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The Rushden Echo, 10th November, 1911, transcribed by Jim Hollis
Recreation Ground for Rushden
Urban Council’s Action - Special Committee Appointed
Purchase or Hire?
Play equipment Trees in the park
The playground and equipment - and some of the beautiful trees that were in the park - two postcards

At the meeting of the Rushden Urban District Council on Wednesday Mr. John Spencer proposed the following resolution:-

“That this Council, knowing the urgent necessity for a recreation ground for Rushden, do hereby take steps to procure a field or fields for that purpose either by hire or purchase.”

He said that at the formation of the Urban Council several candidates advocated a recreation ground but nothing definite was done. At the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee 14½ years ago a large and representative gathering passed a resolution asking that a recreation ground be provided for the town. Therefore, the question, an important one, had been long before the public, and he believed that now was the time to deal with it. About five months ago there was a town’s meeting and it was decided that

Rushden’s Greatest Need

was a recreation ground. But they had made one great mistake, and that was that they had been in favour of voluntary contributions rather than providing the recreation ground from the rates. He could never see why that matter should be treated different from other matters such as sewage, water, or road improvements. These could be done by the town and rates raised for that purpose, and why not a scheme whereby all the children of the town would benefit passed his imagination. There was no town in the county the size of Rushden without a recreation ground, and it was time they took a determined step to get one. He believed that question had priority over all other questions and he hoped they would pass the resolution. With regard to the question of a field he had been looking around the town with regard to sites, and he had come to the conclusion that

No Central Site

was available, and, if it was, the cost would spoil the scheme. The town was practically divided into two parts – east and west – and his suggestion was that both these parts of the town should be provided for – it looked as if a field should be provided somewhere between Queen-street and Newton-road on the east side; and anywhere between Wellingborough-road and Knuston would be suitable for that part of the town. On the desirableness of a recreation ground they were all agreed, and the second question as to the sites could be agreed to, and now they came to the question “Can we afford it?” Personally he believed the town was in a splendid position to provide a recreation ground. He was of opinion that the Council were well able to do this if they only had the determination they ought to have when dealing with a question of that kind.

The Financial Position

of the town had been greatly improved. During the past three years there had been an increase in the income from the rates of £300, and they as a town were well able to carry the burden, if burden they called it, of a recreation ground, and they could do it well without increasing the rates one half-penny. From a financial standpoint they were well able to carry it out. Mr. Spencer showed how the town’s revenue had increased from various sources, and said they were thus able to provide the ground without any rise in the rates. Continuing, he said he hoped the Council would seriously consider the resolution, and if they could not

Purchase A Ground

they would hire one.

Mr. C. Bates seconded the resolution, and said that he hoped the Council would carry the proposition unanimously, so that they could be as well off in that respect as other towns of the same size as their own.

Mr. F. Ballard supported Mr. Spencer’s proposition. He thought it was a crying shame that they had no proper recreation ground in Rushden for the children. He thought it was a necessity and he had very great pleasure in supporting the resolution. In the event of a recreation ground being provided he should like it to be a ground where the children could play and not an ornamental ground. (Applause)

The Ven. A. Kitchin said it was an acknowledged fact that some provision should be made for the children of the town. If they could provide a ground

Without Adding to the Rates,

he should be only too glad to see the provision made. He favoured hire rather than purchase. There were many reasons. In the first place it would be in the way of an experiment. He thought it would be a great mistake to lay out any large sum, but at the same time he thought there was a great deal in the suggestion that if the land was hired it could eventually be purchased if desired. While he should oppose the purchase of a recreation ground, if Mr. Spencer’s estimate was correct and it could be done without adding to the rates, but

Out of Increased Revenue,

he should be perfectly prepared to support the resolution.

Mr. Bazeley supported the resolution. He said that if they hired a field, when the time came to purchase they would find the purchase price considerably increased; and if they leased a field for a number of years at the end of that time the Council would be no nearer owning the property. It seemed to him that the purchase scheme was the best.

Mr. J. Claridge (chairman) said they had done their best to obtain a recreation ground by voluntary subscription, but it was no good. Therefore, if a recreation ground was to be provided he had no doubt that it would have to come out of the rates. He was rather inclined towards purchase, because he did not think if would cost them much more. Seeing that the town was very much spread about and they had to supply

The Children’s Needs,

he thought two grounds were necessary. He did not think they could satisfy the demands of the town with one site. He thought it was their duty to provide a recreation ground, but he did not think they ought to raise the rate above 5/0, which was high enough.

Mr. Spencer agreed to alter his resolution to the following terms:- “That in the opinion of this Council it is highly desirable that immediate steps be taken to provide a suitable recreation ground for Rushden and that a special committee be appointed to consider how best to carry such a desirable object into effect.”

Mr. G. Miller said he should like to congratulate Mr. Spencer for conceding the alteration.

The following were appointed the committee:- The chairman and Vice-chairman (Mr. Claridge and Mr. Miller), Mr. Bayes, and Mr. Knight, and two outside gentlemen, Mr. Geo. Selwood and Mr. J. S. Mason.

The Rushden Echo, 16th February, 1912

Recreation Ground For Rushden - An Excellent Scheme
Unanimously Decided Upon By The Rushden Urban Council

  At the meeting of the Rushden Urban Council on Wednesday the following report was received with regard to the proposed recreation ground:-

  A meeting of the Committee appointed by the Council to consider the provision of a Recreation Ground for Rushden was held at the Council Buildings on Wednesday, the 22nd November, 1911, when there were present:- Messrs. J. Claridge (Chairman), G. Miller, C. E. Bayes, F. Knight, J. Spencer, J. S. Mason, and G. Selwood.

  The Chairman welcomed Mr. Mason and Mr. Selwood as members of the Committee appointed outside the Council.

  The Chairman then explained that this Committee had been formed by the Council in pursuance of a resolution passed by that body on a motion by Mr. Spencer, such resolution being in the following form:-

  That “in the opinion of this Council it is highly desirable that immediate steps should be taken to provide a suitable Recreation Ground for Rushden and that a special Committee be appointed to carry such desirable object into effect.”

  The Chairman reported the efforts which had been made by the Committee appointed at the town’s meeting called to consider how the Coronation should be celebrated in Rushden.  Those efforts had not met with such support as to justify that Committee in arriving at a conclusion that it would be possible to provide a Recreation Ground by voluntary contributions, hence the resolution of the Council and the appointment of this Committee.

  The Chairman further reported that the following information had been obtained by that Committee:-

  (a)  That Mr. Clark was prepared to sell about ten acres of land at the rear of “Eastfields” at £120 per acre.

  (b) That Mr. Chettle was also prepared to sell about seven acres of land on the Rock Estate, including the Thursday Cricket Ground, for £130 per acre, and

  (c) Mr. Sartoris would favourably consider any offer made for his land on the Knuston-road at present occupied by the Allotment Association.

  The Committee expressed a decided opinion that before negotiating the purchase of any of these outlying lands efforts should be made to secure a ground in a more central position, and it was unanimously resolved that the Clerk be requested to communicate with the owners of the following properties asking if they would be inclined to enter into negotiations for the sale thereof to the Council.

  (1)  The Rectory field

  (2) Mr. Marriott’s field

  (3) Mr. C. E. Bayes’s field on the Washbrook-road.

  (4) A portion of the Spencer Park Estate off the Washbrook-road.

Second Meeting

  A further meeting of the Recreation Ground Committee was held at the Council Buildings on Wednesday the 24th January, 1912, when there were present:- Messrs. J. Claridge (chairman), G. Miller, F. Knight, J. Spencer, J. S. Mason, and G. Selwood.

  The Clerk reported that in accordance with the resolution passed at the last meeting he had communicated with the various owners concerned and had now received definite replies from them as follows:-

  (1)  With regard to the Rectory Field, the Rector replied that he had no power to sell any glebe land without the consent of the patrons of the benefice and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and that he had to consider, not only his own, but his successor’s interests in the benefice; and, speaking for himself, he felt that the provision of a recreation ground close to the Rectory garden would interfere with the privacy and comfort of those occupying the Rectory; for these reasons he did not feel able to enter into any negotiations with a few to selling the field to the Council.

  (2) With regard to Mr. Marriott’s field, Messrs. Cave Bros. offered this for a public Recreation Ground at the sum of £700 per acre.

  (3) Mr. Bayes also wrote stating that he was prepared to sell his field on the Washbrook-road for £550.

  (4) Mr. Sykes, on behalf of the owners of the Spencer Park Estate, offered about eight acres of land on the west side of Spencer-road, with two inlets from Washbrook-road, at £100 per acre.

  The Committee were of opinion that the site on the Spencer Park Estate was suitable for the purpose required and the price such as to justify them in recommending the Council to accept the offer of Messrs. Lilley, Skinner, and Sykes; and it was resolved to recommend the Council accordingly.

  The Clerk was instructed to inform Mr. Sykes that the Committee would recommend the Council to accept the offer, and also write to the other owners thanking them for the offers made.

  The Chairman (Mr. John Claridge), in rising to move the adoption of the committee’s recommendation, said: The question of a recreation ground has been before the Council and town a good many years.  Efforts have been made two or three times to obtain a recreation ground; the first time at the Diamond Jubilees of our late Queen Victoria.  Since then the question has more or less been before this Council.  At

The Coronation

of King George V, a committee was appointed to see if it was possible to raise the money by voluntary subscription, but people seemed to think it would be better if the money came out of the rates.  The committee have been fortunate in purchasing a site that must commend itself to everybody.  The committee have made detailed enquiries, and they do not think that they would be able to get a site more accessible to a large proportion of the public at such a price.  This may not be an ideal site, but it is central for a large number.  The land is rather low, but it is very good soil and land generally; and I think, under the circumstances, the Council had better accept the offer, and adopt the recommendation.  The Committee were unanimous in recommending the Council to purchase this site.  I move that the recommendation be adopted, for I am sure that this land will be

Beneficial To The People

of the town, and especially to the children.

  Mr. Ballard, in seconding, said he thought the committee had been very successful in getting the site.  There were other sites that might be more acceptable, but the money they would undoubtedly have had to pay put the sites beyond the reach of the Council.  He was of opinion that the recreation ground should be provided out of the rates; he did not believe in going round with the hat for an object of that sort.  In an industrial town like Rushden he did not think it was quite the thing to expect two or three gentlemen to give a ground; that was all right if a man had plenty of money and a piece of land he could spare.

  Mr. Spencer spoke of the splendid way in which the committee had taken up the work.  He thought there would be visitors to the ground from all parts of the town.

  Mr. Bazeley asked for how long they hoped to get the loan.

  The Clerk: Sixty years.

  Mr. Bazeley asked if the expense that would be incurred by making the ground attractive, etc., would come out of the loan.

  The Clerk said they hoped so.

  Mr. Bazeley continued to say that he did not think anyone who read the committee’s report could come to any other conclusion than that it was a wise recommendation.  He was pleased that some landowners were willing to make a reasonable offer for their land for such a purpose.  He was glad to think they were within a reasonable distance of having a recreation ground for the town.

  Mr. Swindall said he thought it would make a more imposing entrance to the field if the two plots of ground at each side were purchased.  But he should certainly support the recommendation of the committee.

  Mr. Bates also supported the recommendation.

  The Chairman said it was proposed to pay back about £50 a year, so that it would not be felt.

  The recommendation was carried unanimously.

  Mr. Knight moved that the Clerk be instructed to get into communication with Messrs. Lilley and Skinner and ask them if they would make an offer for the sale of the land (about 4½ acres) on the

Other Side of The Brook

if the Council desired to purchase, giving them the option to do so during the next five years. [Sidney Brook]

  Mr. Skinner seconded.

  Mr. Spencer supported, and this was also carried unanimously.

  Mr. Bazeley moved that the best thanks of the Council be given to the Recreation Ground Committee.  He considered that the committee had done the work well, and the least they could do was to tender the workers their best thanks.  Mr. Ballard seconded, and the motion was carried with applause.  The Chairman, in reply, said that the work had been a pleasure.

The Rushden Echo, 10th January 1913, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Recreation Ground at Rushden
Urban Council’s Complaints - Serious Damage by Youths

At the meeting of the Rushden Urban Council on Wednesday the Chairman (Mr. G. Miller) said: The Surveyor has had considerable trouble in executing drainage works at the new Recreation Ground because of damage by boys, who have practically taken possession of the ground before it is open to the public. I want it to go forth from this meeting that the Council take a very serious view of this matter, and that they cannot permit these boys to destroy trees and break tiles without some notice being taken of it. Watchmen have had to be put on to watch this ground. I want the Council to back us up, and if these delinquencies are brought before them I hope they will be firm and take action to put a stop to it once and for all. Unless this Council is firm at the commencement we shall be put to

Very Considerable Cost

It is not a question of mere children, but of youths from 11 to 16 years of age, who ought to know better. It is our duty as a Council, having provided this recreation ground for the use of the public, to see that it is not abused. We hope it will be a great boon to the town, but we do not want to be put to any additional expense in the way of damage to trees or hedges or any part of the ground. If the Press will kindly give publicity to the fact that prosecutions will follow in the case of wilful damage, it will help us.

Mr. Spencer said it had been decided to put up notice boards in the recreation ground warning against damage.

The Ven. A. Kitchin: The recreation ground has not yet been open to the public. Last Wednesday afternoon I heard the Council’s officials at work and there were a very considerable number of boys there, doing a certain amount of damage. It is very desirable that we should take notice of it. They should be told that they are


meantime and warned off.

Mr. Bazeley: I take it that they are not trespassers. I was pleased to see during the Christmas holidays so many of them enjoying themselves on the ground. So long as they do no damage, I say, let them play on the ground. We none of us would back up destruction. When the ground is in working order I do not think we shall have much reason to complain. It is a new thing, and the ground is not ready, and probably they are taking more liberties than they will do later on.

The Chairman: I was very careful to refer only to wilful damage. At present the ground is being drained and a great number of pipes have been broken. There would have been more broken only we put on men to watch.

The Ven. A. Kitchin (to Mr. Bazeley): Do you not think that the amusement of the

Youths of Rushden

is mainly damage?

Mr. Bazeley: I do not.

Mr. Spencer: I think there has been a great improvement in the conduct.

Mr. Claridge: It is very necessary that we should take a firm hand. We do not wish to be harsh or severe, but I do hope they will take greater care of the property than they have done in the past. We must guard the property and see that the conduct is worthy of the place. I am afraid it will be necessary at first to have someone there the greater part of the time to see that order is maintained and that no damage is done to the trees or other property.

The Chairman: To be forewarned is to be forearmed. If it is made known that the Council intend to keep this ground up to the best of their ability it may prevent a repetition of this damage.

Mr. Claridge: I suggest that notices be put up as soon as possible warning against damage, and that if they do damage they will be prosecuted.

The Council decided to have the notice boards put up forthwith.

A 1936 postcard

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