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TICKHILL  discover its past

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Tickhill Urban District Council 1919-39

A major preoccupation of the Council in the decade following war was the provision of new houses. The Housing Act (1919) provided subsidies for 3 years to local authorities to build houses for rent, the Housing Act (1923) gave subsidies to private builders to do likewise and 1924 legislation repeated the subsidies to local authorities. The resulting activity is evident in the Council’s minutes.

As early as July 1919 it was proposed to buy 2 fields, in the Wong Lane and Pinfold Lane area, where 50 houses would be built “immediately” and 110 eventually. A loan of £850 was sought for land purchase. It seems that landowners were cooperative, including the Duchy and Lord Scarbrough. The first houses constructed would seem to have been 4 pairs of workmen’s dwellings in Westgate, where the contract was for £1615 for each pair. A list of potential tenants in priority order was asked to choose which house they would like. The first section of the Pinfold Lane development (36 houses) was approved in 1921.

Other sites came forward in Doncaster Road, Rawson Road and Northgate with the Council approving the subsidy of £75 per house in accordance with the 1923 Act. In 1925 a loan of £20,000 was applied for to build 40 houses at a cost of £450 each while the land cost £700. 26 houses on a piece of land in Northgate purchased from a Mr Ling were to cost £450 each.  Later in 1925 approval was given for 24 houses in Doncaster Road where the builder offered to fit electric light which would raise the cost per house from £400 to £404.

House building continued along Doncaster Road, with a short block also in Common Lane in 1930. Throughout this period there were many references to ‘privy conversions’, as grants were made for the installation of ‘automatic flushing’. The 1930 Housing Act encouraged local authorities to identify potential areas for slum clearance; 56 properties were considered in Tickhill in 1933 and all but two included in ‘improvement areas’ with the aim of avoiding demolition if possible. Meanwhile 10 new houses were to be built to cope with overcrowding. However, the Medical Officer considered most of these properties unfit for human habitation, clearance areas were proposed and hearings were held in November and December 1934 with owners given the chance to make their case. Most were subsequently subject to orders for demolition. This necessitated a search for more land. Of 4 possible sites, the Wong field was selected and a layout of potentially 64 houses planned; as ultimately built, the new street was called ‘King Edward Road’. In 1938 the Council also built 4 pairs of bungalows for OAPs on land facing the Council’s Wong Lane site.

In May 1922 the West Riding County Council asked for suggestions for cuts in expenditure. They received a full response from Tickhill. These are extracts which convey the sentiment expressed:

“teachers’ salaries are much too high and should be cut down considerably”

“wages should be greatly reduced and brought to a similar level to those paid by the Council” i.e. foremen and labourers

“far too many men are employed on the main roads for the work …… practically half their time is spent looking for something to do”

“the expense of a doctor visiting the schools is quite unnecessary (this does not apply to dentistry)”

The provision of water supply continued to cause controversy until it was suggested that Tickhill UDC and Doncaster RDC form a joint board (the Doncaster and Tickhill Joint Water Board, established 1924) to tap into the Doncaster Corporation system. There was activity in the upgrading of other utilities also, with electric street lighting in 1925 and many applications for electric cabling across the parish as both Firbeck and Harworth Collieries were opened in this decade.

Public services developed during this period. The first telephone kiosk was offered by the Post Office in 1927 but there was a dispute over its siting. The Post Office won, because there would otherwise have been a cost to the Council, and the kiosk was placed near the wall between St.Leonards and the Old Vicarage. By 1929 there were 6 letter boxes in the parish, 4 in the central area and one each at Hesley Hall and the Spital.

The provision of playing fields was considered in 1927 when the Institute offered to sell 2 fields for £300 but would not reduce the price. The Council looked elsewhere with a possible Duchy site to the rear of the Mixed Schools (costing £1000) providing a site for a cemetery also. It would seem that both were eventually taken as the playing field was bought from the Institute in 1935 for £225.

There are regular references in the Council’s minutes to the extension of street lighting, to drains and sewerage, to ‘scavenging’ (i.e. clearance of rubbish and sites for tipping it) and water supply.  A loan of £9148 was obtained for sewerage and a new sewage disposal works, opened in November 1931 on land purchased from Mr Harris. The Medical Officer continued to provide detailed reports, with periods of closure of the schools, e.g. for diphtheria in 1928, a continuing issue.

The Council’s continued responsibility for local roads made demands on its purse. In 1927 there were discussions with the County Surveyor about white lines and danger signs at road junctions and in 1932 the AA was asked to erect two ‘School’ signs in St.Mary’s Road, but the Council did not think it necessary to provide barriers to stop children from running into the road.

In May 1927 the SYJLC announced the removal of the passenger train service, ‘traffic formerly conveyed being very light’. Having refused to reinstate it under Council pressure in July 1927, the service finally ended two years later. On this occasion the Council asked for a parcel van to be attached to a goods train so as to provide a collection service; this the company agreed to do.

The first official town guide (serving Bawtry and Tickhill) was published in 1928 by Burrows & Co. Ltd.; the Council had no objection provided there was no cost to them.

In 1933 National Rat Week was participated in when the Surveyor was authorised to purchase a supply of ‘Liverpool Virus’.

The death of King George V led the Council to send loyal messages to Queen Mary and to the new King Edward VIII in January 1936. On 24 November in the same year a committee was set up to arrange celebrations for the forthcoming coronation. At the next meeting (22 December), the Chairman referred to “the recent crisis through which the country had passed” ( a delightful euphemism) and congratulations were sent to King George VI.  They rejected the suggestion that a bus shelter might be a commemoration of the coronation and voted instead for seats.

The shadow of warfare hung over Council proceedings in 1937 and 1938, with the discussion of air raid precautions, and a meeting when instruction was given by an ARP Officer about the digging of trenches and by the Medical Officer about first aid “in view of the serious international situation”. A home defence exercise affected the whole country from Humber to Thames in August 1938.

One portent for the future, postponed for two decades by the outbreak of war, was an inquiry at the Mansion House, Doncaster, in July 1938 into a proposal for a Doncaster by-pass. The Ministry of Transport engineer stated that the “amenities of the countryside and particularly the lime tree avenue would be preserved as far as possible”.

The Council in the Second World War 1939-1945

The Second World War had much more impact on the work of the Council than the Great War. Road and footpath repairs, playing fields, debates over the rates, approval for overhead electric wires, street lighting, drainage and the like continue to be dealt with but nothing ambitious was attempted.

The war itself provided regular issues to consider. Even before its outbreak, it had been agreed that the Library should be used as a first aid post and temporary fittings authorised, while expenditure was approved to purchase additional fire precaution equipment. An Emergency Committee had been appointed to act on the Council’s behalf in civil defence matters when the Lord Privy seal directed emergency machinery to be put in motion.

 By the end of 1939, a Food Control Committee, Local Fuel Overseer and Advisory Committee, and a National Saving Committee were all established. The National Savings Committee reported regularly as in August 1940 when the average weekly sale of sixpenny stamps was 595 and £1975 worth of Certificates had so far been purchased.

Shelters were constructed, initially to accommodate about 50 people, later 100. Council tenants were advised to have buckets of sand to hand in case of fire.  In 1941 a Salvage Committee took recycling seriously with talks in local schools and the use of a loud speaker van; 874 jam jars and 280 bottles were collected by the ‘youth movement’.

Dig for Victory came into prominence in 1942; many references follow to allotments and growing food in gardens. An invasion exercise in July involved the use of tear gas. The following year a long weekend of Holidays at Home at the beginning of August included a cricket match, a dance and children’s sports. Battle of Britain Sunday was inaugurated in September 1943 and Salute the Soldier week in 1944.

There were interesting discussions from 1942 onwards about post-war reconstruction, inaugurated at a high level. Tickhill Council complained at the “piecemeal infiltration by Government departments into the sphere of local government”.

The end of the war received little attention in the official minutes of the Council. In February 1946 they noted that June 8 would be the national public holiday to celebrate victory. They resolved not to agree any lettings for the Library that day as it might be needed for any celebrations the Council might arrange. What they were is not recorded but the July meeting granted £1 to the Library caretaker for extra work done and conveyed thanks to the British Legion, the headmaster, teachers and scholars of the school and various volunteers for all they had done to make the celebrations a success.

In September 1946, in response to a request from the British Legion, the Council suggested that the names of the fallen should be added to the existing war memorial in the churchyard.

John Hoare - 2104