Glossop Heritage Trust


The Early Years of Glossop Town Council from 1866.


This article is based on the notes of Robert Hamnett, originally published as a series of articles in the Glossop Advertiser in June 1913.

The newly-elected Council had plenty of evils to remedy, and unfortunately, the Borough was not in a financial position to furnish the money to put affairs in a proper condition. The Cotton Panic had caused hundreds of ratepayers to emigrate or remove to other places; the shopkeepers were almost bankrupt; the middle classes were in poverty; and the cotton masters had suffered losses through their mills being stopped and the heavy rates they had to pay.

The condition of affairs was this: the main roads that run through the borough were turnpike trusts, and as these trusts had only a few years to run before they expired, little money was spent on the repair or maintenance of the roads. The gas belonged to a private company and the streets were badly lit; the streets were neither sewered, paved, flagged, nor channelled, the sanitary system was shocking — the [indistinct] overflowing with offensive matter. People swealed their chimneys when they thought fit; the factory chimneys belched forth volumes of black smoke; the water supply was insufficient; the pipes were old; the police were inadequate in numbers and subject to assaults from the rough population that dwelt in the borough. The morality of the Burgesses was low, drunkenness and theft rife, and altogether Glossop was not by a long way a model town.

The public-houses were open until 12 o'clock; sectarian and racial hatred was very bitter; and when the public-houses closed there was generally, especially on Saturday night, a "free fight," and when the police interfered, often as not, the contending parties would join forces and route the police. The cotton operatives were paid fortnightly on Saturdays, and as they worked until two o'clock the first move, especially the minders who had to pay their little and big piecers, was to their favourite pub, where the landlord or landlady was waiting with a plentiful supply of change. Of course, this meant at least a pint, but it was no uncommon sight to see wives or children waiting to get what they could out of their husbands or fathers before they "got too much," which was the usual thing. At twelve o'clock men could be seen staggering home with their cans and dinner basins, having paid their "shots," and their wages considerably reduced in the amount.

The Council could not do without a Town Clerk, so on the 9th January, 1867 Mr Thomas Michael Ellison was appointed. The Mayor gave a Mayoral banquet to the members of the Council, officials, and the elite of the district. It was held at the Norfolk Arms, and no expense was spared to make it what it was, a success. The usual after dinner speeches were made, and the loyal and the other toasts drunk, and everyone departed home, some having dined "not wisely but too well." But it was the first Mayoral Banquet, so what could you expect?

Thomas Michael Ellison
Thomas Michael Ellison.

The police were under the control of the County which, of course, could not be tolerated by a newly-fledged Council, so on 20th February, 1867 the Council decided to have their own Police Force, to rent the town hall, lock-ups and cottage for the rent of £40 per annum.

In the council chamber, on 2 March, 1867, Alderman Shepley stated that there were 770 empty houses in the eight Hamlets of Glossop, which gives us a good idea of what a long time Glossop was in recovering from the effects of the Cotton Panic.

Advertisements were inserted in the district papers for a Chief Constable and constables, and on the 18th March, 1867, out of eight applicants, Inspector Kershaw, of Stalybridge, was appointed Chief Constable at a salary of £100 per annum. James Bolan, of the Cheshire Constabulary, was appointed Sergeant of Police at a weekly wage of 25s.
Six policemen were appointed at a wage of 21s. per week, viz.: Joseph Hague, Joseph Dewsnap (late of Stalybridge Police Force), George Wilson (late of the Ashton Police Force), William Shaw (of Oldham Police Force), Amaziah Barnard and John Hayes (of Hulme, Manchester).

A Sanitary Inspector was required, so on the 21st March, 1867 Chief Constable Kershaw was appointed, at a salary of £15 per annum.

The police entered upon their duties on 2nd April, and the Sanitary inspector on the 4th.

The lockups at the Town Hall had often been condemned as insanitary, unhealthy and more fit for the middle ages than the 19th century. Application was therefore made in April, at the Derby Quarter Sessions, to use the County Lock-ups in Ellison Street, which was granted.

The Corporation decided to take on their own street lighting, and on 1 May, 1867, appointed superintendent Kershaw superintendent of the street lamp lighters at the "princely" salary of £7 10s. per annum.

The Borough having their own police, there was no longer occasion for the services of Inspector Gray and Police Constable J. Hill, so they were recalled to Derby on 6th May, 1867. The police had to be paid, and on 9 May, 1867, a Borough Rate of 6d. in the £ was levied. On 26th May Police Constable Joseph Dewsnap died, and the Superintendent and the police attended his funeral, which, perhaps, old Glossopians will remember.

There being no suitable table in the Council Chamber, the late Lord Howard gave orders to the late J. B. Smith to make a horse-shoe shaped table, and in June, 1867, Lord Howard presented it to the Council. It is a good specimen of English workmanship.

The Town Clerk soon found out that his work was more than he had anticipated, with the result that he successful fully applied for an increase which was granted, and his salary was raised from £30 to £60 per annum.

Borough Magistrates were necessary, and the following were recommended: Francis James Sumner, Easton House; Joseph Hill Wood, Whitfield house; William Shepley, Brookfield; Frederick Buckley, Hurst; Thomas Rhodes, Mersey Bank; Samuel Wood, Moorfield House; and John Hadfield, Cowbrook. They were sworn in on 4th July 1867 and I have no doubt they celebrated the occasion.

On 10 August, 1867, the Council took possession of the County Lock-ups, and Police Constable Clayton was promoted to sergeant on the 29th.

The first Brewster Sessions of the Borough was held in the Town Hall, Mr George Andrew, of Compstall; and Mr John Hill Wood, of Whitfield house, being the magistrates.
Henry Slater Lancaster, of the Ring O’ Bells, Glossop, applied for a full licence, but was refused.
There were 33 full licensed houses and 35 beer houses in the Borough.

The police being numerically few to deal with the rough element, the Council, on the 26th October, 1867, obtained 12 cutlasses.

On 29 May, 1869, Thomas Peacock Wreaks, one of the Councillors for St James’ Ward, died.

On 4 June, 1869, the Town Council discussed the question of having a school board for Glossop. On the motion of Councillor Eastham, the matter was adjourned to the next meeting, but as everyone knows, we have never had one.

On the 1st November, 1870, Alderman Joseph Woodcock, who had retired from the Norfolk Arms, died at Bank Terrace. He was in his 68th year, and left estate valued at £4000.

In May of the same year the Council decided to name and number the streets, and - would it be believed, but it is a fact - there was strong opposition from certain members of the Council.

On 10th May, 1870, William Beard was appointed Chief Constable, but was discharged on the 19th June following.

In March, 1871 Captain Elgee, Government Inspector, visited Glossop, inspected the police force and recommended that more police should be appointed, as the force was numerically inadequate to fulfil their duties and the requirements of the Borough. In the 2nd annual report of the Chief Constable, for the year ending September 29th, 1871 it was stated that 241 persons had been apprehended and summoned, 60 males and 6 females for drunkenness; there had been 56 robberies, £127 11s. 4½d. value stolen, of which £93.15s. 11½d. worth had been recovered; 108 places had been found insecure; 90 persons had been fined 1s. each for having their chimneys on fire; 63 persons had had pedlars’ licences granted to them; and 223 pedlars had had their licences endorsed.

On 28th September, 1873 Alderman John France died. He was born on 8th September, 1819.

From the Abstract of Accounts, published yearly, and to be obtained for 3d. at the Town Clerk's office, we find that in 1876 the County Lock-ups were bought by the Town Council from the County Authorities for £1866 8s. 6d. Many alterations and additions, including the Fire Station, have been made since. In the 1911 accounts we find the upkeep of the Police Station was for the year £94 17s. 11d.

In 1877 a, water cart was bought for £29 8s., and on the 20th September following a "Street Watering Rate" was made of 4d. in the £.

In 1879 accounts "Hadfield Lock-ups," £560 10s.; the cost of the upkeep for 1911 was £30 12s. 10d.

On the 11th November, 1879, a Government official held an enquiry in the Town Hall over the proposed purchase of the Waterworks, to which assent was given, and Lord Howard of Glossop was paid £21,000 for them. New pipes cost £2,462 9s. 0d., and the cost of laying them was considerable. The last valuation of the waterworks was £32,000. They are now clear, all the loans paid off, and are a valuable asset to the town.

In the 1880 accounts we find - Opposing Glossop Gas Bill,” £1,050 19s. 8d.

On the 26th of October, 1881, tenders for Hadfield Drainage," 3,224 yards had to be in, and the work was begun directly afterwards.

In 1883 accounts we find "Cost of Turnpike Trusts' opposition," £29 18s. The roads became repairable by the Borough, and £390 was paid for a steam roller.
The Corporation then began to take into consideration the flagging, channelling and sewering of the private streets, as there was such an outcry about their condition; perhaps some of those who were loudest in their complaints were not aware that eventually the cost of same would have to be paid by the tenants in the shape of increased rents.
Few of the Burgesses of the Borough are aware of the cost. I give the same that appear in the Abstract of Accounts:-
1883: Derby Street, from Victoria Street to King Street, £500 10s.; King Street, £414.
1892: The West part of Edward Street, £306 3.s. 11d.; Oak Street, £62 8s. 2d.
1893: Station Street, £134 14s. 6d.
1896: Derby Street from King Street to Wood Street, £166 2s. 7d.; Kershaw Street, £1,173 11s. 4d.
1898: Duke Street from Hadfield Street to St. Mary's Road, £530 1s. 9d.; Duke Street, from Hadfield Street to Hollincross Lane, £211 14s.; Hadfield Street, £621 2s. 7d.; North Road, £579 16s. 8d.; Cooper Street, £195 13s. 4d.
1902: Jones Street, Hadfield, £434 5s. 6d.; Mill Street, £554 6s. 9d.; Edward Street, £253 9s. 2d.
1903 John Street, £333 19s. 1d.; Church Street, £607 4s. 8d.; Albert Street, Hadfield, £501 17s. 0d.; Pikes Lane, £1,650 5s. 11d.; Hadfield Place, £397 9s. 4d.; Queen Street, £906 1s. 4d.; Princess Street, £1,156 6s. 6d.; Mount Street, £406 0s. 7d.; Cross Street, £178 15s.; Shrewsbury Street, £912 13s. 5d.; Shaw Street, £455 16s. 2d.; Sumner Street, £505 1s. 3d.
1904: Salisbury Street, £403 17s. 10d. ; Fitzalan Street, £932 10s.; Surrey Street, £911 16s. 6d.; Stanyforth Street, £798 19s 5d.; Wesley Street, £531 11s. 3d.; Talbot Street, £627 17s. 11d.
1905: John Dalton Street, £359 13s. 5d.; Wood Street, £1,271 15s. 9d.
1906: Silk Street, £196 12s. 3d.; Slatelands Avenue, £161 18s. 11d.; Walker Street, £318 10s. 4d.; Gladstone Street, Hadfield, £328 13s. 3d.
1907: The Avenue, £645 14s. 3d.; Green Lane, £708 13s. 4d.
1908 South Marlow Street, £364 2s. 8d.
1910: £295 16s. 7d. No name of street is given for this item.
Forty-three streets cost the owners of property £23,511 18s. 2d. It was stated in the Council Chamber, on the 14th January, 1885, that the Highway Committee were responsible for the repair of 25 miles of roads within the Borough and 13 miles without. At that time only five miles of the roads were paved.

The Fire Brigade made their first public appearance on the 6th of February, 1886.
In 1900 a new fire engine was purchased at a cost of £531 8 6d.
The upkeep of the Fire Brigade for 1911 was £108 18s. 1d., towards which Chisworth Parish Council paid £1; Charlesworth Parish Council, £9; receipts from various fires, £9 3s. 8d.; and sale of materials, 13s. 4d.; a nett cost of £89 1s.1d.

On 8 June, 1886, the Borough Police Force was inspected by the Hon. C J Legge, Inspector of Constabulary, who recommended that the Police Force be immediately increased in numbers. The Police Force at present consists of 1 Chief Constable, 1 Inspector, 4 Sergeants, and 24 men. The cost of the general establishment for 1911 was £2849 4s. 3d., towards which the ratepayers of Glossop contributed £1550, the County Council £1306 9s. 9d. The first member of the force to retire on a pension was Inspector Charlton, in 1894, who receives £69 6s. 8d. per annum. In 1911 there were eight at a cost of £497 16s. 6d., of which £42 8s. came out of the Borough Rate.

In 1890 accounts £214 4s. 7d. appears for widening Victoria Bridge.

In 1896 the Baths and Howard Park were conveyed to the corporation. The same year we saw the commencement of the Sewage Scheme. The Council have borrowing powers for the loan of £49,582, of which some £45,389 had been expended up to 1911, the valuation of the same being £34,500.

In 1901 accounts it appears £1799 9s. 1d. was spent on the new Technical School; Hague Farm was also bought for £1125. An additional water supply being required, engineers were employed to report on the same; in 1903 their charges were £241 19s. 5d.

In 1907 accounts, "Fire Station alterations, £1059 5s. 8d."

In 1869, when it may be reasonably inferred that the corporation had settled down to their work, there were only four committees; today, there are 20, and 5 sub-committees. Burgesses have little idea the amount of time that their representatives have to spend in attending to these duties.

The committees are: General Purposes, Highway, Watch, Sanitary, Building, Lighting, Water Works, Finance, Executive, Wood’s Hospital, Library, Infectious Hospital, Hackney Carriages, Sewage, Private Streets, Baths and Park, Partington Convalescent Home, Estates, Burial Board (joint), Education, and Old Age Pensions.
The Sub-committees are: Town's Yard, Town Hall and Offices, Printing, Processional, and Sanitary.

In 1869 there were four offices and officials; there are now Town Clerk, Borough Treasurer, Borough Accountant and Superintendent Overseer, Borough Surveyor and Sewage Works Manager, Assistant Surveyor, Chief Constable, Lighting, Nuisance, Food and Drugs, Dairies and Cow Sheds' Inspector, also Assistant Inspector, Medical Officer of Health, Water Inspector, and Assistant Inspector, Assistant Overseer and Collectors, Water Rate and Sanitary Collectors, Borough Auditor, Glossop Librarian, Curator of Victoria Hall, Secretary of Education Committee, School Attendance Officer, Headmaster of Technical School, Borough Analyst, Inspector of Diseased Animals, Veterinary Surgeon, Superintendent of Fire Brigade, Hackney Carriage Inspector, Wood’s Hospital Matron, Wood's Hospital Caretaker, Superintendent Partington Convalescent Home, Superintendent of Baths, Cashier, Park Head Gardener, Gamesley Infections Hospital Master and Matron, Sewage Works Foreman, Caretaker of Town's Yard, Caretaker of Town Hall, and Overseers. Quite a small army to be controlled and watched.

In 1869 one act, the Local Government Act of 1858, had been adopted. There are now 14 Acts adopted by the Council and orders of the Local Government Board and the Derbyshire County Council. The Imperial Government compels the Corporation to administer these Acts, but do not contribute their fair share of the cost of administration. Throughout the country Corporations are crying out "mark time" or "halt." Ratepayers do not consider when grumbling about the rates that a large proportion is spent on matters which the Council are unable to avoid or restrain.
There are 20 Bye Laws in force in the Borough.
The work of the members of the council is steadily increasing, and soon it will be a difficult matter to get candidates for Municipal honours!

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Page last updated: 8 March 2019.
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