|The past year has, in Rushden at all events, been a period of great activity, and the motto which suggests itself in looking back over the events which have taken place in the town during the year now rapidly nearing its close, is “Forward.” Whether we speak of the social and commercial, or the religious and political life of the past 12 months, there has been a marked increase in the amount of energy displayed in the various phases which constitute the life of a community. The improvement in the social condition of the people is one of the most pleasing features of the day, and is seen in the better class of houses now inhabited by the working classes a result partly due to the development of trade and partly to greater thrift and industry.
In the commercial world progress is even more apparent, new factories, have made their appearance in several places in the town, and it is stated that the already large number of local manufacturers is to be further supplemented in the New Year. In reference to these new buildings, we may first mention the magnificent pile now approaching completion in the very heart of the town, which makes Messrs. Cave & Sons’ business premises one of the finest shoe manufactories in the county; then comes Jaques and Clark’s factory in Fitzwilliam Street, Childs’ and West’s on the Manton Estate; and last, but not least, Mr. F. Knight’s fine building in the Old Rectory grounds.
These buildings by no means exhaust the list and in addition to factories new villas have sprung up in every direction. We regret that as the year closes we have had to chronicle a failure of some importance but it is hoped the business will be carried on, and that more prosperous days may be in store for it. Were other evidence needed of the progress of the town, we would point to the grand building which the Northamptonshire Union Bank have erected in High Street for the more efficient transaction of their increasing business. In addition to the buildings mentioned, several shops of good dimensions are in process of erection in High Street alone.
The advocates of Temperance have worked zealously during the year, several lectures having been delivered; perhaps the best meetings held were those addressed by the Rev. Dr. Burns, who has been an earnest supporter of the temperance cause for a period of fifty years. Another notable item was the erectionand openingof a drinking fountain at the bottom of the Green, “in memory of departed temperance workers,” the ceremony being performed on Easter Monday. Lectures in the temperance interest were also given by the Revs. C. Wilkins and J. Newton. An incident which caused some surprise and indignation in the local temperance world was the Application by Mr. Chettle, a member of the Temperance Society, for an outdoor beerhouse license.
In the religious life of the town much activity has been shown, and several of the free churches are contemplating the enlargement of their borders.
The Independent Wesleyans haves accepted plans, for the building of commodious schoolrooms; The Wesleyans of Park-road contemplate a new chapel; the Old Baptists have also bought a new site, and the memorial stones of a new Primitive Methodist Chapel have already been laid. The Junior Soldiers' Barracks in connection with the Salvation Army have been opened in the past year.
The politics of the year have been unusually lively, and there is no sign of any diminution of interest in this direction. The County Council election passed without a contest at Rushden, Mr. G. Denton being elected without opposition. The School Board election however, produced a spirited contest, with the result that the four Liberal candidates were triumphantly returned at the head of the poll. The Liberals and Conservatives have actively promulgated their propaganda and the latter party have had the assistancefor better or for worseof Mr. Amos, the organizing agent of the party. During the past month, there has been a good deal of electricity in the air owing to the meetings recently held in the Public Hall. The first meeting was addressed by Mr Potter, the latest Tory candidate, and Mr. Waddington and the Liberals were promised an opportunity of putting questions, but there seemed a disposition to fill up the whole of the time with speeches a course which aroused resentment on the part of some of the Radicals present. This was intensified by the provocative utterances of the latter speaker, and towards the close matters became rather lively. It is only fair to state however, that the Chairman and Mr. Potter had a capital hearing, and that the interruptions were limited to a single speaker. The Tories, with their usual fear of testing the feeling of a popular audience, refused to allow any resolution to be put, and the questioners were not permitted to add anyremarks. The Liberals held a meeting a fortnight later, which was addressed by Mr. Handel Cossham, and on this occasion a knot of Tories attended with the open encouragement of some of their leaders and from the beginning of the meeting did their utmost to prevent any speaker being heard. At length the patience of the audience was exhausted, and a local chimney sweep and one or two other lights of the Tory party were forcibly ejected, comparative order being then obtained. At the close, in striking contrast to the Tory methods, a resolution was submitted, and Mr. Amos, the paid agent of the Tory party and a non-resident, was allowed to move an amendment in a speech of twelve minutes duration. It is needless to say that when the vote was taken the sturdy Radicalism of Rushden asserted itself by an overwhelming majority, only a dozen hands going up for Mr. Amos and his amendment.
Music and athletics form no inconsiderable portion of the daily life of Rushden, and under the first heading we may mention Mr. J. E. Smith's grand concert on Feb. 27, the May Queen by the Choral Society in March, and the Messiah during the present month; whilst there have been quite host of smaller events, Sunday afternoon and evening concerts, and entertainments without number. Considerable interest has also been manifested in the performances of our two bands during the year, and perhaps the event which has caused most interest in this respect was the double victory of the National Band in the latter part of the summer season. Our local musicians can hold their own amongst the generality of Northern bands, excepting of course the "Dykes," "Besses," and a few other "cracks."
In the athletic world Rushden is fully upholding its reputation. The Rushden Cricket Club, Wanderers Football Club, and the Robin Hood (Rugby) Club have been amalgamated, and now form the Rushden Cricket and Football Club, and by the kind liberality of Mr. H. Sartoris, a splendid ground has been provided, the first match being played on June 13th between the home club and the county. The football section has played some good matches; they were defeated by the Wellingborough Grammar School in the final for the Association Cup, the same team defeating them on Feast Monday, and a team representing Aston Villa, also came off victors the Saturday previous to the date mentioned. Since this, however, they have scored some splendid victories, commencing with the cup match against the cathedral city, whom they defeated 8 3; they beat Wolverton by 9 to nil, and their latest achievement was the drubbing they administered to Wellingborough Town, scoring 10 goals to none.
At a parish meeting on April 4th to take into consideration the water supply of the town, Mr. H Sartoris further proved his interest in parochial matters by his offer to provide a site for the proposed water works. A resolution was passed at the same meeting approving of waterworks, if the same could be obtained at a reasonable price. Other meetings have been held to form a branch of the National Rivetters’ Union; to protest against the prosecution of parents for the non-vaccination of their children. The annual show of the Horticultural and Ornithological Society was held on Feast Tuesday, but we regret that owing to the terrible weather it resulted in a loss of pounds to the society.
With this short sketch of the events of the past twelve months, we would remark in conclusion that so far as we can judge, the prospect of 1890 seems a bright one, and we wish all our readers, irrespective of creed or party, “Happy and prosperous New Year.”