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The Wellingborough News
Letters To The Editor
The Queen’s Jubilee At Rushden

28th January 1887

DEAR SIR:- Our neighbour “Paterfamilias,” whose paternal anxiety has suggested the provision of Public Baths in Rushden, has made a good suggestion if only it could be carried out. Not the least important item in the scheme would be to find sufficient water, and perhaps “Paterfamilias” would kindly say whether this one thing needful is to be obtained from the savoury brook that meanders through the parish, and also where the edifice could be erected. We certainly need cleansing, and a radical change is sadly needed in whichever direction we cast our eyes. If the approaching jubilee could provide us with a few tons of granite for the roads, a few loads of gravel for the paths, a few men who know how to spread the material in the right place, and some centurion to superintend matters, then we might be encouraged to brush off the mud with which we are bespattered, and having rid ourselves of our spots, might give some attention to our skin. If the talented authoress of “The Cottage Homes of England” had resided in our parish, she might have altered her lines as follows:-

The cottage homes of Rushden,
How beautiful they stand,
‘Mid dirty puddles, ankle deep,
And mud on every hand.

No granite on the roads is found,
To tempt a soul to cross;
The dismal swamps and Irish bogs
Know nought but furnace dross.

It is a scandal to the authorities that our paths and roads are allowed to remain in such a disgraceful condition. We pay enough in house rent and rates to provide a much better state of things, and if any money is given by the inhabitants in honour of the approaching jubilee, let it be given to some such needful work at home. Our village green is neither one thing nor another, and greatly needs alteration, but to my mind the repairing of the roads is the one thing most needful at present. Meanwhile an amateur carpenter who would undertake to supply each parishioner with a good serviceable pair of stilts would do a roaring trade, while any local manufacturer who could bring out a local adaptation of the Canadian Indian snow-shoe, especially adapted for gliding over mud-heaps, and patent the same, would realise independence.

Yours respectfully,

11th February 1887

DEAR SIR:- I quite agree with my friend “Mudlark” in what he says about the filthy state of our roads – they are a disgrace to civilization, but, sir, I cannot see what that can have to do with making special efforts to commemorate Her Majesty’s Jubilee. As far as I understand parochial matters, the law provides an authority through which the necessary funds can be raised for repairing the roads, and if they are not doing their duty I suppose there is some legal course open through which to get redress, though I must confess I am rather ignorant of these matters. But, sir, I have yet to learn that public baths could be provided through the rates, though I should be quite willing to pay my share. It is for that reason I suggest that the present time is suitable for making an effort to raise such a place by subscriptions. “Mudlark” does not see the possibility of getting water except from the bubbling brook that meanders its way through our streets (by the way just the place for a “Mudlark.) I should be very sorry, however, to have a dip there in July – at least at the bottom end; the top would be right enough perhaps, but that would not be central enough for our purpose.

Now, sir, I understand at the Temperance Society’s yearly meeting a few weeks ago it was proposed that a drinking fountain should be erected in memory of a well-known and earnest temperance worker, and it was then stated that there are two springs, either of which provides an abundant water supply, and which would serve the purpose. Now why could not both these springs, which are very near together, be used for public baths? The one on the Green is now lost by running into the above mentioned brook, the other by the premises of the owner – the enterprising manager of the Gas Works, is taken advantage of to supply the Company’s works with water. I have no doubt a small strip of ground could be procured just in the valley from the wealthy owner, who is never behind in doing his share for the public good.

Trusting I shall hear further favourable opinions on the subject. – Yours, &c.,


25th February 1887

DEAR SIR:- I scarcely like asking for space for another word on the above subject, but one or two things in “Mudlark’s” last seems to require notice. I cannot see one argument in his letter against my proposal for baths. He sees an insurmountable difficulty in the water supply, but I have already pointed out where there is abundance, and also a most suitable site for the purpose. Now he flippantly says the wealthy owner would not care to have public baths so near his house – (query how near) implying that he would not be likely to part with a small portion of his broad acres for the purpose. Now, sir, that gentleman’s name was proverbial for public spirit years before “Mudlark” made his first little twitter, and it looks very much like presumption on his part to make such an inference. Again I say that by the permission of the owner (the same gentleman) the Gas Company’s manager had altered one spring to supply the company’s works with water. “Mudlark” at once jumps to the conclusion that that arrangement must be all upset if we were to get water from the same source. Why bless the dear boy there is plenty for the Gas Company and baths too, which he ought to know, for he is by often enough. There is no more I can do in this matter – except give my share to the expenses which I shall be very glad to do. I have pointed out the site where water can be found, and without manipulating other people’s rhymes only add that perhaps in time “Mudlark” will rise to the dignity of a father of a family, and then he will think less of the polish on his boots and more of the physical training of his children. – Yours, &c.,


4th March 1887

SIR:- As I see some suggestions have been made about celebrating the Queen’s jubilee at Rushden, I should like to make a suggestion which, if carried out, would I think, be a good way to celebrate the jubilee. That, sir, is to meet the want of a Recreation Ground for Rushden. I think it is a disgrace to a large and growing town like Rushden that there should be no place where the inhabitants can meet and enjoy a friendly game. I have noticed that the idea of a Recreation ground had been brought up at one or two vestry meetings, but nothing seems to have been done towards providing one, and I think there could not be a better time than the present to bring it before the notice of the public.

I remain, yours truly,

25th March 1887

A public meeting to receive suggestions for the celebration of the jubilee of Her Majesty’s reign was convened in the Public Hall on Monday evening last by Messrs. F. U. Sartoris and R. O. Butcher, churchwardens, and Messrs. G. H. Skinner, and T. Tailby, overseers. On the motion of Mr. W. Wilkins seconded by Mr. G. Denton, the rector (the Rev. Canon Barker) was voted to the chair, and was supported by the following gentlemen: Rev. W. J. Tomkins, Messrs. W. Wilkins, G. Denton, G. H. Skinner, Dr. Owen, J. C. Stevens, E. Claridge, C. G. Cunnington, W. Colson, Haydn Packwood, Wm. Packwood, H. Brawn, G. Mason, J. Mason, Frank Newman, Paul Cave, C. L. Brafield, F. Knight, W. Claridge, sen., John Claridge, T. P. Richards, John Jacques, J. T. Colson, T. Willmott, Woodward, &c.

The Rev. Chairman, after a few introductory remarks, apologies for the absence of Mr. F. U. Sartoris, from whom he had just received a telegram stating he was unfortunately detained in London, and was therefore unable to be present at the meeting. He (the chairman) was there as their servant to carry out any suggestion they might adopt for the good of the parish. The history of the past 50 years was well worth the study of all, and he trusted the jubilee would tend to unite them together as one people – one in thought and one in mind. He was sure that in the commemoration of the jubilee they did not want to be the last in the race; and it was now open for them to suggest what should be done, and to elect a committee for the furtherance of their wishes.

Mr. Wiles Knight proposed that the date of Rushden Feast, which at present is celebrated upon the Sunday following the 19th of September, be altered to the first Sunday in August. The Feast was altered 135 years ago, as far as he could remember – (loud and continued laughter) – reading, and he did not see why it should not be altered again, as the weather would be so much more favourable in August than in the latter end of September or the beginning of October.

Mr. Paul Cave seconded, and as an employer of labour thought it would be an advantage if it could be held at the same time as Higham Feast.

Mr. G. S. Mason facetiously proposed that instead of altering their feast to the same date as Higham feast, they should have two feasts; one upon the former date, and one upon the latter occasion. The proposal was received with considerable hilarity by the audience, and upon the Chairman asking if an employer of labour would support that, the suggestion was seconded by Mr. T. Wilmot.

Mr. John Wilmott thought the holidays in Rushden came in very well, with a break every three months. He thought the working man needed a break and he did not think it advisable to alter the existing arrangements either by an increase or a decrease in the number of holidays.

Mr. Mason having withdrawn his suggestion, it was unanimously resolved that the proposal be referred to the committee for consideration. The same gentleman then proposed that “a Recreation Ground for Rushden would be a suitable manner of celebrating the jubilee.” The children had only the streets to run about in, and could play nowhere without getting a cut with the cane, or a kick.

Mr. Haydn Packwood said this suggestion had been mooted several times, and could not be carried out on account of pecuniary difficulties. He had, however, much pleasure in seconding the proposal that it received the attention of the committee. The Chairman explained that if decided upon by the committee, the recreation ground would not be a place for monopoly by anyone, but a resort where, with other recreations, “the little darlings could be wheeled out” without any fear of a cricket ball or football falling in the perambulator.

Mr. T. Wilmott proposed “Warm baths and Wash-houses” which was seconded by Mr. Scroxton. The proposer’s idea was to provide, in addition to swimming accommodation, places where linen could be washed and dried, but in reply to a question from the chairman he did not wish that they should take in mangling.

Mr. G. Denton thought if these wash-houses could be conducted upon scientific principles as in some large towns it would be a very good thing for the place. Public Swimming Baths were necessary, but whether attainable was a matter to be decided. With reference to the Recreation Ground they would not only have to purchase the land, but to expend a good deal of money in planting and making walks, and it would cost something to keep up.

Mr. W. Clarke thought Public Baths were more necessary and more useful, and would prove of greater benefit to the parish. If Rushden was a large town it would be different, but they had excellent roads, -- (laughter) – splendid paths, -- (laughter) and the farmers were not over particular. Mr. T. Freeman thought the farmers were too particular. Rev. W. J. Tomkins humorously observed that he did not advocate baths because he was a Baptist, but because he thought they would be a great acquisition to the parish. The resolution was put to the vote and carried.

Mr. Tomkins proposed, and Mr. J. C. Stevens seconded, that a resident nurse be provided to nurse the sick.

Mr. Geo. Brown proposed a festive gathering for the young, the poor, the aged and infirm, and everybody. (Laughter.) – Mr. John Claridge seconded, and both these proposals were referred to the consideration of the committee.

Mr. Jacob Neale proposed, and Mr. W. Pack seconded, that the sanitary cart be provided with gutta-percha tyres for the wheels, to prevent it disturbing so many people in the night. – On the Chairman suggesting this would be more suitable for the Sanitary Committee, and perhaps a cask of Eau-de-Cologne might be added, the proposition was withdrawn.

Mr. Haydn Packwood would like to see the “few loads of granite” on the roads as suggested by “Mudlark” in the columns of the News a few weeks since, and Mr. Paul Cave thought the paths might be improved.

Mr. J. T. Colson urged the claims of the Northampton Infirmary, and was supported by Mr. P. Cave.

The meeting concluded by the appointment of the following committee to investigate into and report upon the practicability of the various schemes suggested:- Rev. Canon Barker, Rev. W. J. Tomkins, Messrs. Geo. Denton, Wm. Clarke John Claridge, Paul Cave, Haydn Packwood, W. Wilkins, Wiles Knight, F. U. Sartoris, G. H. Skinner, W. Foskett, C. G. Cunnington, J. T. Colson, Fred Knight, T. Willmott, G. S. Mason, and Dr. Owen.

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