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From Wellingborough & Kettering News 25/10/1889, transcribed by Peter Brown
The Proposed New Tramway
Rushden says “Yes”

A meeting was held in the Vestry Hall on Wednesday evening to take into consideration a scheme to construct tramroads to connect Wellingborough, Rushden, and Irchester and to “pass such resolutions with reference to the said scheme as the meeting may deem expedient.” The hall was quite full, and there were in attendance Mr. Willan Jackson (Wellingborough), the local agent of the promoters, Mr. Sellon, the engineer, and Mr. Battams, of Carr and Son, the London solicitors for the promoters. In addition to these gentlemen there were also present Messrs. G. Denton, Amos Cave, Arthur Cave, E. Claridge, W. Claridge, J. Claridge, G. H. Skinner, W. Wilkins S. Knight, F. Newman, Charles Bayes, Thomas Willmott, H. Brawn, Fisher, W. Darnell, J. S. Clipson, C. Barker, A. Wright, S. Chettle, J. Litchfield, Crosher (station-master at Irchester), J. Sargent, and many others.

On the proposition of Mr. Wilkins, Mr. G. Denton was unanimously voted to the chair, and he at once called upon Mr. Willan Jackson, who said that although his name did not appear on the notice convening the meeting, yet he was somewhat responsible for its being called together. That meeting was held simply to obtain an expression of opinion as to whether the inhabitants of Rushden would give their moral support to a scheme for a tramroad being constructed between Wellingborough, Irchester, and Rushden. If they gave their support to the scheme, he had no doubt the line would be constructed.

Mr. Sellon, the engineer, then addressed the meeting. They applied for powers to construct a tramway last year, but owing to the hostile criticism of the Midland Railway Company, who raised the technical point that the Standing Orders of the House had not been strictly complied with, the Midland Company had fought the proposal on technical points, and not on the true merits of the case. He thought the Company showed weakness in this respect. If the promoters of the scheme received the moral support of the meeting they would bring in a new Bill, and they would take care that the question should be fought out on its merits. When the matter was brought before the Committee of the House of Commons the first thing they would be asked was whether such aline was wanted. If they want it, he asked them to sign a memorial, so that the promoters could show evidence that such a line was desired. He did not think it necessary to point out the advantages the tramway would possess. Instead of being landed a mil from the town of Wellingborough, as was the case at present, their line would be direct to the centre of Wellingborough, and they would also endeavour to get a line from the centre of Wellingborough down to the Midland Station. Their intention was to bring their line from Wellingborough, across the North-western line to Irchester, terminating near the Gas works at Rushden. At a meeting at Irchester it was unanimously resolved to support the proposal, and it remained for that meeting to say whether they would have it. The proposal of last year had woke up the Midland Company, who had put forward an opposition scheme, and it was for them to say which they would support. They (the promoters) thought there was room for them, while on the other hand the Midland Co. had the same opinion respecting their scheme. However, they did not mind competition, and if they were invited to Rushden he could guarantee traffic sufficient to pay the promoters. The power proposed last year was steam, but this time they intended to use electricity, which he thought would recommend itself more to the people generally, as some had great objections to steam engines on roads. He had not brought the exact route with him, as he thought it the best policy not to do so, but he could promise them it should be as direct as possible. As to the best route, that was a question which would have to be agreed upon, and they would have to show by vestry meeting that it was desired. He asked them two things — would they support him, so that he could combat the Midland Railway, and produce evidence in support of the scheme in the committee rooms of the House of Commons. Tramways were now the most popular means of travelling, as people could get on anywhere, the fares were cheap, and they acted as feeders to branch lines. If they would give him their support, and sign a memorial to that effect, he would do all in his power to get the measure through the House of Commons, in spite of the selfish opposition of the Midland Railway Company.

The Chairman thought it would be to their interest as parishioners to let the tramways come, as the more communications they had the better. He was sorry the rival element had been introduced, but he could not see why the Midland Company should oppose the scheme. If it was purely through the opposition of that Company the last Bill was withdrawn, he did not think much of them, and he thought others would tell them the same.

Mr. W. Wilkins asked whether the scheme to Higham Ferrers was abandoned, as he thought it would much enhance the value of the proposal if that was included.

Mr. Sellon said it was in contemplation to continue the line to Higham, but he was not quite able to give a definite opinion, and in reply to other questions as to fares and cars, he said the schedule of prices allowed by the Board of Trade was one penny per mile, and there would be both inside and outside seats. In the case of workmen’s trams they were not allowed to charge more than ½d. a mile, and if they were well supported they would be able to take them even less than that.

Mr. Battams (for the solicitors for the promoters) said it was entirely the fault of the Midland Company the last Bill was withdrawn, owing to trivial technical difficulties, but they would take care the next measure was fought on its merits.

Mr. J. Litchfield proposed, and Mr. Margetts seconded, that the meeting give its support to the tramways being brought to Rushden; and on the resolution being put to the meeting it was carried unanimously amidst applause.

A memorial was then produced for signature which was signed by nearly every person present.

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