Huddersfield Chronicle (21/Dec/1867) - Proposed Municipal Corporation: Court of Inquiry
PROPOSED MUNICIPAL INCORPORATION.
COURT OF ENQUIRY.
The promoters of, and others interested in, the proposed Municipal Incorporation of the township of Huddersfield, and of the several townships or places of Almondbury, Lockwood, Lindley-cum-Quarmby, and Dalton, and a portion of the township of South Crosland, have virtually brought their labours to a close; but whether the object in view be accomplished will only be revealed in the final decree which, of course, will emanate from the Privy Council.
In pursuance of the provisions of the Act of Parliament passed in the fifth and sixth years of the reign of his late Majesty, King William IV., cap. 76, entitled, "An Act to provide for the regulation of Municipal Corporations in England and Wales," and of other Acts of Parliament passed for the regulation of Municipal Corporations, and of a Petition of Inhabitant Householders of the township of Huddersfield, and of the several townships or places of Almondbury, Lockwood, Lindley-cum-Quarmby, and Dalton, and portion of South Crosland, in the West Riding of the county of York, addressed to the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty in Council, praying for a Charter of Incorporation, Captain Donnelly C.E., the Commissioner appointed by the Lords of her Majesty’s privy Council, opened a Court of Enquiry in the Assembly-room of the George Hotel, proceeded to take the evidence and statements of persons interested in the subject of the inquiry. There was a numerous attendance of spectators, comprising Improvement Commissioners, influential ratepayers in the town, members of local boards, and others; and the enquiry was conducted by the learned commissioner with the strictest impartiality.
Mr. J. Batley (Messrs. Brook, Freeman, and Batley) clerk to the Improvement Commissioners, with Mr. C. Walker, Dewsbury, supported the case for the petitioners in favour of the charter.
Mr. Shaw, barrister (instructed by Mr. Henry Brown, Wakefield), appeared on behalf of the Local Board, certain landowners, and certain inhabitants of Bradley.
Mr. E. L. Heap (Messrs. Hesp, Fenton, and Owen) said he appeared for Sir John William Ramsden, not with the view to oppose, but to ask that certain clauses affecting Sir John’s rights might be included in the charter. He would then, or at any future period of the enquiry, explain the wishes of Sir John Ramsden.
Mr. D. Midgley, an inhabitant, and member of the Local Board, said he was from Almondbury, and represented certain ratepayers and householders.
The Commissioner opened the court by reading his instructions, which stated that he would be requested to report on the number of householders signing the petitions, and the amount of the several assessments; the state of the local board of the township of Huddersfield, the expense now attending it, and the probable increase or diminution of such expense as might be expected from the establishment of a municipal government; and, lastly, with regard to the mode of defining the limits of the jurisdiction of the corporate body, and of dividing the said limits into wards.
Mr. J. Batley, the promoters’ solicitor, then stated the case for the petitioners favourable to the charter. It was an elaborate and interesting statement, and, as the evidence given afterwards was for the most part a corroboration of its contents, we give it at length. It was as follows:—
The promoters of this petition, to whom has been committed the duty of carrying out the objects and wishes of the petitioners, consist of a general committee of gentlemen appointed from the various districts proposed to be incorporated. This committee is constituted as follows, viz:— Eight gentlemen selected from the general body of ratepayers of Huddersfield, and appointed at the public meeting, held on the twenty-ninth day of May; nine Huddersfield Improvement Commissioners, specially appointed to represent that body on the committee of promoters; two members of the Lockwood Local Board, delegated as above; two members of the Lindley Local Board, two members of the Moldgreen Local Board, two members of the Fartown Board of Surveyors, one member of the Almondbury Local Board, one member of the Deighton Local Board, two members of the Marsh Local Board; 29 members in all. The last two have been added recently on the withdrawal of the Marsh petition against the bill.
Of the districts proposed to be incorporated the town of Huddersfield is the most populous and important, and must be taken as the centre to which the other districts gravitate. The following statement shows the comparative rateable value, viz:—
|Huddersfield, within Improvement Boundary||24,100||£100,108|
|Almondbury, including Newsome||4,500||£7,750|
Huddersfield is a town of very considerable antiquity.
It is mentioned in the Domesday Book under the name of Oderesfelt, after Oder, Hoder, Hudder or Huddart (for in all these ways the name was spelt in the different northern dialects) who was the first Saxon planter of the place.
It stands on a rising piece of ground to the north and west of the river Colne, from its junction with the river Holme, The Colne and Holme are tributaries of the Calder, joining that river at Cooper Bridge, which is the extreme northern boundary of Huddersfield. The situation of the town is on a rising ground from the river, admits of its being conveniently and effectively drained.
The Castle Hill of Almondbury, which rises near the town, to an elevation of some 900 feet above the sea level, was in ancient times crowned with a Saxon fortress or camp, of which the earthwork remains still afford some traces.
The parish appears to have been separated from Dewsbury, and the Parish Church, erected and endowed under the influence of one of the members of the ancient and distinguished family of the Lacies, to whose piety and munificence this neighbourhood is indebted for the foundation of most of its parish churches.
The ancient records show grants of lands and heredits in Huddersfield, from the Lacy family, so early as the year 1200, and a rent-charge of four marks "out of the mills," granted about that period, shows the establishment, even at that remote period, of industrial pursuits in the locality.
In the 9th year of Edward II., Thomas, Earl of Lancaster was "Lord of Huddersfield." The Lordship appears, however, to have lapsed to the Crown, and to have been re-granted, for in the year 1333 Sir Richard de Burton appears in ancient records as the owner, and made a grant of the Manor or Lordship over to his son.
The intermediate passage of this manor or lordship for the next two centuries I have not traced. Probably it remained in the Burton family till their extinction in heirs female. But in the 16th Elizabeth (1574) the manor appears to have passed to Sir Gilbert Gerrard or Gerald, who became attorney-general, and from whom the manor passed again to the Crown in exchange for other lands.
In the 41st year of Queen Elizabeth (1599) the manor was granted by the Crown to an ancestor of the present owner by the description of "our faithful subject, William Ramsden, of Longley, in the county of York, Esq." The grant includes the capital messuage or tenement called Bay Hall, and other messuages thereto belonging; and it is interesting to note in the names of the tenantry recorded in this charter of nearly 300 years ago, some which are still remembered or existing in the town, such as Brooke, Hurst, Hewe, Batley, Hesslegreave, Clay. This grant also includes mills, and as an indication of the growing importance of the town even at that distant period as a centre of population and business, it may be observed that this charter of Queen Elizabeth includes also in its terms a court leet and the privilege of holding fairs and markets.
This grant of market was renewed and extended in the year 1672 by another grant from King Charles II., the terms of which show very distinctly the development and growth of Huddersfield into a town of considerable importance.
The charter recites that by an inquisition taken by the Royal command at Huddersfield, by twelve honest and lawful men of the county, it was found that it would not be to the prejudice of the crown, or of others, if the grant of a market were made. And then follows the grant to John Ramsden, Esq., to have and hold a market at the town of Huddersfield, on every Tuesday, for the buying and selling of all manner of cattle, goods, and merchandise.
The peculiar ad vantages which Huddersfield enjoys from its situation at the confluence of the rivers Holme and Colne, streams admirably adapted for the development of manufacturing industry, and close to a supply of coal, led to the town eventually taking a position as one of the chief seats of the woollen manufacture. In 1743 we find it had increased so as to require the construction of waterworks for its domestic supply, and waterworks were then established by the Ramsden family for supplying the town with water from the River Colne. These being found incapable of furnishing an adequate supply from the waters of the Colne being used in manufactures, and fouled by the refuse arising therefrom, an entirely fresh supply was obtained by other waterworks made by the inhabitants in 1827, under the authority of an Act of Parliament, which works are the basis of the present supply, and it ought to be stated, in justice to the parties contributing to the erection of those works, that it was one of the conditions of their association, that the interest on their subscriptions should in no case exceed five per cent, and that when the income from the water rents exceeded that rate and expenses, the water rents were to be reduced. In the year a further Waterworks Act was obtained, extending the works made in 1827, and under these Acts the present water supply of the town is now administered.
The water is collected from springs situate in the neighbouring township of Longwood, in the parish of Huddersfield, is impounded in large reservoirs and conducted in large iron pipes for the distance of between two and three miles to the store reservoirs, in or near the town, and thence is distributed to the houses of the inhabitants.
Although exceedingly pure and wholesome in quality, this water supply has at length, owing to the rapid growth of the town, been found inadequate in quantity to the requirements of the inhabitants, as will be more especially adverted to hereafter.
In the development of the woollen trade of the locality, the accommodation for the manufacturers who resorted to the town from all parts of the surrounding district with their cloths for sale was, in course of time, found to be very inadequate, and in 1765 a Cloth Hall was erected by Sir John Ramsden. This was, ere long, found inadequate also, and it was enlarged by his son and successor in 1780, and has been again recently enlarged by the present owner. This hall is two stories in height, incloses a circular area of 880 yards in circumference, divided into tour quarter circles, by a range of one story building, forming two diameters across it, the whole being divided into streets or alleys of shops or stalls, for the sale of cloths. The number of manufacturers, however, who now resort to the market, are far more than this hall will accommodate, and the neighbouring streets are crowded with the shops and small warehouses occupied by country manufacturers, in addition to those in the hall.
The growth of manufacturing industry in the locality led, in course of time, to the establishment of further facilities for its development, by means of improved commumcations with the great highways of traffic which then existed in the form of inland navigation, canals and rivers. About the year 1785 the Ramsden Canal was constructed by the late Sir John Ramsden, from the town to the
Calder Navigation at Cooper Bridge: and in 1794 an Act of Parliament was obtained for a still more important enterprise, namely, the construction of a canal from the Ramsden Canal at Huddersfield, to Ashton-under-Lyne, where it joined the system of canals communicating with Manchester and Liverpool. This was a remarkable enterprise for the period, as it comprised the piercing of the extensive range of the Saddleworth hills; and although in these days of vast engineering railway works, a few (though but a few) tunnels are larger and longer, yet it bespeaks no small degree of local enterprise and public spirit, that before the present century commenced a tunnel was projected, and in due course completed, extending 5,450 yards in length, and being in some parts 220 yards below the surface, and for a considerable length through solid rock.
The increase of business and growth -of population brought with them the usual establishments for the administration of justice, and for religious worship and educational culture and charity. The progress of the town may indeed to some extent be traced and measured by the successive rise of these institutions.
Thus we find at the beginning of the century two courts for the recovery of small debts.
In 1814 the restoration of peace was celebrated at Huddersfield by the establishment of a public dispensary where the afflicted poor could have relief without cost.
The general peace of 1815 was attended with great benefits to Huddersfield and the neighbourhood in the fuller development and extension of the manufacture of fancy woollen and other cloths instead of the plain cloths which had previously been the staple manufacture. Many foreigners of great business ability settled in Huddersfield, and by means of their connections abroad, gave to this peculiar branch of trade a stimulus which has caused Huddersfield to become and continue to be one of the principal, if not the principal, seat of that peculiar manufacture.
Up to the year 1817 the Parish Church at Huddersfield was the only church for the district. In or about that year the late Benjamin Haigh Allen, Esq., erected Trinity Church at the west end of the town, at a cost of about £12,000.
In the year 1818 a savings’ bank was established which was found a great blessing to the industrious poor, and has done and continues to do a large amount of business.
About the year 1819 the Queen-street Chapel was erected by the Wesleyan Methodists at a cost of about £10,000; it was the largest and handsomest chapel in that wealthy and influential connexion, and even now it is exceeded by very few.
In or about the same year the first National Schools were erected at Huddersfield, at a place called Seed Hill, in a style that does great credit to the town; they are large, lofty, and well adapted for their object.
In 1820 an Act of Parliament was obtained for the lighting and watching of the town, and in the following year gas works were established by a private company composed of the leading inhabitants, and in 1822 Huddersfield was for the first time lighted with gas.
The gas works when first erected were only on a small scale, occupying a site of 843 square yards of land, and the entire capital for constructing the works was £3,400. The consumption of gas, however, gradually increased, so that in 1836 an additional quantity of land (2,355 yards) was taken and the works were greatly enlarged. In 1853 another piece of land (7,965 square yards in extent) was taken, and new works were erected, on a greatly enlarged scale, under the direction of an eminent gas engineer. In 1861 an Act of Parliament was obtained, whereby the company was incorporated and its capital fixed at £63,000.
In 1822, when the gas works were established, the yearly production of gas was but small; in 1849 the yearly production had risen to 33,000,000 cubic feet, and in 1866 it amounted to the large quantity of 140,000,000 cubic feet.
When the gas works were first erected their operations were confined to the town of Huddersfield alone, now they light, not only the town, but a large portion of the township of Huddersfield, (which is a very extensive area) their mains extend to Whitacre Mill in the direction of Bradley, also into the neighbouring township of Lindley and to a large part of the township of Lockwood.
Before the commencement of the present century, Huddersfield had risen into sufficient importance as a commercial town to call for the establishment of banking institutions.
There were established the banks of Perfect, Seaton, Brook, and Co., whose notes of dates about 1779 are still preserved. This bank was afterwards conducted as Seaton, Brook, and Co., and by Mr. Joseph Brook alone, as appears by his bank notes dated in 1797 and still extant.
There was also the bank of Messrs. Silvester Sikes and Co., whose notes dated from 1790 to 1800 still exist, and which bank was afterwards continued as Messrs. Hurst and Sikes, and then by Mr. Shakespeare G. Sikes, whose two sons at this day retain high official positions in two of the leading public banks of the town.
The banking establishments of Messrs. B. and J. Ingham, and of Messrs. John Dobson and Sons also date from last century, and in the early years of the present century came the banks conducted by Messrs. I. W. and H. Rauson and Co., and Messrs. B. Wilson, Sons, and Co.
These were all private banks, and with comparatively limited capital; and in the panics and vicissitudes of trade which occurred in the early years of the century, failures took place which produced great depression in the manufacturing and commercial interests of the locality. In 1808 one failure took place, and of an important bank too, and in 1816 three other bank failures took place.
This led to the opening of branch establishments of banks located in the adjoining towns of Halifax, Wakefield, &c., but these branch banks were at first only opened on market days. In December, 1825, a great monetary panic occurred, when the two local banks which had withstood the shock of 1816, and the Saddleworth and Wakefield banks attending at Huddersfield all failed, leaving only two banks, those of Halifax and Mirfield, both then recently established, at Huddersfield to provide and conduct the monetary operations of the entire district.
In the year 1826 the Act of Parliament was passed which empowered banking partnerships to consist of more than six persons, and in the year following the Huddersfield Joint-Stock Banking Company was established (being the second banking company established under that Act, the Joint-Stock Bank at Lancaster being the first). The establishment of the Huddersfield Banking Company has been a great success both to the shareholders and to the district. The advantages of joint-stock banking associations were so much appreciated, that the bank of Messrs. Rawson and Co., which was a branch from their Halifax bank, has been converted into a joint-stock bank, under the name of the Halifax and Huddersfield Union Banking Company, and the bank of Messrs. Rawson and Co. was also converted into a joint-stock bank, under the name first of the Mirfield and Huddersfield District Banking Co., and afterwards, on its being amalgamated with another bank, under the name of the West Riding Union Banking Company.
Besides these joint-stock banks, Huddersfield has now also a branch of the Yorkshire Banking Company and a branch of the Midland Banking Company (Limited) established in the town, making in all five public banking establishments at the present time.
Between the years 1825 and 1832 many important buildings were erected, and improvements made in Huddersfield and its immediate neighbourhood, for instance, about the year 1826 John Whitacre, Esq., of Woodhouse (the brother-indaw of Mr. Benjamin H. Allen above mentioned), erected Woodhouse Church, parsonage, and schools, at a cost of about £12,000. The Independents or Dissenters erected at about the same time a chapel or meeting-house in Ramsden Street at a cost of about £6,000, and about 1830 the Church of St. Paul’s, in Huddersfield, near to Ramsden Street Chapel, was built out of the monies provided by an Act of Parliament for building churches called "The Million Act." The Church of All Saints’, at Paddock, of Emmanuel’s, at Lockwood, of St. Stephen’s, at Lindley, and also a church at Golcar and another at Linthwaite, all within three miles of the town of Huddersfield, were built from the funds of the Million Act, thereby showing how important and improving the town and district were considered to be by the parties who had the control of that fund. About the same time the Roman Catholic Church of St. Patrick’s, New North-road, Huddersfield, was built by voluntary subscription, to which many of the merchants of Huddersfield were large contributors. The town had at that time increased so much, and contained so many of the Irish Catholics who had settled at Huddersfield as workmen and labourers, that it was considered a necessity for them to be supplied with a commodious and creditable place of worship.
Whilst Ramsden Street Chapel was in course of erection, a fearful accident occurred from the breaking of a lofty scaffolding on which the men were at work, and they were precipitated to the bottom, a depth of about 30 feet Some were killed, many were maimed and wounded, and it was at the time a matter of general regret that there was no place to which the sufferers could be taken and attended by the most eminent and skilful of the faculty. Advantage was taken of that feeling by Mr. Samuel Clay, a retired tradesman, and by his indefatigable exertions a large and liberal subscription was raised for the building of an infirmary, and the result was that the present noble building was erected.
The Infirmary is supported by voluntary subscriptions, and by the donations and endowments of the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood; some of such donations amounting to the handsome sums of £1,000 and £2,000 each.
The Parish Church having, from the lapse of ages since its erection, become thoroughly dilapidated and unsafe, arrangements were made about 1833 for taking it down and erecting, by voluntary subscription, a new church in its place. This was done at a cost of about £13,000, and in the month of October, 1836, the present church was finished and opened for public worship.
The want of a public school for the education of the sons of middle class tradesmen and others, led to the erection, in the years 1838 and 1839, of the Huddersfield College and the Collegiate School, which are among the leading educational establishments of the Riding.
About the year 1840 the Infant and Sunday School, in Northgate, in connection with the Church of England, was erected by subscription at a cost of about £2.000. This school, and also the school at Seed Hill, above mentioned, are supported by voluntary subscription.
The old Wesleyan Chapel, at Chapel Hill, built in the time of John Wesley, having become dilapidated, the members of the Wesleyan Methodists, about 1848, took it down, and erected in its place the present noble structure at a cost of several thousand pounds.
The chapel at Highfield, a very plain and unornamented building, erected in the time of the Rev. Henry Venn (more than a century ago) having become insufficient for the accommodation of its worshippers — the Independents or Dissenters, they about the same time (1848) took down the old building, and erected in its place the'present noble looking chapel.
The Methodists of the New Connexion (who seceded from the Wesleyan Methodists about sixty years since) erected about 1816 a convenient chapel in High-street, Huddersfield, which having from their increase of numbers become too small for their accommodation, they have within the last two years taken it down, and erected on its site and adjoining land their present chapel, which is a noble gothic structure, and forms one of the most ornamental architectural structures of the town.
Each and all of the above bodies — Wesleyan Methodists, Independents, and New Connexion Methodists have in connexion with their chapels large and convenient schools erected at a cost which, within living memory, would have been considered more than, sufficient to build the chapel.
The Primitive Methodists and the Baptist Dissenters have also each of them a chapel within the town of Huddersfield.
Within the last few yean Josh. Sykes, Esq., of Marsh House, near Huddersfield, has erected at his own expense, in Fitzwilliam Street, in Huddersfield, a Ragged School.
Nothing is more important or essential to the life and development of commercial industry than due facilities of communication to other towns or markets. In this respect Huddersfield has kept pace with the other towns of the district. In the year 1847 railway communications were established in various directions, converging at the large and imposing looking building which is the present station. It was at first thought to be much too large, but from the rapid growth of the town in commercial importance and activity, its accommodation is now found to be much too limited. Above 300 trains per day are now dispatched from it; and it has been a growing feeling in the town that the present service is fraught with danger and inconvenience, and that largely extended station premises are necessary for the protection of life and for the public requirements of traffic. Pressing representations have been addressed by the authorities of the town to the railway companies upon this subject, which, it is believed, will shortly be attended with success; for at the present time application is being made by the two leading companies, for powers to acquire additional lands for works. Meanwhile, up the neighbouring valleys, branch lines of railway communication have been extended to Holmfirth, Meltham, and Kirkburton, all converging to Huddersfield as the chief market of the district, and thus adding to its progress and importance.
It must not be supposed that during the period of its growth and progress up to the present petition, Huddersfield has been indifferent to the advantage of municipal incorporation. On the contrary, a strong feeling in favour of it has from time to time arisen. In the years 1841 and 1842, whilst the town’s affairs were administered by the Commissioners under the Lighting and Watching Act of 1820, a movement was made for obtaining a charter of incorporation. A petition was prepared and very numerously signed, and was presented to the Privy Council, and supported by the attendance of a deputation before them. Unfortunately, however, a change of government occurred at the very crisis of the proceedings, and the application was unsuccessful. This petition was supported by Earl Fitzwilliam and Earl Zetland, the trustees of Sir John Ramsden, the Lord of the Manor and chief landlord of the district, who was then a minor, and their letters approving of the incorporation are still preserved, and will be further referred to by Mr. Clough, who then acted as solicitor for the promoters of the petition.
The failure of this attempt to obtain a charter of incorporation was of course very discouraging to the inhabitants. They continued to feel much dissatisfaction with the imperfect and inadequate system of local government under the old Lighting and Watching Act. This feeling increased until at length the inhabitants determined to apply for a Local Improvement Act of Parliament. Even on this occasion, however, a considerable portion of the inhabitants were in favour of renewing the application for a charter rather than for the act; and at a public meeting of ratepayers, a resolution was carried pronouncing in favour of a corporation, and negativing the proceedings for the Improvement Act, which led to those proceedings being suspended for a year. In the following year, however, the promoters renewed their application to Parliament, and this time they were successful, and obtained the Huddersfield Improvement Act, which received the Royal Assent on the 14th August, 1848.
This Act incorporates the provisions of the Towns’ Improvement Clauses Act, 1847, the Commissioners’ Clauses Act, 1847, and the Town Police Clauses Act, 1847, and contains other useful powers and provisions having special local bearing on the good management and progress of the town. Under it the Board of Improvement Commissioners was constituted which still forms the governing body of the town for lighting, police, sewerage and other departments of the local administration.
The Board consists of 21 members, of whom Sir John Ramsden, the Lord of the Manor has the right, under special provision in the Act, to appoint three. This right, however, he has generously waived and abandoned in favour of the present petitioners, and in deference to the general wish of the inhabitants for municipal incorporation. The other 18 commissioners are elected by the ratepayers annually, six going out each year by rotation, and the mode of election and qualifications of electors and Commissioners are those prescribed by the Commissioners Clauses’ Act and the Towns’ Improvement Clauses Act. The Commissioners must have either a £30 rating, or be possessed of £1,000 personalty, and the electors are all male persons rated to the general improvement rates. The system has the appearance, at first sight, of a very wide and liberal basis of franchise for municipal government. But in turning to the 181st section of the Towns’ Improvement Act, which is incorporated in the Local Act, we find that the owners of all rateable property, of which the full nett annual value does not exceed £10, or which are let to monthly or weekly tenants or apartments, are to be rated to the rates instead of the occupiers thereof. This enactment excludes, in the first instance, all occupiers under £10, and since the Parliamentary Franchise is now extended to all householders it is strongly at variance with the declared policy of the legislature. It is true that by the 184th section of the Towns’ Improvement Clauses Act, 1847, occupiers under £10, being yearly tenants, may claim to be assessed and to pay the rates thereof, and are to be assessed, so long as they duly pay such rates. But this has been acted on and will naturally continue to be so, to a very limited extent only, owing to the trouble and expense involved in it, a formal written and signed claim is requisite, proof of yearly tenancy, satisfactory to the Commissioners, must be given, and the payment of rates frequently involves a disturbance of existing terms of holding. These causes operate to prevent all occupiers under £10, with but few exceptions, from becoming qualified as electors.
Then again, the rating qualification is cumulative according to the scale prescribed by the Commissioners’ Clauses Act, viz.:— Under £50 rating, one vote; above £50 and under £100, two; above £100 and under £150, three; above £150 and under £200, four; above £200 and under £250, five; above £250 per annum, six.
The area constituting the district under the jurisdiction of the Improvement Act is very limited as compared with the town or township. It is only that portion of the township which is within a radius of 1,200 yards from the centre of the Market-place. This district is, however, the most densely populated part of the township, its population is 24,100 and rateable value £100,108, being about one half of the rateable value of the entire area sought to be incorporated. There is, however, in the Local Act a provision for increasing the limits of that Act. No extension of limits has taken place under that section, and the present movement for incorporation may be said to be in lieu and substitution of an application for extension of limits of the special Act, and it has a special reference to those portions of the township which are at present not included in the Improvement limits, and shows that it cannot be material to those districts whether they are brought within Improvement Commissioners’ limits or corporation limits, since their objections apply equally to both.
After some few years’ working of the Local Improvement Act, it was found necessary to provide a cemetery for Huddersfield, so as to enable the churchyards and other burial places to be closed, and thereby further improve the sanitary condition of the town. Accordingly, in 1852, the Huddersfield Burial Ground Act was obtained, which extends to the whole township, and not merely to the Improvement Act limits, and under its provisions a large cemetery has been provided, at a cost of about £11,500. The Improvement Commissioners are the Commissioners to execute the Act, and are empowered to levy rates under it, which rates, like the poors-rates, form a bond of union and common interest between the various subdivisions of the township.
The Labouring Classes’ Lodging House Act, 1851, has also been adopted by the Improvement Commissioners, and under its provisions there has been provided a large and commodious Model Lodging-house, having departments for males, females, and married couples, and a mechanics’ home. This establishment has proved itself a most useful public institution, contributing by its example and towards the diminution of overcrowded common lodging-houses with all their attendant evils of immorality, disease, and impaired public health.
The Commissioners have also adopted within their district the Public-house Closing Act, and also section 50 of the Local Government Act, 1848, and the Markets’ and Fairs’ Clauses Act. Under these latter provisions the Commissioners have taken a lease from Sir John Ramsden, Bart., of the markets, tolls, and rights which he holds under charters from the Crown; and they now control and regulate the public markets and fairs in the town.
Under these various statutes and power* the Improvement Commissioners now administer the local government of the town. And their administration has been such as to give satisfaction to the ratepayers and inhabitants. It is not because there is any fault to find with the administration of affairs by the Commissioners that the present movement for municipal incorporation has arisen, and this petition must not be supposed as casting reflection on the Commissioners’ administration but as intended rather to secure a continuance of that good administration on a more adequate area, and with enlarged powers; and, ultimately, to include within it the water supply of the locality.
The expenditure on the Cemetery has been already stated. It is £11,500; of which, however, £4,333 has been repaid and extinguished out of Cemetery receipts and Cemetery rates, leaving £5,666 still owing on that account
The expenditure on the Model Lodging-house has been £5,304; of which, however, £2,178 has been repaid out of the general rates, leaving £2,966 owing. The establishment is nearly, but not quite self-supporting, so far as regards its general expenses; and may be said to be quite so, if there be taken into consideration the relief of rates afforded by the higher morality, and improved public health promoted by it
There have been extensive town improvements effected by the Commissioners in the construction of new streets for landowners, and especially for Sir John Ramsden, the chief landowner, under the 24th Section of the Improvement Act, by which the Commissioners are enabled to construct new streets on the requisition of the land-owner, and recover the cost from him in the manner prescribed by the Town’s Improvement Clauses Act, 1847, for rates for private improvement expenses. This system spreads the repayment to the Commissioners over thirty years, which, of course, renders it necessary for money to be borrowed to meet the immediate outlay, and the Improvement Act contains borrowing powers for this and other purposes of the Act, limiting however the sum borrowed to £50,000.
The amount borrowed by the Commissioners to cover their expenditure in the construction of new streets and other private improvements, and in public works of paving and sewering is £42,162; of which £11,000 has been for sewerage.
Of these loans £22,428 has been repaid and extinguished by means of general rates and special rates, in respect of private improvements leaving £19,733 still owing.
The Commissioners have maintained since their establishment, a very effective police force. It consists now of 31 men of all ranks, viz.:— One Superintendent, two Inspectors, one Sub-Inspector, three Sergeants, one Fire Brigade-Sergeant, twenty-three Constables, of whom twelve are 1st class; four 2nd class; and seven 3rd class.
One of the constables also acts as markets' inspector and collector of market tolls for the Commissioners.
The numerical strength of the police force has been increased from time to time, as the increase of population and property called for it.
The following table shows the numerical strength and cost of the Commissioners’ police force from the year 1860, in which are included all wages of day and night constables, clothing, accoutrements, stores, and rents, or interest, or cost of buildings, repairs and alterations:—
|Year||No. of Men||Costs|
The Commissioners receive from Government a yearly grant of one-fourth of the police expenditure, on the certificate of the Government Inspector as to the efficiency of the force.
Besides the above expenditure on their own police, the ratepayers within the Improvement Commissioners’ limits are subject to the county police rate. This is a disadvantage which they suffer in consequence of their not having a charter of incorporation, as it is only boroughs which are under the Municipal Corporation Acts that are exempted by the County Police Act (3 and 4 Vict.) from contribution to the county police rates. This is undoubtedly an injustice which the town at present labours under. For it is unreasonable that places maintaining an effective police of their own should also contribute to the maintenance of another police service outside their limits, and from which they derive no benefits. The contribution from the township of Huddersfield towards the county police rate is no less than £440 12s. 11d. per annum, and taking as a basis the proportions of rateable value within and without the Commissioners’ limits, the proportion of this contribution which is borne by the ratepayers within the Commissioners’ limits is about three-fourths, or £330, leaving £110 per annum for the outside area. The Commissioners, some few years ago, attempted to get rid of this anomalous and unjust state of things by applying for a mandamus to compel the overseers to levy the rates on the outside districts separately; but they were unsuccessful. The proposed charter would, however, put an end to this evil and injustice, and it is on that amongst other grounds applied for.
The proportion of police force to area population and rateable value is one to every 800 persons, to every £3,300 rateable value, and to every 25 acres.
One powerful reason for the incorporation of the adjoining districts into the corporate borough of Huddersfield rests in the improvement which will be effected in the efficiency and administration of the police service. The powers and authorities of the Commissioners’ police force are very limited in the out-districts.
The numerous populous suburbs which in reality form parts of the town, are under the jurisdiction of the county police, and there is a county police station, with prison, superintendent, and staff, established in Princess Street, in Huddersfield, within the limits of the Improvement Act. At this station the magistrates’ court is held for the petty sessional division, and there all cases are tried, including those arising within the Commissioners’ limits. The prisoners taken into custody by the Commissioners’ police have to be taken from the police cells at the Commissioners’ police station to the county police station and magistrates’ court for trial.
The two forces have worked together as harmoniously as two separate forces can do, and the promoters of this petition do not desire to express any dissatisfaction with the services or co-operation of the county police force. But however great the cordiality between the heads of the two forces, this divided system is and must of necessity be inferior to a united and well-managed single authority. Subordinate members of the two forces cannot in all cases be relied upon to act with the same cordiality, or cany out in the same harmony the spirit of their superiors, and thus the interests of peace and good order must necessarily suffer. The divided system is inherently bad as applied to the police. Apart from other inconveniences in the pursuit of criminals and detection of crime, there cannot be under a divided police system that unity of observation of disorderly or suspected characters which is so essential to the detection and prevention of crime. The chief of police ought undoubtedly to have a knowledge of and supervision of a considerable area around populous towns. There are persons resort to the towns at present from the suburbs and places outside, about whom our police know but little, but are dependent on the county police for information; and, on the other hand, the county police are dependent on the town police for information as to the doings in town of suspected persons or known bad characters in the town. This state of things would be greatly remedied by the proposed charter of incorporation, which would enable an effective and united system of police administration to be established for the whole locality.
Nor would this necessarily increase the cost of watching to any appreciable extent. The same number of men would serve in the districts under one system as the other, the management alone being changed; and whilst the town within the Improvement limits would save their £330 a year contribution to the county police rate; the town outside and the other townships would also save their contributions, which would then become applicable to the borough police. The following statement will show the amounts thus available:—
|Huddersfield (within £330 12s. 11d.)||440||12||11|
|Huddersfield (outside £110 0s. 0d.)|
In addition to this, the county rate at present levied on the townships proposed to be incorporated, is as follows:—
Passing from the police administration, the Improvement Commissioners have very efficiently promoted the sanitary condition of the town by the works of public and private paving and drainage, which they have executed, details of these works will be given by the surveyor: suffice it to mention here that there are nine miles and 1,030 yards of paved streets, public and private; also, nearly three miles of streets set out, but, as yet, incomplete; and there have been laid down during their administration of the Act, no less than eight miles 928 yards of main sewerage, varying in size from twelve inches to three feet in diameter, and into which great numbers of houses have been drained.
It now remains to notice the populous townships or districts not included within the limits of the Improvement Act, which it is now sought to bring within the constitution of a municipal incorporation. And first let us turn to those within the township, viz.:— Marsh, Fartown, Deighton, Bradley.
Marsh, with Paddock, is a very populous hamlet or suburb of the town, having a population of nearly 7,000, a rateable value of £12,000, and an acreage of 433. It is a very improving district, and possesses within itself every variety of town property: mills, cottages, middle-class houses, and the first-class villas of suburban residents. It lies along the west and south-western boundary of the Improvement limits, and intervenes between the town proper and the township of Lindley — which township itself seeks unanimously to come within the charter area. Marsh has been constituted into a local board district; but they have borrowed no moneys nor executed any public works of importance.
Fartown is a still more important suburb and district, lying towards the north and north-west of Huddersfield. It is of much larger area than Marsh, comprising 1,268 acres, with a population also of nearly 7,000, and a rateable value of £15,000. It has no local board constituted, but remains, as regards its highways, under a Board of Highway Surveyors. For sewerage and sanitary purposes it is therefore in a disadvantageous and inconvenient position.
Deighton is a small hamlet lying to the north of Fartown, with an area of 367 acres, a population of 1,150, and a rateable value of £2,000. It is semi-agricultural in character — possessing, however, within its area valuable mining works, as well as a village of about 150 houses. It has a Local Board; but there nave been no public sanitary works executed, and no money borrowed.
Bradley is a large hamlet lying still further to the north, and forming the most northerly portion of the township. It is semi-agricultural in character, except at the eastern end, where there are some extensive mills and trade buildings, the railway and station, and the canal It comprises an area of 1,288 acres, with a population of 781, and a rateable value of £5,106. It has a Local Board, which, however, has executed no public sanitary works, and borrowed no money. ’
The hamlets or districts of Bradley and of Marsh are the only two outlying portions of the township of Huddersfield which have presented petitions against the charter; and, of these two, Marsh has withdrawn opposition, and is now acting in concurrence with the promoters of the petition, so that Bradley remains alone in opposition. With reference to its position, the details will be hereafter more fully examined; but it may be broadly said of it, in common with the others, that it is already within the township and within the Parliamentary borough, on which grounds alone the promoters could not think of permitting it to be excluded from their scheme And it is, moreover, so situate as to hold the mouth of the river, and the key of the sewage of the whole district, which renders it still more proper and necessary to be brought within the scheme of incorporation for obvious reasons.
Passing now to the other parts of the proposed borough, not included in the township of Huddersfield, we have first the township of Lockwood, which is a very important township, lying to the south of Huddersfield. It comprises an area of 860 acres, a population of 8,445, and a rateable value of £20,709. It has risen very rapidly in all respects; and is in character of property and population and industrial interests quite identical with Huddersfield, of which it, indeed, forms practically a part, and is only separated by the river, and into part of which the town delivery of letters extends. Lockwood has been formed into a Local Board district; and a portion of the township of South Crosland, which projected itself into it at the south-western extremity has been incorporated with it. The rapid rise of Lockwood is shown by the following statement of its population at different dates:— 1831, 3,134; 1841, 4,303; 1851, 5,556; 1861, 6,755; 1867, 8,445. The Lockwood Local Board has since its establishment been an exceedingly active and effective Board. They have laid down a system of sewage for a part of their district falling to the river Holme, which is a tributary of the Colne, having its outlet near to the point of junction of the Holme with the Colne. They have borrowed £3,500, and have expended £2,400 on their sewerage, about £900 on a large and conveniently arranged board-room and offices, and £300 to £400 on other permanent improvements. They are now applying for a further loan of £3,009 for the execution of public works.
Moldgreen is a district lying to the east of Huddersfield. It is a Local Board district, which is constituted partly from the township and parish of Almondbury, and partly from the township of Dalton, in the parish of Kirkheaton. It comprises an area of 597 acres, a population of 6,960, and a rateable value of £12,224 18s. 3d., exclusive of that portion of Dalton which is outside the boundary of the Local Board district, which comprises an area of 991 acres, a population of 1,675, and % rateable value of £5,371.
The highways of Dalton are under the control and jurisdiction of the Moldgreen Local Board, but in no other respects are the two districts associated.
The Moldgreen Local Board is also a very active and efficient Board. They have laid down a system of sewerage for part of their district, and have executed public works of paving and drainage, and are now proceeding vigorously with them. They have borrowed £1,100.
The character of the district is identical with Huddersfield, but Dalton outside the district is more of an agricultural character.
Almondbury is a village of greater antiquity than many of the surrounding ones, and is the locality of the Parish Church of a very extensive parish, comprising, amongst other townships, Lockwood and the Newsome District. The township of Almondbury has been carved into three Local Board Districts, viz.: Moldgreen (part of) already referred to. Almondbury proper, and Newsome. The Almondbury Local Board District has an area of 1,508 acres; a population of 4,500; and a rateable value of £7,750.
Newsome is a Local Board District, which has been carved out of the township of Almondbury, forming the southern portion thereof, and contains a population of about 6,000, and property of the annual rateable value of £7,200, with an area of 880 acres. No public works of paving or sewerage have as yet been executed by this Board, nor any monies borrowed. It contains several extensive mills and manufactories, and four villages, viz.: Newsome, Taylor Hill, Berry Brow, and Salford, situate on the western portion of the district, whilst the eastern portion is semi-agricultural and rises to a very high level, including the eminence of Castle Hill.
It is, however, from no want of activity or efficiency, either on the part of the local Commissioners in Huddersfield or of the Boards of Health of the various surrounding districts, that the town and neighbourhood have become dissatisfied with the present system of local government, and that the inhabitants have petitioned for a charter of incorporation. A variety of causes have led to this state of things. As alleged by the petition, the town has now become one of great importance and position as a manufacturing town, and as evidence of the rapid increase of population and of commercial and manufacturing industry of the town, it is alleged by the petition that the postal delivery has more than doubled in the last ten years, having risen from 28,612 in 1857 to 50,170 per week, or more than 3,000,000 a year. The money order transactions have risen in the same period, from £59,747 to nearly £100,000 per annum. The railway traffic at the station, which is a great index to the life and activity of a town, has increased correspondingly, and now reaches 300 trains a day. It is also the centre of the Poor-law Union, comprising 24 townships and a population of 135,000. For a town of this magnitude and importance it is a well recognised necessity to have a recognised head and representative on the numerous occasions when its social and local interests require to be represented. Without this it is, on many occasions, under disadvantage and deprived of its due rank and influence as compared with other centres of industry and commerce. It is almost impossible to appreciate too fully the inconvenience and detriment, even in point of material interests, which a town suffers for the want of a proper and recognised head. People think less of an unincorporated town, it loses its due weight and influence in public and national affairs, it continues in some senses a mere village, or Local Board district. A remarkable instance of this occurred in connexion with the recent Reform Bill, and in reference to the distribution of political power. Huddersfield, with its surrounding populous suburbs and districts, claimed an additional share of political representation, a second member of Parliament, and had the proposed incorporation been accomplished last year she would probably have obtained it, but she was compelled to take rank according to the population of her present Parliamentary Borough and thus was excluded. In this respect, therefore, there was a positive loss of influence in national affairs, and we hope by the proposed incorporation to obviate that disadvantage for the future. But in respect to the convening and presiding at public meetings, the reception of distinguished visitors, the taking the lead in public demonstrations and matters of national and general interest, the importance of a recognised head most be obvious. Huddersfield has suffered for want of this, and disputes, strifes, and ill-feelings have been in consequence engendered. There is no official or recognised head of the town. The chairman of Improvement Commissioners is at the head of the body, which is substantially the local governing body, analogous to a Town Council, having jurisdiction over police, streets, markets, and all sanitary arrangements, and yet his authority is limited only to a comparatively small area. On the other hand, the constable, who is an official nominated by the ratepayers of the township, and presented for appointment to the court leet of Sir John Ramsden as lord of the manor, has only a nominal and shadowy position, with no practical authority or power, although his office, nominal as it is, extends beyond the Improvement area, and occupies the whole township. There has been experienced, from time to time, much public inconvenience owing to the conflicting claims for precedence, and the headship of the town, on the part of the persons filling these two offices; and of late years it has been the practice to obviate this in some degree by arranging for these two offices being held by the same gentleman. But there is no reliance on such an arrangement being always observed. It is in no degree to be depended on, and at the present moment the two offices are again filled by different persons.
This state of things would be set at rest by the establishment of a corporation, which is therefore desirable, on that amongst other grounds.
Another consideration which has prevailed in the public mind throughout the locality, has been the importance of uniting into a consolidated form the various local authorities and boards which at present control the affairs of Huddersfield and of the populous adjoining townships. This feeling prevails not only in Huddersfield but in the other townships referred to, and combined with other causes has led to the present petition. The aggregate statistics of the locality are such as to show an overwhelming case for the application of municipal government:— 14,413 dwelling-houses, 137 mills and 26 iron-foundries, with 10,281 motive power; 15 churches, 40 chapels, 88 day and Sunday Schools, 2 ragged schools, 6 mechanics’ institutions, 1 public infirmary, 3 newspapers issued weekly.
This area, however, comprises no less than ten districts, governing bodies, or boards, viz.:— Huddersfield Improvement Commissioners, Marsh Local Board, Deighton, Bradley, Fartown, Lindley, Lockwood, Moldgreen, Almondbury, Newsome. Each of these has separate and independent jurisdiction, and it must be manifest that it is impossible under such circumstances to secure that harmony and unity of action on subjects of common importance, which the public welfare requires. On questions of sewerage, sanitary regulations, water supply, and other local interests, diversity of views and of action must be expected. Admitting even that no further or new power can be acquired through the charter for the area incorporated, it must be an obvious benefit to have the same powers exercised with uniformity through one governing body instead of ten.
But with all these governing bodies there do not exist among any of them any adequate powers for water supply. The defective water supply is an evil felt throughout the whole district, and is one great reason which has led to the present petition.
There is no public complaint of the mode in which the Waterworks Commissioners have exercised their powers. On the contrary, those gentlemen have, by their disinterested services and economy of administration, earned the approbation of the community. But it has been felt that their constitution of powers are unsuited to the developed wants and condition of the locality. Their sources of supply are now inadequate; their area of supply too limited; and their constitution, being self-elected, too narrow and exclusive for the present times.
The difficulties connected with the water supply were attempted to be overcome last year, when application was made to Parliament for an Act conferring further powers of obtaining, storing, and distributing water, and also for widening the constitution and basis of the Board. An elaborate system of representation of the Local Boards by delegates nominated to the Board of Waterworks Commissioners, was incorporated into the Act; bat the application met with opposition from various quarters, and was negatived by Parliament. Since which the feeling has prevailed in the locality that the best course for obtaining the sanction of Parliament to a comprehensive waterwork scheme is, first obtain a charter of incorporation, and then, with a properly constituted body for the entire district, to renew the application to Parliament.
In view of this course application has been made by the Improvement Commissioners to the Waterworks Commissioners enquiring whether, in the event of a charter being obtained, they would be willing to transfer their works and powers to the new corporation, and the answer given to that application gives the assurance that on proper terms there will be no difficulty in arranging for this transfer.
Under these evils the proceedings were originated for the present petition. They originated with the Improvement Commissioners who, at special meetings convened for the purpose on the 23rd and 28th March last, after considering the subject, resolved to invite the attendance of leading ratepayers from Huddersfield, and of delegates from the Local Boards of the adjoining districts for united conference upon it. The meeting for this united conference took place on the 10th April, when the districts of Moldgreen, Fartown, Lockwood, Deighton, Lindley, Bradley, and Marsh were represented. The subject was fully discussed, and the meeting adjourned for a month in order to give the representatives of the various Boards time to consult their Boards and districts.
The adjourned meeting took place on the 15th May, and was again attended by Huddersfield Improvement Commissioners, Huddersfield ratepayers, and delegates from Lockwood, Moldgreen, Marsh, Deighton, Lindley, Bradley, Almondbury, and Fartown. At this meeting it was announced that Lockwood, Moldgreen, and Lindley would concur in the proposed application for a charter, the other districts were reported either as being adverse, or at all events not favourable. No definite resolution was passed at this meeting, but it was understood that the Improvement Commissioners were now to take the subject into serious consideration, and if they thought fit take the initiative in the requisite proceedings. Accordingly at the next meeting of the Improvement Commissiors, on the 28th May, the subject was further considered, and a resolution was adopted unanimously as follows:—
- That, having regard to the position of Huddersfield and adjoining districts, with respect to population, unity of commercial and public interests, and necessity of increased water supply: for which and for other purposes a more united system of local government would be advantageous — it is, in the opinion of this Board, desirable that a charter of incorporation for Huddersfield and the adjoining districts should be applied for.
A resolution that a public meeting of ratepayers should be convened was also passed; and another one, requesting the various Local Boards concurring in the scheme to appoint delegates to act on a general committee.
On the 29th May a public meeting of the ratepayers of Huddersfield, convened by Mr. Skilbeck, the constable, by placard, was held in the Theatre, and was numerously attended. The feeling in favour of a corporation was so general, that an amendment which was moved against it found no seconder, and a resolution was passed with only five dissentients:—
- That, in the opinion of this meeting, it is desirable to obtain a charter of incorporation for Huddersfield and the adjoining districts.
Resolutions were also passed approving of the action taken by the Improvement Commissioners, and authorising their further proceedings; also, appointing a committee of eight gentlemen to act in concert with the Improvement Commissioners, and delegates from other Local Boards as a general committee to promote the obtaining of the charter.
The general committee held its first meeting on the 7th June, when the proceedings were fairly initiated, and a petition directed to be prepared; and it was decided also to communicate with Sir John William Ramsden as the landed proprietor of the district, and ascertain his wishes and views. These communications were accordingly entered into, and resulted in Sir J. W. Ramsden, in the most generous manner, pronouncing in favour of the charter, although it involved the sacrifice of his powers of nomination of a proportion of the governing body of the town, as held by him now under the Improvement Act. Subsequently by letter of 23rd July, Sir John Ramsden’s desire to associate himself with the movement found most substantial and generous expression by his offering to present to the town the gold collar and badge of office to be worn by the mayor.
The first duty of the committee in connection with the application for the charter was to settle the boundaries or limits to be submitted to her Majesty's Privy Council. To this subject they gave the most anxious consideration, and ultimately came to the conclusion to submit them as now tendered. The area looks a large one, but the committee were led by strong reasons to adopt it. In the first place as regards Huddersfield itself, the whole township being within the present parliamentary borough ought, as a matter of course, to be wholly included. As regards the important adjoining townships of Dalton. Lindley, and Lockwood, the inhabitants of them proposed that they should come in wholly and not partly, which scarcely left the question open as regards them, and left it confined only to the township of Almondbury, in which, as regards both its sub-division of Local Boards there, there is conflict of opinion upon the subject. The committee, after careful consideration, came to the conclusion that the whole area ought to be included, inasmuch as no line of separation could be drawn so as to include the populous parts of the township and yet leave any substantial area outside. They felt also that it might operate unjustly as regards the township itself to have a division, as the excluded portion might be burdened with an undue proportion of roads to maintain, whilst deprived at the same time of its best ratepaying property.
The boundaries being thus settled, the petition was prepared and put into circulation for signature, and it was completed and lodged at the Privy Council Office on the 20th of July last.
The petition is signed as follows:—
|Huddersfield, within Improvement limits||2,289||62,054||8||4|
|Moldgreen, with Dalton||450||10,032||0||0|
|Almondbury, in Almondbury district||129||2,177||15||6|
|Almondbury, in Newsome||111||558||4||6|
Five petitions have been presented against the Charter, having signatures and rateable value as under, viz.:—
|In Huddersfield Township...|
|Marsh Local Board||440||3,235||15||0|
|Total from Huddersfield||587||£6088||8||0|
The proportions contrast strongly as regards this township, and bring out a majority as follows:—
|For the charter||3,403||72,362||1||10|
|Against the charter||587||6,088||8||0|
|Majority in favour||2,818||£66,273||13||10|
But the Marsh opposition being now virtually withdrawn, the figures of comparison for Huddersfield township will stand thus:—
|For the charter||3,403||72,362||1||10|
|Against the charter||138||2,852||13||0|
|Majority in favour||3,265||£69,509||8||10|
Taking the districts in Huddersfield separately from which petitions against have emanated, the figures stand thus:—
|Marsh: For the charter||563||6,100||0||0|
|Marsh: Against the charter||449||3,235||15||0|
|Majority in favour||114||£2,864||5||0|
In Bradley district the whole signatures are against, and none have been obtained for, of which the opponents must have what benefit they can extract from it. In truth, the promoters of the petition for the charter, knowing that the principal employers of labour and proprietors of that sub-division of the township were determinedly opposed to the charter, did not circulate their petition for the charter at all in this part of the township, fearing to promote dissension between immediate neighbours, between employers and employed, landlord and tenant, &c., and thereby lead to possible injury or trouble, and resting confidently on the merits of their ease.
As regards Lockwood, the petitions pro. and con. stand thus:—
|Lockwood: For the charter||454||10,508||6||0|
|Lockwood: Against the charter||535||2,135||19||0|
|Leaving a numerical majority against of||71|
|And a majority of rateable value in favour of||8,372||7||0|
As regards Almondbury, taking the two Local Board districts of Almondbury and Newsome together, the figures will stand thus:—
Take these districts separately the figures stand thus:—
The aggregate of the petitions against stand thus:—
Comparing this aggregate with the aggregate signatures for, the figures are as follows:—
|Majority in favour||2,884||90,178||17||3|
Of these petitions against, however, all but Bradley are in substance retired, and in this view the figures will stand thus:—
|Majority in favour||4,795||103,929||8||2|
Turning from the comparative figures of the petitions pro and con, a few observations must be made as to their allegations. One observation applies to them all, viz.: that none of them go to the root of the petition, or challenge the propriety of the charter being granted to Huddersfield, with some boundaries; but they merely go to the question of the propriety of including within the limits of the borough the particular part of the district from which the petition emanates. None of the petitions, therefore, have any locus standi in the general question of the propriety of a charter to the town, but are confined to the particular question of special grounds or circumstances applicable to their own locality. In this view none of them can challenge the signatures from nonopposing townships. Another observation applies equally to all the petitions, viz.: they all sing to the praise and glory of their Local Boards, and allege their entire sufficiency for all local government purposes, and the perfect satisfaction they give to the public.
As already observed, the present petition is not founded on any complaint of the shortcomings of any Local Boards in particular. This may be said, however, that the application of the Local Government Act was not and could not be intended by the Legislature to interfere with the natural growth of Municipal Institutions, which have for ages been the bulwarks of freedom and progress throughout this great country. If this is to be their effects, then the establishment of Local Boards in the vicinity of towns will become an evil instead of a good, and would frustrate the very object of the Local Government Act itself as expressed in the preamble.
This preamble clearly points to uniformity of authority and control in matters of sewerage, lighting, and water supply, the very objects which is sought for by means of the charter for Huddersfield, to replace the divided and incongruous system of ten local Boards.
Another observation, which applies equally to all, is. that they apprehend great increase of rating for things they will derive no benefit from, and that, as regards water supply in particular, they have the means within themselves of providing supplies at cheaper rates than their proportions of a comprehensive water scheme.
On the question of comparative expense there can be no solid objection. It is a view of the question which the petitioners have carefully considered, and it is sufficient to say that they are prepared to meet whatever may come upon them in this respect. And that with so small a phantom of opposition, it is a consideration which ought not to weigh against the merits of the petition.
With respect to the special merits of the Bradley opposition, the following observations remain to be added:— The opposition originates with Messrs. Haigh, who are the leading ratepayers of the hamlet. They are owners
of and occupiers of extensive mills, and as employers of labour and otherwise, they have great influence and control over the other ratepayers, who are chiefly the operatives employed by them, or small farmers, or shopkeepers, dependent upon or connected with them. They at present in substance, rule and govern the district, and they probably apprehend an extinction of their personal rule, as well as some possible increase in their rates.
Their petition alleges that their district is chiefly agricultural. It is so in one sense but not in a purely agricultural sense. The farms are not in large holdings but small ones, and are of the same character as the farms in the other open portions of the district proposed for incorporation.
The holdings are connected with trade. Huddersfield is their natural market both for their produce and from which they receive tillage. Their interests are inseparably united. They attend the markets there, Mr. Haigh himself, the head of the opposition, has a place of business there and attends the markets. He also, as a county magistrate, sits on the Bench there to adjudicate on borough cases, and yet refuses to be included in the rate district.
As already mentioned, Bradley holds the key of the sewerage of the entire district. It is also already within the township and Parliamentary borough. It possesses the first railway station out of Huddersfield, and we all know what progress and improvement are implied by the possession of a railway station near large towns. It possesses also much land available for villas and suburban residences. Its water-shed is to a great extent towards the river Colne and it is within the conservancy district of Huddersfield as recommended by the Rivers Pollution Commissioners in their report.
There seems no reason why in process of time this district of Bradley should not become a populous suburb, like Headingly or Woodhouse in the borough of Leeds, Shipley in Bradford, Edgbaston in Birmingham, and other like places, all included in the boroughs adjoining them. On these grounds the promoters submit that the opposition of Bradley should be over-ruled, and that the entire district should be included in the municipal borough.
But at all events they submit that if the Privy Council should in their wisdom consider that the district is in great part of too agricultural a character to be included, then at all events the extreme eastern portion which holds the river and the railway station should be separated from the other part and included, and in this view the promoters would submit the line of the turnpike road as the boundary, from its point of exit from Deighton to its crossing of the river at Cooper Bridge.
On the point of apprehended increase of rates in consequence of municipal institutions, it is to be observed that there is no inherent necessity. for increased expenditure under a municipal, than under any other form of government. If public works be executed they must cost money, under whatever form of government they be executed, and in this respect a municipal government makes no real difference. Then, again, the laws of representation under a municipal government is wide, wider than under the Local Board District system, which gives the small ratepayers a greater proportion of representative power. They have a greater voice in the choice of the local government, and if they select a council on the basis of economy and limited expenditure on public works of health and improvement, they can do so. But if they select a council disposed to extend works of sanitary improvement, they must pay for them and ought not to object to do so. There is, therefore, no logical necessity for increased expenditure on works under a corporation. And as regards costs of administration and management, it is obvious that something must be saved by concentrating into one establishment the officials who are now spread over ten establishments.
Sir John Ramsden’s general concurrence in the wishes of the petitioners has n already adverted to. He is however Lord of the Manor of Huddersfield, and his manorial rights are preserved by special clause in the Improvement Act. He is apprehensive that in some way his rights may be affected by the charter and desires an analogous clause to be inserted in the charter. His legal representative is here to tender that clause. The promoters can only say with reference to this clause that they have no disposition or intention by means of the charter to infringe or prejudice in any way Sir John’s manorial, He has met the wishes of the inhabitants in this manner in a free and generous spirit, and in the same spirit the promoters would wish to meet his views as regards the protection of his manorial rights. The only apprehension of the promoters is, lest by admitting unusual or special matter into their charter they should invalidate or prejudice it. They have taken the opinion of an eminent counsel, Mr. Cleasby, upon the subject, and he advises them distinctly that he cannot see how Sir John’s rights can be affected, and therefore a clause is unnecessary. The committee would have been glad if Sir John’s advisers could have arrived at the same conclusion, and thus obviated further question. But this is not so and it remains to be considered whether a special clause can be framed so as to preserve the rights and yet be consistent with the validity and effect of the charter. This is a point which will have to be settled by the law officers of the Crown, and the promoters are willing for the clause to be put in and referred to their decision as to its insertion and its terms.
The following points have called for attention, via.:— Equality of representation as between various distrusts; also as between inside and outside. Preservation of existing boundaries, with a view to retain them as separate rating districts, some of them having already contracted loans and borrowed monies.
One scheme of outside wards only agreed to by the committee. Inside two schemes — one three wards, one six. The three ward scheme recommended by the General Incorporation Committee, while the six ward scheme is preferred by the Watch Committee of the Improvement Commissioners.
On the subject of ward divisions, it will be at once obvious that this is a point of great difficulty, seeing the extent of the area sought to be incorporated and its existing divisions.
Captain Donnelly, however, explained that the number must be divisible by eight; and it was stated that the promoters would reconsider the ward scheme and present an amended report thereon at the next sitting.
Mr. Heap stated that portions of the estate of Sir John Ramsden were intended to be included in the limits of the proposed borough; and the rights and privileges belonging to him were extremely valuable to him. Sir John was most desirous of giving every assistance and facility to the promoters of the proposed charter of incorporation, provided his rights were not thereby affected, save as regarded the power of appointing Commissioners, which he had already consented to waive. Sir John claimed that, should the charter be granted, his several rights and privileges should be reserved in like manner as they were reserved to him by Acts of Parliament.
In reply to the Commissioner,
Mr. Hesp stated that Sir John Ramsden’s rights were so extensive and multifarious, it was thought they might possibly be affected by the charter of incorporation, unless there was some reservation clause inserted.
The Commissioner said the merits of the clause could be entered into hereafter.
Mr. Batley — You are not prepared with the clause?
Mr. Hesp — No.
Mr. John Henry Abbey, was called. He said he was surveyor to the Improvement Commissioners, and also to the Lockwood Local Board. He prepared the plan accompanying. The sewerage of the town was discharged — at present at six different outlets — one at Longroyd Bridge, one at Aspley, one at Lower Aspley, one at Shore-foot, and two at Grove Wood Bridge — all within the limits of the Improvement boundary. The Commissioners were now engaged in important sewerage works, having just completed a sewer over 1,070 yards in length, for the drainage of the Hebble valley. The extent of sewerage completed by the Improvement Commissioners since the adoption of the Act was 8 miles 928 yards; but private drainage was constantly in operation, and the cost was charged on the owners. The total area of the district submitted for incorporation was 10,436 acres; and the rateable value £199,470. As far as he was able to judge, to dispose of the sewage the corporation would have to take advantage of the low lands, lying near to the outfall of the river Calder, to the point of the confluence of the Colne and Calder. In the district of Kirkheaton, chiefly outside the present Par1iamentary boundary, was the land mainly valuable for purposes of irrigation. It would be necessary to carry the sewerage through the entire extent of the boundary, including Bradley. A system of sewerage had been laid down for only one part of Lockwood; and, as the outfall was not great, in winter and rainy seasons portions of the district were flooded. By connecting the drains with those of the Huddersfield Commissioners, this flooding would be avoided, and hence he thought it essential that the two sewerage authorities should be united. The sum of £2,400 had been expended in sewage works by the Lockwood Local Board, and the Board had borrowed altogether £3,500, and they had applied for sanction to borrow £3,000 more for the construction of new streets. There was a good deal of valuable building ground in Lockwood, but no water supply, beyond a small fountain, nearly in the centre of the village. The quantity was very inadequate, and the quality inferior. There were a number of shops in Lockwood, but generally speaking people came to Huddersfield, under the impression that things could be got cheaper there. In Newsome proper he was not aware that a single sewer had been made, but in the village of Berry Brow a number of sewers were laid down, though not completed effectually. The population of Salford was essentially a town population; and there was great need of sanitary improvements. No system of sewage had been laid down at Marsh and Fartown. At Paddock there was one, but the whole of the houses were not drained into it. The systems for the drainage of these districts must pass through Huddersfield.
Cross-examined by Mr. Shaw — All the present outfalls for the sewerage of Huddersfield were within the jurisdiction of the Commissioners.
Mr. T. W. Clough, improvement commissioner, gave an outline of the endeavours made in 1840 to obtain a charter of incorporation, and the progress and improvements
made within the Improvement Commissioners’ limits since
the passing of the Act in 1848. He stated that Huddersfield had suffered much from its contracted area, and that great inconvenience sprung from the "two heads" to the town — the chairman of Improvement Commissioners and the constable.
Mr. Shaw — Two heads are certainly better than one. (Laughter.)
Mr. Batley — If they agree, but not if they quarrel.
Mr. Clough said the inconvenience would be put an end to by a charter of incorporation.
Cross-examined — There would be no difficulty in supplying Bradley with water. By an extension of the waterworks it was possible to supply the district of Almondbury with water — even Castle Hill. (Laughter.)
Mr. R. Skilbeck, chairman of the Improvement Commissioners, said the feeling of the commissioners was unanimous in favour of the charter, and that in fact the feeling was almost universal in favour of it.
Mr. John Day, chairman of the Moldgreen Local Board, deposed that the interests of Moldgreen were identical with those of Huddersfield; and, at a public meeting held on the 13th May, an almost unanimous vote was given in _ support of the charter. He saw no other mode of obtaining a supply of water for the whole district than by the adjoining townships joining Huddersfield, and going in for extensive works, in order to procure a proper supply for the rapidly increasing population surrounding.
Mr. Enoch Sykes, also of Moldgreen, spoke of the desirableness of a charter being granted in order to remedy the defective supply of water.
Mr. Edward Armitage, Marsh, said the opposition at first raised to the movement had been withdrawn as far as Marsh was concerned, and the inhabitants had decided to concur with the promoters.
Mr. Eli Stott, member of the Local Board, also gave evidence of the withdrawal of the opposition at Marsh.
Mr. James E. Norris, town clerk of Halifax, was next called. The application of municipal acts in large towns was most important, especially where the town itself, they might say, was made up of fractional parts of other districts having separate institutions and separate Local Boards. No large undertaking could be successfully carried out unless there was unity of purpose, unity of design, and unity of funds. He pointed to the important works which had been successfully executed at Halifax, almost all of which were remunerative, and stated that the surplus profits of those institutions were carried to the general borough fund in redaction of rates. The progress made at Halifax they attributed, in a great measure, to onion of purpose under the Municipal Act.
Mr. W. R. Croft, a member of the Lockwood Local Board; Mr. J. F. Brigg, of the Almondbury Local Board; Mr. Wm. Hannan, late superintendent of the town police force; and Mr. Roger Houghton, manufacturer, Almondbury, supported the promoters of the movement. Evidence was also given by the witnesses who had attested the signatures of those who had signed the petition, and of the accuracy of the valuations; and the court rose shortly before five o’clock.
Captain Donnelly resumed his sitting this morning, when
Mr. J. H. Abbey was recalled. He put in a plan of five wards within the Commissioners’ limits — two double and three single; the former with six representatives each and the other with three each. No. 1 is situated on the southern and south-western side, bounded on the south by Lockwood, on the west and north by Gledholt, Marsh, and Fartown; on the east side by Bradford Road, the Railway Viaducts, St. George’s Square, Upperhead Row, South Parade, Chapel Hill, and Engine Bridge. The population is 8,270, and the rateable value £29,679. Ward No. 2 is bounded on the west by No. 1 ward, on the east by Dalton; on the north by Fartown, and on the south by West Parade, Westgate, Kirkgate, and Dock Street. The population is 7,680, and the rateable value £29,301. No. 3 ward, which includes the business part of the town, is bounded on the north by No. 2 ward, on the east by Upperhead Row, on the west by Buxton Road and New Street, and on the south by South Parade. The population is 2,115; and the rateable value £13,168. No. 4 ward adjoins No. 3 ward, on the east side, and No. 2 ward on the north; and the southern and eastern boundary is Ramsden Street and the River Colne. The population is 2,020; and the rateable value £15,048. The remaining ward, No. 5, contains the south-eastern portion of the town, from Chapel Hill to Upper Aspley. The population is 2,490, and the rateable value £12,878. Mr. Abbey, having put in his ward scheme, said he had examined the levels of the present store reservoir of the Waterworks Commissioners, and of the proposed one in the projected scheme before Parliament last year. The levels of the present store reservoir at Longwood was 675 feet. The centre of the village at Almondbury was at a level of 500 feet, and the whole of the village proper was below the ordnance contour of 600 feet. There were only 28 acres in Almondbury above the height of the proposed reservoir at Black-moor Foot, projected by the Huddersfield Waterworks Commissioners. At the highest point in Bradley, the levels were 625 feet, being 50 feet below the present reservoir at Longwood.
Cross-examined — The ward scheme is not mine; but the Incorporation Committee’s. At present the only reservoir which supplies Huddersfield with water is situated at Longwood.
Mr. W. R. Haigh, merchant, said he was formerly a member of the Newsome Local Board. The Board and the inhabitants presented a petition against the charter some time ago; but a change of opinion had taken place. At a meeting, held on Monday last, which was considerably attended by ratepayers, and which he himself attended, a resolution was unanimously passed withdrawing the opposition to the scheme. The meeting of ratepayers confirmed the resolution of the Local Board. He had always been in favour of a charter, believing the district would be benefited by it in a variety of ways.
Mr. James N. Sykes said he was a resident and ratepayer of Lindley-cum-Quarmby, and chairman of the Local Board, the district of which comprised the whole township. The feeling of the district — members of the Local Board and ratepayers — was unanimously in favour of the charter; and a resolution was passed on the 14th May, 1867, affirming its desirability. He was a member of the Incorporation Committee.
By the Commissioner — There has been no opposition in Lindley.
Mr. John Haigh asked, would it not be advisable to divide the township of Lindley into three wards, one councillor to be sent from each ward.
Commissioner — That is impossible.
Mr. Sykes — That is impracticable.
Mr. Shaw — You must elect for three years, and you cannot have less than three for any ward.
Mr. Haigh said an opinion seemed to prevail that the representatives would be sent from Lindley proper. They wanted to take it in turns, and to send one.
Commissioner — That is a question which will be dealt with hereafter.
Mr. Henry Brook, merchant, said he was a ratepayer resident in the township of Dalton, — the lower part, not in the district of the Moldgreen Local Board. He was also an Improvement Commissioner, and one of the committee for promoting the petition for a charter. It was his opinion decidedly that a charter ought to be granted on the plan submitted. The character of Dalton was partly agricultural and partly manufacturing. The districts included in the ward scheme — Lower Dalton, Deighton, and Bradley — in the conditions of property and population, closely resembled each other; and that was a reason why he thought they ought to be associated together. The three districts made up a balance of rateable value equal to the other districts sought to be incorporated.
By Mr. Shaw — The wants of the district are similar.
Mr Batley stated, in reply to Mr. Shaw, that the rateable valuable of Dalton was £5,371, population, 1,675; acreage, 900; Deighton, £2,000; population, 1,150; 367 acres; and Bradley—
Mr. Shaw — We know that. (Laughter.)
Mr. R. Skilbeck, recalled, said he had examined the ward scheme, and, in his opinion, it was the most suitable one, having due regard to equal representation. The thinly populated portion of Deighton and Bradley, being similar in their interests, principally agricultural, it was thought desirable they should have a ward to themselves. If Bradley and Deighton were annexed to Fartown, the effect would be that it would be virtually unrepresented.
Cross-examined by Mr. Shaw — There are 12 wards altogether, and Dalton, Deighton, and Bradley, would return three representatives.
The Commissioner asked for the number of inhabited houses.
Mr. Skilbeck replied that in Deighton there were 230, and 348 in Dalton ; making 721 in the whole district.
Mr. Skilbeck examined by Mr. Midgley. — The population of the whole district of Almondbury was 10,500. It was not intended that local boards should have control over the internal affairs of their respective districts. The Council would be the governing body. Three representatives were granted for the whole district of Newsome and Almondbury, the rateable value being the same as Fartown district, and not near so much as Lockwood.
Mr. George Sykes, clerk to Messrs. Brook, Freeman, and Batley, gave some formal evidence with respect to the signatures to the petition.
Cross-examined by Mr. Shaw — The Commissioners’ Improvement Rate was 1s. 8d. in the pound. Other rates were laid, and for the last five years the average amount of rates, including poor's-rate, was 3s. 11d. in the pound, or, without the poor’s-rate, 2s. 1d. in the pound. During the last two years the average had been 2s. 1d. in the pound.
Mr. John Crossley, Halifax, said he had served the office of Mayor of that borough, and had been connected with the corporation sines 1848. At Halifax they had every reason to be satisfied with the working of the municipal corporation; and, if applied to Huddersfield, and right men were sent to perform the duties of councillors, they would have every reason to feel satisfied with the change.
By Mr. Shaw — They were perfectly satisfied with the debt at Halifax, large as it was. The rates of Halifax now amounted to 2a. 6d. in the pound; before the corporation was in existence they would be 1s. 10d. or 2s., but extensive improvements had since been made.
Mr. Batley — That is the case for the promoters.
Mr. Shaw, in addressing the court on behalf of Bradley, said, if he had consulted his own view on the matter, he should not have troubled the Commissioner by calling any witnesses, because he should have taken the case on the part of the promoters, who were seeking to include Bradley, and he should say that they had failed to make out a case for that inclusion; but, in obedience to the wishes of his clients, who desired to express their strong feeling against any incorporation with the town of Huddersfield, he therefore proposed to call witnesses. Bradley had been a hamlet from time immemorial, and for ever had been disconnected from Huddersfield, and therefore it was the duty of the promoters of the movement to make out a case for the incorporation of Bradley with Huddersfield and other districts. Up to the present time, Bradley had been probably as isolated a place as any place could be from the town of Huddersfield. Huddersfield h»d turned its back upon Bradley — all the trade of the town was extending in the direction of Almondbury, Lindley, and Lockwood; and some strong reasons most be given why Bradley should be incorporated. It must be shown that there would be benefits accruing from the incorporation, and not disadvantages; and if Huddersfield could show that, he would sit down and say to Bradley, "By all means be incorporated." The only ground upon which the promoters could rely was that Bradley formed part of the ancient township, and was within the Parliamentary borough; but these, he contended, were not sufficient reasons for incorporation. No body of men ought to be incorporated against their will. The promoters had, he would admit, come with an unanimous petition; and, while we would not speak against the rights of the people of Huddersfield, he contended that the hamlet of Bradley ought not to be included. The strong ought not to subdue the weak, and Huddersfield, because she was potent, ought not to say they would annex Bradley. Bradley was reluctant, and Huddersfield ought not to force the charter upon the people. The hamlet contained a population of 780 souls, inhabited houses to the number of 143; and rateable value to the amount of £5,108, of which sum £1,800 — and here was the rub — was paid by two railway companies and a canal company. That was the secret why the promoters were anxious to annex Bradley. Was Bradley in a position to be annexed? It was the most distant of any hamlet from the town of Huddersfield; there were no improvements going on there at all; and, with the exception of a little manufacturing at Colne Bridge, the rest was simply and purely agricultural land. The charter of incorporation would confer none of those powers which of late years were considered so important: it would not be the cure for the ills which had been spoken of; and would not avail them for any sanitary works which they wished to carry out. With regard to the want of a "head of the town," he should pass that by, as it did not affect the question at all. In making application for a water supply scheme, Parliament would enquire whether water was needed, and whether the source of the proposed supply was correct; and he could not understand why Parliament should decline to give Huddersfield an Act of Parliament, simply because it was not backed by a corporation. Bradley had no wants in common with Huddersfield and the other manufacturing districts; and, on that ground, he submitted, ought not to be incorporated. The 39 burgesses who had interests in common would out-vote the three representatives of Bradley. The rates for Bradley were about 4d. and a fraction in the pound on an average of years; and that was an important element in the case. The rates of Huddersfield had been at least 2s. 1d. on an average of the last five years. Bradley wanted no water: there was an ample supply; and, if they did want water, it would be difficult to take it to the scattered and straggling farmers' houses. They wanted no gas; but if they did, they could get it within 300 yards of the centre of their own boundary, the mains of Rastrick and Mirfield companies extending that distance. They wanted no drainage: that which they had at present being ample for all purposes; in fact, they had no wants which Huddersfield could relieve. With regard to the death rate, Bradley stood favourably in comparison with Huddersfield. Out of 143 inhabitant householders, 129 had signed the petition against the charter. Bradley was merely wanted as an outlet for sewage from Huddersfield; and not for the purpose of being benefited. She was required as the mouth of discharge for the impurities of Huddersfield; but that was the lamest argument one man could address to another for the purpose of obtaining a charter of incorporation. The case of Huddersfield was shipwrecked with regard to Bradley by that admission. Between Huddersfield and Bradley, on the road-side, there was nothing but level ground, the land being too low for building purposes, and frequently under water to a considerable depth. Charters of incorporation were only for towns and populous places, and there could be no reason for granting a charter to a place which was simply and entirely an agricultural district. For these reasons, therefore, he submitted and trusted the Commissioner would report that the hamlet of Bradley ought to be excluded from the charter of incorporation.
Mr. John Forge was then called, and he said he was agent for Sir Henry Blake, who owned about 900 acres of land at Bradley. The whole hamlet contained a total of 1,288 acres or thereabouts. The place, he considered, had been well governed by the Local Board; the natural water supply was wells, and the water was of good quality. It would be a great disadvantage, and additionally expensive, for Bradley if it was connected with Huddersfield; and he was entirely opposed to it being included.
Cross-examined by Mr. Batley — The land at Bradley was not laid out for building purposes. Plots had been advertised for four years; but there had been no applications. There was little doubt but that Bradley, if incorporated, would have to pay rates for improvements from which the inhabitants received no benefit. He was not able to tell whether Bradley could or could not be formed into a separate district under the Municipal Government for rating purposes; but, if it could, they should object to being included to the very last.
Mr. Samuel Wood Haigh, of Colne Bridge House, said he was a manufacturer and a justice of the peace for the West Riding. The mills of their firm and adjoining land were rated at about £791. Twenty-four of those who signed the petition from Bradley were in their employ; but he had never asked any one to sign it. Two meetings had been held, and the feeling on both occasions was unanimous against incorporation; and the people still held out. The drainage and roads were good; there was plenty of water; and, if required, they had gas at hand. He did not see any advantage they could obtain by joining Huddersfield. The Cemetery at Huddersfield was three miles from Bradley; but there was ground for interment connected with the Church of Bradley. Although they had to pay the Huddersfield Cemetery rate, he believed there had not been a single interment from Bradley in the Huddersfield Cemetery since it was opened. In addition to the land being liable to floods, it was not eligible for building purposes inasmuch as the ground in some places was subsiding in consequence of coal workings.
Cross-examined by Mr. Batley — Was aware that his brother went to London in connection with the late application for an act to extend the present water-works, but did not know whether to promote or oppose, inasmuch as he (witness) was on the continent at the time.
Mr. C. Haigh, one of the firm of Messrs. Thomas Haigh and Sons, Colne bridge, said the rates of Bradley had been 4¼d in the pound on an average of six years.
Mr. Hoyle and Mr. J. J. Scholes, members of the local board, agreed with the foregoing witnesses, the last witness stating, in reply to the Commissioner, that the local government act was adopted at Bradley in 1862.
Mr. Brook, registrar, said the death rate in the improvement boundary for the last two years had been 24½ in the thousand, against 22½ or 22.3 in Bradley.
Mr. John Gibson, farmer and hotel keeper, and Mr. John Howgate, publican, the latter of whom went round to obtain signatures to the petition, against the incorporation scheme, were also called.
Mr. Shaw said that was the case on behalf of Bradley.
Commissioner — With regard to Almondbury, do you wish to call any witnesses?
Mr. Midgley said he should call no witnesses, but would address the court in opposition to the charter. He said they had everything in the village to make the people comfortable and agreeable. They had what they considered sufficient drainage; a moderate supply of water; they had a supply of gas, and lamps in the street to the number of 20 or 30. The Local Government Act was adopted six years ago, and the Board consisted of 12 members. In the opinion of a majority of the ratepayers it was impossible for Huddersfield to supply the village of Almondbury with water. The nearest point to Huddersfield was about one and a half miles distant, and the furthest point about four miles. The district comprised about 1,500 acres; a population of 4,500; number of houses 880, of which 703 were cottages, the average rateable value of these being £3 2s. each. The annual rateable value of property belonging to manufacturers was £873; and of farmers £3,072. There were four mills in the district; three co-operative stores; twelve provision dealers: six butchers, &c. The district was not an improving one on account of its high elevation, part of it comprising the far-famed Castle Hill. They had a cemetery in the village, purchased within the last ten years, four acres in extent — two applied to the church, one to dissent, and one neutral; and it was self-supporting. (Laughter.)
Mr. John Ashton, innkeeper, Lockwood, opposed the application for a charter, the Local Board, established six years, having well served the purposes of the inhabitants. The resolution in favour of the charter was passed conditionally on a guarantee being given that Lockwood should be supplied with water; but that guarantee had not been given.
Mr. Batley replied to the arguments and statements put forth against the charter of incorporation. He submitted that the allegations in the petition of the promoters had been thoroughly made out; that the area proposed, having regard to the extension of the borough, was not an improper one; and that it was expedient a charter should be granted, in order that they might secure a good and wise government over the locality.
The Commissioner intimated that he proposed to go over the outlying districts on the following day.
Mr. Batley said he had great pleasure in thanking the Commissioner for the extreme courtesy and attention with which he had listened to the evidence laid before him.
Mr. Shaw joined in the expression of thanks to the Commissioner.
Captain Donnelly acknowledged the compliment; and the enquiry terminated about four o’clock in the afternoon.