Woburn Sands Parish Council – A history from 1907 to 1967, compiled from the Minute Books, by Arthur W. Parker, F.R.I.C.S., in 1977.
The late Arthur Parker compiled these notes from the Council minute books in 1977. He had been Clerk to the Council from April 1933 to November 1945, and a Member of the Council from 1952 to 1961. As town historian, he was uniquely placed to know the background to many of the discussions featured in the minutes. His life story can be found on another page at this website.
[R.D.C. = Rural District Council, usually that of Newport Pagnell.]
In April 1933 I was appointed Clerk of the Council, and, in order to obtain some knowledge of the work I was undertaking, I studied the Minutes from their commencement in 1907, and made various notes.
In 1957 I again examined the Minute Books and wrote something of the history of the Council up to 1932 – the first twenty-five years of its work.
In 1977 the Parish Council decided to ask the County Record Office to accept the custody of its early papers, and before they went to Aylesbury I was given the privilege of perusing documents and taking from the minute Books the information which is recorded here. The fifth book ends in 1967, and although I did not intend to write of this period, I thought it an appropriate time up to which to make the record. The last ten years of work cannot, at this moment be regarded as history.
The Minutes make interesting reading – and sometimes amusing – in the light of to-day’s world. It is difficult to realise how far the progress of Woburn Sands has marched in seventy years; we may no longer “be afflicted with dust”, but the speed of traffic and the littler problem are still with us, and probably will be for some years to come.
I think today’s meetings of the Council are conducted in a much calmer atmosphere than they were in its early days. No longer do the members thump the table and declare “You can’t do that Mr Chairman”. Though we are burdened with a massive amount of legislation, our laws are better understood than they were then; the early Councillors seemed to have little knowledge of their powers, or of who did what.These things only come with experience.
It has been a little difficult to decide what to include here, and what to leave out. The majority of the Minutes deal with the care and maintenance of The Institute and the Council’s ‘leasehold’, the Recreation Ground, but I have only mentioned outstanding changes or expenditure.
At nearly every meeting complaints were made with regard to the condition of roads and footways, field paths, street lighting, &c., traffic and litter – they have been with us all through the years, and will be for many years to run. Some of the items I have included do not seem important but have been included to record the date, or in some cases the amount of money spent.
I think attention must be drawn to Ernest Bathurst, who, of all I have known, was more of a ‘father’ to the Parish than any other; its welfare was written deeply across his heart. Of others with long service, the name of Dr Brian Furber, who happily is still with us; Alfy Tomlin, and Jim McMurtrie, stand out as worthy of commendation, though Tomlin, whose utterances were rarely taken seriously, did not reach the chair and the opportunity to rule. Fred Watkiss with his liaison at Newport put in good work.
The varying personnel and the various periods of time obviously present different facets. For practically the whole of it time the working man has had a place in the Council chamber, but in the early days most of the Councillors were leading tradesmen; gradually they have faded out and the Council has taken on a much wider section of its parishioners.
In my work here there are many shortcomings, and I hope some other student of history will, in later days, revise and enlarge these notes in terms better than I can express; in the meantime I hope those who take an interest in the management of local affairs will find some interest, in what these pages contain.
WOBURN SANDS PARISH COUNCIL
|1907 April||John Taylor Luttman||Thomas Daniel Holmes|
|1910 April||Revd Douglas W. Henry||Harry F. Freear|
|1912 March||?||William Browne Toogood|
|1913 July||John C. Tarver||?|
|1919 March||?||Ernest Frank Bathurst|
|1912 March||Ernest F. Bathurst||Benjamin Barker|
|1923 March||?||Thomas Charles Bowler|
|1935 March||Sydney Chas. Hebard (Dec '37)||Thomas William Bottoms|
|1933 March||Thomas Wm. Bottoms (Jan ‘40)||Alfred Ernest Tomlin|
|1940 March||James McMurtrie||?|
|1947 March||?||Brian Wells Hanson|
|1951 December||Brian Wells Hanson||?|
|1952 April||Lionel Brian Furber||Cyril Hutton|
|1955 April||?||Arthur Walter Parker|
|1956 June||Cyril Hutton||?|
|1957 May||Revd Michael T. Meakin||?|
|1961 May||William T. Barnes||Frederick F. J. Watkiss|
|1962 May||Frederick F. J. Watkiss||Keith Speed|
|1965 May||?||Claude R. Phillips|
|1967 May||?||R. Parsons|
|1907 April||Herbert Gregory|
|1910 April||John Pikesley Junr. (Suspended July 1913)|
|1913 October||F. Mason|
|1918 April||William Harrington|
|1924 August||William H. Beavis|
|1933 April||Arthur W. Parker|
|1945 November||Joseph Pursell|
|1955 April||Douglas H. Tyers|
|1976 April||Mrs Mollie J. West|
|Members of the Parish Council|
|Start Date||End of term||Name||Years of service|
|1907 March||1912 August||John Taylor Luttman||5.5|
|1907 March||1913 July||Revd Douglas W. Henry||6|
|1907 March||1922 March||William Henry Bazley||15|
|1907 March||1910 March &|
|1913 March||1919 March||Arthur Boyes||9|
|1907 March||1910 March||Frederick Harris Day||3|
|1907 March||1910 March||Charles Dudley||3|
|1907 March||1913 March||Thomas Daniel Holmes||6|
|1907 March||1919 March||Thomas Jackson||12|
|1907 March||1910 March||Frederick Tomlin||3|
|1910 March||1912 March||Harry Freear||2|
|1910 March||1949 March||Ernest Frank Bathurst||39|
|1910 March||1922 March||William Browne Toogood||12|
|1910 March||1913 March||Joseph Elliott||3|
|1912 August||1922 March||John C. Tarver||10|
|1913 March||1918 March||William Harrington||5|
|1913 March||1922 March &|
|1924 January||1928 March||Josiah Barker||13|
|1913 Sept||1918 March||Harry E. Grace||5|
|1918 April||1918 Sept||Robert A. Cheetham||6 months|
|1919 March||1934 March||Thomas Charles Bowler||15|
|1919 March||1923 March &|
|1928 March||1929 April||Benjamin Barker||7|
|1919 March||1922 March||Harry R. Giles||3|
|1919 March||1923 April||Charles Inwood||4|
|1922 March||1949 May||Alfred Ernest Tomlin||27|
|1922 March||1934 March||Thomas Bryant||12|
|1922 March||1937 March &|
|1941 August||1946 January||Harry Pakes||20|
|1922 March||1925 March||Harry Barker||3|
|1925 March||1934 March||Frederick Read||9|
|1925 March||1928 March &|
|1937 March||1941 May &|
|1952 May||1958 May||George Frederick Wesley||13|
|1928 March||1940 January||Thomas William Bottoms||12|
|1928 March||1931 March||Cedric Cyril Clarke||3|
|1928 March||1928 April||George Lindsey Taylor||1 month|
|1923 June||1931 March||Ernest William Pratt||3|
|1929 April||1934 March||Herbert Hooper||4|
|1931 March||1937 Dec||Sydney Charles Hebard||6|
|1934 March||1951 Dec||James McMurtrie||17.5|
|1934 March||1946 March||Mark Porter||12|
|1934 March||1937 March||Edgar George Smith||3|
|1934 March||1937 March||Harold Holloway Theobald||3|
|1937 March||1941 May &|
|1946 March||1967 May||Lionel Brian Furber||27|
|1937 March||1946 March||Leon Phillip Higgs||9|
|1938 January||1944 March||John W. R. Codd||6|
|1940 February||1946 March||William T. Shortland||6|
|1941 August||1946 May||Charles Bertram Stephens||5|
|1946 May||1952 May||Charles Horton Ball||6|
|1946 May||1955 May||Brian Wells Hanson||9|
|1946 May||1958 May &|
|1959 February||1961 May||Cyril Hutton||14|
|1946 May||1956 March &|
|1961 May||1964 March||James Albert Pursell||13|
|1946 May||1952 May||Emily Sarah Robinson||6|
|1949 May||1950 Sept||Revd Frederick W. Bowler||11|
|1949 May||1952 May||R. T. Rayner||3|
|1952 May||1961 May||Hilda M. Hunt||9|
|1952 Kay||1955 May &|
|1956 March||1967 May||Arthur W. Linnell||14|
|1952 May||1961 May||Arthur Walter Parker||9|
|1952 May||1955 May||Ernest A. Last||3|
|1955 May||1960 March||Leslie Harold Blanshard||5|
|1955 May||1957 May||J. B. King||2|
|1955 May||1961 May||Revd Michael T. Meakin||6|
|1958 May||1961 May||William T. Barnes||3|
|1958 May||1959 February||Thomas Buxton||9 months|
|1958 May||1965 May||N. Keith Speed||7|
|1960 May||In post||Frederick F. J Watkiss|
|1961 May||In post||Claude R. Phillips|
|1961 May||1967 July||Joseph R. Walker||6|
|1961 May||1962 June||A. J. Williams|
|1962 June||1964 May &|
|1965 May||In post||Ernest F. Cant|
|1964 May||In post||R. Parsons|
|1964 May||1967 May||John F. Wright||3|
|1964 May||1967 May||Frederick Hawkins||3|
|1967 May||In post||Frank Allcord|
|1967 May||In post||Walter A. R. Denton|
|1967 May||In post||Roger Fennemore|
|1967 May||In post||Elizabeth Lewis|
|1967 July||In post||G. A. Wright|
On Monday, 4th March 1907, the Overseers of the Pariah Of Wavendon called a Parish Meeting at The Institute for “that part of Wavendon called Woburn Sands” for the purpose of electing a Council for the new Parish. There was a large attendance, over which Mr E. G. Miller presided, and sixteen gentlemen offered themselves as candidates for the nine vacancies, the record showing that the following were elected:
|Thomas D. Holmes||Surgeon||48|
|Charles Dudley||Brick manufacturer||46|
|William H. Bazley||Manufacturer||40|
|Thomas Jackson||Market gardener||40|
|John T. Luttman||Hotel Proprietor||32|
|Douglas W. Henry||Vicar||29|
|The unsuccessful Candidates were:|
|John Pikesley senr.||17|
|W. B. Stonebridge||17|
|W. B. Toogood||14|
|John Pikesley junr.||9|
Mr Stonebridge demanded a poll but was unsuccessful in finding four other necessary Supporters, and the nine were therefore declared elected.
Some knowledge of the persons concerned may be interesting. Mr. E. G. Miller was the proprietor of the printing works in Aspley Hill, and took a keen interest in local affairs. That “Tommy” Holmes came top of the poll was not surprising; he was a very popular doctor, and lived at The Shrubbery. Arthur Boyes ran the shoe shop, now Miss Amey, and was a property owner. Bazley’s wheat carbolizer works was in Station Road, the premises from which Plysu started their successful business; brought up in the village he was a mine of information on everything local. Thomas Jackson was a Northerner who had come South to Woburn Abbey gardens, but soon set up his own business, and laid out many of the gardens to the new residences; later he turned to market gardening and farmed some 50 acres. Tomlin was a bricklayer, who also owned property; he was the father of “Alfy”, singer, entertainer and also councillor both here and at Newport. Luttman was at The Station Hotel; not long after, he was killed on the railway. Fred Day was the Aspley grocer, recently retired to the villa he had built in Bow Brickhill Road; he was also owner of the 28 houses of The Leys terrace; a tenor, he and his brothers were prominent in the local musical world. Of the unsuccessful – Bailey farmed Mill Farm and was a local carting contractor; Barker was a jobbing gardener; Harrington the draper, later clerk and a member of the Council. The Pikesleys were undertakers, and Senior was the Postmaster who built the present post office for that purpose. Junior was at one time rate collector, and departed this country hurriedly, never to return. Toogood was also a draper, at The Bon Marche, and served many years on the Newport Council. Walter Stonebridge was a young architect, not long settled here (in The Terrace) He left at the end of the 1914 war, was Diocesan Architect and was responsible for the design of the War Memorial and the Ellen Pettit Hall.
April The newly elected Council met on the first day of their office, 15 April 1907, when Mr Luttman was elected chairman and Dr Holmes vice-chairman. Overseers appointed were Mr Day and Mr Luttman, and as Assistant Overseer (or rate collector) and Clerk of the Council, Mr Herbert Gregory was chosen from five candidates. His salary was £5 a year. Overseers in those days were responsible for the valuations for rating purposes, and for the collection of the rates. It was decided to hold the meetings at The Institute, bi-monthly.
May There is always some knotty problem of importance to be considered by a parish council and the first question our Council had to tackle was the proposed water and drainage scheme. After two hours discussion a resolution was passed that the Parish Council “representing nine-tenths of the rate-payers, who are strongly opposed to the scheme”, is of opinion that the proposed scheme is much too expensive and requesting the Newport Pagnell representatives to withdraw from it and at some future date consider something of a less expensive nature for the Pariah of Woburn Sands only. At this meeting it was proposed Standing Orders be drawn up by a committee. The meeting was adjourned until the following Monday when the Bucks County Council was asked to water the main road as “we are terribly afflicted with dust”; and it was arranged that Standing Orders were to lie at the Clerk’s house until the next meeting.
June Resolved that Standing Orders be brought up at the next meeting. The Clerk said that a map of the Duke of Bedford’s woods, showing the ways awarded to the public, had been received from the Duke’s agent. This map is kept with Parish records and was of use in later days in proving public footpaths under the Act of 1949. A copy of it is also filed at the Bedford Record Office. At about this time the Parish Council was realising that the Wavendon tail had for some time been wagging the Woburn Sands dog. The Council therefore decided to appoint their own Trustees to the Poor’s Coal Charity, with the consent of the Commissioners, but on receipt of their reply a special meeting of the Council was called to hear that “the only persons legally in a position to administer the Charity were the Churchwardens of Wavendon”. As the time for the delivery of the coal was near, the Parish Council did not dispute the Commissioners’ decision but expressed dissatisfaction and decided to apply to the Charity Commissioners to be represented by their two overseers; to which the Commissioners later agreed.
A note of the 1906 distribution says that for the Duke’s payment, 185 tons of coal were delivered to 111 people, i.e. 33.5cwts each. This was over the signature of the three trustees, Messrs Luttman, Nathaniel Sturges, and J. Elliott, certainly making the churchwardens in a minority, if not altogether absent!
The Council also complained to the Commissioners with regard to the unfair distribution of the funds of Wells’ Charity “nothing coming into this new parish” and desiring to be represented on the body of Trustees; the Commissioners eventually agreed to the appointment of two parishioners, the Revd Henry and Mr Boyes being elected.
From notes of various meetings it appears the Council had some difficulty in obtaining from officials at Wavendon books and information relating to work in Woburn Sand indeed there appears to have been a great deal of jealousy. Special mention is made in these early minutes of typewritten documents, such apparently being something of a novelty.
July It was resolved that Standing Orders be left over until the next meeting. It was decided to circularise the whole parish with regard to the Water and Drainage Scheme and a questionnaire was drawn up based one already published in the Bedfordshire parishes. A proposition by Dr Holmes that “Are you satisfied with the present sanitary conditions of your house?” be added was defeated.
August A special meeting of the Council was called to consider the result of the “voting” but the minutes do not disclose the result, or the opinion of the Council, but it was decided to acquaint each member of the Newport Pagnell Rural District Council of the result.
September Resolved that Standing Orders be left over “sine die”; and this appears to have been the attitude of all the Councils following. Much time was taken up considering the condition of the footways, and many Complaints went to the road surveyor. Field paths were also a fruitful source of argument, and Mr Sturges appears to have been a frequent offender by nailing up his gates. A report of the Footpaths Committee dealing with public footpaths overhanging shrubs and the bad state of footways lead to a number of letters being sent to offending owners. It was stated one lady had had her bonnet torn by overhanging bushes in Station Road.
November At this meeting the local representatives of the Newport Rural Council were stated to be “practically useless”; one was kept away through ill-health, and the other knew nothing when he went, so the Council decided to complain to the Local Government Board of the treatment meted out by the Rural Council to the Parochial Sanitary Committee.
December On December 20th a meeting was called under the Lighting and Watching Act, 1833, for the purpose of lighting High Street and Station Road, the first one called by this Council. (There were no gas mains in other roads). When the Chairman wished to open the meeting only two ratepayers were present, and the Clerk went out into the highways and by-ways to search for a quorum. Eventually, it is recorded, one lady and six gentlemen attended and passed a threepenny rate for the lighting, raising £30. This is not the only occasion on which it has been necessary to bring in parishioners. It happened in 1934, when the only people who turned up at The Institute were the Chairman, Clerk and the Catetaker – and he also happened to be the Iamp-lighter. The Clerk paid a visit to the Social Club, and press-ganged sufficient members; the three necessary resolutions were passed, otherwise there would have been no street lighting that Winter!
In view of later events it is interesting to note that the Council advised a parishioner who enquired with regard to the roadway, now known as “Spring Grove” but then stated to pass through “Watling’s Brickyard”, that they were “not in a position to state if the road is public or private”.
At this meeting, Mr Alfred Allnutt of Edgbury offered the Council a handsome sum of money towards the purchase of a piece of land at the corner of The Leys for improvements. He was thanked; there apparently the matter rested until 1956, 50 years later, when two of the houses built there were pulled down by the Bucks County Council
February A special meeting of the Council was held on the 3rd, which Mr William Sturges attended and explained that the Deethe footpath was a sufferance path and that people had been turned off it for the past 35 years. The matter was “left over”.
Twenty-one applications for allotments were considered and two fields chosen for that purpose were Gravel Pit Close in Station Road (the present Recreation Ground) and the first field on Deethe Hill, part of Woodleys Farm.
March The Newport Pagnell R.D.C. replied that they would not let Gravel Pit Close for this purpose (I cannot understand how they were concerned) and as the tenant of the other field required compensation the matter was left for future consideration. Mr Herbert Gregory, the Clerk, was appointed Parish Constable. Wavendon Parish Council, in an endeavour to get one back on Woburn Sands, wrote complaining of the condition of a stile on land belonging to the Chairman of Woburn Sands Council! The matter was referred to the Footpaths Committee.
On March 23 the Annual Parish Meeting was held when a proposition that the Council raise a 6d. rate for watering the main streets was carried by seven votes to one.
With reference to the side Streets the inaction of the Newport Council was condemned by seventeen votes to nil, and a request was made for the Street Works Act to be put in force. It was also resolved to ask Aspley Guise and Aspley Heath to join this Parish in obtaining urban powers.
June The state of the Station road footway and the dust nuisance was again referred to and the advice of the Board of Agriculture was sought with regard to the question of allotments.
August A special meeting was called to consider allotments but no minutes are recorded though two pages have been left blank, apparently for that purpose. Bucks County Council was asked if it would tar-paint the road from The Swan to the Station, 15ft. wide, if the parish contributed one penny per square yard, and if £20 would cover the cost.
October At this meeting it was decided to drop the question of allotments. Donations had been promised if the Council would have the main road tar painted.
December At this year’s Lighting Meeting “a good number of ratepayers were present” but the voting for a 3d. or a 4½d. rate resulted in five votes each, and the chairman then added his vote in favour of 4½d.
The minutes reveal that the Parish Council of those days were quite zealous in their watch over local affairs, even to the extent of matters outside the borders of the Parish, for which they were sometimes politely rebuked by the party to whom they complained.
February The Poors’ Coal Charity was still causing much discussion, and correspondence with the Charity Commissioners.
March The Annual Parish Meeting brought questions on tar painting the main road, a water cart, and the making up of the side streets, it being stated that the Local Government Board would not give consent for the last until completion of the Water and Drainage Scheme. A proposal that overtures be made to Aspley Guise and Aspley Heath Parish Councils with regard to the formation of an Urban District was carried unanimously.
April At this meeting the Clerk tendered his resignation, and when asked to continue, stated that one of the Councillors had slandered him, but he agreed to carry on. The Clerk was re-appointed to the office of Parish Constable, for which he was paid one guinea a year.
May Formal notice was received that the Newport Pagnell Rural District Council had decided to proceed with the Water and Drainage Scheme.
June Letters from the Parish Councils of Aspley Guise and Aspley Heath stated that they did not think it advisable to form a joint Urban District, and from the Local Government Board that the constitution of an Urban Authority was for the County Council to consider in the first instance. The Council raised no objection to a proposal for postponing the opening of the Post Office from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., with closing at 8 p.m.
December The only interesting note of the Annual Lighting Meeting is that a lady of Aspley Guise complained that in the darkness she had collided with a lamp-post in Hardwick Road and severely cut her eyelid. It was decided to move the post.
March The Newport Pagnell R.D.C. wrote that they could not extend the footway along The Leys, and a resolution was sent to Newport drawing its attention to the dangerous corners and the necessity for a footpath, especially as children were always playing in the road; it was also asked that a danger signal be provided at each end of The Leys.
With this meeting the three-year term of office of the first Council came to an end. Of the number of proposals put before that Council the only one brought to a successful issue (though the then Council and the Ratepayers did not altogether agree) was the Water and Drainage Scheme. Much time and thought had been given to Field-paths, footways, overhanging trees, the main road, and many problems which must have appeared important in those days. The personal side of things was much more in evidence than it is to-day, and there had been many stormy meetings.
At this point some explanations may be useful. The term “side streets” was in general use for many years and to the older residents is not unknown now. They were Vicarage Street, Russell Street, Spring Grove, Theydon Avenue, Wood Street and Chapel Street. Laid out some 20-30 years previously, they had never been surfaced; what little gravel had been thrown on them had all been churned up into mud. Chapel Street on a sandy foundation and with a falling gradient had become a wide ditch, the centre having been washed away and now a foot below the sides. Theydon Avenue was on clay, and with its avenue of lime trees, some pollarded and some left to grow wild, the sun did not get through to the road surface. It was such a quagmire that no vehicle attempted to pass through it between Wood Street and its western end; other than coal, deliveries were made from each end. The footways were very narrow and muddy and on winter nights if ladies, young and old, dared to travel the length they usually carried a candle lantern, or, later, a torch. My first experience of the road was on a dark February evening, and being quite unaware of its condition, I crossed from one side to the other, through six inches of mud and water. Not until these notes reach 1927 will you read that the side streets had at last been made up and taken over. Previous to the coming of the Water and Drainage Scheme all houses drew their water from wells and the system of sanitation was mostly “pail”, only a few of the larger houses having cesspits; very few indeed had bathrooms.
The Parish Constable was the fore-runner of the ‘special’ but was more closely concerned with law and order. He could be called upon when police were not available and for the few occasions when it might be necessary he was officially supplied with a truncheon and a pair of hand-cuffs.
On the 14th of the month the Parishioners foregathered for the purpose of the Annual Meeting and the election of a new Council. Mr E.G. Miller again presided. Twelve nominations were handed in, the result being –
|E. F. Bathurst||49|
|Revd D. W. Henry||47|
|J. T. Luttman||54|
|W. B. Toogood||42|
|H. M. Freear||50|
|W. H. Bazley||49|
Not elected – W. Harrington, 25; J. Barker, 20; F. Wingrave, 9.
It is interesting to see how decisive was the election of the nine councillors and to note that two of the unsuccessful candidates polled practically the same number of votes as they did in 1907. Freear was an independent gentleman; Ernest Bathurst was the chemist, who had not been in the parish four years, but who put in a lot of spade-work in later times; and Joseph Elliott was the draper. Wingrave was a grocer. A “long discussion” on the side streets took place and it was stated that nothing could be done until the completion of the Water Scheme – the same old story!
April At the next meeting (the last of the old Council) the Clerk and Assistant Overseer resigned. He thanked the members “who through their intelligence and respect tried to make my work a pleasure instead of a torture”. This meeting was twice adjourned owing to trouble with the accounts, and after the Council’s deputation had seen the Clerk of the Newport Council it was agreed to hand the troubles to the new Council.
At the first meeting of the new Council, Mr Luttman withdrew from office, and the Vicar was elected to the chair, with Mr Freear, the new member, vice-chairman. Mr Barker was made Parish Constable, but no initial is given; it was probably one of the sons of Josiah who had failed twice to obtain a seat on the Council
One of Mr Bathurst’s first requests was for the Duke of Bedford to place seats in the Woods, but this the Duke refused to do. Out of eight candidates for the post of Clerk, John Pikesley junr was appointed. It was arranged to hold future meetings at The Parish Room. (This was the converted stabling in the Vicarage yard)
May It was again decided to draw up Standing Orders; also to join forces with the Aspleys in the formation of a fire brigade.
September “Standing Orders would be ready at the next meeting”. It was decided a Parish Constable was unnecessary and the appointment should be cancelled; the Clerk of the Justices was so informed but he replied that there was no alternative and a Constable must be appointed by the Justices.
October Standing Orders to stand over until the next meeting.
January Overhanging trees were again considered and notices to cut back the growths within fourteen days were served. Standing Orders to remain until the next meeting!
March Only half a dozen people attended the Annual Parish Meeting.
April The County Council was again asked to tar the main road, or to keep the road watered; also to impose a speed limit from The Square to The Weathercock. It was decided to purchase fire appliances; it was suggested these might be paid for from the fund raised to commemorate the Jubilee.
May The County Council agreed to a ten-miles-an-hour limit provided grounds for application were stated. These were, amongst others, that the dust nuisance had serious effect on all tradesmen and caused damage to those persons on the road who let apartments who depended on summer visitors.
September The Council was informed that sufficient had been gathered in donations to enable the R.S.P.C.A. to erect a drinking trough, which would be handed over to the Council for upkeep and supply of water. Though the Clerk said the Council had no power, he was over-ruled, and the offer of the trough was accepted. Eventually the question of the site of the trough took up considerable time; later a man was paid 12/- a year to keep it clean. The prime mover in this matter had been Miss Gaskoin, who lived at Greenwood Cottage in Hardwick Road, and was the local secretary for the R.S.P.C.A. The trough was placed under the lamp-post in the middle of The Square, and remained there until the War Memorial was erected.
October At the Annual Lighting Meeting the precept was fixed at £15, after having been £30 for some years. Under the 1833 Act it was necessary to pass three resolutions at this meeting, (1) that the area should be lighted (2) that a certain amount of money to cover the expense should be raised, and (3) that the money should be spent on lighting! A formal demand was then made on the Rating Authority who collected the money with the other rates levied, and eventually paid it over to the Parish Council.
On October 9th a Parish Meeting was called for the purpose of raising a loan for the provision of fire appliances. There was a large attendance, including many ladies, and surprising opposition, some declaring they could get a fire engine over from Fenny Stratford. 29 people supported the resolution, and 23 voted against it, so a poll was demanded. The chairman, the Revd Henry, accepted the proposal, but strangely there is no further mention of the poll, though later the bill for it (£2.12.8d) was passed for payment. It can only be assumed the result confirmed the decision of the Parish Meeting. The lamp-lighter applied for another 1/6 a month, which was granted – totalling 15/- a month.
February The side streets, being in an unsatisfactory state “constituting a serious danger to public health”, the Rural District Council was urged to put them in order and take them over as early as possible. The Parish Meeting in April endorsed this opinion. At that time the County Council was only liable for the upkeep of the main roads. Considerable correspondence and delay was occasioned over the loan necessary for the Fire Brigade appliances.
March Owing to the death of Mr E. G. Miller it was considered an opportunity had arisen for the Parish to acquire The Institute, and a committee was formed, but the matter was allowed to drop. The Institute was run under a body of Trustees of which Mr Miller was either chairman or secretary.
August The Chairman reported that he had received from the Duke of Bedford £2.9.9d., being the proceeds of the sale of firewood at normal prices to the poor of the parish during the recent coal strike. The Duke desired the money to be distributed amongst the poorest of this Parish and Aspley Heath. This was done at the Christmas following.
Consent to raise a loan for the Fire Brigade equipment was at last received and the necessary appliances were ordered from Merryweathers. Mr Tarver, who had been co-opted at that meeting, was elected Captain, and Mr Scrivener, sub-officer, with power to engage six men. Mr Tarver, however, withdrew before the Brigade came into being, and Mr Scrivener became the chief officer. He was the cycle agent whose shop was at 53 High Street.
December The Lighting precept for this year was £15.
January Aspley Heath Council was asked to contribute towards the maintenance of the Fire Brigade, and £5 per annum was offered. A suitable fire station was sought. No reference is made to it, but apparently the equipment was stored in the Vicarage stabling, as notice to remove it was given by the Revd. Henry’s successor, the Revd John Shelton; Mr Bathurst then offered storage space for six months. At a second meeting this month, a strong resolution with regard to the condition of the side streets was put forward by the Chairman, Mr Henry, but the Clerk ruled it out of order. Mr Tarver (who was a resident in Theydon Avenue) took objection to the resolution, and eventually an amendment, proposed by Mr Bathurst and couched in milder term was passed.
The second Council, having terminated its period of office, a new Council was elected, giving three new Councillors. A demand for a poll, by the unsuccessful candidates was dropped. The minutes do not record any other business of the meeting.
June From this meeting a resolution was sent to the Railway Company complaining of the waiting room, low platforms, and no weather protection, and asking for better accommodation.
July The Revd Henry, on leaving the Parish, resigned his office of Chairman, and Mr J. C. Tarver was elected to the vacancy. From this meeting until October the Council was without a Clerk.
September Mr Josiah Barker brought up the question of the provision of allotments, and a couple of months later a petition by nine men was received; various sites were discussed, the present “Fishpond Field” being favourite.
October Liability for maintenance of the drinking trough was raised, everyone seemingly having forgotten the arrangements made in 1911. Mr F. Mason was appointed Clerk at this meeting, and from this time, it was again decided to meet monthly. The meetings were now being held in a room at Mr Inwood’s outfitter’s shop, for which £1 per annum was paid.
February Following an application from the Council, the County Council had agreed to establish a verification court for weights and measures in Woburn Sands, once a year. Mr Hutton accepted the work of keeping the gas lamps clean, at 1d. per lamp per month.
March At the Annual Parish Meeting a resolution was passed asking the gas Company to lay gas mains in the side streets in readiness for street lighting. A committee was later appointed to go into the cost. The Gas Company, not readily giving a quotation, the question of oil lamps was considered. Later the Gas Company said it would consider a scheme if made profitable, and it was decided to approach the Bedford Gas Company. The question of the condition of these side streets was again brought up and another resolution sent to the Rural District Council. At the annual meeting of the Council it was not thought necessary to elect a vice-chairman, but a resident magistrate was, however, considered a necessity.
May It was reported that the Auditor had said Standing Orders ought to be adopted, and adhered to! The dust nuisance and tarring was apparently still a problem.
August No mention is made of the outbreak of War, but at the October meeting, in the accounts passed, is an item of 4d paid to the Chief Constable of Bucks for handcuffs. Aspley Heath was reported to be in arrears with its contribution towards the Fire Brigade expenses.
November The dangerous nature of the Weathercock Lane – Station Road corner was brought up and a letter written to the County Surveyor, but next month, owing to the buses having stopped running, it was decided to let the matter drop.
January The fire appliances were now kept at Sandymount, and the Clerk thought steps should be taken to get them properly housed as “no one seemed to know anything”. The Duke of Bedford was asked for a site near The Institute. The Duke was thanked for his gift of venison, but it is not recorded who received it, though next month a weekly distribution to the inhabitants of the Ecclesiastical Parish is mentioned. A special meeting was held this month when it was decided Theydon Avenue, Chapel Street, Wood Street, Fir Grove and Russell Street should be made up. Mr Boyes however voted against the proposal. Wood Street, when first laid out, ran over the land of two owners. About 1885 John Giles established his Wood Street, and some years later, when Loke laid out Theydon Avenue, he made various “Groves” turning North and South out of it. Fir Grove was made to link up with Wood Street, but at the time of record and for some years after there was a gate across the road defining the boundary between the two owners; the posts were only removed when the roads were made up.
February As the fire appliances were housed in such a poor place that the hose was wet and mouldy, and would soon be useless, a committee was appointed to go into the matter, and they later reported that Mr William Needham offered a site in Russell Street, free of rent, on a three months tenancy. Plans were forthwith made to erect a shed, 18ft. by 10ft, and a specification drawn up, but it was only after alternative plans, and prices had been, obtained, that the building was erected in the following June, and when the key was handed to the Captain, he reported he was the only member of the Brigade left! Special Constables were asked to undertake fire duties, to which they agreed on certain terms, but very lengthy negotiations ensued, and the Specials withdrew. In August a volunteer brigade of six men was formed with Mr T. C. Bowler (the builder) as Captain, and a tariff of charges for attendance at fires was drawn up.
March A formal resolution was passed supporting the owners’ demand for the side streets to be made up. The caretaker of the drinking fountain gave notice as “the dust was terrible and the money not sufficient”, but he eventually agreed to carry on after an increase of 4/- a year. Estimated expenditure for the next twelve months was £25. At the Annual Parish Meeting only five members of the Council and the Clerk were present.
September Various requirements of the Fire Brigade were scheduled, one being “the loan of a pony to pull the hose-cart up the Heath, if necessary”.
February The recent lighting order was referred to and tradesmen were asked to “lessen the brightness of their shop lights”, and later in the year, information on the new “daylight saving” was received from the Local Government Board.
July At this meeting the Auditor was reported as saying the District Council would maintain the drinking trough, but the Parish Council could not. It was agreed to “carry on as usual”! After two requests for the main road to be tarred, the County Surveyor had replied that War economies precluded the expense. No serious matters appear to have arisen during this War year, overhanging trees, silted ditches and higher rates being mostly in evidence.
March Cultivation of waste land, seed potatoes, national service, food campaigns, and sparrow clubs started the business of the year, and in March the Council took over the Swan Field for the purpose of allotments.
July At this meeting the minutes record that the question of maintenance of the water trough again arose when it was “decided to let the matter rest and see how it proceeded”.
December The footpath through the Brickyard was closed as the works were being used as a magazine. (This is the path from Bow Brickhill road towards Wavendon)
March At the March meeting, the Clerk, Mr Mason, resigned; a successor was advertised for, and Mr Beavis acted as Clerk in the meantime. Later on in the month Mr Harrington (the draper) was appointed after he had resigned his seat on the Council. The only other applicant was Mr J. McMurtrie (the furnisher) Mr R. A. Cheetham (the photographer) was co-opted in the place of Mr Harrington, but he resigned in September on being appointed assistant overseer. It was decided not to fill the vacancy, but to wait for the triennial election. The Duke of Bedford informed the Council that owing to difficulties arising from the War it was the last year venison would be distributed.
November Owing to shortage of coal Mr Inwood asked the Council to meet in his room bi-monthly, but the Council deemed this undesirable. As with the outbreak of the War, no mention is made of its termination
January The County Council was asked to arrange a polling station at Woburn Sands; and the Rural District Council was asked to build thirty houses here. It was also decided to re-establish the lighting of High Street and Station Road; also to terminate the agreement for the allotments in Swan Field. In February the Council decided to ask Mr Allnutt for the use of Fishpond Field for allotments.
February The Rural District Council stated it did not think houses were required in Woburn Sands.
March A special meeting was called to consider a report from the Rural District Council on the making up of the side streets as part of the Government’s reconstruction work. It was, however, decided not to proceed. At the Annual Parish Meeting it is interesting to note that sixteen candidates offered themselves for election, those successful being Benjamin Barker (manager, Brickworks) Josiah Barker, E. F. Bathurst, W. H. Bazley, Charles Inwood (outfitter), W. B. Toogood, J. C. Tarver, T. Bowler, and H. Giles (timber merchant).Their votes ranged from 62 to 45 each, the remaining seven taking 35 to 12 each; one old Councillor was at the bottom of the poll. No questions were asked, and there was no other business. With the War-time restrictions a thing of the past, and the new vigour of a fresh Council, many of the old problems were revived – tarring the roads, rates, ditches, side roads, &c.
May Three special meetings of the Council were held with regard to (1) allotments, (2) housing scheme and (3) War memorial.
June Up to this time the Council’s banking account had been with the Westminster, for which a charge of 5/- a year was made. The District Auditor had disallowed this, and it was therefore arranged to transfer the account to Barclay & Co., where business has remained since, free of charge. It was announced that the County Council had at last established a polling station at Woburn Sands.
July The Council appointed three members to join the War. Memorial Committee, and spent a considerable time discussing the arrangements for the celebration of Peace. Later in the month a cheque for £14.7.11 was passed for expenses.
September It was decided to move the water trough and lamp standard from the Square, to allow the War Memorial to be erected there. At this meeting notice was given that ‘compounding of rates would cease, and the owners would no longer pay, but tenants would be responsible for the rate in full.’
November This meeting records the first complaint of delays to traffic at the level crossing. The Council accepted responsibility for the maintenance of the War Memorial
January The Rural District Council asked for permission to plant the sand-pit with larch and Scots fir. The Council agreed and suggested also sweet chestnut Again the question of ownership does not appear to be clear to the powers that be. The sand is not in this parish, and the Council was not owner.
February Mr Janes complained that he could not keep the War Memorial Clock going, and the makers agreed to send down a man to look at it. The first clock had weight-mechanism.
April Aspley Heath Council wrote that, having taken over the upkeep of the drinking trough they were not justified in incurring liability for maintenance of the War Memorial.
May It was reported the District Auditor had stated the Council was not in order in paying for the winding of the clock on the Memorial, but this was later over-ruled by the Minister of Health, (sec. 8(1) Local Government Act, 1894).The Auditor also said the Council should have Standing Orders.
June The Trustees of Wells Charity announced a new scheme extending their benefits to apprentices. The Council decided to ask the Postmaster General for a delivery and collection of letters on Sunday, as in pre-War days; the reply was that, owing to absence of train services, it could not be arranged.
August The War Memorial clock was still giving trouble. It was reported that the Allotment field had been sold by Mr Allnutt, and the Council was asked to buy it for £600, but in October it was announced that an Allotment Society had been formed. During the year enquiries were made as to the making up of the side streets.
February The War-time members of the Fire Brigade resigned in order to allow the Brigade to be re-formed and in March arrangements were made for re-forming a paid Brigade.
September The poor accommodation at the Railway Station was commented on, and the Railway Company was told that for eight years the Council had been asking for improvements to be made. The Company replied that nothing could be done at present.
November – December The question of the high rates was discussed, and complaints forwarded to the Rural District Council
January A month or two previous Mr Janes had reported that the Memorial clock was in order and that it should keep good time for a long while, but he now tendered his resignation, saying he could not keep the clock in going order. Next month he withdrew his notice, and the makers offered to send a man to report on the clock. It was reported that at least sixty men were out of work, so now was a good time to get the side streets made up.
March The minutes state there was a large attendance of electors at the Annual Parish Meeting but this was probably one of the rare occasions when local interest had been focussed on some subject; in this case it was the making up of the side streets, and, of course, the election of a new Council. Only four of the old members continued on the new Council, and a demand for a poll was not supported.
May The Council approached Aspley Guise and Aspley Heath with regard to joining in obtaining urban powers. The new Councillors were rather more active than their immediate predecessors, perhaps because by this time things were settling down after the War. Later times of posting letters, the taste of the local water, side streets, storm water, a recreation ground, and a 12m.p.h. speed limit, were among things discussed.
June A special meeting was held to consider the report on the Memorial clock, which was stated to be clogged with brick-dust. The Council objected to the maker’s charge of £7.10.0d. Notice to quit the land in Russell Street having been received from Mr Needham, it was arranged to remove the Fire Brigade house to the Social Club.
December Mr Inwood gave notice that his room would no longer be available for meetings, after a tenancy of 15 years, and in January Barclays Bank, then in the same building, offered the use of their room, subject to no smoking and the Chairman being responsible for locking up, £1 to be charged for the use of gas.
February This meeting quotes the first mention of electricity. Bedford was asked for particulars of its scheme of supply, but the reply was that Bedford did not propose to bring its supply here. During the month the Council organised subscriptions and gave a tea and entertainment to the children of the parish; quite a new departure in parish affairs.
June Representation to the local Police being considered unsatisfactory, a special appeal was made to the Chief Constable to restrict the speed of lorries to 12 mile an hour.
July After much discussion and correspondence a special meeting of the Council was held to consider the result of a meeting of frontagers of the side streets. The Rural District Council was asked to put the making-up in hand provided payment could be made over a period of years.
October The Postmaster at Bletchley asked for the opinion of the Council on the granting of a half-day holiday to the local postmen. It was later arranged to close the Post Office on a Wednesday afternoon, but stamps and letters could be dealt with by callers! At the same meeting the old question of the Deethe footpath was again brought up, the first time it had been mentioned for some years, and a matter on which many hours of discussion had already been spent. Another matter brought up was the appointment of a second magistrate.
Rural District of Newport Pagnell, Private Streets Works Act, 1892. Under an Order dated 15 April 1924, the Ministry of Health declared the provisions of the Act should be in force in Woburn Sands, and works in Russell Street, Station Grove Theydon Avenue, Vicarage Street, Wood Street and Fir Grove have been executed and completed in pursuance of a Resolution by the Council of 26 November 1924, and the expenses amount to £2,860, without the contribution made by the Council. In respect of Station Grove the cost was 6/8 per foot frontage.
June Poors Coal; the £5 rent qualification for recipients had been under review for some time, and now the Charity Commissioners wrote that they would not alter the scheme.
November The Women’s Institute asked the Council to take steps to provide a recreation ground for children, but the Council, owing to the cost being borne by the ratepayers, would only agree to give their support to a public appeal.
December The Railway Company was again asked to raise the station platforms and make other improvements. The speed of heavy traffic, police action, and “traps” was again discussed.
March Upon receipt of notification from the Charity Commissioners that three parishioners had been appointed Trustees of the Literary and Scientific Institution (The Institute) the Council resolved that the Commissioners be informed that the time had now arrived for the Hall to be transferred to public Control, and drawing attention to the fact that, so far as was known, the Trustees had never published any statement of account. This month brought to an end the tenure of the old Council and the Parish Meeting was also the triennial election. Thirty-six persons attended, but only nine men were bold enough to offer themselves for election, so no voting was necessary. No other business appears to have been discussed. One of the first matters before the new Council was litter in the High Street at the weekend.
October Following a proposal that a library be formed it was reported the Social Club was prepared to have a cupboard placed there, and members of the Women’s Institute were willing to act as a Committee; in December it was recorded the “County Library” had started, with a membership of 130.
December The Northampton Electric Light Company wrote that they would not be able to supply the district for another year and then only if sufficient support was forthcoming. A special meeting was held four days after the last following the charabanc disaster at Fenny Stratford level crossing, when eight local people were killed and others injured. A relief fund was opened with a donation from the Lord Lieutenant of Twenty guineas. The total of the fund amounted to £126 and was distributed between nine people.
March Only eight people attended the Annual Parish Meeting, and there was no discussion.
April The County Council was asked for permission to place seats in High Street.
December For some little time the War Memorial clock had been giving dissatisfaction. After correspondence with the makers it was decided to replace the old clock with an electric clock controlled by a master clock which, it was arranged, should be placed in the Swan Hotel. In competition the makers lost the order to Messrs Emms & Dovey. The cost was met by a subscription list which the Minutes state reached £45. The actual cost of installation, including £35 for the clock, was £46.16.7.
January After many months of discussion, special meetings and correspondence, it was reported that the side streets had been satisfactorily made up and taken over. Costs (which did not concern this Council and are not mentioned) were, for Theydon Avenue, 8/-, and for the other roads, 5/6, per foot of frontage. The R.D.C. went to great pains to get this work done and to get it done as cheaply as possible and much credit should be given to their surveyor, Thomas Castles, who took a personal interest in the job. Theydon Avenue was surfaced in granite, but the other roads had only a gravelled finish, hence the difference in cost. It was assumed, rightly, that Theydon Avenue would be used by through traffic more than the other roads. Mention is made of the gift of a seat, 12ft. long, by “a friend”, to be placed under The Swan wall. Later it became known the friend was Ernest Bathurst, the chairman. The seat did good service for many years, and when worn out, was replaced by the family.
April Here is the first mention of street name plates. The Rural District Council was asked to provide them. With the coming of the new Rating Act, the old office of Overseer was abolished and the Council passed a resolution of thanks to those gentlemen they had annually appointed to this thankless task, especially mentioning the name of Mr. W. H. Bazley.
June The absence from meetings of Mr George Wesley, over a considerable period, was mentioned.
December Exception was taken of the high cost of the new County Council offices, and a letter of protest was sent to the Council. In the following January Mr Sykes was thanked for his fight against this expenditure. Mr E. D. Sykes, a retired draper from St Neots, lived at Hillside in Station Road, and eventually became a County Alderman.
January The County Council was asked to install the telephone at the house of the local police constable.
March It is recorded that eighty persons attended the Annual Parish Meeting. Eleven were nominated for the nine seats on the Council, the votes ranging from 52 to two of them down to five. Enquiry as to the extension of the lighting area seems to be the only matter brought up for discussion. At the following Council meeting it was decided to purchase the Library cupboard that was housed at the Social Club, out of fines, the property to become the property of the County Council.
February The Council decided to approach the Northampton Electric Light Company with regard to the cost of Street lighting.
March The Annual Parish Meeting brought together five Councillors and three parishioners. Street lighting was the only matter discussed, but no decision was taken.
June A recommendation from a County committee that Aspley Guise, Aspley Heath and Woburn Sands should unite as one parish, all within Buckinghamshire, found no favour with the Council. It was resolved that Woburn Sands, South of the railway, should join the Aspleys, in Bedfordshire, but later reference to the matter appears to be that little was done.
January The ditch crossing Theydon Avenue had been causing trouble for some time, and both the County and Rural Councils had been approached with regard to cleansing, but the County Council wrote that it was a matter for the riparian owners. At that time it was not appreciated that the Wavendon Enclosure Award sets out the liability of the various riparian owners to cleanse the brook, which in 1791 must have been an important watercourse but now nearly dried up.
March One man at least had the impression that Woburn Sands was a popular resort; a Southend photographer applied for permission to take “while you wait” photographs in the streets on Easter Monday. He was referred to the police. The past three years period appears to be one of the quietist in the history of the Council. Of outstanding note was the fact that two of the Councillors died within a year of election, and the Council finished its term with three co-opted members. The only work arising seemed to be purely domestic, with the same old problem of bad roads, flooding ditches, overhanging shrubs, broken lamp-posts, running the fire brigade, inadequate accommodation at the railway station, policing, &c.
Twenty-two electors met at the Annual Parish Meeting, and an election brought eleven candidates for the nine seats; eight out of the nine received between 12 and 18 votes, and the two unsuccessful men only received five each. The question of lighting all the roads was brought up; and that of a playing field for the children, Gravel-pit Close and the Vicar’s paddock being mentioned as favourite sites; eventually both owners turned down the Council’s application. The forthcoming publication of the Aspley Heath School’s History of the District was mentioned.
In passing for payment the account for street lighting, it was explained the increased cost was due to the lamps being lit throughout the period, and not cut out on moonlight nights. Councillors in those days gave far more consideration to expenditure than do those in modern times.
After a lot of discussion and correspondence, intimation was received from the Bedford County Council that they had agreed to provide car-parking space for Woburn Sands opposite the school in Woburn Road.
July Following a suggestion that The Institute be taken over by the Pariah, Mr F. P. Chapman, one of the Trustees, attended the meeting, and produced accounts and details for consideration by the Council.
August A complaint by the Council that notices in the Woods lead people to believe they could not walk there brought a personal letter from the Duke of Bedford that he could not modify the wording. The Rural District Council was asked to provide public lavatories.
March At the Annual Parish Meeting it was resolved that the Parish should take over from the Trustees of The Institute. The conveyance was signed at the council meeting on 28 July, when an estimate from Hutton & Co for putting the building in good repair, of £33.10.0d. was accepted. This was the first property the Council had owned, and much time had been spent in discussions; now a committee was formed, charges were considered, and one of the first items of business was the offer of a grand piano, by a parishioner, for £15; a gesture which was not accepted. Now that the Council had its own hall, Barclays Bank was informed its room would no longer be required for meetings.
January Following previous requests, the County Council was again asked to make up Chapel Street, referred to as “an eyesore”, but their surveyor refused.
March Complaint was made that the open lorry used for collection of house refuse should have a loose cover. It is only those who have seen it who can visualize the ashes of the grate being well scattered in the High Street on a windy day! An enquiry with regard to the collection being made weekly (instead of fortnightly) brought the information that it would cost another £1 a week. Nothing appears to have been done about the cover, but one was eventually used.
At the Annual Meeting Mr Bathurst was thanked for his work in connection with The Institute, as manager and founder of the badminton club, which became the mainstay of the property. £29.5.0d had been paid into the bank of which £24. 12.6d. came from the Club. Street lighting had been brought a step forward; an estimate from the Northampton Electric Light Co quoted the annual cost of 25 lamps as £80.12.6d., for which it would have required a 4d. rate. The Council was told to give this further consideration and if necessary to call a special Parish Meeting.
May At this meeting the Chairman referred to the death of the Clerk, William Beavis. Brought up as an Anglican, his later religious life took him to the Quaker Meetings, where his fine handwriting brought him into its clerical work, but he always made his Easter Communion, and it was at this early service that he passed away. He was the head clerk at the Powage Press, but did a volume of work outside his daily task. Though short in one leg, he rode a lady’s cycle which had a special bracket for his walking stick, and he travelled many miles as agent for the National Deposit Friendly Society, and for the Bedfordshire Times and Woburn Reporter, gathering; the local news – altogether a very busy and popular figure.
1933 From this time, for a few years, this record will take on a more personal note; I think, after many years, some of the events otherwise unrecorded may be told, and the dry facts of history enlivened with personal anecdote. The vacant Clerkship was advertised, and there were four replies. I was not particularly keen on the job, and, strange to say, the opposite to the usual run of events took place. Instead of canvassing for support for my application, I was approached by some of the Councillors who were keen to see me in the Clerk’s roll, and I knew that, if I applied, I was assured of the post. My application went through the letter box only a few minutes before the deadline.
April The minutes of this meeting were written in the Chairman’s neat handwriting. They mostly tell of the appointments to chair, committees and charities, and it was the same for the May meeting, but then there was more to record. Under the heading of “Appointment of Clerk” it states four applications had been received (named), and Mr Parker having received the largest number of votes, Mr Bowler proposed and Mr Read seconded that he should be appointed Clerk. Seven councillors voted “for” and one “against”. The proposition is not otherwise recorded as carried. When business was conducted in those days, it was not uncommon for a member to thump the table and declare “You can’t do that Mr Chairman”.
June At the meeting of the Council it was the new Clerk’s duty to read those letters; the record says they were “read and left upon the table”. The County boundary had come up for consideration, and “as the bringing of Woburn Sands into Bedfordshire would mean an increase in the rates” it was agreed “that we as a Council are of opinion that it would be to our advantage to remain in the County of Bucks”. The chairman explained with regard to the above resolution that he had consulted with the Vice-chairman and other members of the Council and had withheld from despatch the letter to the R.D.C. conveying the resolution} as it was thought the resolution had been passed without sufficient premises. so the discussion continued, to be finally confirmed that the original resolution stand and be sent to the County Council.
July Complaint was made that lorry drivers were taking ‘water from the drinking trough in Woburn Road, and a letter was sent to the Joint Committee informing them of this. Memories are short-lived, and the member who made the complaint should have known better (it was not his first complaint! ) When the War Memorial was erected in the Square in 1919 and the trough had to be moved, Aspley Heath agreed to accept it, and in April 1920 Woburn Sands Council was informed that “as they had now taken over the upkeep of the drinking trough previously borne by the Woburn Sands Council they did not feel justified in incurring further liability in contributing to the upkeep of the War Memorial”. The drinking trough was not fed from the “parish pump”, but that instrument still operated in local affairs!
August The Beds County Council was asked to provide traffic lights in The Square, and to acquire Miss Rush’s property, pull down the building, and widen Church road. Bucks were also asked to provide a resident roadman owing to the insanitary condition of the roads. This appears to have had some effect for later the roads were swept twice weekly.
November With regard to a recreation ground a committee had been formed and they reported on their inspection of various sites, the County Council’s field at the corner of The Leys and the Revd Hood’s field at the bottom of Chapel Street being most favoured. With regard to the latter it was thought building was most unlikely. Mr Hood offered the freehold for £350 or a letting at £20 per annum. The rent was considered to be exorbitant and both proposals were turned down. Mr Hood then wrote reducing his price to £200 provided the field was used for recreation, and it was the following April before the Council finally decided to drop the matter.
March The date brought the triennial election and fourteen contestants for the nine seats. Of the successful candidates the votes ranged from 68 (Mr Hebard) to 45 (James McMurtrie) and for the unsuccessful 40 (Tom Bryant, foreman platelayer and a councillor of 12 years experience) to two, for Ezra Frost who was battling for electric street lighting. There was a lengthy discussion on the question of street lighting and Mr E. D. Sykes (county councillor) had a lot to say, eventually proposing the Parish Council again consider the matter.
Again during their three year service Councillors had spent a lot of time debating domestic issues – fire brigade reports, playing fields, smells from the sewage works, the Deethe footpath, street scavenging, the County boundary, &c.
May A committee had met twice, and considered street lighting for the whole parish. Estimates had been received for a total of 42 lamps on a seven-year repayment basis; from the Gas Co, £155.6.0d. (or £162.4.6d for better lamps) and the Northampton Electric Light Co £99.17.3d. Owing to the considerable difference that of the Gas Co. was not considered; and it was decided to call a Parish Meeting.
July The County Council asked the Parish Council to ascertain if the householders on The Leys would give up five feet of their front gardens for the purpose of road widening. The frontagers generally refused and the Council replied that they thought the request unreasonable, so the County Council dropped their scheme.
The Lighting Committee made another report; estimates had now been received on a three-year repayment basis in accordance with advice from the Ministry of Health, and again electricity as against gas showed a considerable reduction in cost. Eventually the Northampton Electric Light Co quoted £32.8.0d for 39 lamps and a seven-year agreement. Here it should be noted that there were no gas mains in the side streets, and no doubt the Gas Company, in giving their estimate, had taken into consideration interest on their capital outlay.
There followed on July 30 the largest assembly of Parish electors ever known, some 200 people crowding into the Institute. A report on the Council’s action, and a full discussion lead to the Northampton Company’s estimate of £82 being accepted by a near-unanimous vote. There were only two dissenters, and they were married ladies. The meeting closed with a vote of thanks to the Council carried with acclamation; it is not often that the work of the Council meets with such hearty approval! Thus the old arrangement under the Lighting and Watching Act of 1833 for lighting the main road only, ended, and the whole of the roads became more comfortable for after-dark journeys; no longer was it necessary for elderly ladies (and others!) to set out for their evening meetings guided by the light of a candle lantern. The agreement finally signed was for the sum of £84.4s.9d.
December At this meeting the first mention of pedestrian crossings is made. Members expressed themselves against the adoption of crossings; but they agreed to have the local houses numbered. Mr Hebard again complained of the disgraceful condition of Chapel Street.
January Two of the Trustees of Wavendon Surveyors’ Allotment Charity attended the meeting and an informal discussion took place with regard to the disposal of the lands and funds of the Charity; the Parish Council expressed the opinion that Woburn Sands should own Gravel Pit Close. At this meeting, after many months of deliberation, it was reported that representatives of the County, Rural and Parish Councils concerned had met on the site of the Deethe footpath, and were satisfied that a public way existed; that Mr Sturges be so informed, and requested to remove the obstructions, failing which the Rural Council would take action.
March At the Annual Parish Meeting the condition of both Chapel Street and Downham Road again came up for discussion; Mr Sykes, the local member of the Bucks County Council, stated the Council was prepared to take over Downham Road, but of Chapel Street, it would only facilitate its making up if the frontagers on the South side (the Vicar and the Revd. Hood) would be made to pay, and those on the North side were willing to pay their shares.
Again, there was a demand for a playing field; and one parishioner complained of the delay in presenting the Parish accounts. It was pointed out that, as the Annual Parish Meeting had to be held within the month of March, and the accounts had to run until the end of that month, it was impossible for them to be presented until twelve months later.
Following the official business a discussion was opened on the celebration of the Silver Jubilee of George V. It was decided to meet the expenses by subscription, and not out of the rates. A committee was formed and suggestions for the day’s programme were made. Newport Pagnell R.D.C. promised to provide medals for the school children. The meeting lasted an unusual length of time – 1¾ hours.
Mr. Bathurst announced his intention to vacate the Chair at the end of the month, a position he had occupied for over ten years. At the annual council meeting which followed later, Mr Sydney Charles Hebard of Wroxhill, was appointed. He was a retired schoolmaster who had lost a leg early in the War, and since coming to live here had taken a keen interest in local affairs.
June A petition, signed by 45 parishioners, asking them to prohibit the holding of fairs on their farm, had been sent to the County Council, but the Parish Council took no action in support.
July The Council decided to proceed with the scheme of numbering the houses and the Clerk was authorised to serve notices on each householder. Name plates were also erected at the ends of the roads, and the Aspley Guise Council was asked to adhere to the name “Weathercock Lane” as some people were using the term “Aspley Road” (Indeed, they had erected new name plates on other people’s property without asking permission – such were the deeds of 1935!). On receipt of the formal notice, one resident of Wood Street, wrote his strong objection to being told to put a number on his house, and said he should still use its old name. He was informed the notice was as drawn under the Public Health Act, and was not the work of the Parish Council. The scheme was completed by October at a cost of £15.5s.1d (material, labour, and cost of forms, service, &c) and the accounts were passed to the Newport Rural Council, which footed the bill. Here may I say, the Clark had taken a big hand in getting through, not only the lighting of the whole parish, but also its street naming and numbering, but that is not recorded in the minutes!
September The Council took exception to the large hoarding erected in the L.M.S.R. Coal yard; and at this meeting there is the first complaint of fumes from the brickworks which, in after years, came to such prominence
October The Bletchley Postmaster wrote that he would have a stamp machine fixed at the Post Office. Forms in relation Reservation of Land for Public Uses were completed, the County Council field off The Leys and Gravel Pit Close being chosen for recreation grounds and Ordnance No. 25, also owned by the County Council, for allotments.
January Complaints were received of the long delays for road traffic at the railway crossing and of the danger of the low platforms. By this time they have probably been forgotten, and indeed not heard of by the younger generation, but at the time portable steps were kept on the platforms for regular use with the motor trains, which had fold-away steps for use at the halts, but these could not be used where there was a platform, and the steps were always there for those who could not jump down from the ordinary trains.
Arising from the question of the Deethe footpath, Woburn Sands asked the Wavendon Council for access to the Parish Award, stored; at Barclays Bank, but Wavendon would only grant permission on application to its Chairman. The matter was put before the County Council, and in August we received a formal resolution of the County Council declaring the Award to be in the joint custody of the two Councils, and available on the authority of either chairman.
March The Annual Parish Meeting raised little interest, only five parishioners attending in addition to Councillors. The year ended with little business of importance except a report that the District Auditor had gone very thoroughly into parish affairs, and requested the Clerk to attend at Newport on a second day, altogether being occupied for five hours. Amongst matters raised was an authority for expenditure on the War Memorial (this was obtained from the County Council); the manner of keeping accounts for the Institute (by the manager) and the provision of a safe for the storage of parish documents. When this was mentioned a councillor announced that the parish possessed a safe and that it had been stored with his mother for some time! No one else appeared to know anything about it; I had not been told, but immediately obtained it and made good use of it. Other than the matters recorded here there was little of importance during the year, only the usual complaints of roads, paths., hedges and electricity charges, all dealt with in routine manner. The most time was taken up with the Deethe footpath dispute; with discussions in Council, correspondence, and meetings with other bodies, but nothing was finalised; nor was the question of the making up of Chapel Street and Downham Road.
September At the annual Lighting Meeting the earlier lighting of street lamps was suggested, but not carried. Correspondence with the Northampton Co. followed and the Clerk canvassed members for an opinion on earlier lighting for an extra £2.1.3d. As most were in favour the Chairman authorised acceptance, but at the October Council meeting, Mr Bathurst objected to the procedure; the action was, however, confirmed, by six votes to one.
November A joint Parish Meeting was called of our own Council and that of Aspley Heath consider festivities for the Coronation of Edward VIII, when about 65 persons were present. Woburn Sands chairman presided supported by Mr Pearce, his counterpart of Aspley Heath, with Mr Parker as Clerk. It was proposed to raise funds by subscription but an amendment for a 2d. rate was carried by 32 votes to 13. Similarly a proposition to earmark part of the funds for a permanent memorial was defeated by an amendment to spend all on celebrations – 29 to 26 votes – though it was agreed that any money over could be thus spent.
November brought the first rumblings of War. The R.D.C. was asked what measures were being taken with regard to anti-gas instruction.
December The frontagers of Downham Road had met and sent to both County and Parish Councils a resolution objecting to the County Surveyor’s proposals for remaking the road, as it was already drained, kerbed and metalled, that the proposed works were unreasonable, and the cost would be a burden on the freeholders. It was thought (and this was confirmed by many of us) that the reduction in width with grass verges was unnecessary and extravagant; the County Council was so informed. The surveyor’s reply was that their standard as laid down must be adhered to.
Poors’ Coal Charity. A letter was received from the Charity Commissioners stating that this Parish could only appoint two of the Trustees. Mr Edgar Smith, who was the third member appointed in 1935, was informed that this was ineffective and he was, therefore, not a Trustee. The appointments were for a term of four years.
January Four litter baskets of a new type had been fixed in the main road. The police were asked to keep an eye on them because of vandalism. With regard to A.R.P. the Council was informed that we would be included in an Ampthill R.D.C. area, with a first aid post at the Aspley Heath School. Later, lectures by a Major Atkinson were arranged.
February The County Planning Officer wrote suggesting the inclusion in the Schedule, as a recreation ground, a field in Weathercock Lane and in Bedfordshire, but the Council would not accept this.
March The County Surveyor reported, with regard to The Leys, that land acquisitions would be proceeded with and the widening carried out in due course. The Annual Parish Meeting brought 50 voters together but there was no business of interest other than the election of a new Council. Six of the old members were re-elected, and the three new-comers were Dr. Brian Furber (not long a resident), Leon Higgs, the yard-man at the railway station and an ardent cyclist (in 1977 no longer a-wheel, but a great walker), and George Wesley, the hairdresser. One of those retiring was Harry Pakes, a gardener, who had served for 15 years.
May Following a meeting of the Chairman and Clerk with the Trustees of Wavendon Surveyors’ Allotment Charity, a scheme for opening Gravel Pit Close as a recreation ground for the Ancient Parish of Wavendon was produced.
September The cupboard containing the County Library books, previously housed at the Social Club was removed to The Institute. Mr Sykes attended the meeting and produced plans showing the County Council’s scheme for widening the main road and for a bridge with by-pass, over the railway. The Council suggested cars be parked in High Street on the East side only, but the police would not entertain this. With regard to the A.R.P. area, mentioned above, Newport Council objected to the proposal, and it was reported each county would have its own organisation.
October The Railway Company, not having made the improvements asked for in January 1936, were again asked to raise the level of the platforms. It was also suggested they be asked to rebuild the station on the East side of the road, were sufficient space had been reserved. The L.M.S replied that work, costing £1,000, would begin shortly.
December The dust-cart was still offending, and Newport R.D.C. was asked to provide a proper metal cover, but the reply was “expensive and impracticable”.
January The year’s first meeting brought sad news into the records. The Chairman, Mr Sydney Hebard had just died. He had been a member of the Council since 1931, and its Chairman since 1935; and the Parish had sustained another loss in the death of their old friend and “G.P.”, Dr “Tommy” Holmes. He was a member of the Council for six years from its inception and had taken the chair at the triennial meetings since 1922. Both were old friends and inter-related, Mr Hebard having come here to live close to Dr Holmes.
Mr Bottoms was elected to the chair, and to fill the vacancy, Mr. John Codd, the Head of Aspley Heath School, was asked to join the Council, but only after Mr Bryant (another old Councillor) had been turned down on the Chairman’s casting vote.
March Reference was made to the vacancy on the local Magisterial Bench by the death of Dr. Holmes, and, though reluctant to accept office, Mr Bathurst’s name was put forward to the Lord Lieutenant; he was not appointed. Only ten parishioners turned up at the Annual Parish Meeting, which only lasted 25 minutes and gave nothing worth recording here. The Planning Officer asked for particulars of any Georgian buildings in the Parish, but he was informed there were none of sufficient importance to be worth listing. The then Vicarage (1820) ought to have been listed.
April At the Annual Parish Council Meeting the Surveyors’ Allotment Charity promised to provide two seats in the Recreation Ground and to widen the gates for the admittance of perambulators. Bucks Quarter Sessions reported a resolution that it was no longer necessary to appoint a Parish Constable; so Mr Kilpin surrendered his truncheon and handcuffs.
September The Board of Education submitted copies of the new scheme for the administration of Wells’ Foundation, under which this Council could only appoint one Trustee, and it was agreed it should be Mr William H. Bazley, who had served for some time. The Council decided it would not support the issue of another guide.
October Aspley Guise Council, having been asked to remove their lamp in Weathercock Lane, so as to illuminate Russell Street, refused.
December The Bletchley Postmaster refused to have a stamp machine fixed in The Leys.
January Arising out of the Fire Brigades Act, 1938, the Newport Rural Council took over the Fire Brigade on 29 January, but it was arranged, for financial reasons, the take-over date should be 31 March next. This Council, however, acted as the local management committee. After some bargaining the Newport Council paid £60 for our equipment, and in August 1939 this amount was invested in 3½% War Loan. Thus ended a branch of the Council’s work which had taken up a considerable amount of time, even more than The Institute. For its size, the Brigade had been an efficient organisation, though it had but few calls and no serious fires to attend, but before long it had plenty of important work to do.
March Following a letter from this Council, the Clerk of the Newport Council wrote that the installation of a diesel generator at the Pumping Station, for use in case of emergency, was having serious attention. It was announced that the old Sandpit in Sandy Lane was now open as a recreation ground, but a year later the Trustees again wrote they did not wish it to be used as a playground!
The Annual Parish Meeting attracted thirteen persons, plus Clerk, Mr Cyril Hutton offered his congratulations and those of the Parishioners, and said “I think it should go forward that this mass of items has been attended to, and properly, and that your suggestions have been met (he was referring to getting things done by the County and Rural Councils) These were especially due to the Clerk for the heavy amount of work he put in for A.R.P. before and during the Crisis”. This was unusual, as the Council and its Clerk were so often kicked in the pants when the opportunity of the Annual Meeting occurred.
At the next meeting of the Council, the County Council wrote that they had undertaken the care of documents, and they sent a questionnaire. The Clerk was instructed to reply that we had no objection to handing over documents provided copies were provided for our use and reference. Other than the joint custody of the Parish Award, we held the deeds of The Institute and the copy Judgment re footpaths on Aspley Heath. The Award was sent to the Record office on 13 April following, and in regard to this we were unlucky. It had been promised that copies would be made and sent to the two Parish Councils, but just at that time the County Archivist was dismissed from his post, and then the War came, and such matters were shelved; but here I can relate personal memory.
During the War the chief of A.R.P. at Bletchley was Warren Dawson who lived at Simpson House; he spent practically every night on duty at the Bletchley Council Office with little to do but wait for “warnings”. To while away the time, and with his professional knowledge, he undertook to copy Parish Awards and documents, and when I later told him of our own position he said he would, with permission from Aylesbury, obtain the Wavendon Award and copy it for us, but by the time arrangements could be made, the War was over, and the opportunity lost. However at a later date the County supplied a précis of that portion of the Award which relates to roads, footpaths, ditches, &c.
Here, again, I can add a story which at the time was ‘top-secret’ but after forty years can now be released. Owing to the Deethe footpath dispute, and other similar questions relating to field ways, I not infrequently found it necessary to refer to the Award, so, in order to avoid getting out the unwieldy parchment – there are 27 skins, kept rolled in a large metal case – I was secretly given the use of the Award over a whole weekend, and made my own copy of that part relating to rights of road, footway, water, &c., this has proved useful on many occasions. I trust this confession will not lead to my being arraigned before Her Majesty’s Justices; nor my accomplice who released the documents; he, too, is still enjoying his retirement of over twenty years.
April At this meeting the County Planning Officer attended and explained the zoning of the Parish under the Act, there was a long argument and Mr Tong stated the Small Holdings Committee was very averse to giving up any part of the Edgbury Holding. (It was always thought the severing of one field would make the farm too small; the remainder would not be sufficient to make a living for one man and might lead to poor husbandry)
May By this time the Bucks County Council had acquired the land they wanted and had widened The Leys, except for the frontages of two owners who stubbornly refused to accept the Council’s terms, and the 5ft. depth of their front gardens (4 houses) stuck out into the road forming an ‘island’ in the midst of the newly-made road. Mr Tomlin expressed the view that “it was time we wrote to the Council to remove the eyesore”. He was supported by Mr Higgs, but on a vote being taken, the other members of the Council abstained. Nothing happened, and owing to the War intervening the ‘eyesore’ remained until 1940(?), not only an eyesore but a danger during the period of black-out.
June Mr Bathurst resigned as manager of The Institute and Mr Wesley (his next-door neighbour) agreed to undertake the bookings. Mr Bathurst was thanked for his untiring energies in connection with the running of the Hall since it was taken over.
July The Annual Lighting meeting raised no problems but it was agreed that, with the increase in rateable value, the 3d. rate would provide enough money to cover the cost of two more lamps, one in Ridge Way and one in Downham Road.
August Arising out of a complaint by the Trustees of damage in the Recreation Ground, Mr Tomlin expressed the view that the field was the property of the Parish (in view of previous proceedings he should have known better), and on being told it was not so, demanded the production of the Charity scheme. This was produced at the next meeting for his information.
September The Council met on the 9th, but the outbreak of War is not recorded, though Mr Tomlin spoke of the difficulties arising out of the work of billeting, and congratulated the Parishioners on the support they had given to the scheme. I can endorse those remarks, as, with Messrs Sykes and Tomlin, I was a billeting officer, and, as my district had the area north of the railway, because I was supposed to know, personally, all the occupiers! I can assure the reader that the work of organisation was onerous, and the actual distribution of the children, some with their mothers, when they arrived was nothing short of a nightmare. For three days, and more, the three of us had not a moment’s peace, but gradually both sides settled down to accept the inevitable. The acts of some of the children cannot well be described here.
October It was agreed The Institute could be used for all A.R.P. purposes, free of charge, and the Council decided to suspend regular monthly meetings and to meet only when called upon; a panic decision which was not acted upon.
December The War Agricultural Committee asked for Rat and Sparrow Clubs to be formed, but the Council took no action, though again requested street lighting was discontinued and the Electric Light Co asked for a sum to cover maintenance of equipment during the black-out. The Clerk had to ask the Ministry how to deal with the £100 received on precept. The Ministry later approved of payment to Newport U.D.C. of £88, the balance held, and this was placed to the credit of the Special rate for the Parish.
January The death of the Chairman, Mr Bottoms, was reported. Elected to the Council in 1928, he had been chairman for the past two years. He was an old Woburn Sands boy, son of Samuel, the Baker; after a term as booking clerk at the station he took a post at Rotherham, working his way through to become general manager, and on his retirement returned to his native heath.
February Elections of Councillors were postponed by Act of Parliament, so the existing Councillors remained in office throughout the War. Mr Shortland, bootmaker, opposite The Institute, took over as Manager from Mr Wesley, and he was also co-opted to the Council, vice Mr Bottoms. He was also captain of the fire brigade.
March Mr Tomlin chaired the Annual Parish Vesting; Mr Shortland was the only other member there, with 5 parishioners and the Clerk. The Chairman spoke of the delay, caused by the War in settling the dispute re the Deethe footpath, and widening The Leys, but other matters discussed in the 40 minutes do not warrant space here. At the next meeting of the Council attention was drawn to the damage to the tree planted to commemorate the Jubilee of George V. The tree was so damaged as to be useless, and it was hoped it could be replaced when funds were available. On the following it was again mentioned, the tree having been pulled out of the ground; it was decided to remove the tree-guard.
April At the annual Council meeting, Mr McMurtrie was elected to the chair, Mr Higgs proposal of Mr Tomlin receiving no seconder, but he retained the vice-chair. Dr Furber, having joined the R.A.F., resigned his seat. This was accepted but no replacement was made, hoping that Dr Furber would be able to attend some meetings if on leave.
July The Fire Brigade was congratulated on its good work and its effort to raise funds for the equipment, £65 having already been spent. The Parish names on the War Memorial had been obliterated.
October Following a meeting with the Trustees, who stated their income was so small that they could not maintain Gravel Pit Close in a condition fit for a recreation ground, they asked the Parish to take over the liability. The Council agreed to keep the ground in such condition that children could play there, and to keep the hedges and gate and the two seats in order. With regard to The Institute it was agreed that it should not be used for badminton or social functions, but public meetings could be held there. In consequence of it small use, the Caretaker, whose remuneration was 25% of the takings, asked for a better salary, and was given £10 per annum to cover keeping in order both inside and outside of the premises.
January Reference was made to the death of Mrs Tomlin, mother of Alfred, the Councillor. It was she who started the laundry business, and for her transport, used a donkey, pannier-wise. The A.R.P. headquarters had been established in the Scouts’ Hut and the Council was asked to install the telephone as A.R.P. had no funds for the purpose. It was announced Miss Mowbray had opened a depot for the salvage of waste paper at her house, Hardwick House, and to accommodate the public, it would be open all day on Tuesdays.
The County Surveyor was asked to sand the private roads in frosty weather, as the frontagers paid rates, but the work could not be done unless paid for by the Parish.
February Colonel Byam Grounds (District A.R.P.) and Mr Alwyn Quin (Chief Warden) attended and a long discussion on A.R.P. arrangements took place. Heaps of sand were deposited in the Parish, from which people could fill their buckets. 20 stirrup pumps were held by householders. It was difficult to raise parties of firewatchers owing to the high age rate, most of the younger men being in the Forces. Indeed in the whole length of Theydon Avenue we could not find a team; most of the residents were ‘elderly citizens’ and over A.R.P. age and the younger men were all away.
March At the Annual Parish Meeting there were only 9 in attendance, mostly Councillors. It was explained little parochial work could be done owing to the War. The business was covered in 15 minutes. At the following Council meeting everyone was voted to continue at their post but it was reported that Mr Wesley had not attended a meeting for two years, and he was so informed. Lamp posts broken during the black-out caused quite a lot of trouble in claims for compensation.
May Both Dr Furber and Mr Wesley resigned owing to forced absence.
June At the annual audit the question of fidelity guarantee for Clerk and Manager arose, but on reference to the Council it was agreed the amount of money did not warrant the expense. Indeed members of the Council felt affronted at the suggestion of likely dishonesty! I was not worried; after all, it was common practice.
August Effects of the War came suddenly to Woburn Sands on the 23rd. The Army suddenly descended on the place and requisitioned all available space, including The Institute, 100 men sleeping in that building on that night. On Monday, 26th, an emergency meeting was held at the house of the Chairman, when the Clerk had much to report Formal notice of requisition had not been received, but the hall had to be cleared of all chattels on an hour-or-two’s notice. Accommodation was found at the Brewery Stores, and the Army transferred the goods there, and with all, there was a lot of arranging having regard to the altered conditions. It was not known how long the Army would want the building, but as it turned out, they held it for the duration.
As all but one of the Councillor were present, it was decided to fill the vacancies, and, as three were proposed for the two seats, a ballot was agreed, the result being – Charles P. Stephens (manager, Barclays Bank and head warden) 4, Harry Pakes, an old member of 15 years service, 3 and Ernest Markwell (grocer), 1. At the same meeting a Local Defence Committee was established of E. D. Sykes, (C.C.) A. E. Tomlin (R.D.C) and Miss Robinson (retired schoolmistress and Womens’ Institute).
October No meeting was held in September, and the Council met on the public side of the counter in Barclays Bank. Mr Stephens had offered the bank’s premises for use during the “occupation” of The Institute, £1 per annum being paid to cover expenses. In fact, as Mr Stephens was concerned with so many organisations this space was used for all and sundry ‘committee’ meetings and we were there on many occasions, warm and cosy in the winter time. As previously stated, the Scout Hut had been taken over as A.R.P. headquarters. Mr Stephens, as the head warden, now reported to the Council on the equipment of beds, furniture, &c and asked the Council to meet the expenses, but his request was handed on to Newport R.D.C. They, however, refused to pay the rent, and this had to be met by the Parish. Amongst the Council’s files I have found the statement of expenses presented by Mr Stephens, and I include it here as a matter of interest. It can be noticed that the watchers were kept sweet with sugar at only 4d. a Ib!
WOBURN SANDS AND ASPLEY HEATH FIRE WATCHING CENTRE
Statement of Expenses Incurred in establishing the Centre at The Scouts’ Hut, Aspley Heath, together with running expenses from commencement of firewatching to present time. 17th November 1941:
|£0.18s.0d||Powage Press – Hand bills appealing for fire watchers|
|£4.8s.9d||C. Hutton & Co – Elean closet and chemical|
|£1.3s.0d||J. McMurtrie – Black-out and linoleum|
|£0.2s.9d||Woolworth &. Co – Hat and coat pegs|
|£6.13s.6d||J. W. Smith – Chairs, mattresses & rug|
|£1.13s.10d||Gibson Andrews – Door mats, Hardware &c|
|£0.6s.0d||Woolworth & Co – A.R.P. first-aid outfit|
|£0.16s.9d||Culinary utensils, towels, tea cloths &c.|
|£1.17s.8d||Stationery, printing duty slips, candles, carriage on bed from Bedford ARP|
|£1.0s.0d||Boy Scouts – Rent, 2 months to Nov 22|
|£0.14s.2d||Gas Company – Light & heat to Sept 30|
|£0.6s.8d||T. Tompkins – 2 cwt coke|
|£0.5s.10d||Boy Scouts – Firewood & coke taken over|
|£0.8s.0d||W. H. Elllott – 3 lbs tea|
|£0.12s.0d||32 pints milk|
As it happened, I was scheduled to do duty (on two or three nights a week) with my friend, Stephens, He had managed to ‘borrow’ camp beds and sundries to make the Hut comfortable. One end was curtained off for the lady ‘runners’, and before very long, as we received very few warnings, we all managed to discard our outer garments and sleep more or less comfortably between the blankets (we used to take one of our own) between the hours of 10 and 7. If a warning went, it did not take long to get into our siren suits and be ready for the emergency, which, thank goodness, never came. The County Council placed warning lamps round the Memorial, and they were kept lit and in order by Mr Leigh Lancaster at the shop opposite, at cost of paraffin only.
March The Annual Parish Meeting, held at the Social Club only consumed ten minutes of time of seven councillors and one ratepayer (and he was the local reporter), and the next Lighting Meeting only had 3 councillors, clerk and the same parishioner, and in the following years it was much the same. Later in the month it was reported the result of “Warships Week”, recently held, was, Investments, £16,650, with over £100 made as gifts to the Government. Mr and Mrs Fred Lawrence (Elm Lodge) were thanked for organising the event. From the rent of The Institute £50 was invested in Defence Bonds.
April The Annual Council Meeting did not make many alterations, and Mr McMurtrie remained in the chair. Wavendon Council brought up the question of Deethe footpath especially now that the Pinecrest Works had been established; but the Newport Council had, on advice, decided not to proceed for the time being, so the matter was left in abeyance.
The Council was asked for an opinion on the number of houses required after the War, and they asked for – Agricultural workers, 6; To replace “unfit” houses, 20; For natural increase in population, 40. Sites were discussed, but it was left to the Clerk to go into the matter with the R.D.C. surveyor. Later a deputation from Newport came over and walked round the Parish; the only sites available were not considered large enough. Councillors who did not know this place well enough favoured sites on the outskirts, but these could not be drained into the sewage works. A vacancy on the Newport Pagnell R.D.C. occurred owing to the resignation of Mr W. B. Toogood, from ill-health. Nomination of Mr Cyril Hutton had been received, and this council was asked if it would like to make a nomination. Our chairman, Mr McMurtrie was proposed, but Mr Tomlin supported Mr Hutton, and found no seconder. The Clerk put the proposition to the meeting and in was carried nem.con. The outcome brought an unusual result. On coming before the R.D.C. each candidate received ten votes but the chairman would not exercise his right to give a casting vote, so I (as Clerk) was asked to see the two contestants and get them to settle the matter. I did not deem this within my sphere of duty; and refused. Nothing more was heard of the matter, but Mr Hutton became the Councillor, eventually going through to the Chair.
December Reference was made to the elevation of Mr R. D. Sykes to County Alderman, and congratulations were sent to him. He had been a councillor since 1925.
January A request for the installation of mechanical apparatus to open the crossing gates brought a reply from the railway company that the time was not opportune.
March The Annual Parish Meeting (at Barclays Bank) is really not worth mentioning here; and of Council meetings much the same applies. Mr Codd (the schoolmaster) found it impossible to attend meetings, so resigned.
June This meeting brought something more worthy of record. A letter was received from the Womens Institute asking the Council to consider co-opting for the vacancy, one of its members. Mr Tomlin asked for the matter to be taken in committee, and the press reporter retired. Mr Harry Giles was then proposed, but Mr Tomlin supported the W.I., as it had readily responded to requests from this Council in the past. (The Council had been only too ready to throw over to the ladies, work they could well do and which the men did not want to do) Mr Giles’ proposer got no support, and the W.I. President, Miss K. Robinson (see Aug. 1941) was elected without opposition to become our first lady Councillor; and she made a very useful addition to this body.
July At the Annual Lighting Meeting the only parishioner was the reporter and the Chairman expressed the hope that the War would be over before the next annual meeting; and in the event of lighting being required a special meeting would be called. Miss Robinson attended her first Council meeting and was forthwith put on the Red Cross Ambulance Committee.
August This month’s meeting was a little out of ordinary; it was attended by the local members of the Newport R.D.C., and was called to consider the proposal of the Newport Council to pool the Special Rate for the whole District. The proceedings are fully recorded, the subject occupying three pages of the book. Mr Sykes explained the scheme and his objection to it. Mr Tomlin supported, and Mr Hutton also spoke at some length. Questions were asked, and finally the Chairman proposed that the Parish being strongly opposed to it, the Newport Council be requested to nullify such a scheme. The Surveyors ‘ Allotment Trustees were willing to contribute £15 towards the cost of a new field-gate for the Recreation Ground, and it was pointed out that a permit from the Timber Controller would be necessary before the work could be carried out. These small matters were not easily dealt with in War-time.
March The record of the Annual Pariah Meeting only occupies ten lines of minutes, and it only took 12 minutes of time to dispense with the business.
April The Chairman and committees were elected en bloc. Notice was received that elections would be resumed on 15 April 1946, but up to 15 October next vacancies could be filled by co-option.
May “V. E. Day” The Chairman called a special meeting to consider holding a Service of Thanksgiving. After a lengthy discussion it was decided no action be taken.
July The Annual Parish Meeting was again held at Barclays Bank with 5 councillors and 2 parishioners there. The Northampton Electric Light Co wrote that street lighting would be resumed on October 6, and that their charges would be increased, but in any case the amount would be covered by a 3d. rate. The War may have caused many things to lapse, but the old ‘parish pump’ still worked. Having regard to previous agreement Hutton’s bill for repairing the gate to the ‘Rec was sent to the Trustees for payment, but this they refused, because all the work they wanted done had not been carried out. The remainder was hedge-cutting, and no-one could be found to do it, so the bill was sent back again.
The Council supported the idea of a “Welcome Home” for the serving men and women and agreed to call together representatives of local organisations. They decided to hold a fete to raise money, and to make a door-to-door collection.
September A request came from Aspley Guise for the Council to consider the development of Eastwood’s clay-pits as a swimming pool, for the use of the two parishes. Eastwoods had not been approached, and both Parish Councils considered the pit too dangerous for the purpose, and the matter was dropped. At this meeting I asked the Council to release me from my duties as from September 30. For some time my own professional work had been so heavy – increased work with decreased staff – that I had found it difficult to make time to efficiently carry out parochial duties. With the sudden death of Mr Wallace A. Foll, I had to take over complete control of the business and that made the decision final. I had been clerk since May 1933, 12½ years, and at that time longer than any previous clerk. I had put in a tremendous amount of work, but had been able to steer through the schemes of street lighting, and numbering, &c. Altogether I had enjoyed the experience, as I had almost been a member of the Council, though without any power or authority to vote. For all his animosity Mr Tomlin supported the Chairman’s appreciative remarks; he was the only member present who was there at the time of my appointment.
October Though advertised in the Bedfordshire Times, no applications for the clerkship had been received, and further advertisements, offering a salary of £20 (against the £12 I was paid) were ordered.
November Mr Tomlin, who was absent from the last meeting, opened the discussion by complaining of the decision to pay the Clerk £20 – much in excess of other local appointments – it would cost the Parish a ½d rate! There were two applications for the post and to decide, a vote had to be taken, resulting in Mr Joseph Pursell of Wood Street being appointed by 5 votes to 2; and with the three pages covering that meeting my hand-writing disappears; 318 pages of it, and with it, too, will personal reminiscence – at any rate for a while.
December I attended this meeting to support the new clerk, and in case my actions were referred to; though there was plenty of business it is not worth recording here. The War was over; the Council had found plenty to do while it lasted, jobs that were unthought-of of in previous days, and now it was a matter of settling down to more peaceful times, and reconstruction of life as we had known it of old – but was it going to be that same life?
January Mr Tomlin stated Newport R.D.C. had purchased a site for housing (where is not stated); and that negotiations with the Bucks C.C. with regard to a railway bridge, had been completed. The Council complained of delay in the erection of houses, and sent a resolution to Newport asking them to accelerate the building. They replied that the delay laid with the Ministry of Health. In the following July it was reported that approval had been given. Mr Pakes resigned owing to ill-health; after serving, in two periods, for over twenty years.
March The Triennial Election, the first since War days was held at the Friends’ Meeting House, as other Halls were still in the hands of the Military authorities. Charles Stephens took the chair. Fourteen nomination papers were handed in, so an election (by show of hands) had to be held. Newcomers were Charles Morton Ball (Russell Street Bakery) Brian Hanson (Nursery) and J. A. Pursell (Beds Times). Hanson came in on the casting vote of the Chairman. Mr Stephens had already informed the Council that owing to removal from the district he would not seek re-election. A man of fine character, a fine Scout, with a finger in many pies, his departure was a loss to the district. I understand he is still enjoying retirement in his Sussex home, not far from the South coast.
April At this meeting it was announced Newport R.D.C. would grant 1/- per child at school towards the cost of Victory Celebrations; but the Council decided there would be no official celebration. The 1/- per head was later divided amongst the children by the Chairman (who was also School correspondent) New Councillors brought new questions. The unsatisfactory and dangerous position of the uncompleted road-works in The Leys was referred to the County Surveyor. Mr Hutton asked for a public lavatory, and was told this was delayed because no suitable site could be acquired, and through Mr Hanson, the bus company was asked to provide a shelter.
May The County Surveyor wrote of the difficulty of coming to terms with the owners in the Leys; and the bus company that heavy demands prevented them providing a bus shelter. Mr Pursell asked for the Bletchley Registrar of Births and Deaths to attend at Woburn Sands, but the Public Assistance Officer would not entertain this.
July At the Annual Lighting Meeting only seven Councillors turned up, so there was little argument – they knew it all! It was agreed the Lord Lieutenant be informed there was a vacancy on the Bench due to Mr Stephens leaving the district. I cannot help thinking he was aware of this situation! It was the last meeting held at Barclays Bank.
August Mr Havill asked for the lamp outside his shop, in the Square, to be moved. Council agreed, if he would pay the cost. Previous requests had been refused, and it had been stated the lamp was the gift of one, Alfred Smith, the horse-dealer who built Horsegrove. I had heard a different story of this gentleman (amongst many others) that he was the instigator of street lighting, having, when the gas main was laid, erected a lamp at the entrance to his yard, so lighting the surrounding road, and so ‘paving the way’ for organised street lamps. The tenure of The Institute by the Army had been terminated, and the Council was back in occupation. At the end of the year the interior of the building was repaired and redecorated at a cost of £89
January Newport R.D.C. were prepared to sell to the Parish Council a piece of land adjoining The Institute, but the Council thought it unsuitable; they enquired if, when the adjoining field was purchased, the R.D.C. would sell a piece of land on the North-side.
February The death of Mr W. H. Bazley was announced; that fine old parishioner who knew more about Woburn Sands than anyone else, but who could never be tempted to put anything into writing. Mr Ball was appointed to the board of Trustees of Wells’ Charity in his stead.
March The Annual Parish Meeting was again a short one of 15 minutes, with only six Councillors there. The County Council sought power to enforce unilateral parking in High Street. The Council did not agree, and suggested the East side only; as a result the Ministry confirmed an order for parking on the East side only.
April The Annual Council Meeting – An application for the use of The Institute for a cinema was turned down. Mr Emms retired from his position of War Memorial clock-keeper. It was reported that the Bedford County Council had made application for Woburn Sands to be included in their County. Mr Mutton, as the Parish representative on the Boundary Committee suggested waiting until that Committee had met before making a statement. The Bus Company was again asked for a shelter, but replied that it was not possible.
August Foll & Parker reported that the War Department Land Agent had offered to settle the claim for dilapidations at The Institute at £229.15.5d., and an agreement covering this amount was signed.
October Mr Hutton proposed work of maintenance and improvements be carried out at The Institute, and a committee was appointed. They eventually reported on various repairs, enclosing the porch, colour-washing the exterior, removal of hedge, and provision of seats Mr Hutton drew a specification, and at the February meeting, when he put it before the Council, Mr Tomlin so strongly protested at the suggestion of any alteration to the building, that he left the meeting. By March estimates of £191 and £257 were received but both were considered excessive, and the whole matter was shelved. Thus, occasionally the Councillors wasted their time, but with regard to colour-washing, my sympathies were with Mr Tomlin.
December Wavendon Surveyors’ Allotment Trustees stated they had no objection to this Council equipping the Recreation Ground with playground apparatus, and that they would make a grant towards the expenses, provided they were not liable for compensation in respect of accidents. Mr Sykes attended the meeting (County Council) and reported on the question of the County boundary. Bedford had asked the Commission to transfer Woburn Sands to Bedfordshire, the reason being ‘community of interests’ with Aspley Guise, but Mr Sykes was of opinion that the real reason was the acquisition of its high rateable value. Both Rural and County councils were opposed, and in reply had suggested that Bucks should hold the Ecclesiastical District of Woburn Sands, thus acquiring parts of both Aspley Heath and Aspley Guise. The matter was eventually to go before a Public Enquiry.
Here I think I might add a story of my own experience in the matter. Ampthill R.D.C. had for its Clerk, one, Harry Robinson, a local boy brought up to that office from his early days in the employ of a solicitor who was the then Clerk. He told me quite plainly that he would not die happy unless Woburn Sands was in Beds, and he used all his influence to that end; and I do not doubt that it was rateable value that played so great a part in all the negotiations and subsequent settlement. Father Time claimed Harry Robinson to his great County, but Woburn Sands remains in Bucks.
And, at the end of a year, and the attempt to settle down to peaceful things thoughts turn to a controversy which had raged for forty years and more; the Deethe footpath. After all the fuss and bother, the hot words and the wasted time, after this moment the matter seems to have died a natural death. Much more has been done in recent years to regularise and schedule public footways, but no attempt has been made to make this path public.
March The Annual Parish Meeting; the only matter of interest was the Recreation Ground and its equipment. The Trustees had offered £35 towards the cost. Danger from proximity to the railway brought a request for a footbridge. To this the Railway Company replied that they could not erect a bridge, but that the Council could do so at its own cost. A committee of Councillors and others was formed to consider the whole question and to decide on what form an appeal for funds should take.
April At the Council’s annual meeting a slight change was made; Mr McMurtrie retained the chair, but the vice-chair went to Mr Brian Hanson (nurseryman) An interesting item tells of two applications for the use of the Recreation Ground for holding fairs. Manning of Welwyn was “passed over”, but “Dick” Sheppard of Wellingborough, who offered £10 plus the takings on one evening for the Equipment fund, was told he could use the Ground. However the Trustees objected, and the showman was so informed.
June Other than Councillors, I was the only person present at the Lighting Meeting. It was decided to provide lamps in the newly built Deethe Close Housing Estate.
August The Childrens Playground Committee recommended the purchase of equipment at a cost totalling £133. 13.0d., the Council to pay for the swings at £46.15.0d. There appears to have been a long delay in getting the equipment erected; it was June 1951 before it was announced the installation was nearing completion, and by this time £103 had been raised by public subscription.
September A special meeting was called at which Mr Hutton outlined the proposals of the R.D.C. with regard to Chapel Street and Downham Road, and it was decided to call a meeting of the frontagers.
November Attention had been drawn to the dilapidated condition of the cattle drinking trough, but it was pointed out that it now stood in Aspley Heath Parish, and it was under the care of that Council (see September 1919) A letter had now been received from the R.S.P.C.A. authorising disposal to a farmer, provided it was used for animals; and the Council offered the trough to the tenant of Edgwick Farm.
March Newport R.D.C. sent a questionnaire re telephone kiosks, and the Council asked for one at the Northern end of the village. After complaints from the Council, the Bucks Education Committee announced a bus service to operate between Woburn Sands and Wolverton for the benefit of the school children. The Council eventually received a letter from the school signed by all the ‘beneficiaries’.
May At the last meeting of the Council Mr Bathurst had announced his retirement, after 39 years continuous service, out of which 13 years had been spent in the Chair: and this is suitably recorded. Mr. McMurtrie was also thanked for his service as Chairman for the past 9 years. The Home Office had issued new Regulations for elections. If nominations exceeded seats, election was to be by Poll, and instead of March the elections would now be in May, this year on the 9th. The election is not recorded or the names of the new Councillors, but the new Council met at the end of the month with new faces round the table, amongst them the Vicar, The Revd Frederick W. Bowler. Not since 1913 had the Council included within its membership, a parson. James McMurtrie was re-elected to the chair, but only after a proposition that one of the newcomers should be elected had got no seconder. The Chairman welcomed the two new members, referring to the previous work of Mr Tomlin who had been unseated in the Poll. He was first elected in 1922.
Though various entries relate to the Association of Parish Councils, no mention is made of the date the Council joined, but representatives now went to the annual meeting at Newport.
With regard to the side streets, new specifications for the making up of roads had been prepared, and now each road would be considered on its merits. It might be practicable to have Chapel Street and Downham Road made up sooner than the frontagers had decided at their meeting, viz, in five years.
The recent election had cost £29.17.2d. The Council agreed the new method was more satisfactory, but thought the cost was not, and that the engagement of four polling clerks was unnecessary.
It was reported that the local Ambulance Service had called a representative meeting at which it was decided that money collected for a new ambulance, and not now needed, should be returned to each village in the proportion of its donations, to be spent as its Council desired. In the following January this Council decided to allocate the money to the Recreation ground fund.
June The Army had erected temporary buildings (ablution sheds) at the rear of The Institute, and offers to purchase them had been received, but nothing had been done. The Council now decided to get rid of these unsightly buildings and accepted the offer of £3 from the new Caretaker. They decided to purchase at a cost of £11.10.0d. two seats to be placed at The Institute. The Revd Bowler offered a small piece of the Vicarage garden, adjoining, as a rest garden. A public convenience was again asked for; and a committee met representatives from the R.D.C. and the site and type of building was agreed; the cost estimated at between £600 and £900. The plans were then placed before the Planning Officer.
September The death was announced of Mr Harry Pakes, a former Councillor. The Institute committee reported on repairs, and tenders were asked for. They ranged from £113 to £183, and the lowest, that of Hutton & Co. was accepted. In order to meet the cost the Council realised the £150 of Defence Bonds which had been purchased out of the rent of The Institute paid by the Army, and earmarked for repairs.
October First mention of a pedestrian crossing. It was asked for in order to break the speed of traffic coming into the village from Woburn Road. A deputation met the County Surveyor, and the outcome was a suggestion for the crossings to be at the Weathercock and opposite Pikesley’s Garage. No more was heard until twelve months later, when reference is made to buses stopping near the pedestrian crossing.
March Parishioners took little interest in the Annual Parish Meeting; none attended, and the proceedings lasted 15 minutes.
April The Council received a petition asking for the wicket gate of the Recreation Ground crossing to be opened up for perambulators, but it was thought such action would create a source of danger to children. This was followed by a deputation to the Council, but with the same result. At the Annual Council Meeting, Chairman and Vice-chairman were re-elected, the Bucks Education Committee wrote suggesting Councils might like to consider the erection of bus shelters as an appropriate way of celebrating the Festival of Britain, but the Council thought shelters should be provided by the companies.
September The Revd. F. W. Bowler resigned on taking up a missionary appointment in Borneo. In his place Mr Ernest Last was co-opted.
October At this meeting the death of Mr Tomlin was announced. A ‘stormy petrel’, he had served the Parish well, not only on its Council, but also at Newport, though on that more important body he was regarded more as the Court Jester! I see at this meeting Mr Parker backed up Dr Furber, and also offered a decorative tree for a prize in the best-kept garden competition, but I have no recollection of ever being asked to fulfil that promise.
June After much time spent in discussion, &c. it was announced that the public lavatories would be opened “next week”, but in September they still had no lights.
July A special Pariah Meeting was called to consider a footpath survey, when the Vice-chairman ruled a gathering of three parishioners! It does not state under what Order the meeting was held, but it was decided to forward maps showing the paths as a correct survey. A letter was received suggesting the formation of an Old People’s Club, but the Council turned it over to non-sectarian bodies, though enquiries would be made on how to run it! In the following January the Council again decided they should not undertake the administration, but that they might help. The seats in the rest garden by The Institute were removed to the Recreation Ground.
September Complaints were received of smells from a rubbish tip; from subsequent events it was evidently that at the Plysu Works.
December The death was announced of the Chairman, James McMurtrie; he was ill for only about 24 hours, and his end was quite unexpected. Elected in March 1934 he had been Chairman since March 1940. A dour Scot, he never made up his mind about anything until he had thought again and probably again, after that; and his judgments were generally sound. Mr Bryan Hanson stepped into the chairmanship.
January The Parish lost another old friend by the death of Ernest Bathurst; he had retired in Fay 1949 with the record service of 39 years, of which 13 were in the Chair.
February A complaint came from Woodings, the fishmongers, that the pedestrian crossing affected their business; on reference to the County Surveyor he said the crossing would be reinstated in The Square. There is no other information of these changes.
March Dr Furber (with Mr William Blackburn) had seen the Charity Commissioners with regard to the disposal of the Ambulance Fund it was later announced the Commissioners agreed the money could be spent on the provision of bus shelters.
May This brought the end of the Councillors period, and the second Poll for a new – Council; it also brought back my connection with the Council, this time as a member and once more I shall be able to add to the formal record some stories of what happened during my term of office. The County Surveyor said he proposed to restore the crossing at The Swan and remove that at the top of Russell Street. He was asked to expedite the work.
July Taking time by the forelock the Council had a preliminary discussion on how to celebrate next year’s Coronation, and it was decided to call a public meeting in October.
August At the Annual Lighting Meeting I see I was put in the Chair, with 4 Councillors and two parishioners present (one a reporter). The only business was the passing of the three formal resolutions required by the Act. (1) that the streets be lighted; (2) the money be raised for the purpose; and (3) that having raised the money it be spent on lighting. Mr Linnell said a field, he considered suitable for a playing field, was for sale, and though in the Parish of Aspley Guise, he thought the two Councils could collaborate and buy the field jointly. The matter was deferred until the next meeting, when Mr Linnell again stressed the scheme, which he linked with the coming Coronation, but members of the Council rather discouraged it all. I proposed that no approach be made to Aspley Guise – they already had a good ‘fee’ nearer home. You see, I knew something which has never been made public until I make this confession.
I was the agent concerned with the sale of the land in question. The field contained about 9 acres and was the most level for miles around – I had taken the levels. For years, the frontage had been for sale in plots, but as the ground was well below road level, separate houses could not be drained into the sewer. It was a matter for a developer to buy the whole, and run a sub-sewer into the main further down the road.
It happened that the owner now was in the agricultural world, and he was in negotiation with another, but both being farmers, they were hard dealing and could not come to terms, so the sale had be on handed over to me. I knew that if I could get rid of the frontage at a good price, I could sell the ‘back land’ at a reasonable figure and one at which the Council could buy, and at the same time my Client would be satisfied.
I had a London man interested, and he was coming down the next day to inspect, go into the question of drainage, and – I felt sure – buy, when to my chagrin, my Client called to say that last evening he and his farmer friend had come to terms! I had to telegraph my London buyer not to come, and write a letter of explanation.
And that was how Woburn Sands lost an opportunity, after years of trying, to possibly acquire what would have been (and indeed is today) one of the finest sports grounds in the district. I have always kept this a closely guarded secret; no one knew of my scheming, as the matter had not gone far enough for me to come out into the open. I may add that, with permission of the Ministry, it would have been possible for the Parish to acquire land outside its own borders.
November The Council received a petition signed by 19 tradesmen, protesting at the letting of halls to traders from outside the place for the purpose of one-day shows and sales. It was decided not to let The Institute for this purpose.
This meeting was held during miserably cold weather, and sitting in The Institute for an hour or so, we were nearly frozen. I suggested to Dr Furber that we should be more comfortable in my office. The invitation was immediately accepted and from then on, until May 1957 practically all meetings were held at No. 9 High Street, summer and winter. I even got requests from outside bodies for the use of the room.
April After a number of Meetings of the Ambulance Committee, their money had been finally allocated, and this Parish received £125, which we were told should be spent on the erection of a bus shelter. Arising from this donation bus shelters were discussed, and the favoured opinion was two, one near The Swan, and one near The Weathercock (or alternatively at the Station) The bus company was asked to extend their service to the station but replied that such was unworkable. A difficulty was obtaining permission from owners to place the shelter on their land.
September Other than an invitation from the Vicar to attend Divine Service the Coronation celebrations are not mentioned in the Minutes, but on October 12 a Parish Meeting was held to decide the disposal of the surplus money remaining in the Fund. Three proposals were made (a) Nucleus of a Playing Field Fund, (b) improvements to the forecourt of The Institute, and (c) Erection of a bus shelter. Voting of the 25 present was (a)14, (b)9, and (c)4. A committee to be known as The Playing Field Committee was to be formed and to hold the money – £76. The Committee is not recorded, but the Council decided to place the money in the Post Office Savings Bank; it was November before the Council formed the committee.
Though not the business of the Council, Mr Hutton stated the Woburn Sands Silver Band Committee were still in existence, but that the Band had suspended their operations for lack of players. Their instruments had been lent to the Aspley Army Cadets, for practice only.
October Proposed development of the Brickworks. This meeting brought the first mention of the proposed extensions, and it was stated the Ministry had granted permission back in 1947. Strong objection was expressed, R.D.C. written to, and neighbouring parishes, the Woburn Estate, and Sir Frank Markham asked to support the objection. In November a strong resolution of protest was sent to the Ministry of Local Government, and copies sent to many bodies asking for support.
The Minister replied that his decision was final and that he had no further jurisdiction. The Council told him this was not acceptable and demanded a public inquiry. In the following March it was announced the County Council had made a revocation order, and later they announced an inquiry would be held.
December By this time the bus shelter was beginning to take shape, and here, once again, I can bring personal memories into the record. I had taken considerable interest in the project and had visited a number of villages inspecting their shelters, copying the designs, and interviewing villagers, discussing the advantages and disadvantages. As a result I drew plan and elevation of what I thought was wanted. The building was so designed, with plenty of window space that passengers could sit both inside and outside and see the bus approach from both directions, using the outside end seats in fine weather. This the Council approved. The roof I designed was highly pitched, hipped, and covered with tiles. Had it been accepted I was prepared to pay for a wrought iron finial of the Royal Monogram and the date, to collaborate the Coronation. I was asked to complete final plans and obtain the necessary permits, but as a member of the Council I deeded it wiser that the work should be placed in independent hands, and, fortunately, Mr Ronald Tricker offered his services. (He was in the Planning office). However, the Planners objected to the hipped roof, and its tiles, as being out of keeping with the surroundings, and demanded a flat roof, as less obtrusive; but they accepted the plan. The shelter would have had a slightly greater depth, but the Highways Surveyor would not allow any more of the pavement to be taken up. It took a lot of arranging before it was all finalised! In course of time the building came in for all sorts of vandalism, especially the oak seating, and I have on a number of occasions personally made good the damage, once with oak taken from the bombed House of Commons; now that seat has entirely disappeared. Owing to the damaged windows, &c, the Council eventually decided to brick them up, and to take away the front, leaving the interior exposed, much to my regret, and annoyance.
I must return to the record. In the following February tenders were received, viz., Sinfield, £239; Hutton, £225 (or £216 if commoner bricks were used); and Richardson (Cranfield) £160. The Council was disappointed that a local builder was not “in”, and accepted Richardson’s tender. He was at that time building houses in Downham Road and had the necessary plant practically on the spot. Two builders asked did not put in a price.
January A lot of time had been spent on the question of heating the Institute, a notoriously cold place, as the old hot-air system had been out of use for many years, and the tortoise stove only warmed its immediate surroundings. Mr Hutton had gone thoroughly into the matter for the Council, and both Gas and Electricity Boards were asked for quotations. The Gas Board offered luminous panels for £136, but the Electricity Board wanted £280 for tubular heating I remember Mr Furber supporting the gas system as he had recently been to a wedding in a London church which was so heated, and kept the church very warm. At the February meeting it was reported the system had not yet been installed, but there is no mention of it after. To partly meet the cost, 3% Defence Bonds were encashed for the sum of £150.
Trouble in certain quarters had arisen because the name of Lieut John Shelton had not been included with the 1939-45 dead on the War Memorial. His name had not been submitted and it was not known he was serving, but after enquiry at the War Office it was found he was in the Perak Battalion of the Malay States Army and that there was no information of how he died, instructions were given for his name to be added to the tablet.
June It was suggested the piano at The Institute should have a cover, and Mrs Hunt was asked if she would make one – which she did; but what of the piano, the minutes have not mentioned it, and here I must rely on memory. Some time previously it was said a piano would be a useful addition to the Hall, and Dr Furber expressed the hope that a parishioner would donate one. Strangely that appeal was heard by his own next-door neighbour, Mr Buest, a retired professional pianist, who owned three instruments. He immediately offered one to the Parish; it as gladly accepted and has proved very useful.
August The Council at this time were receiving complaints about nearly everything, but foremost was that concerning the large rubbish tip at the Plysu works. It was first complained of in 1951, and was now fired and burning continuously; it emitted both smoke and smell which nearby residents found very obnoxious. The R.D.C. was informed. The brickworks enquiry had been held in July, and the Chairman deputed to represent the Council, but the Enquiry is not mentioned.
October At this meeting, with regard to the Footpaths Survey, I appeared in a double role (a) a letter from my firm to the County Council (on behalf of a client) objecting to the inclusion of the Deethe footpath and (b) as a Councillor reporting I had written to the County Council pointing out t at they had omitted the path running under the Woods from The Leys towards Bow Brickhill.
November A request was made for a telephone kiosk in The Leys. Traffic was now causing a lot of discussion. A suggestion was sent to the School Managers that senior boys and girls should be trained to act as “wardens”, the equivalent of today’s “lolly-pop men”. Cars parked at the fried fish shop near The Weathercock were continuously under discussion; busses could not find a space to pull up, and the Company was again asked to run buses to the railway station, but they would not do so. As telephone kiosks were allotted on a County basis, it was not possible to place one in The Leys, so residents there, even now, have to come up to High Street if they wish to use a public telephone.
January The R.D.C. promised to consider turning the spare land north of The Institute Into a car park, but on advice of the County Council, the scheme was not proceeded with.
February Complaints to the County Council brought out that old argument that it was not responsible for cleaning up litter in the High Street, but only for keeping the roads clear for reasonable use by the public; it was the responsibility of the R.D.C., but that body always replied that it only collected refuse placed in receptacles. The problem of litter threads its way through the Minute Books from commencement. It is very difficult to teach the man in the street to “Keep Britain Tidy”. Discussions were taking place once more with regard to widening Station Road.
Mr Joseph Pursell, the Clerk, had asked to be relieved of his office, and at this meeting the appointment of his successor was discussed. Of four applicants, two were “rejected”, and of the regaining two, Mr Douglas H. Tyers was engaged, as from April 1st.
Miss Grace Moore, a resident of some years, asked the Council to accept the gift of an oil painting of The Old Rope-walk, on Aspley Heath (now The Garden House). Having no suitable place to display it, the picture eventually found a home at the Branch Library, where it was hung over the bookshelves.
March Like last year, the Annual Meeting is not worthy of record. It is the last meeting recorded in the hand-writing of Mr Pursell, who had been clerk for 9½ years. There is no mention of a change in the personnel of the Council, but new names appearing include the Revd Michael Meakin (Vicar), Mr Leslie H. Blanshard (Weathercock Garage) and Mr J. F. King (draper, High Street), I was put into the vice-chair in place of Mr Hutton.
June The Minister of Local Government wrote that there was no grounds for revoking the permission granted to Eastwoods, in 1949 for new brickworks.
July Mr Hutton said he could no longer act as Manager of The Institute, so the work was assigned to the Clerk.
October The Minutes tell that the making-up of Chapel Street was about to start, and, before that subject is lost sight of, I will record a story as I heard it at the time; I was not there. The Institute was still in the hands of the military when a joint meeting of the Newport and Ampthill Councils was arranged at Woburn Sands, and the only available place was the Methodist Schoolroom, which at that time had to be used for all our public occasions. The chairman of Newport Council was Colonel J. P. Wyness, of Little Brickhill, a testy old officer of the Army Educational Corps (and the historian of his village).
He was becoming very blind and had to be led down the stairs and out into Chapel Street; as the gathering came out into the road members of the Ampthill Council pulled his leg about the terrible condition of the road – much to his annoyance.
When Chapel Street was laid out in 1879, a 4ft. path was made, on the North side with a good Staffordshire brick curb and channel, and these had stood the test of time, but the sandy surface of the road had been eroded by rain, and the centre of the road had become a watercourse in stormy weather, and was now a foot below the curb, which stood up dangerously. The R.D.C. had been looking for housing sites and had approached the Vicar for his paddock, only to receive a refusal. The making-up of Chapel Street had been demanded many times, and always postponed, chiefly on account of cost, the owners of the fields on the South side not, being liable for road charges. But, the spark had kindled the fire – within the Colonel. If there were houses on both sides of Chapel Street, the question of its making up would be simplified; he would get houses built and the road properly surfaced; Ampthill would not have the opportunity of again pulling his leg! Newport Council now threw all its weight into the project, threatened the Vicar with compulsory purchase, obtained the land and built its houses; and the County Council made up the 30-feet of old Chapel Street, when they had the opportunity of making it into a decant 40-foot way. Thus do great things come from small beginnings – a word of jest brought about an improvement which had been discussed for fifty years past.
March Mr James A. Pursell retired from the Council, and Mr Arthur W. Linnell was co-opted in April.
May The attention of the Council was drawn to the continued absence of Mr Wesley and he was asked for an explanation.
June Dr Furber resigned as chairman; on medical advice he had to curtail his activities, but he said he would continue as a member of the Council. As vice-chairman, I was asked to take over, but having refused, Mr Hutton was elected, while I retained the junior post. Mr Wesley attended, explaining that he had been ill, and had also been to Canada. (A Northampton lad, he was in Canada when the 1914 War started, and came back to his Motherland in the Canadian Scottish).
September Hutton & Co. were paid £36.16.6d. for work at The Institute, and to cover the cost, 3½% War Stock was cashed, to produce £45.4s.9d. The War Stock had been purchased with £60 received in 1929 from the sale of the Fire Brigade equipment.
October Dr Furber reported the difficulty the Trustees of the Coal Charity was experiencing in allotting the coal, owing to the increased rateable value. The Trustees intended to call a public meeting. As there were now very few houses of a rateable vale of £5 or less, there were also very few people entitled to the benefits.
December It was slated the collections organised by the local Churches for the Lord Mayor’s Hungarian Relief Fund had realised £500.
January Dr Furber said he had received a letter from the R.D.C. stating they had no knowledge of his offer, made 5 years ago, to provide trees, to be planted to screen Deethe Close. As he had repeated his offer a number of times, he now withdrew it. New chains were fitted to the swings in the Recreation Ground. For twelve months the roof of the bus shelter had been leaking, and it was now suggested it should be stripped and re-lined. With regard to this I would like to record here something of what was done when the shelter was built. Richardson, the builder, took a certain amount of pride in the job as he regarded it as an advertisement of his workmanship. He did not employ a qualified plumber, and as the roof was to be covered with copper he obtained the services of a man from a firm in Bedford. The work was carried out on a Saturday, and as it was so near to my house, I paid a number of visits as the work proceeded, and personally saw that it was done correctly. No sooner had the work been completed than the leak appeared. Complaints were made at every meeting of the Council; in addition to the contractor three members of the Council, 2 qualified surveyors, and the other a builder, made a number of inspections. I personally made a number of examinations in both wet and fine weather to find the cracks, but nothing could be seen and no fault found. The trouble appeared to abate, and nothing has been done, but I see the roof is still leaking, and before long it may be necessary to remove the copper and put in a new wooden lining in place of the one now rotting.
The new rateable values were still troubling the Coal Charity, and Wavendon Parish Council was asked to arrange a joint public meeting. As the Charity had no funds, this Council offered the use of The Institute, and to pay half the cost of other expenses. Later the Trustees announced that two meetings would be held, one here and one at Wavendon, but nothing more is recorded.
The Institute, with no modern amenities, was losing custom, as against the Social Club and the Pettit Hall, now only 20 years old. From loss of rents it was now becoming a charge on the rates, to which Mr Wesley objected. The Revd Meakin suggested a meeting with the owners of the other halls to pool arrangements, but the others saw no advantage in this. The Vicar was also keen to hold a Parish Exhibition.
March At the Annual Parish Meeting the Chairman called attention to the fact that 1957 was the Golden Jubilee year of the Council, and asked for suggestions on how it should be celebrated. He favoured a tea for old people – to talk over old times. Mr Wesley said do something to benefit the Institute. Mr Joseph Pursell wanted, at The Institute a board showing the names of all old members of the Council. Later I agreed to try to form a committee, but found it impossible to give any time to the project, and I could not get anyone to take up the work, so the Chairman regretfully proposed the whole thing be dropped.
Concerned about The Institute, the Council considered the installation of a kitchen, lavatories, &c. but decided against spending money on the chance of creating income. Letting to long-term hirers was favoured and the Chameleons were asked to meet the Council. Negotiations took place, but in the following July the Chameleons said they were no longer interested.
April Wavendon Parish Council and the Association of Parish Councils sent congratulations on our fifty years of independence. Mr Hutton retired from the chairmanship, for which he could not find time.
May Reference was made to the sudden death of Mr King. Though not long a resident and proprietor of a drapery shop, he was actually a qualified engineer, and had taken a keen interest in the work of the Council.
On May 6th, five members of the Council met representatives of the Chameleons and many suggestions were made. If the Institute was let to them the stage would have to be enlarged and that would preclude Badminton (and the Club had kept the hall going for a long time). The Chameleons were offered the Hall on a five-year repairing lease at £25 a year, provided the Council could hold meetings there up to 15 times a year. The result was, however, that the dramatists withdrew.
At the Annual Council meeting the Chair went to the Revd Meakin. As a senior member, I had been pressed to take it, but refused, and I had some difficulty in persuading the Vicar to act, we were both too busy and did not want the responsibility; important Council engagements often come at the wrong time for professional men! To fill the vacancy caused by the death of Mr King, Mr John F. Wright (Estates Staff, London Brick Co) was co-opted.
Owing to lack of bookings, and to neglect of duty, the caretaker of The Institute was sacked. The thorny problem of fairs in the Recreation Ground arose again. It had been approached by the proprietor of a fair, and after bargaining, he had offered £15 for a five-day standing, with a deposit of £5 against damage. As the money would be welcome it was decided to rescind a previous motion not to let, and to accept the offer.
June Plysu Products asked for permission to cut the hedge and trim the grass verge of the Recreation Ground opposite their office, also to fence a gap, but this had already been done. The Council gladly accepted the offer but I do not think it was kept up for a long time.
Dr Furber raised the question of danger from dogs running loose, and this was referred to the R.D.C. A restriction for the whole of the main road from Hill Way to The Square was asked for, but in December we were informed that council would not apply for an Order as the few accidents did not warrant it.
Following negotiations between the Councils concerned, the Parish Council agreed to buy a small area of land which the County had earlier bought from the R.D.C., north of The Institute. The District Valuer placed a nominal value of £5 on this, and in September he sent a report and plan. The solicitor’s fees, paid by this Council came to over £12. The small piece of land on the extreme corner was thrown into the road for a vision splay.
August The County Librarian suggested placing in Woburn Sands a disused mobile library van, as a part-time library, and asked for a permanent site. The Council replied, offering The Institute, at a reasonable rent, and proposing that books be housed in cupboards to be provided at the back of the stage.
September At the Annual Lighting Meeting (6 councillors, 3 parishioners and 2 reporters) Aspley Heath was congratulated on adopting the Act, and lighting its parish at long last!
October Having regard to the County Librarian’s request for accommodation, the Chairman had been in negotiation with the County Council with the object of that Council taking over The Institute on a repairing lease for ten years at a peppercorn rent, subject to the Parish having the right to hold its meetings there. Mr Hutton thought it would be of considerable benefit for the place and the Council agreed to continue negotiations.
November It was announced that Parish and Rural District elections would be synchronised as from the beginning of 1958, but that expenses allocated to the Parish would be charged to its special expenses. The R.D.C. closed its receiving centre for the collection of rates, and the Council complained. The R.D.C. replied that staffing was difficult, and this Council suggested an agency with a local tradesman.
December Mr James Pursell was congratulated on his completing 25 years of reporting for the Bedfordshire Times.
January On the unlucky thirteenth day of the month a Parish Meeting was called to consider “the letting of The Institute to the County Library Service for ten years after which the option to purchase”. Over 100 people turned up, but unfortunately I could not get there.
The Vicar, in the Chair, told of the difficulties of keeping the hall running. He emphasised “the proposal was not for the purpose of putting a spoke in the wheel of any organisation using the Institute”. There was some opposition to the proposal. Mr Hutton proposed and Mr Blanshard seconded the Council’s proposal. An amendment (by Mr Charles Dudley and Mr Tom Euxton) was lost. Further argument ensued and then the original proposition was put to the meeting when only five persons present voted for it!
The Vicar, no doubt disappointed (as he was a great reader), closed the meeting with a vote of thanks to those present who had turned out in such large numbers. With all the lethargy over Parish affairs, occasions do arise when the ordinary burgess feels the time has come to express his opinion, generally – though not always – for the benefit of his fellow men. It is easy to express an opinion today, in hindsight, but how thankful should we be that there were only five who wanted to dispose of The Institute.
However, it stirred us up to action. We informed the County Library of the .result, and the Institute committee was reformed, to include representatives of the Record Society, which had weekly (and noisy) meetings there, and the Badminton Club.
February The R.D.C. asked for a name for the road off Theydon Avenue, now that two houses had been built there. They were told “Elm Grove”. This was the name given to it, on plan only, when George Loke laid out his Theydon Avenue estate in the nineties but it had taken 60-70 years for a house to be built on it.
March The Parish Meeting, in addition to Councillors, brought out 5 parishioners, and, of course, those hardy annuals, the Pursell brothers. The new Institute committee had met the previous evening, and I outlined its proposals – green-rooms, lavatories, kitchen, £c new electric wiring and re-decoration, at a cost estimated to be £2,500. How was the money to be raised? There was no decision, it was left to the ‘city fathers’ to decide.
The Vicar outlined a proposal for a fete in the Summer, not for raising money but to foster the community spirit. At the following Council meeting when The Institute came up for consideration, Mr Wesley said it was fantastic to spend that amount of money on the building, and he would vote against it. Mr Wright pointed out that the Parish Meeting was in favour of spending to improve the Hall. Mr Hutton (1) and Mr Wesley (2) said the time was not opportune to proceed with the scheme, so the matter was left for consideration at a future time!
April Dr Furbcr brought to the notice of the Council the money held in the Bank for the purpose of providing plaques on the bus shelters saying the cost was raised by the “British Red Cross Society”. This was not strictly correct; the money was raised locally as a fund to provide for an ambulance – to be run by the Red Cross.
Who would be a Councillor – you cannot please everybody! Complaints were received of the noise from the fair in the Recreation Ground, and of the damage done. The Council decided, as their time was nearly up, to leave it to the new Council to deal with.
The new scheme for the administration of the Poors’ Coal Charity was produced. Dr Furber remarked that it would not be easy to administer as the decision as to who should or should not have the coal was left to the judgment of the Trustees; i.e. to decide who was “poor”. I can remember one year, after one (and only one) application had been turned down, because, as trustees, we thought the lady could afford to buy her own coal, the Chairman was threatened with libel!
The Revd Meakin gave details of the coming Parish Fete in his garden. If proceeds had a balance it would be given to the Council towards repair of The Institute
The Chairman welcomed the new members of the Council, but they are not named; they included Keith Speed (now J.P.) and William Barnes (Deethe Close).
The old argument of responsibility for keeping the roads clean came up again, and the R.D.C. was asked to employ a part-time old age pensioner, as was done at Olney. The reply was a Refusal.
The new committee for The Institute had been very busy with their own hands and with those of friends; they had cleaned up the forecourt of The Institute and now produced a lengthy report with many suggestions, including £100 to be spent on small repairs and interior decoration, and £100 on new chairs and furnishings; also a new scale of charges. Their report was adopted, and they were told to carry on with their work. Later, all local builders were asked to tender, but five declined, and an estimate of £93 from Arthur Cooke was accepted, and another of £96 for the furniture. The electric wiring had been tested and found to be sound, but flexes were renewed.
The Chairman reported on the Fete – a great success – 14 organisations having been concerned in the running. It was hoped there would be a surplus of £30. The Council later received £29.11s.2d., for the benefit of The Institute. Such was the success that Aspley Heath was asked to join in on a similar occasion next year, to which they agreed, and a small committee was formed. There was to be a week of events ending on Saturday with a Sports Day, sometime in June, and a Parish Meeting was to be called in January.
Mr Furber complained of the recent erection by British Railways of a water-tower close to the Deethe Close Housing Estate, but it was pointed out that Statutory Undertakings were not subject to Town Planning.
August Application for the use of the Institute on Sundays and Wednesdays by “a religious body called ‘the Brethren” was considered, and a rent of £80 per annum was suggested. In view of an estimated income of £130 the Council decided to accept all the Committee’s recommendations. (see June) The Vicar said he would be willing to discuss the future of the piece of land in front of the public lavatories.
September This year’s meeting for lighting was under the new Parish Councils Act, 1957; with an attendance of under a dozen. They passed the regulation resolutions and heard the regular complaints.
October After many complaints with regard to the refuse dump the R.D.C. Sanitary Inspector attended the meeting. He stated the nearest dump was at Bow Brickhill and if the local dump was closed it would mean fortnightly collections only, and this was put into operation early the next year.
November A Special Meeting was called to meet British Railway officials with regard to the water tower, most complaints came from Deethe Close, and the representatives explained that the siting was governed by the position of engines which had to be under the cover of signals; sixteen engines per night would stop there. The tower could not be moved but it would be painted any colour the Council desired.
The meeting also entertained another deputation – from the Record Society. These young people attended in answer to a complaint of noise from their meetings. I remember they were not in a mood to accept complaint, and in short, told us what they thought of us, but they promised to run their meetings in an orderly manner in future.
December Mr David Janes, retiring from business, gave notice of also retiring from the care of the Memorial Clock, he had faithfully kept this in order since Mr Emms retired in April 1947. Newport R.D.C. wrote that they had decided to dispose of the land between The Institute and No. 32 Chapel Street; was the Council interested. It was agreed we should buy the land and accept the District Valuer’s valuation.
February Mr Tom Buxton retired from the Council, as he was taking up a post in Buckingham, and in his place Mr Cyril Hutton was co-opted. Mr Wallace was appointed caretaker of The Institute at a salary of £40 per annum. To keep the inside of the hall clean and the outside tidy, and to sweep out the bus shelter, but he only stayed his course until May. It was September before a successor was appointed – Mr William Davis. The Clerk’s salary was increased to £40 a year, a sum in line with Parish Council Association figures. County Boundaries; in view of possible changes enquiry was made of the Minister of Local Government if the Parish Council would be permitted to voice its opinion. The answer was in the affirmative, and the matter was referred to the Annual Parish Meeting.
March A special meeting with Aspley Heath to consider a joint fete turned out a disappointment. Barnes and I had met two of the Heaths members, but we had not been able to obtain support from local organisations, so it was decided to postpone any effort until someone could be found to do the organising. Mr Janes offered to keep the Memorial clock going pending finding another to do the work. Mr Furber referred to the balance held on account of the Jubilee Fund. A playing field seemed very remote, and The Institute wanted money. It was referred to the Funding committee.
April Mr Hutton was congratulated on being elected to the Chair of the U.D.C. So far as it was known, it was the first time Woburn Sands’ representative had occupied that office. This was at the Annual Meeting, and in order to start a debate, the Chairman suggested the Ecclesiastical Parish should be transferred to Bedfordshire as the civil parish. Those present however were reluctant to discuss the matter and it was referred to another meeting arranged for April 27th.
This Special Meeting attracted 60 parishioners. The minutes state the meeting decided not to adopt the proposals, which were:
(1) That at this stage no recommendation be sent to the Boundary Commission.
(2) That the civil parish of Woburn Sands be the same as the ecclesiastical parish
(3) Woburn Sands to be in Bedfordshire
(4) The meeting adopted the proposal that the Parishioners of Woburn Sands wished to remain in Buckinghamshire.
(5) It was decided the Local Government Commission be notified of the meetings decision that Woburn Sands wished to remain in Bucks.
It will be noted that no decision was made with regard to the small adjustments of the boundary. The Local Government Commission had received from Ampthill the proposal that Woburn Sands and Wavendon should be transferred to Beds, to which the Council replied “there was a great deal of local feeling … but they believed there was a poor case for Woburn Sands going into Bedfordshire”.
May The Playing Field Fund. The Council invited one of the Fund’s committee members, Mr James Pursell, to report on a recent meeting; it was not in favour of its funds being used for any other purpose. A field off Vicarage Street was likely to be offered for sale by auction, and this was thought to be suitable for a childrens playing field for children of High Street(!). Advice was sought from the Association of Parish Councils, but they were not in favour of buying at auction, and by August it was thought the field was no longer available. Here is the first information of the local branch railway being closed, and British Railway was asked for information; the reply was “possibly”. The Council took strong exception and wrote to the Transport Commission, the M.P. and other Councils. In August B.R. stated the line would be open for the next two years. The Bucks C.C. draft of their waiting restrictions in High Street, Chapel Street and Russell Street were accepted, but a more serious problem before the Council was the parking of lorries, sometimes up to 15, near the junction of Weathercock Lane and Station Road; the Council suggested that parking there be prohibited, and the County Council asked for more detail; however the matter was postponed to see what effect the M.1. would have on heavy traffic. Being the Annual Meeting, Chairman and Vice-chairman were re-elected.
August A letter of appreciation was sent to the Library Committee thanking them and their staff for the work put in, in establishing the branch at the Friends’ Meeting House. On the advice of the District Auditor, and in view of increased income, the bond on the Clerk was raised from £100 to £200.
September The Lighting Meeting. The chairman announced that under the Act of 1957 the meeting was no longer necessary! but the following entry I cannot understand: Mr Parker said that Parishioners had no opportunity to make complaints and suggestion at a meeting such as was held under the now defunct Lighting and Watching Act 1833 but they could be made to the Parish Council. One has only to read the old minutes to find the complaints and suggestions. Living “next door” I had taken charge of the removal of the master clock of the War Memorial, brought about by the demolition of the old billiards room at The Swan. The licensee had agreed to store the clock but the movement went to Mr Janes, who was still looking after the clock. It was suggested a mains-driven clock should be installed; however by next month I had been able to persuade the brewers to re-house the clock in another building, temporarily.
In November, an estimate from Smiths, of Derby for altering the clock to mains service was considered. It was £86 plus connections, and the Board was asked what the cost of this would be. Mr Janes was also asked what it would cost to put the old clock into good order. Finally the total cost of connecting to main was estimated at £110 with current, £4 a year. Mr Janes thought the present clock would last another five years; so the Council decided to carry on with it, with the master clock in the “Swan” garage. M Hutton was thanked for the work he had done in the matter.
The estimate of Hutton & Co (the only one received out of six asked) for the exterior painting of The Institute amounted to £100.14.9d., and this was accepted.
October The District Valuer enquired about the land adjoining The Institute, which should have been discussed at the Annual Parish Meeting. It was now decided to have such a meeting in November. At this meeting I proposed an archive should be established for local records of all descriptions, and that the Bucks Education Committee should be asked to house it at the Branch Library. The Council agreed and it was published in the local press that items could be sent to me. This brought a small response, the best being a letter from a son of the man who was instrumental in the building of the present Friends’ Meeting House in 1907, and correspondence over a number of years after. I obtained his father’s album of photos and press cuttings, which have been copied by both Beds and Bucks Record Offices. However, the collection has not grown, and I think the Parish Council in after days was not aware of it, and took little interest in the project, but what we have I hope will find some publicity this year as it is intended to promote an exhibition of such matter during the coming Jubilee Week.
November A Parish Meeting was called to consider the purchase of 471 square yards of land West of The Institute, priced by the District Valuer at £200. The land could be used as a car park, and would be available at any time if it was desired to extend the building. Ancillary expenses such as conveyancing, fencing and surfacing the car park would absorb another £100. Objection to the scheme came from the adjoining tenant, Mr William Hollier, and Mr James Pursell, but the meeting endorsed the Council’s proposals and agreed to the purchase, and the next meeting of the Council set in motion the necessary machinery.
Once more I can (I hope without boast) bring in personal memory. The Institute had been something of a toy of mine and in moments of idle thought I had drawn plans showing enlargement and improvement. I had always cherished the idea of a Country Theatre in the place (a scheme which was nearly brought to finality, at one time, by a consortium of interested locals) the biggest effort in planning had been to acquire the Social Club property and the Vicar’s paddock; turn the Club site into a modern shopping precinct and transfer the Club amenities to the paddock, terraced for bowls, tennis &c, with gardens at the bottom and paddling pool fed by the then running stream, and at the top, a hall turned into a good theatre with open space on the north side for car park, open air concerts or other public demonstrations. This would have freed High Street of some of its traffic problems, and should have brought some benefit to the place – thus do town planners dream!
When I first heard of the R.D.C’s proposed purchase of the field for housing, I approached our then chairman, Jim McMurtrie, and told him we should ask the R.D.C. to so plan their layout for housing as to leave a space clear next to The Institute for our future use This was done, and the R.D.C. agreed. Now they wanted to clean up that little estate, and quite reasonably asked the Council to buy if they wanted to preserve the land
December Dr Furber asked if it was possible for a better liaison between the three tiers of Councils to be established, and that those above would consult with the Parish before demolitions and road schemes were undertaken.
January Complaints in plenty this time the Post Office and its inadequacy; the Postmaster at Bletchley was asked for improvements. Members thought it was time we had a Crown office, but the Postmaster said the amount of business did not justify it.
March At the Annual Parish Meeting the alterations to the County boundary were discussed. There was no objection to the footpath on the South side of Hardwick Road being taken into Bucks. Previously the County boundary had been accepted as the gutter and we had two roadmen, each sweeping his own County. Bigger alterations at the North end of the Parish were ridiculed and the Commission bold of our objection. Someone asked when Downham Road was going to be made up, but the Council replied that it was a matter for the frontagers.
Mrs Hunt, for reasons of health and absence for a few months, offered to resign but this was not accepted. Legally it was pointed out that the Council had lost a member, as Mr Blanshard had not attended a meeting for eight months, and he was asked for his comments. He resigned. For the World Refugee Fund the Parish had raised £370, plus 36 sacks of clothing.
April At this meeting Mr Speed, who was not at the Annual Meeting complained that the Council’s resolution re boundaries, did not make any suggestion of alternatives. He proposed Woburn Sands, in Bucks, should follow the postal area, and this suggestion was forwarded to the Commission. In June we were informed that no decision had been made, and that representatives were going to meet on the site.
The Annual Council Meeting kept both Chairman and Vice chairman in their seats and co-opted Mr. Frederick J. G. Watkiss (Cranfield College of Aeronautics maintenance) The Clerk of Newport R.D.C. attended, and the question of the County boundary was discussed, the decision being to adhere to the original proposals of the R.D.C.
June I complained that the scheme for the preservation of local records had not received the support I had hoped for, so the Council asked the press to again publicise the request. In December I handed in a list of the few items deposited. It was suggested that John Laing & Sons, the contractors, were going to build offices and workshops in a field off Station Road. During the autumn the fencing of the proposed car park gave rise to a lot of discussion and a number of complaints from the tenant of No. 23, who wanted more privacy. In the end, a 3-rail fence was erected for £45 and the surface made good for £10.
January The County Council was asked to construct a bridge over the railway, as with the new fly-over at Bletchley an increase in goods traffic was anticipated. The Surveyor replied that the bridge was not included in improvements during the next 5 years.
March At the Annual Perish Meeting it was decided to enter the Best Kept Village competition.
April The meeting on the 10th brought to an end the period of service of the present Council, and my nine-year service as a Councillor. Today I am surprised to see how often my name appears in the Minutes, how much time and energy I put in on Parish work, but I enjoyed it all, good and bad.
A planning application by Mr Ralph Hulbert to build on land east of the Recreation Ground had been refuse by the County Council. Mr Hulbert appealed, and an Inquiry was to be held. I see I agreed to present the Parish Council views to the Inspector. The Council wanted sufficient land reserved adjoining the Rec to enable a football pitch to be laid out.
May brought a new Council, and a big shake-up. William Barnes was elected Chairman and Fred Watkiss, vice. Old hands were Dr. Furber, Arthur Linnell, Keith Speed and James Pursell; and the newcomers, Claude Phillips (Plysu Products), Joseph Walker (builder), and A. J. Williams (schoolteacher). They found plenty of natters to talk about – Best Kept Village, Deethe Close road-widening, street lighting, overgrown footpaths, &c. Mr Watkiss asked for a resident J.P. and Mr Phillips for a weekly refuse collection.
June Mr Hulbert’s appeal had been dismissed, and he could not build, so the Council asked him if he would sell part of the field, but there does not appear to be any sequel.
July Mr Linnell offered the gift of rambler roses to be planted on the front of the Institute but they did not get planted; and they were again referred to in December 1962. In May 1963 the Council negatived the idea, and Mr Linnell withdrew his offer. Later he gave a seat to the memory of his wife.
The County Surveyor now wrote that Downharn Road could be made-up and taken over the cost being estimated at 70/- a foot frontage. The Council decided it was for the frontages to agree.
September The British Legion was granted permission to hold bingo sessions in The Institute, for a trial period. It was successful and they are still carrying on. The Vicar wrote that he “was as much puzzled as the Council with regard to the owners of the piece of land in front of the public conveniences” The Church Commissioners said they did not own the land, but I would have thought the Vicar knew his own boundaries.
October Traffic congestion in The Square had given rise to a lot of discussion; the County Surveyor said they were now re-aligning The Square, and traffic would probably be directed one way round The Memorial.
November Plans were produced showing the R.D.C’s proposal to build in rear of the Council houses in Theydon Avenue, some 22 dwellings and 7 garages, and in December their Clerk attended, to answer our criticisms. Estimates ranging from £50 to £240 for re-surfacing the car park were considered, the lowest, from Mr Walker’s firm, was accepted. The Ministry of Local Government asked for more detail with regard to the County boundary. Mr Speed produced a plan incorporating Aspley Heath and part of Aspley Guise, and this was forwarded to the Ministry. In the Best Kept Village competition, we obtained 49 points out of a possible 80.
January In response to the suggestion that The Institute should have a clock, two were offered, and that of Mr R. S. Tricker was accepted. It was overhauled, free of charge, by Mr Arthur Coleman, and hung at the back of the stage. We had recently suffered a heavy snowfall and the Council received a petition signed by 133 people, complaining of the lack of clearing the snow; the matter was discussed at length, and the County was asked for better service.
February The Ministry of Agriculture had heard from the County Planning Officer saying application had been made to build on Fish Pond Close allotments. The Local Authority was responsible for the provision of allotments. If the land was taken for building, no alternative was available. The Council brought this to the notice of the Allotment Society. The County Planning Officer also reported to this Council and said no decision would be made for six months.
March The Annual Parish Meeting needs no recording here. The cafe near The Weathercock had obtained a license for all-night opening, and lorry parking there was causing annoyance to neighbours. The County Council was asked to rescind the notice. Next month’s minutes quote from the County Council’s letter. Nearby residents could take action in the Court if they wished. There was no general provision for appeal against a “refreshment house licence”, the cost being one guinea”.
The War Memorial clock had been giving trouble, but as road improvements and the demolition of buildings at The Swan were likely to take place shortly, the County Council was asked to find other accommodation for the master clock and pay the cost of removal.
May At the annual Council Meeting the death of Mr Cyril Hutton was reported. William Branes retired from the chair, after only one year’s service, and his place was taken by Frederick Watkiss. Keith Speed replaced him as vice-chairman.
June The Council was asked for a grant towards the cost of upkeep of St Michael’s Churchyard, and in November £21 was donated. The residents of Hill Way had been canvassed with regard to making up the road to County standard; result – For, 6, against, 12; so the matter was dropped. County Surveyor explained that it was desirable that the War Memorial should be moved for the benefit of road improvements in the Square. British Legion and Aspley Heath were consulted, and the Legion replied they had no objection if the improvements would be of benefit to the public; also, “if an alternative site was found it would have the approval of parishioners and members of the Legion”. Aspley Heath wanted the Memorial to remain in The Square as a pedestrian street refuge, and this suggestion was sent to the County Council. Arising from this it was decided to acquire a new electric clock and have it connected to the main.
Mr A. J. Williams retired on leaving the district, and Mr Ernest Cant was co-opted in his place. The Council had been informed The Institute could be relieved of the payment of rates if it was run by an independent management committee, but the Council decided against any action being taken, as it did not want to lose direct control. The stage was extended with 12 portable units at a cost of £22.10.0d.
September The Trustees of the Allotment Charity, having considered the Council’s application to take over the field, refused; the appreciated the Council’s efficient management but were not inclined to sell. They offered £50 towards the purchase of more equipment. The Council was not satisfied and went further into the matter, and it is reported that they dropped the question of purchase owing to other bodies being concerned, and that the Charity Commission, would, in any case, be the final owners.
At this stage may I be allowed to express my personal opinion, as, for some time I have had strong views on the matter. The Council’s reasoning’s above are quite erroneous. For many years the Allotment Charity has been outdated – it should be wound up. Few people appear to know of its origin. Two hundred years ago each parish was responsible for the upkeep of its own roads, and often material was difficult to find. Usually two ‘surveyors’ were appointed to do the necessary work, most of them farmers, who had horses and carts at their disposal, and could turn their men on to road work when work on the land was difficult, generally in the early part of the year. When the Wavendon Enclosure Award was made (1791) there were two allotments to the Surveyors (for the time being), Gravel Pit Close (which never yielded any gravel, and the sand-pit in Leighton Hollow (which was eventually worked out). Gravel Pit Close was leased in 1803 to Sir Henry Hoare for 99 years, but his tenancy ran on for another 20 to 30 years. By the time he surrender, the land responsibility for road making had passed to the County Council, so, as successors to the old surveyors they became owners of the lands in question; both areas were of no value to them, so they were handed over to the Charity Commission to form a trust; to run the land for the benefit of the ancient parish of Wavendon. I cannot give details as I have not seen the scheme, but the trustees are appointed by the three Councils, County, Rural and Parish.
The two pieces of land, for practical purposes, are no longer of any use to the present Parish of Wavendon; they are too far away from the village which now has its own central recreation ground and a good community centre. Both areas should be valued and sold to its own Parish Council; the value of the interest of each of the three parishes involved should be established, and the proceeds of sale divided between them in those proportions. Aspley Heath would so acquire its sandpit at a cost of little or nothing; Woburn Sands would get its recreation ground at something like 75 per cent of its market value, and Wavendon would receive a sum of money which they could probably spent as they wished. Both Charity Commission and Trustees would come to a not untimely end, but the parishes should be all the happier.
January At this meeting the Clerk of the R.D.C. attended, produced maps and explained the proposed development of Elm Grove, Blackthorn Grove, &c. Contrary to the mood of twelve months ago, the County Council was congratulated on the efficient clearance of the recent snow.
February Parking near The Weathercock was again a natter for discussion. In September the County Surveyor reported an experimental waiting restriction.
March At the opening of the Annual Parish Meeting the Chairman remarked on the poor attendance – Councillors, 6; R.D.C. member, 1; Parishioners, Nil. It was decided to enter the Best Kept Village competition. The Recreation Ground was to be levelled and re-seeded at a cost of £50.
April The County Surveyor sent plans showing the reconstruction of Downham Road. It was decided the lighting required no alteration. Estimates for installing a main clock in the War Memorial were considered and that of English Clocks Systems of £54.12s.6d. was accepted. In September thanks were expressed to Mr Watkiss and Mr Hutton for installing the clocks, free of charge. Closure of the branch railway was discussed and it was decided to do everything possible to keep the railway open.
May There was no alteration in Officers but alterations at The Institute brought a long report from the committee. It was decided to remove the frontage hedge, and to install kitchen and toilets together with a new entrance from Chapel Street, and other small improvements. Cost and finance was discussed and finally it was agreed an architect be employed to prepare plans of the work which was not to cost more than £2,000. Next month the National Council of Social Services was asked what grants were available. A Parish Meeting was arranged for October 7.
July With regard to the closure of the railway it was reported a very representative meeting had been held at Bletchley, and it was agreed to call a meeting, presumably a Parish Meeting, on July 16, but such a meeting is not recorded.
October A Special Parish Meeting with regard to the improvements at The Institute. Other than Councillors, only one lady attended. Details of estimated future income and of loan charges were given, and the whole plan was adopted, the meeting closing “with unanimous support for the scheme”. At the following Council meeting it was decided to apply for £2,000 for twenty years, from the Ministry of Local Government.
November The Council received information with regard to the population of the Rural District. The 1961 census showed a decrease in population which the Council thought was due to young people leaving for areas where houses could be obtained more easily, so the answer was to press for more houses. The question is, what was the population? The minutes do not say; in fact it was, 1951: 1,495 and 1961: 1,481.
February The old question of a playing field was brought up owing to the Lord Lieutenant’s survey, and the Count. Council was once more asked if it would sell one of the Edgbury fields. It was July before the answer came back – No! the holding is already too small. The Institute car park again came up for criticism. Members thought it was a liability and the site would be better used for a caretaker’s bungalow, or for garages! Newport Council was asked if it would erect 20 garages for the use of the general public.
March From the Annual Parish Meeting came a request to the County for parking on the West side of High Street, and not on the East as at present. At the next meeting of the Council tenders for improvements to The Institute were opened. The architects had difficulty in getting firms to compete, and only two were received – Mason of Newport, £2,336 and Walker & Son, £1,926. (Mr Walker retired from the meeting). The Ministry wrote that a loan would be sanctioned on condition the lowest tender was accepted. This was done, and the architects asked to proceed.
Dr Furber reported on a meeting of representatives of Beds and Bucks Councils in The Square, when it was decided the War Memorial must be moved; as a consequence a Parish Meeting was arranged at which Aspley Heath and the British Legion could express their views.
April At this meeting 35 people were present, plans were passed round, and Dr Furber explained what the County Councils wanted. The general feeling was for the Memorial to remain in the Square, even if re-sited, and the County Council was so informed. The R.D.C. asked for a list of car owners wanting garages, and for the Council to suggest sites for such erections.
May At the Annual Council Meeting Chairman and Vice-chairman re re-elected, but there is no mention of new members. New Justices had recently been appointed for the County, but very few represented North Bucks, and Woburn Sands not at all. A request went to Sir Frank Markham and to the County Council for a local person to be appointed.
The officer responsible for the register of electors complained of the numbering in Theydon Avenue, and this was brought to the notice of the R.D.C.. The company E. J. Burrows & Co were asked to produce a guide to the village, but replied they could not do so for at least twelve months.
June The Council now appears to include Fred Watkiss, chairman; Keith Speed, vice-chairman, and Messrs Furber, Linnell, Parsons, Phillips, Walker and Wright with Mr Hawkins of Wavendon, who was a member also of R.D.C. Two members were not resident in the parish. A Special Meeting of the Council was called for the purpose of signing the mortgage deed for the loan of £2,000 on The Institute. At this meeting concern was expressed with regard to the coming Brickworks and letters of protest were sent to various quarters.
July On July 6 a public meeting was held with County and R.D.C. representatives among the 300 persons present. The Chairman reviewed the past history of the proposed Brickworks and Inquiry, and discussion went on for two hours. The following resolution was passed, and copies were sent to the Ministry arid County Council, with an explanatory letter:
(1) That air pollution by noxious fumes or otherwise be wholly eliminated.
(2) That if these assurances cannot be given where brick-kilns are involved kilns be forbidden in the knowledge that clay can be moved to existing kilns.
(3) That spoliation of the countryside will be overcome by progressive landscape treatment of the excavated area.
The County replied that in view of the history of the case the Planning Committee would take no action, as it would involve payment of huge sums in compensation. The police were asked to install radar speed meters to check the traffic coming down from Woburn Road, and the Bletchley superintendent arranged for this to be done. The Council, in reply to a request from the Women’s Institute to plant a red oak to commemorate their golden jubilee, suggested the lower part of the Recreation Ground.
August Mr Ralph Hulbert offered to sell to the Council part of his land adjoining the Recreation Ground. The Council wanted 6 acres and thought a grant could be obtained to meet the cost. Later it was reported Mr Hulbert wanted £4,800. The Council though this excessive, but would continue to negotiate after the advice of the District Valuer had been received. The lay-out of the new Vicarage Street Estate was submitted to the Council and asked what lighting was wanted.
The Civil Defence Officer, Bletchley, asked for assistance in setting up a local civil defence organisation. The chairman gave details of what was being done at R.D.C. level regarding the proposed Brickworks in Woburn Sands. He said the Brick Company were most co-operative and would install any method which could be found, regardless of cost, which would eliminate the sulphur oxide fumes, which the Minister of Housing said, in a letter, in his opinion, was not possible. Dr Furber who reported on the progress made by a committee formed as a result of a public meeting held on the 6th July 1964. This committee, which was agreed should have the official backing of the Parish Council, was in contact with a firm which stated they could virtually take out all the fluorine substances expelled from Brickworks – members said they appreciated the efforts being made by Dr Furber’s committee and were hopeful of a method of brick making which would reduce air pollution in the area
September The Council welcomed the news that Downham Road would be made up without further delay on September 14th.
October The Minister of transport asked local authorities to keep street lighting on much later over the Christmas period, a time when the rate of accidents was higher. Professor Loxham, sent minutes of committee meetings held re the Brickworks pollution, and thanks to the committee were expressed.
November It was reported the “Freedom from Hunger” committee had reached their target of £750, and any money in excess would be given to Oxfam. A Special Vesting was called to give information regarding the County Council’s refusal to give planning permission for the Brickworks. Some hot air was dispersed with in regard to the County’s method of publication of the finding – it had embarrassed the local members of the R.D.C.
December The meeting opened with congratulations to Mr Linnell on his recent marriage. An estimate of £135 was accepted for the renewal of the flooring of The Institute, but painting and some improvements were postponed until the Council was in a better financial position.
January The District Valuer placed a value of £3,000 on Mr Hulbert’s land, so County Council and the Bucks Playing Fields Committee were asked if grants were available. The Brick Company had appealed against the County Council’s refusal of planning permission, and, as it was likely an Inquiry would be held, Dr Furber asked if local residents would be prepared to guarantee sums against the legal costs.
February The Council was invited to attend the official opening of Elm Grove.
March Recreation Ground; the Playing Fields Association was willing to consider a grant on certain conditions and the Bucks County Council to give up to 50 per cent of cost – so Mr Hulbert was asked (1) give the Council one year’s option to purchase, (2) allow advisers to inspect the land, and (3) be prepared to accept the District Valuer’s price, which is £500 per acre”. The Council was asked to assist the R.D.C. in its effort to raise £1,500 for the Churchill Memorial Fund. Could Woburn Sands raise £150? A house-to-house collection was arranged. At the Pariah Meeting it was decided to enter the Best Kept Village contest.
The Meeting confirmed the Council’s proposal to purchase Mr Hulbert’s land, as he had now agreed to sell at £3,000. The Planning Office had no objection, and the Playing Fields Association had offer a grant of up to 50 per cent.
At the Annual Council Meeting Mr Watkiss continued as chairman but the vice-chair was given to Mr Claude Phillips. Mr Speed resigned, owing to removal, and Mr Ernest Cant was co-opted. Parishioners were warned of possible water rationing in the Summer.
June It was reported the Ministry’s Inspector had held an Inquiry into the proposed Brickworks, but had not been able to complete the work in four days, so he would continue on June 24th. The Special Parish Meeting to consider the purchase of Mr Hulbert’s land, having heard the Chairman’s report and the amount of money required, agreed. There were only six parishioners there. Mr James Pursell, as secretary of the local Playing Fields Committee, complained that the Council should have asked their opinion and “this was agreed upon” somewhat late in the day.
September The Playing Fields Association asked for complete plans and estimates for work proposed to be done in the playing field extension, so the R.D.C. surveyor was asked to prepare these. Newport R.D.C. asked for comments on a proposed footway to connect the new Vicarage Street estate with Weathercock Lane, and this Council asked for further information. With regard to the Brickworks Inquiry, the Planning Committee were not in favour of another, though the Government was willing to meet part of the cost.
October A motor-cyclist had been thrown of his machine at the level crossing, and the B.R. Engineer said he would investigate. Complaints were made of the danger caused by traffic passing over the B.557 from the M.1. Woburn Sands Band was congratulated on its recent successes at the National Band Festival, and a grant of £25 was made towards their funds. Congratulations also went to the organisers of the first civic dinner and dance which had been held in September.
January Parking at the bottom of Church Road was giving rise to a lot of deliberation and correspondence, and so was the bus shelter owing to vandalism and broken windows. Planning permission for the extension of the Recreation Ground was delayed, and because he had no spare time, the Clerk resigned.
On the 31st. a Special Parish Meeting was called to consider the New Towns Act, 1965 and the proposed city of Milton Keynes. The Clerk of the R.D.C. and Frank Menday (County Council) attended, with some 50 parishioners. The proposed boundary on the East was criticised and the meeting asked for it to be on the track of the A.50, for reasons set out at length in the minutes.
An unusual paragraph slates the Council went into committee, and decided to protest to the Managing Director of a local newspaper with regard to a report which was considered a “misrepresentation of facts”. Unfortunately there is no hint of the subject. Altogether the New Year had a good start.
February The Council was still troubled about the widening of Bow Brickhill Road, and had heard from the South Midlands Representative of the Ministry of Transport, but of that there is no clarity. Apparently the Council wanted priority for work in this road and were not satisfied, so wrote to their M.P., who replied that he had taken up the matter with the Ministry.
There was a Special Meeting of the Council, in committee, to consider applications for clerkship and caretaker of The Institute. A new caretaker was appointed, but the clerkship raised more difficulty, as the only applicants lived some miles away, and after a personal interview these “were considered unsatisfactory”. A suggestion, that in order to reduce correspondence, the telephone be installed at the Clerk’s house; and that his salary be increased from £80 to £100, was put to the Clerk. In the following month he accented the terms, and continued in office.
March At the Annual Parish Meeting (one parishioner only) it was decided not to enter the Best Kept Village competition, owing to the untidy state of the village caused by pipe-paying and contractor’s work being carried on. A public inquiry was to held with regard to the speed limit on Newport Road and the Council, was asked to provide evidence, but in April it was announced the Minister had extended the speed limit to 40mph without Inquiry.
April The old question of a right of way out of Spring Grove arose again, after a lapse of some years, and no one seemed to know the answer. Hearsay evidence seemed to be preferred to legal fact. The County could (rightly) find no evidence that it was a public way, so the matter was dropped.
Notice was given of the re-opening of the Brickworks Inquiry on April 24. A public meeting was therefore arranged for April 21.
The Minister of Local Government wrote that he was proceeding with a draft designation order for the new town of Milton Keynes. The Council noted the Eastern boundary had been altered to follow the A. 50, as they had requested.
May At the Annual Meeting the Chairman and Vice-chairman continued in office. The Counter Surveyor sent a plan, approved by the Chief Constable, for a new scheme of restrictions “for the main part of Woburn Sands, which included some parts of Bedfordshire. The Council agreed it would solve some parking problems, but was disappointed it did not include one side of Station Road, and this was put forward; a car park was also asked for and that belonging to the Social Club was suggested, for day use only. This, however, County referred to R.D.C., the proper authority, so Newport was urged to provide a car park.
The Council heard that minor improvements would be carried out on Bow Brickhill Road during the coming year, but major work must wait until other major projects in the County had been completed.
June The Surveyors’ Allotment Trustees offered £50 towards the cost of painting the playground equipment; they also gave permission for access from the Recreation Ground to the ground to be acquired, to be made, but they thought this ground should have its own access from Station Road.
July The R.D.C. made various proposals with regard to the car park at the Institute, and the disposal of surface water. A tar-macadam finish and new drainage was estimated to cost £440, but if a retaining wall was also built, £800. Councillors thought the work too expensive for a private car park, and asked the R.D.C. to consider making this site into a public car park.
The Bucks Water Board gave notice that they would be laying a 30in. water main through the Recreation Ground, so the Council decided that maintenance work to the equipment should be postponed.
R.D.C. reported that it was negotiating with the Social Club for the site of a car park, but there was no question of compulsory purchase.
September The Chairman announced that new plans of the Recreation Ground extension were now ready for presentation to Ampthill Planning Authority. With regard to a playing field in Elm Grove, the R.D.C. had considered this in their scheme but had turned it down in favour of garage accommodation. Regarding the Recreation Ground “it was decided a long-term wayleave of access be asked for, from the Wavendon Surveyors’ Allotment Charity to remove problems regarding link access in future years before purchase arrangements were proceeded with, which was of concern to a number of Councillors”.
New sample drillings for fullers earth on Aspley Heath were reported. It was decided to request the services of the Woburn Sands Society to investigate the matter.
With regard to parking at the Station Road entrance of Theydon Avenue, the County Surveyor would not consider a restriction – it was a matter for the police. The Council did not agree and thought its opinion should carry more weight, as the road carried traffic comparable with the B.557.
Vandalism was causing grave concern – railway fences broken, Recreation Ground seats broken beyond repair, and the bus shelter windows and seats broken. An estimate of the cost of damage should be prepared and parishioners informed of the amount.
The County Council expected to take over the liability for street lighting during the next year, and asked for detailed information, within a month. They were referred to the Electricity Board as answers to the involved questions were not available, and “there was a limit to the duties of a part-time clerk”. However, at the next meeting the Clerk reported that he had obtained the necessary information which was sent to the County Council.
“A mammoth questionnaire” re allotments was received from the Minister of Land and Natural Resources, and the Council decided it had no information as it had not owned any allotments since 1945. (In fact it had never owned allotments).
November The Chairman announced that a Special Parish Meeting would be called shortly “to discuss with local shop traders who were concerned at the affect on their trade by the proposed new parking restrictions for the village” Suggestions for parking areas near the shops would be invited at the meeting, which would be attended by representatives of the R.D.C. No minutes of this meeting are recorded”! A return of ‘common land” was requested and the Council decided on a “Nil” answer.
December The R.D.C. had formed a committee to go into the question of car parking at Woburn Sands. Their recommendations would be discussed with the Parish Council and other interested bodies. Parking restrictions in Station Road were again discussed and, as the number of requests to the County Council had not received satisfactory attention, it was decided to write direct to the Ministry of Transport.
December Traffic conditions in Bow Brickhill Road continued to worry the Council, and the County was asked when improvements would be started.
The Parish Council supported the proposal to build a concrete road in the Recreation Ground for access to the pumping station. If required this could be used for a future extension to the new playing field.
January As the main road was no longer a trunk road the Ministry referred the Station Road parking to the County Council, so the Parish Council wrote to the Member of Parliament. In March Mr Maxwell said he had taken up the matter with the County Council, but without result. After expressing the likelihood of taking over our street lighting, and requiring so much detail, the County Council wrote that they would not be responsible, as the lighting was only “foot-way lighting”. The County Surveyor wrote that the widening of Bow Brickhill Road would start this month.
The B.R. water tower, which raised so much controversy in 1958, was no longer used, and the Council asked for its removal. In March B.R. said this had been ordered.
The Council christened the new estate roads – Blackthorn, Pine & Acacia Groves. In reply to the Council’s request, the Woburn Sands Society wrote that they had been in correspondence with St Albans Sand and Gravel Company which had no immediate intention of quarrying sand in the Aspley Heath Woods. The Society was prepared to give its advice on all matters relating to the Brickworks. The County Highways Committee turned down the application for parking restriction at the end of Theydon Avenue; the Council was dissatisfied and complained to the Clerk of the County Council.
Mr Phillips thought the waste land off Hardwick Road could be used (albeit temporarily) for a car park, but it badly needed cleaning up; so the members told him to get on with it(!) and in March he reported he had met the County Surveyor, that the area had been tidied up, and that car-parking there should be discouraged as the R.D.C. had provided parking space in Elm Grove – at a rental.
March At the Annual Pariah Meeting it was thought to be a waste of time of the judges, if we entered the Best Village competition owing to contractor’s work in progress. The Chairman reported progress, and questions were asked with regard to the street lighting but there is nothing of importance to record. These meetings become a farce when only three parishioners turn up to voice their grievances.
April The R.D.C. reported that “the Transport Minister had upheld the R.D.C. appeal against the decision of the Traffic Commissioners to grant a road traffic licence to the United Counties Omnibus Company which would in fact mean the closing of Woburn Sands Station and the whole of the Oxford – Cambridge branch line. It was suggested local residents should not relax their diligence in reporting complaints about existing bus services because it is open to any applicant in a changed situation to submit a fresh application. It was agreed the appreciation of the Parish Council by forwarded to Mr Dunbabin for his personal efforts regarding the matter”.
Before improvements on lighting were made, the Board asked the Parish to take over all equipment at present on rental for the sum of £190. The Council made no decision, but in May expressed their favour, but this concluding Minute Book does not show any payment.
As it was the last meeting before the Triennial Election “compliments were made to the Chairman, who said a lot had been done for the good of the community, and he was sure those efforts would continue”. The community had the opportunity of endorsing these remarks for at the following meeting in May, Mr Watkiss was put back in the chair, and Mr Parsons got the vice-chair, and there were new faces round the table. Old Councillors returned included Ernest Cant, Claude Phillips and Joseph Walker; and the four new members were Mrs Kenward Lewis, (a former S.R.N. and a member of the committee of the Woburn Sands Society) Frank Allcord (Prudential Assurance Co) Roger Fennemore (Solicitor), and Walter A.R. Denton (Elm Grove)
A new “Social” committee was formed and told to brighten up High Street for the Christmas period
Robert Maxwell wrote that the police now favoured the extension of waiting restrictions in Station Road, as far as The Weathercock, and the Council heard from County in June with revised plans, which were accepted.
The Bucks Water Board was asked to restore the Recreation Ground to its former condition, and it was decided to repair and improve the equipment. Speeding traffic in High Street caused the police to be asked to make periodical radar checks. Woburn Sands band was likely to lose the site of its Hut. The Council approved its removal to the Rec. subject to approval of Trustees and Town Planning.
May Local nurserymen were approached in an effort to improve the front of The Institute. It was thought landscape treatment there would increase their sales!
June The R.D.C. reported that the grass in the Recreation Ground would be cut in June, but no-one could be found to remove the hay “and in view of this some members of the Council agreed to carry out this duty”. Mrs Lewis wanted a pedestrian crossing at the entrance, but she got no support from the Chairman.
“It was reported that there appeared not to be a footpath being provided in the improvement scheme now in progress in Bow Brickhill Road. The Council was disturbed about this matter and decided further information be requested from the Divisional Surveyor”.
Mr Phillips complained of local apathy, and Councillors were urged to support all local functions. A record of members attendance at meetings was to be presented at the Annual Pariah Meeting, but at the next Council Meeting “long protest” was made and the minute was rescinded. Such a record is not uncommon practice; when I was clerk I always presented the members with a table of their attendances, without objection.
July Joseph Walker resigned, and in his stead Mr G. A. Wright was co-opted. The Divisional Surveyor thought there was no great necessity for a footpath on the improved part of Bow Brickhill Road, but it would be considered in the future. The Council did not agree. The Official Guide had now been published and the Council sanctioned sales of the book locally at 6d. a time, the proceeds to go to the Recreation Ground fund. Mr Phillips presented a detailed report on the Recreation Ground and its requirements, and Mr Fennemore did the same with regard to The Institute. Some of the work was approved by the Council, some was postponed. Mr Fennemore also reported for the Social Committee, which wanted a flower week, and a bandstand in the Recreation Ground but no civic dinner.
The bye-law with regard to dog fouling of highways came into effect. The Woburn Sands Society forwarded a complaint they had made to the County Council regarding the danger of cars parked in Hardwick Place. “The Parish Council gave little support or objection to the complaint”.
The Council had asked its old member, Mr John Wright, to advise them on improvements at The Institute. He thought a suspended ceiling would cost £500, but this would have little effect on the heating of the hall. Council decided such a major expense was not justified.
September The Council received from the Electricity Board an estimate of £1,161.2s.6d. for modernising the lighting in High Street and Station Road. It was referred back to the Lighting Committee for further consideration, but the decision cannot be stated here – it is not in the book. Mr Phillips asked what progress was being made with regard to the purchase of Mr Hulbert’s land to extend the Recreation Ground. It was decided to find out if planning permission had been given. It was also decided to purchase old railway seats which were being sold cheaply, but not to spend more than £10; and the Contractors were again asked to return the ground to its original condition.
AND, with the payment of accounts, the Minute Book ends its 545 pages of entries and my task of endeavouring to make some record of all that had been written there. Another book has just been completed, with less than ten years of minutes, but I do not regard its contents as ‘history’ and will leave it to some other hand to write its story in the years to come.
Arthur Parker, 1977.
Page last updated Jan. 2019.