accepted.

Baths Boon

Mr. Coles said he had an interesting statement to make in connection with the Baths. He had enquired of the Baths caretaker as to the number who used the Baths during the week July 4th to 10th inclusive, and the number during those seven days was 3,113.

Dealing with a letter from the Wellingborough postmaster, the Council raised no objection to the sub-post offices being closed on the day following August Bank Holiday. The sub-postmasters had applied for this concession on the ground that this facility was granted in Northampton and Wellingborough.

Four further seats were purchased for Jubilee Park at an estimated cost of £11 10s.

Following the Mission Band’s application for permission to give Saturday evening concerts at the Hall, it was decided to permit a concert on July 16th and to defer the allotment of further dates pending applications from other bands of the town.

Use of the public baths was granted to the Rushden S.C. for a gala on July 21st and to the Schools’ Sports Association for a gala on July 25th, the Council to have 25 per cent of the gross takings in each case.

A report from the Veterinary Inspector showed that 155 cows inspected by him on 17 premises were clinically normal and with few exceptions in good condition.

The Cemetery Sub-committee were requested to consider the provision of a further water tap at the Cemetery.

On the advice of the Finance Committee it was decided that the Council’s holding of £408 in 5 per cent. War Stock be converted into 3½ per cent War Stock in accordance with the Government’s proposal.

New Road

Tenders were received for the construction of a further length of road in extension of Tennyson-place, and that of Mr. Herbert Wilmott at £2,734, the lowest, was accepted subject to the approval of the Ministry of Health. The Council applied to the Ministry for sanction to a loan of £2,800 for this purpose.

Mr. A. T. Nichols’s tender of £64 16s. was accepted for the inside renovation of 16 houses on the west side of Irchester-road. Tenders for the outside painting of houses on the Irchester-road, Kings-road and Newton-road estates were accepted as follows:- 184 houses, Messrs. Jacques and Timpson, £443 19s. 7d.; 54 houses, Messrs. Prickett and Dunkley, £129; 30 houses, Mr. A. T. Nichols, £90; 12 houses, Mr. Robert Marriott, £38 16s.

Messrs. Allen, Capon, Perkins and Richardson were appointed as a sub-committee to consider the question of housing inspection.

Building plans were as follows: Two houses, Wellingborough-road, Messrs. W. Packwood and Son; bungalow, Avenue-road, Court Estate, Mr. W. T. Sinfield; house, Park-avenue, Mr. A. W. Head; bungalow at rear of Carnegie-street, Mr. J. Joyce; addition to house now being erected in Wymington-road, Mr. F. Clifton; addition to house, 11, Essex-road, Mr. H. C. Smith; four garages at rear of 29, Queen-street, Mr. A. Abbott; garage, Park-avenue, Mrs. J. W. Ward; garage, 2 Griffith-street, Dr. McCabe; garage, Wymington-road, Mr. H. Roughton; garden store, Park-avenue, Mr. G. W. Gardam; garden store, Park-avenue, Mr. L. Phillips; bathroom, 91, Park-road, Mr. W. J. Sawford; hanging sign in Duck-street, Mr. D. E. Mitchell.

Messrs. Allebone and Swindall, with the Surveyor (Mr. J. W. Lloyd) were appointed to consider the purchase of a motor lorry for general purposes.

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