Alterations to the parish church of Witham since the 18th century


Alterations to the parish church of Witham (St Nicholas / St Nicolas) from the 18th century onwards
By Janet Gyford, from local sources.


List of main sources of information

Bramston = ERO Acc A5404, three scrapbooks presented by Reverend Bramston to the parish, 1873.

Mary Bramston = “Witham Fifty Years Ago” by Mary Bramston (daughter of former vicar John Bramston, she was born c 1842), in the Parish Magazine, 1897.

Lucas = “Witham, Essex”, by Lieut-Col W J Lucas, in volume 4 of Transactions of Essex Archaeological Society, published 1895.

Fowler =The Church of St Nicholas, Witham, by R C Fowler, published 1911

RCHM = Report of Royal Commission on Historic Monuments, based on survey of 1914.

ERO = Essex Record Office, various documents as quoted.

Guildhall = Guildhall Library Manuscripts section, various documents as quoted.

I also suggest looking at the Rate book and the Vestry minutes 1833-1911, in ERO Accession A5605, Box 1.



In the course of these works [of 1877] it became clear that originally the whole of the interior, including the stone pillars, was coloured vermilion powdered with black stars of five points. This had long been obliterated by repeated coats of Puritan whitewash, and is now effectually destroyed by the new facing of the walls and the carding of the stone work” (Lucas).

RCHM includes a plan of the church in 1914.



Email from Herts RO

From: Herts Direct <>
Date: Thu, 7 Oct 2004 19:04:08 +0100
Dear Janet Gyford,

Re: Records for the diocese of St Albans

As you may be aware the diocese of St Albans was established by virtue of an Order in Council of 30 April 1877, whereby the whole of the counties of Essex and Hertfordshire were removed from the diocese of Rochester and formed into the new diocese. The diocese of Chelmsford was formed by an Order in Council of 21 January 1914 and documents relating to temporalities in Essex have been transferred to the Essex Record Office.

Email from Kent RO

Subject: Diocesan Records
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 2004 09:25:12 +0100
To: Janet Gyford

I have not been able to find we hold any faculties for Witham, I’m afraid.

The Muniment Books for the right period (at present uncatalogued) may show

entries, but I have not found any other relevant documents.


Michael Carter

Centre for Kentish Studies



The Tower

  1. “The height of the [original] rubble masonry was about the same as that of the Tower as now existing, but this was continued 24 feet higher by a structure of wood in which the Bells were hung. This structure having become delapidated was removed in 1743 and replaced in red bricks’ … [in 1877 it was found that] ‘one of the principal beams of the old frame bore the inscription, carved in relief, “John Hast framed me, 1743”. On other timbers were carved the names of “W Sands” and of “S Harris Churchwarden” and the initials “J W”, the two last with the same date added“ (1743) (Lucas).

? date. Some drawings of the elevations of the church in the Bramston scrapbooks show it with no stair turrets, i.e. not at the vestry and not at the tower. The drawings are stuck in near 1840s material, but could have been put there later (Bramston).

c 1844. “The west window and the beautiful tower arch were [still] bricked up and plastered over, and in front were two great galleries, the organ in the highest one. … The Sunday-school children sat in the lower gallery … “ (Mary Bramston).

  1. ‘Two western galleries were taken down – arch into belfry opened’ (Bramston) [this probably means into the tower]
  2. ‘When I was eight or nine years old, the church was “restored”; the belfry arch was opened and the present west window put in’” (Mary Bramston).
  3. “The Arch opening [from the tower] into the nave is very lofty. Previous to 1849 this was closed and two tiers of galleries existed in the nave. In that year these were taken down and the Arch opened out. Above this Arch is a window commanding a view of the Altar and whole interior of the Church …’ (Lucas).
  4. “Red top of tower removed, and tower restored – new framing of bells – 2 bells recast … New floors to Tower [et al.]. Church closed May 14 – reopened Dec 18 by Bp of St Albans. Total cost £2,100” (Bramston).
  5. “[The red brick top of the tower dating from 1743] was taken down in 1877 and the Bells hung in the chamber below, which is not suitable for want of sufficient height. Thus the sound bow of some is below the cills of the windows, which deadens the sound, and an opinion has been expressed that in the course of years it may have a prejudicial effect upon the stability of the walls; and whereas previously the Bells at their former height were heard at a distance of two or three miles, they can now [1895] only be heard in the town in very still weather or when a north-east wind prevails’ .

‘The Bell Frames taken down [in 1877] were a fine specimen of the art of carpentering, and except in a few places in very substantial preservation. The Architect (the late Joseph Clarke) was desirous of retaining them, but they were found to be too large for the present Chamber into which the Bells were to be lowered on account of the diminished space owing to the increased thickness of the walls, and new frames were then substituted.’ (Lucas).

Plans and elevations of new tower (ERO D/C/F16/10).

  1. “Clock placed in Tower of Parish Church in 1887. The gift by legacy of Miss Bramston”(Bramston).
  2. “Outside the tower, on the north, is a modern newel staircase containing some of the steps taken from the stairs of the vestry and rood loft, which leads to the middle storey of the tower, from which the bells are rung’ (Fowler).
  3. “There was ‘a modern stair turret at the N E angle and a modern embattled parapet” and also “in the N wall [of the tower] is a large recess with jambs and two-centred arch of brick and probably connected with a former gallery’ [The George Armond door was not in this recess then, it was still the outer door to the south chapel] (RCHM)



  1. Drawing of church showing galleries (my copy from Maurice Smith, my M1474, JG).
  2. “Faculty obtained for building the South Gallery of the Church” (Bramston). “ERO T/A 366/1 is a calendar of faculties in Diocesan records – gives Guildhall MS 9532/9, gallery at Witham, in 1802”.
  3. Guildhall MS volume 9532/9, f.18769

According to the card index, the actual plans accompanying these papers do not survive.

“Faculty for erecting a gallery in Witham Church

… Bishop of London … to … Vicar, parishioners and inhabitants … Witham … Greeting. Whereas it hath been … set forth before … Vicar General … of our Consistorial and Episcopal Court of London on the part and behalf of Thomas Read and James Beadle churchwardens of … Witham that at a Vestry held … for the said parish on Wednesday the thirtieth day of June [1802] … in pursuance of proper notice given in the said parish church …for the special purpose of taking into consideration the erecting a Gallery in the said Church of Witham the Minister and churchwardens … then informing the Vestry that for a considerable time past frequent complaints had been made by the parishioners of want of Seats in the Church by which many persons had been prevented attending divine worship it was resolved unanimously that it was become absolutely necessary to give immediately orders for the erecting of a gallery. That such gallery should be erected on the south side of the said church and that the plan then produced by James Beadel carpenter for the erecting of the said gallery of the dimensions of forty-two feet in length and eleven feet and a half in width to contain fifteen pews should be approved of and that it should be by him carried into immediate execution under the direction of the minister and churchwardens … church rate should be made to defray the expenses … copy of the said minutes … shewn to the said Surrogate and brought into and left in the Registry of our Court … we … ratify … Grant …to them our Leave, licence or Faculty …” 4 December 1802.

  1. Faculty obtained for building the North Gallery of the Church and Gallery erected at a cost of £198 10s’ (Bramston) (also in ERO D/P 30/6/3 and 4).
  2. Guildhall MS volume 9532/10, f.221

According to the card index the actual plans accompanying these papers do not survive

“Witham, faculty for erecting a gallery”.

Similar wording to 1802. Churchwardens now James Beadel and James Playle. Meeting held on Thursday 23 June 1814 ‘to consider “the erecting a Gallery … unanimously … that some additional accommodation is wanted … for the parishioners who resort to the Church or who would resort to the Church if they could be accommodated and that an estimate be made … cost … on north side … to correspond with that on the south side … and meeting Tuesday“ 26th July 1814 “resolved that Mr Harwood’s estimate be accepted and that he and James Beadel the younger be employed to erect the Gallery of the dimensions of 49 feet in length and 11 feet nine inches in width with three rows of pews … a copy of the minutes … and a plan … shown to the said surrogate … and left in the Registry of our said court … grant …” 15 November 1814.

  1. “Two western galleries taken down – arch into belfry opened … Reopened Jan 26 1850” (Bramston)
  2. “[Left in place] were the galleries on each side of the nave and on the south side of the chancel” (Mary Bramston)
  3. “Gallery of chancel aisle St Nicolas church taken down” (Bramston).
  4. Faculty. “Removal of gallery and minor restoration work. 3 plans, showing new ground plan of church, elevations and sections of tower and nave. Joseph Clark, architect” (ERO D/C/F16/10).
  5. “North and south galleries taken down … [et al.] Church closed May 14 – reopened Dec 18 by Bp of St Albans. Total cost £2,100” (Bramston).



  1. “Church of St Nicolas closed with exception of chancel in order to have the roof repaired. Lead taken off and sold – new slated – new cross – ceiling removed – timbers of roof repaired and exposed (Bramston) … Reopened Jan 26 1850”.
  2. “New roof of oak and slate with stone coping and cross put on chancel with oak pannelling inside” (Bramston).
  3. “The old roof removed in 1851, was somewhat similar to the present one, but the oak panels were adorned with armorial bearings which no longer appear” (Lucas)


Outside walls

  1. “Wall at east end [of chancel] also refaced with rough stones” (Bramston).

1853-54. “South side of chancel aisle refaced with entire new stonework to buttresses, windows and battlements …  South wall of south aisle of nave refaced with new stonework to buttresses, windows and to porch” (Bramston).

1853-54. [The fact that the porch is not bonded to the south wall], “prior to the reparation of the Porch, and the coating of rubble work of the south wall of the Church with rough stones about forty years [before 1895], was clearly perceptible’’ (Lucas)

  1. “… buttresses and plinth of [eastern end of north] aisle restored” (Bramston).


South Porch

“The Porch was evidently added subsequently to the re-building of the Church as the walls are not bonded into the south wall of the fabric” (Lucas).

1853-54 [The fact that the porch is not bonded to the south wall], “prior to the reparation of the Porch, and the coating of rubble work of the south wall of the Church with rough stones about forty years [before 1895], was clearly perceptible’’ (Lucas)



? date. Some drawings of the elevations of the church in the Bramston scrapbook show it with no stair turrets, i.e. not at the vestry and not at the tower. They are stuck in near 1840s material but could have been put in later (Bramston)

  1. “Vestry restored and embattlements added in new Sacrarium &c &c. [et al.] Church closed May 14 – reopened Dec 18 by Bp of St Albans Total cost £2,100” (Bramston)
  2. “Filling in of old opening in north pier of chancel arch made by Rev Newman [d.1840] (Lucas)

? date. Fowler says that in the vestry the old arched roof and “the newel stair” was removed, “and a doorway cut through the turret [i.e. of the stair]”. Lucas also mentions this but just says it was “some years since” 1895, so Fowler may have just assumed it was in 1877, and this may not be correct (Fowler and Lucas)

  1. Muniment Book containing faculty for new organ and enlarging of vestry (Herts RO, DSA/15/10).
  2. “Outside the tower, on the north, is a modern newel staircase containing some of the steps taken from the stairs of the vestry and rood loft, which leads to the middle storey of the tower, from which the bells are rung” (Fowler).



  1. 1844. “New east window of stone. Reredos put up in chancel of St Nicolas church” (Bramston)

1853-54. “Windows [on south side of chancel] glazed with Powells glass … Windows [on south wall of south aisle of nave] glazed with Powells glass. New painted window in memory of W and S Sims”. (Bramston)

  1. “Windows in eastern end of north aisle restored and fitted with Powells glass”. (Bramston).
  2. “Windows in west end of north aisle restored” (Bramston)
  3. “Memorial window at east end of chancel by Hardman of Birmingham in memory of Mr and Mrs Walford and Mrs Kennedy put up by Col Kennedy” (Bramston).
  4. “2 windows in clerestory St Nicolas south side restored in new stone and filled with Powells Glass” (Bramston).



I haven’t noted this otherwise but there is:

Muniment Book containing faculty for restoration of ancient screen, 1890 (Herts RO, DSA1/15/5)



I haven’t noted this otherwise but there is:

Muniment Book containing faculty for cross and candlesticks, 1910 (Herts RO, DSA1/15/11)


Drains and water, 1848 to 1869.

This essay is based on correspondence between Witham and two Government Departments. The Departments compiled and kept this file of letters, which is now in The National Archives.

Its description is Ref. MH 13/209: General Board of Health and Home Office:
Local Government Act Office: Correspondence.

Any exact quotations below are distinguished by inverted commas ‘  ‘
Otherwise what are written are notes and summaries by me [Janet Gyford].

The photographs at the end show what was achieved once the discussion was concluded.


Before I turn to the correspondence itself, here is a summary of the background (by JG):

1848   Under the Public Health Act, a General Board of Health was set up, responsible to the Government. It had powers to set up Local Boards of Health.
October 1848   Petition from the “inhabitants” of Witham, asking for the implementation of the Public Health Act in Witham.
1849/1850   Government Inspector Edward Cresy visited Witham, and produced a damning report on conditions in the town .
March 1852   First meeting of Witham Local Board of Health.
Later 1852   Witham LBH decided to make a sewer.
1853-1854   Mr Bull made a plan. Approved by General BH.
1855     Dissent arose in Witham about whether or not to have a plan, so nothing was done for several years.
1867-1868   A small pox epidemic struck Witham (introduced by “an Irish hawker”).
1867-1868   A very serious typhoid epidemic occurred in Terling, three miles from Witham. Two Witham people led the medical effort (Dr Gimson Gimson and Miss Mary Ann Luard) . For details, see the website The Terling Fever of 1867 – Historic Terling (

January 1868   Government inspectors who visited Terling came to Witham also, and reported unfavourably.
February 1868   A parish meeting was held in Witham, to explain the Local BH plans. A deputation led by Mr Luard objected [this must have been William Garnham Luard of Witham who later became Admiral Luard].

May 1868   Meeting held in Witham to explain  two different plans, by Mr Church and by Mr Chancellor.
September 1868   Report by Mr Rawlinson of the Local Government Board. He recommends Mr Church’s plans with modifications.
September 1868   Loan sanction received.
1869   The scheme was completed.

End of summary.

Beginning of copies of correspondence

11 Oct 1848. Letter from J Howell Blood [solicitor](1263/48)
Saying ‘honor to transmit to you a Petition from the Inhabitants of Witham that the provisions of the Act 11 & 12 V C 63, may be brought into operation. The petitioners would be greatly obliged of your early attention to it.’

Copy of petition
. Text is as follows:
‘The Honourable The General Board of Health.
The Humble Petition of the Undersigned Inhabitants of Witham in the County of Essex
That the Parish of Witham contains according to the last Census upwards of 3000 persons.
That there are nearly 700 rated[?] Inhabitants.
That your Petitioners consist of more than one tenth of such Inhabitants.
That the Town of Witham is increasing.

no General or Public Drainage exists. The only Drains being Private and very inefficient the consequence of which is that the nuisance has reached such an Extent as to render many of the Houses in the Neighbourhood of open Drains unfit for Habitation and the evil is severely felt by the Inhabitants of many of the better class of Houses from there being no proper and sufficient Outlet for their own Drains. And your Petitioners firmly believe that in the event of the Cholera appearing in the Neighbourhood the Health of the Inhabitants would materially suffer.

The subject of General Drainage
of Witham has long been under the consideration of the Inhabitants but from the want of such powers as are given by the “Public Health Act” they have been unable to carry out their object.

Your Petitioners
therefore view with great satisfaction the recent Act and humbly pay your Honourable Board to direct such Steps to be taken for Introduction of the Benefits of it into the Parish of Witham.
[The following are signatures}

John Bramston Vicar
T Tomkin, Surgeon
Thos Butler
Thos M Tomkin, Surgeon
Henry Dixon, Surgeon
Chas Douglas, Solicitor
J Howell Blood, Solicitor
Charles Cooke, Supt of Police
H Du Cane, Minister
A G Proctor, Surgeon
Edw W Banks, Solicitor
J E Walford
Seymour E Major, Curate
W W Luard, Magistrate
Jacob H Pattisson, Solicitor
Louisa Du Cane
P M[?] Green
Sarah Watkinson[?]
Thomas Pyman
Henrietta Hunt
Charlotte B Boyfield
Carrington Wilson
Wm Butler
Cornelius Walford Jnr
Robert King
MH[?] Cudford[?]
Levi Turner
M Jackson
John Cottee
Mary Philbrick
James Boutwood
[??]d Gee
Wm Bright
Wm[?] Crede[?]
Charles Owen Green
Robt Poynter Green
William Cottis
William Agar
Henry Thorpe
Robt Martin
W H Garrett
Wm Elmy
Thomas Fuller
W Burroughs
Thos Harrisson
H L White
Robert Cooke
Michael A Dandy[?]
George Edwards
M A Bramston
Ellen Newman
W Pryke
Sarah Hubbard
Isaac Warwicker
Maria Cunnington
Eliza Du Cane
Mary Beadel
Jane Bright
Mary Anne Houghton
Wm Mann
Sarah Lewis
Edwin Sibthorpe
Sarah Nunn
Robert Harrington
Geo Appleby[?]
Rebecca Cook
Geo Gardner
Jno Gardner
Thomas Mead
George White
Jno Garrard
Wm Tylor
James Slythe
Hugh Mortimer

3 Nov 1848. Letter from J Howell Blood, Witham. To E Chadwick Esq. (937/48) [Edwin Chadwick, pioneering Health reformer]
‘Sir, Some time since I forwarded to the Board of Health, a Petition from this Town on the subject of Drainage, which is much required[?], I am told that parts of the Town are in a most unwholesome state, and deaths are arising[?]. May I request to be informed if it is likely any steps will be taken in consequence of the Petition I have referred to, as if not, we must endeavour to effect an improvement by[?] some other means’.
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter]: Acknowledge and say measures are in hand. (1264/48)

Copy of reply 4 November 1848 for Sec Gen Board of Health. Says as above.

20 Nov 1848. Letter from J Howell Blood, to Henry Austin esquire, sec of the Board of Health [1264/48] ‘Sir, I can procure an excellent Plan of the Town with a Plan of the Gas Pipes laid down for the Supply of every house. This I should suppose would answer your purpose – with regard to the Drains now existing I find that such drains as there are, very few persons know where they lead to. It really would be advantageous if a day could be fixed for the meeting as we are constantly receiving Notices of the Existence of Nuisances, which nothing can cure but general and effectual drainage’
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter]: ‘Send next letter. Sent 27 Nov’

14[?] November. J Howell Blood to Henry Austin (1265/48)
‘Sir, I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of Saturday’s date announcing that a Superintending Inspector had been appointed to visit Witham.
Public Notices are usually affixed to the Doors of the Church, Chapel, Meeting Houses and Post Office, hence a Ten[?] Notices would be required, and if you will forward them to me I will take care they are properly affixed.
There is a Public Room at the Literary Institution which I think would suit your Inspector, and which could be used by him at almost any time.
The List of Places for Public Notice is as follows. Witham Church. Ditto Chapel. Independ’t Meeting House, Baptist Do, Post Office.’

7 December 1848. Printed notice with parts filled in
Witham, Edward Cresy to be here on 2 January at 11 in forenoon in Literary Institution.

Extra note by JG:

1849/1850 Government Inspector Edward Cresy visited Witham, and produced a damning report on conditions in the town . For a copy, see the PDF link on website:

4 March 1851. Account for services Witham
Refers to enclosed papers, are they proper. Henry Austin To E Cresy Esq South Docuth[?] near Dartford Kent.

6 March 1852. From J Howell Blood, Local Board of Health, Witham, to General Board of Health, Whitehall (800/52)
Election of Local Board of Health concluded, first meeting yesterday, Rev J Bramston chair and I clerk. Adjourned till 29th inst ‘and as the members of the Board are desirous of obtaining some insight into their powers and duties, in the meantime I am directed to request you to be good enough to forward a copy for each member’ of minutes of instructions.
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter]: Get from publisher.
Copy letter saying the same.

Letter from J Howell Blood to General Board of Health (982/52)
‘At the time Mr Cresy made his preliminary inspection of this Town, he was furnished with some Surveys etc. by Mr Walford, a Surveyor here, and as the Board think these would be useful to them, I am directed to request that you will have the goodness to give directions for their being forwarded to me’.
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter]: see if Cresy has them.
Copy letter saying this done.

7 April 1852. Letter from Edward Cresy to GBH
‘My dear sir, Mr Walford’s plans of Witham were long ago forwarded to him by his express desire.’  Doesn’t have any left. Bit about accounts for survey etc.

27 December 1852. From J Howell Blood to GBH (5299/5)
‘I beg to inform you that the Local Board have determined to make a Sewer through part of their district, according to a plan prepared by their surveyor, and I shall be obliged by your informing me what is necessary to be done to carry out the intention of the Local Board’.
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter] Ask whether they propose to pay out of yearly income or mortgage rates.
Copy reply asking same.

8 February 1853. From J Howell Blood to GBH (394/53)
The Witham Local Board of Health ‘have made Bye Laws for regulating their Business and the duties of their officers, for regulation of slaughter houses and for street cleansing etc. and the notice of application for their approval by one of the Secretaries of State has been duly advertised’. Please confirm Order etc.
Copy reply forwarded to Sec of State.

8 February 1852. From J Howell Blood to GBH (395/53)
Propose to raise amount for drainage of part of district ‘by mortgage of their special rates upon that part of the district for the term of ten years’.
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter]. Must forward plans and estimates before can be approved.
Reply saying same.

Letter from H Waddington of Whitehall to GBH (524/53)
‘Directed by Viscount Palmerston’ to transmit bye laws and he asks your opinion.
Long endorsement, hard to read.

From J Howell Blood to GBH (5555/53)
‘The Local Board have accepted the Tender of Mr John Bull, surveyor, of Navestock, for the preparation of the necessary Plans for the purposes of Drainage and water supply for this district’. Forwarding specific and agreement and plan. Shown in red the part proposed to have surveyed by Mr B. Accompanying plan is a reduced copy of the map made some years since for the Tithe Commutation.
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter]. Return plan and agreement, latter seems to be satisfactory.
Copy letter saying the same.

12 July 1854. From J Howell Blood to GBH (2824/54).
‘Have forwarded to you by this night’s mail the Plan which I have received from Mr Bull the Surveyor. He informs me that he has delivered to you the Diagram and Field Books.

14 August 1854 (435/54 ). ‘Report on the Survey Plans of Witham, Essex. To the Right Honble the President of the General Board of Health’.
‘Sir, I have the honor to report to you that the survey plans of Witham, Essex, … have been examined. This survey has been executed on a trigonometrical basis. The lines have been measured as well as calculated and they are found to be quite correct.
No error of any consequence has been detected in the levels, but it was necessary to make the addition to the plans of the level of the lowest floors of the houses.
The finished plans are plainly but very neatly drawn. The whole of the work has been executed in a very business like and commendable manner and I recommend with pleasure that the General Board’s approval of it should be signified’.
Henry Austin. Whitehall.
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter] Send copy to LBH and say GBH have approved plans.
Bit about accounts re mortgage.

1 November 1855. From J H Pattisson, Witham House, Essex, to Secretary, GBH. With seal(4003/55)
‘Sir … The Board of Health was established … after Edw Cresy Esq had been down and met the parishioners and examined the place in consequence of a memorial to the Board of Health in London, wishing for enquiry and the establishment of sanitary measures in the parish.
There are two parties now in the Board (of 9), and in the Parish, as to carrying out Drainage and water supply, and as to the advantage or propriety of a Board at all – and again it is alleged that there was never a feeling in favour of the Establishment of the Board – in short that there was not a largely signed Memorial. Now it would be of much importance and highly satisfactory to myself and other Gentlemen if you could furnish me with a copy of the Memorial and its signatures which was the basis of the Sanitary measures, as we have reason to believe that the signatures of many persons now opposed to sanitary measures were appended to it.
We wish to satisfy our Neighbors that a larger proportion than required signed the Memorial, and to allay the augmented idea that the sense of the parish was not ascertained.
The original memorial I presume is amongst the documents at your office – and as we have no copy, your early compliance with my request would be esteemed a favor.
The memorial was sent about 7 years ago.
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter] ‘Some objections have been made to such a course but I have none. Send it. WC’
Copy letter doing so

More about money and Walford’s account for plans.

4 November 1857. J Howell Blood to GBH (2700/57). Local Board of Health ‘in want of funds for the repair of the Highways’. Seek opinion of how to obtain same.

More about money.

13 April 1860. J Howell Blood to GBH (837/60)
Forwarding byelaws and advert (from Essex Herald, March 6).
Under Local Government Act 1858., Re streets, sewerage, walls of new buildings, to prevent fire, space about buildings re ventilation and circulation of air. Re drainage. advise closing of those unfit for human habitation. And for giving notice as to deposition of plans.
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter] OK

12 August 1867. Letter from J D Shakespeare, J P, Witham, Essex, to Sec of State, Home Dept. (no number)
‘Sir, I have the honor to lay before you the following statement.
About three months since the Smallpox was introduced here by an Irish Hawker; it hung about the spot where the man lay ill and some deaths occurred, it has now spread generally and no part of the town is free.
I have used by utmost endeavour to draw the attention of the Local Board of Health to the existence of many nuisances and my efforts have to some extend done good where those of the most serious nature were found, but there are still many others which a little energy and outlay could remove.
On the 29th July last, Mr Gimson, a medical man of this place wrote to me thus “Neither isolation nor sanitary measures are at present attempted, although I cannot but think they are most desirable to check the further spread of the smallpox”; since I received this note, the disease has spread much further, fresh cases are continually reported, and there is one this morning within 50 yards of my house, the healthiest part of the neighbourhood.”  Since 1855 there have been periodical discussions about introducing into this town an effective system of drainage, in preference to the established cesspools; but nothing more has been done, no action has taken place during these twelve years.

In an Engineering sense the town possesses every facility for good drainage and it has been estimated that the works can be carried out, including a water supply, at the cost of A Shilling rate. For the last 18 months I have been reviving the question and have presented to the Local Board of Health a petition signed by 24 Owners or Occupiers, some of the most influential in the place, in favour of drainage, but I very much fear that those members of the Board who are inclined to act from a sense of public duty are outnumbered by those who think 1/0 rate too much to pay for public health as long as they are healthy themselves.

Under these circumstances which I can only briefly relate, I beg most respectfully to request your assistance under the 49th clause of the Sanitary Act of 1866’.
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter] ‘Secretary – applies under the section of the Act – an Inquiry into the sanitary condition of the district. [different writing:] There can be no new proceedings under the 49 Section since the late opinion of the Law Officers. S F O L [or AFOL?]’

24 December 1867. From J D Shakespear JP Lt Colonel in the Royal Artillery, to Sec of State  (4222)
‘Sir. As a resident in this town I have the honour to bring to your notice the apparent total incapacity of the Local Board of Health to transact its business as “The Nuisance Authority”; possibly this may be caused by the fact of some of the Nuisances being on the premises of some of its members.

During my residence here of two years I have on several occasions complained in writing to them of nuisances existing of a most grievous description, one instance only I need cite as an example.
In or about December 1866 the cottagers in the locality known as Maldon Square [sic – probably Trafalgar Square] reported to the Nuisance Inspector that their public privy required emptying, this report was disregarded – in or about last June I was requested to view the premises and saw Masses of human excrement and vegetable matter festering in the surro. immediately adjoining habitations and at that time of year too dangerous to move.

I at once informed the Local Board of Health in writing of what I had seen and pressed the necessity of doing at once all that could be done, imagining they would disinfect and remove in due course. But having Typhoid fever close at hand and some Misgiving as to the Board of Health, I visited this morning the localities I had reported months since and heard from the Cottagers that nothing had been done in fact what had been reported replete with Soil twelve months ago was only so much worse from having been in daily use by many persons ever since. I could name other instances of neglect of the same class.

I regret most extremely not having made this report before, but I have been held back by the circumstance of my having presented to the Local Board a petition (some months since) signed by 24 Owners or Occupiers, begging that the subject of drainage might be seriously entertained; besides I was not acquainted with this particular neglect in Maldon Square till today.
I have learnt that the “Drainage of Witham” has been a subject of deliberation by the Board for twelve years notwithstanding that the town offers every engineering advantage and that the heaviest estimate yet made can be covered by a shilling rate.
Most respectfully begging your assistance on behalf of those who have turned to me for help, as well as for myself’.
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter]  ‘Send copy to Local Authority for any remarks or explanations they may wish to offer’. Tell writer have done.

  1. 14 January 1868. From J D Shakespear as above. Private. (129)
    ‘You may remember my having had the pleasure of calling on you last year on the subject of “The Local Board of Health” and nuisance of this town.
    I now take the liberty of telling you with reference to your official letter to wit W 4222/7 of Dec 30th 1867 that nothing whatever has been done as far as it is in my power to know.
  2. The privies and cesspools complained of in my letter … 24 Dec … have not been touched and they are of course only so much more full.
    Without saying the exact distance these are from the cottages, I will venture to say they are within 10 feet, the occupants are poor people afraid of their landlord and who will not therefore make an official complaint to me as a Justice of the Peace.
  3. It is not a pleasant thing to have to make formal complaints but if this Local Board will not do their duty I shall again complain but perhaps if you were to enquire what had been done they might move’.

5 February 1868. Memo (364/68)
Sending ‘letter from the Medical Department of the privy Council Office … relative to the insufficient administration of the nuisances removal acts by the Board of Guardians of the Witham Union and the Local Board of the Town of Witham. From James ??? to J[?] Taylor esq., Local Government Act Office.

‘Reports on an epidemic of Typhoid Fever at Terling, by Dr R Thorne Thorne.’ Stamped [??] February 1868.
Printed. In two parts headed ‘First report’ and ‘Second report’.

The first report is based on visits to Terling from 21st to 25th December 1867, and from 6th to 13th January 1868 and is all about Terling. [Notes not made here on Terling but see the website The Terling Fever of 1867 – Historic Terling (]

The second report is based on a further visit on 29th to 31st January 1868. The first part is again about Terling, but he was instructed to visit other places on the way home and at the end there are shorter reports on Witham, Great Coggeshall, Messing, and Hatfield Peverel. I have only typed out the part about Witham which is as follows.
‘I was also instructed to ascertain, before concluding my visit, whether the other towns and villages belonging to the Witham Union were in a similar insanitary condition to that in which I found Terling, and with this view I spent a few hours in Witham, Great Coggeshall, Messing and Hatfield Peverel.

Sanitary condition of Witham. Witham is a small town, containing about 3,500 inhabitants, and is the only place in this Union which is governed by a Local Board of Health. The main streets have an appearance of great cleanliness and comfort, but on passing from them into courts and slums which are hidden from the general view, cesspools, dilapidated privies, with their contents running about the yards and gardens, heaps of decaying animal and vegetable matter, and every species of nuisance can be found in abundance. Some of the inhabitants live in hovels of the most miserable description, where they are surrounded by intolerable stenches, and, I was informed that they dare not complain to their landlords or to the Inspector of Nuisances of the filthiness around them, for if they go to the former, they fear that he will turn them out of their houses, whereas the latter is the relieving officer, and it is their belief that any complaints made to him would go far to prevent their receiving parish relief. But a more serious obstacle even than this exists to any sanitary improvement. The properties on which the worst nuisances exist belong to members of the Local Board, and I would especially allude to several groups of cottages belonging to a Mr Tomasin [Thomasin], the stinking nuisances around which render them unfit for human habitation. Mr Tomasin is a gentleman of large fortune, he has a seat at the Local Board, and yet, so much has he neglected the dwellings of the poor which belong to him, that the magistrates have been compelled to summon him before them, in order to force him to remove nuisances on his cottage property. In this town there is, as a rule, a common water supply for several cottages, and the wells are generally protected from contaminating influences. Witham has no system of drainage, but in all probability one will before long be constructed. It is an unhealthy town, and though there has been no special prevalence of specific fevers, still I am informed that disease here assumes a low type, and that strumous [sic] affections, rickets and phthisis, attack a large number of the inhabitants.

[Great Coggeshall – better state than Terling or Witham but many portions in a very dirty condition. Inhabitants mostly weavers, great depression in the trade, so many destitute. Messing moderately good but only because after fever four years ago which killed 23, improvements were made. Hatfield Peverel in disgraceful condition up to last few weeks, but committee appointed to improve it since Terling fever outbreak. Reason there was typhoid in Terling and not elsewhere, may partly be rise of surface water because of undulations etc and maybe different soils, which not found in the other places.

7 February 1868. Letter to J H Blood, clerk to Guardians, Witham Union (364/1868)
Re Epidemic at Terling, Witham Union. Directed by Sec of State for the Home Dept. Applied to by ‘Lords of Her Majesty’s Privy Council to take action under the 16th and 49th sections of the Sanitary Act 1866 (29 ad 30 Vict C 90) … he has directed Mr Arnold Taylor an Inspector of the Local Government Act Office to visit Terling and Witham … to report … It would be desirable that the Inspector … should be accompanied on his Inquiry by the Inspector of Nuisances of the Board of Guardians, and if the Chairman or any member of the Board wishes to take part … he will be at the Witham Station by the 11.42 Train from London on Monday in company with Dr Thorne of the Med Department of the Privy Council’.
Short notice because of severe epidemic.

8 February 1868. From J H Blood, Witham Union (headed paper), to T S [?] Taylor Esq. Loc Govt Act Office. (400/68)
‘I am extremely glad that Mr A Taylor is coming to inspect Witham and Terling. I have arranged that the Local Board of Health of Witham should be in attendance at the Union House, Witham … one oclock.’.

17 February 1868. Local Government Office (513)
Village of Terling. Report on an Inquiry and Inspection made 12 Feb 1868 ‘on a complaint made by the Medical Dept of the Privy Council’ against Board of Guardians.
Even if does what can, no effect till vestry lays down sewerage for ‘slop water and liquid refuse’ and ‘better water supply’.
‘I therefore asked Lord Rayleigh, who kindly and most readily acceded to my request, to secure the attendance of some of the leading Ratepayers … at a meeting in the vestry’
Lord Rayleigh, Revd Hill the vicar and 10 or 12 vestry men assembled. Vestry meeting arranged to form committee. Hope will be OK. By Arnold Taylor.

Letter from Terling
Are preparing a plan

Feb 27 1868. Report (658)
Sanitary Act 1866. The Town of Witham, Essex.
Report on an Inquiry and Inspection made at Witham on the 11th and 12th February’ 1868.
To Hon Gathorne Hardy, MP, Sed of State home Dept.
Mr Thorne Thorne went to Witham too. Local Board of Health there so ‘ample powers … had it chosen to use them.’

But in spite of these powers Dr Thorne found … that the Town of Witham had no system of main sewerage – no water, except such as was to be obtained from shallow wells and surface supply, and that many of the poorer parts of the Town were deficient in privy accommodation.
He also ascertained from actual personal inspection, that there was no systematic enforcement of the provisions of the Nuisance Removal Acts, and that large collections of offensive house refuse and filth were allowed to accumulate in and about the yards and back premises of the cottages and poorest class of houses within the Local Board of health District’.
After this report, requested further inquiry.

‘This having been done, Dr Thorne and I proceeded to Witham on the 10th inst, on the day following, in company with him, the Revd J Bramston (who is the Vicar of Witham and also the Chairman of the Local Board), Lieut Colonel Shakespear, a Resident magistrate, and some of the other members of the Local Board of Health, I made a detailed and careful inspection of the Town.

On the 12th … long interview with the Board of Health at their offices, nearly all the members having kindly assembled to meet us on the occasion. Mr Blood their Clerk and Solicitor being also present.

I was informed by the last named gentleman, that on the two questions of water supply and sewerage, the local Board of Health had already come to a decision, in as much on the 25th Jany 1868 they had accepted the report and recommendations of a Drainage Committee of their own body, who had reported in favour of the Plans and Estimates of Mr Church, for the Sewerage and Water Supply of their District, at an approximate cost of £5,715 … most satisfactory assurance, …

I then laid before them the results of my inspection of Witham the day before, and in respect of which, I beg to state that if, as Dr Thorne informed me, many layers of accumulations of filth and refuse had been cleared away since the inspection on which his report was pr[???], then that that gentleman was most amply justified, in all that he has said, with reference to the lax and imperfect way in which the Witham Local Board of Health have hitherto discharged their duties, as the Nuisance Authority for that Town.

There were three points on which I thought it my duty to address the Local Board of Health:
1st As to their system of nuisance inspection
2 As to the want of decent privy accommodation in certain localities
3 The necessity for a better system of scavenging.
With respect to the first it may be described as wholly imperative.
Mr Shee, who at present acts as the Inspector of Nuisances for the Town and Parish of Witham, is Relieving Officer of the Witham Poor Law Union of 17 parishes, and until very recently , he was also nuisance inspector for all these parishes, the greater part of which are still under his control.
Mr Shee was described by everyone as a most able and hard working public servant, but, with his other duties to discharge, it is simply impossible that he can carry out the functions of a Nuisance Inspector.

Accordingly it has not been understood, either by him or by the local Board, of Health, that he should ever initiate any proceedings against offenders, but that, if his attention was specially and persistently called to a particular nuisance, by any person aggrieved, then that the Inspector might, if he thought well, take regular proceedings under the Nuisances Removal Act.
Under such a system as this, the Inspector of Nuisances becomes a dead letter, hence private individuals, who in the case of offensive nuisances, are probably also very poor people, will not incur the trouble and odium of putting the law in motion against their neighbours, or possibly against their own landlords.

The Local Board of Health admitted that their system might be improved, and they seemed to concur with me in opinion, that the best person, efficiently to discharge the duties of a nuisance inspector, was either the Police Superintendent of the Town, or one of his Sergeants acting under him, if the services of either could be obtained for such purpose from the head of the Essex County Police.

as to privy accommodation. The Local Board of Health admitted that, in the poorer parts of the Town, not only was the accommodation insufficient but that in many instances, the buildings were so arranged and so placed, as to be, in themselves, actual offensive nuisances.
Till the very ample legal powers given by the 51st, 54th and 57th sections of the Public Health Act for the remedy of these defects are put in force, instead of their being suffered to remain in disuse, as they have been for years past, the Witham Local Board of Health must, in my opinion, be held to be guilty of a very serious default, in the discharge of one of the most important of their duties, as the Nuisance Authority of that parish.
I have to make the same remark on the removal of solid house refuse and manure.

Witham, being a small country town, and the houses and cottages having, in many instances, garden plots belonging to them, it is of some importance to their occupants that the solid refuse and night soil should be stored for manure. In such cases its removal by the Local Board of Health would be resented as an injury and an interference.

I am, therefore, far from suggesting that they should carry out the powers given them by the 32nd sec of the Local Government Act in any such arbitrary way. But it is clearly their duty to insist, that no solid refuse shall be so stored as to be a dangerous nuisance. And certainly, in many of the courts and yards I visited, where large heaps of refuse were found collected, it was not wanted for use on any adjoining plot of garden ground. I maintain that, in all such cases it is the duty of the Local Board to provide the means of frequent scavenging and removing, if occupiers are unable or unwilling to do it for themselves.

In fact, one or more public scavengers, with the requisite supply of barrows, carts and shovels, ought to be as much part and parcel of the plant and property of every efficient Local Board, as their office chairs and tables are.
I concluded my interview with the Local Board by stating that I should at once make my report to you … and on the undoubted defects and shortcomings … Further … I should ask … permission to have a copy of it sent to the Local Board of Health … report to you’ on progress in water and sewerage, and what steps for inspection, privies, and scavenging.
… I was met by the Board of Health in the most friendly manner, and that my suggestions were accepted in the same cordial spirit in which they were offered.

It does, I think, mark a very great advance on the part of the Witham Local Board, that after the inaction of so many years, they have at last decided to supply the two great needs of every town, a better water supply and  a good system of main sewerage’.
Arnold Taylor [handwritten].

29 February 1868. Letter from ‘W G Luard for the Deputation’. To Sec of Local Government Office (691)
‘Referring to my interview with you on Tuesday last in regard to the drainage of this place and the documents I then left with you I now beg to inform you that the deputation referred to in the copy resolution had an interview with the Board of Health this morning, and that the latter afterwards forwarded a written communication (copy of which I enclose) purporting to be a reply to the request contained in the first Resolution passed at the public meeting held on the 22nd instant. You will observe however that the communication from the Board evades the request made to them and refuses something else which they assume to have been asked but which in reality was not.

The Deputation have thought it right to send the Board a reply to this communication (copy of which I also enclose) and in default of receiving a satisfactory answer from the Board in the course of a day or two the Deputation intend to proceed with the proposed Memorial to the Secretary of State, which I trust will be ready for presentation by about the 10th proxime.

The Deputation particularly wish to call your attention to the second paragraph in the communication from the Local Board in which they allege they convened a meeting of the parish of the purpose of “hearing any suggestions” – I enclose you a copy of the handbill convening the meeting from which you will see that it was called for the purpose of “hearing the Resolutions of the Board” and no proposition was allowed to be put to the meeting which did not facilitate the particular plan proposed by the Board.
The concluding sentence of the same paragraph in the communication from the  Board would almost seem to imply that the Meeting held on the 22nd inst was convened by the Board, whereas it was called in opposition to their proceedings; and although a majority of the Board were present they declined to offer any remarks and all the resolutions were passed unanimously. I have the honor to be Sir, your most obed’t servt W G Luard for the Deputation’
Endorsed [by the person receiving the letter] [Several comments, not very legible.] Send a copy of Captain Luards letter and the answer to the LBd. Invite them to offer any suggestions for the furtherance of the object. This seems to bear up[?] the description of the meeting in the [???] MS[?] letter of the 29th ult.’
[???] [???] [???] Captain Luard that this [???] further letter and the handbill [???] inviting the attendance of the Parishioners[?] to hear the Resolutions of ?? & ?? will refer to drainage & water supply for Witham & Chipping Hill’.
[Another I can’t read though I think it refers to rates].

29 Feb 1868. Copy of letter from ‘W G Luard for the Deputation’, headed paper ‘Witham, Essex’ to the Witham Local Board of Health
‘The Deputation to the Witham Local Board of Health beg to acknowledge the receipt of a Memorandum without signature or address but which they presume to be a communication authorized by the Board.
The Deputation cannot consider such communication as any answer to the direct question placed before the Board at the request of the public meeting held on the 22nd inst which was “That the Board of Health be requested to take the sense of the parish before proceeding with their plan for draining the Town”.
The Deputation do not consider that taking the sense of the parish on this question would place at the decision of the Meeting the wider question as to whether the Town should be drained or not.
The Deputation have not asked the Board to leave the abstract question of drainage or non drainage to the decision of a parish meeting and they still urge the Board to favor them with a definite reply to the request conveyed by the resolution above quoted.

29 February 1868. Copy of letter from Witham Local Board of Health (691)
‘The Witham Local Board of Health acknowledge the receipt of a letter from Mr Palmer enclosing the copy of a Resolution passed at a parish meeting requesting the Board to receive a deputation from the parish.
The Board having seen the deputation consisting of Captn Luard, Messrs Abrey, Potter Garrett, Palmer and Chappell beg to state that they convened a meeting of the parish for the purpose of hearing any suggestions that might be made as to drainage which meeting was held on the 3rd February when those present declined to make any suggestions, and that parish meeting was held in pursuance of a numerously signed inquisition on the 22nd inst at which meeting the resolution above referred to was passed.
The Board cannot as a responsible body delegate the powers conferred on them by various Acts of Parliament to an irresponsible body and although they are desirous of having any suggestions made to them from the parish or individuals having reference to any improvement either in the way of efficiency or economy as to the mode of draining the Town of Witham and Chipping Hill they cannot consent that the abstract question of drainage or non-drainage should be left to the decision of a parish meeting.

 Copy of printed notice (691)
Reads: ‘WITHAM BOARD OF HEALTH. DRAINAGE AND WATER SUPPLY. The Parishioners of Witham are invited to attend A MEETING AT THE LITERARY INSTITUTE on MONDAY, 3rd of February AT SEVEN O’CLOCK, P.M., to hear the Resolutions of the Board, with reference to Drainage and Water Supply, for Witham and Chipping Hill; and they are invited to offer any suggestion for the furtherance of the object. Mr JABEZ CHURCH, the Engineer, will attend the Meeting. By Order of the Board. J HOWELL BLOOD, Clerk. WITHAM, 27th Jan 1868. R S CHEEK, PRINTER AND STATIONER, WITHAM.

from J Howell Blood to A Taylor Esq, Local Government Act Office,
8 Richmond Terrace, Whitehall, London’ (692)
Witham, 29th February 1868
Sir, Witham Drainage
Board of Health are determined to carry it out. ‘Many of the inhabitants consider that the question of drainage or non-drainage should be left to the decision of the parish and not to the Board of Health’.
For which see the following correspondence, i.e. a transcript of a letter   from G Palmer, Witham, 24 Feb 1868]
‘I beg to inform you that at a Public Meeting of the Inhabitants … unanimously resolved that the Board of Health be required to take the sense of the Parish before proceeding with the plans. And on behalf of this Deputation .. [appointed at the meeting … when can the Board receive the Deputation]’

At a meeting of the Board of Health held [29 Feb 1868]
Resolved … to     acknowledge … Palmer.
The Board having seen the Deputation consisting of Capt Luard, Messrs Abrey, Potter[?], Garrett, Palmer and Chappell beg to state that they convened a meeting of the Parish for the purpose of hearing any suggestions that might be made as to Drainage, which meeting was held on the 3rd Feby, when those persons declined to make any suggestions, & that a Parish meeting was held in pursuance of a numerously signed requisition on the 22nd inst at which meeting the Resolution above referred to was passed.

The Board cannot as a Responsible body delegate the Powers conferred on them by various Acts of Parliament to an irresponsible body, and altho they are desirous of having any suggestions made to them from the Parish or Individuals having reference to any improvement either in the way of efficiency or economy as to the mode of Draining the Town of Witham and Chippng Hill, they cannot consent that the abstract question of Drainage or non Drainage should be left to the decision of a Parish Meeting.
As you may probably hear something from the Parish of Witham on the above subject, I was directed to forward to you the correspondence that has taken place.
I have the honor to be Yours and faithfully, J Howell Blood.
Endorsements from person receiving the letter are hard to read. One refers to the letter from Luard.

2 March 1868. Memo from Arnold Taylor. Doesn’t say to whom.
Text is as follows:
‘Witham Correspondence as to Sewerage & Water Supply.
I have reported on Witham and given the strongest support possible to the Local Board for having at last decided to carry out the two great improvements of Water Supply and Drainage.

In order to save this Office much heavy correspondence might I suggest that you should decline to interfere in any way between Captain Luard and his party and the Local Board of Health. If the former receives any support from this office, the Local Board will be only too ready to [???] your action as an excuse for their non action. The time for this Office to interfere will be when the Local Board submit their plans and estimates for sanction to borrow money for their execution. Arnold Taylor.

2 March 1868, report from laboratory from J Thomas Way to Arnold Taylor Esq
‘Laboratory. 111 Victoria Street. March 2nd 1868.
Dear Sir. I beg to report to you the result of my examination of

seven samples of water sent by your direction from Witham in Essex. The samples were received on the 19th of February.

Sample No 1
from Mr Blood’s well (350 feet deep) is different in character, as in origin, from all the rest of the waters in the list – it is an “artesian” water very soft and similar in composition to that which is supplied to the fountains in Trafalgar Square. Although this water gives to Dr Cluskis’[?] soap test a hardness of about 2 degrees it is in reality more “soft” than the softest waters of Yorkshire or Lancashire – it contains 22 grains of carbonate of soda in the gallon & is therefore excellently suited for washing or other domestic purposes – though probably not so pleasant as a drinking water. The quantity of common salt in this water is very large, being nearly 41 grains in the gallon – this impregnation of common salt must be derived from deep seated sources – there is no ground for supposing that it is the result of any polluting agency. The water is remarkably free from nitrogenous constituents – whether in the form of Ammonia, albuminous matter, or nitric acid – indeed in this respect it is the purest water which has been examined in this laboratory since these particulars have formed a prominent point in water analysis.

No 4 from “pump in Elmy’s yard, Bridge Street” is a water which though somewhat high in the proportion of mineral residue and of great hardness (30 degrees) does not afford evidence of pollution of animal or vegetable matter – it gives as favorable an analysis as many samples of water extensively used for human consumption without suspicion of being unwholesome – though not of the very highest type I should consider it a wholesome water.

The other five samples of water in the list are in my opinion more or less polluted – of these probably no. 2 (“Mr Cranmer’s private well”) is the worst – it contains mineral matter to the extent of 114 grains in the gallon – of which 24 grains is common salt & has a hardness of 49 degrees of which nearly one third is due to sulphate and [???] of lime and magnesia. It contains a large proportion of ammonia and albuminous matter and an excessive quantity of nitric acid in the form of nitrates – the last column in the table shows that this water contains more than 5,000 grains of nitrogen in the form of nitric acid in 1,000 gallons or somewhat more than 5 grains in each gallon – this is equal to about 20 grains of nitric acid or about 37 grains of nitrate of potash.

I am aware that the presence of this or even larger quantities of nitrates in water does not per se render such water positively unfit for human consumption but it does, as an unfailing indication of sources of pollution – offer the strongest warning against its use as liable at any time to become highly injurious. In productions of nitrates from matter of an animal character is one of nature’s methods of getting rid of such matter and therefore of purification – but it supposes the pre-existence of the objectionable ingredients and we can never be safe that the curative process is complete.

It is unnecessary to mention particularly all the other samples – probably the water of the “Pump in Maldon Square” (no 3) [Trafalgar Square] is the next in the order of impurity as it contains a high proportion of albuminous matter.

Nos 6 and 7
are evidently waters in which the purifying process (of the production of nitrates) is caried out to great completeness but in my opinion these waters although perhaps perfectly wholesome at the time when the samples were taken may at any time become unfit for use. There are therefore five samples in the list the use of which for drinking purposes should be abandoned.
I am dear sir, yours truly, J Thomas Way.’

Followed by table of the samples for hardness, mineral residue, chloride of sodium, ammonia, albuminous matter, and nitrogen from nitric acid. The wells are:
‘Mr Blood’s deep well (350 ft)
Mr Cranmer’s private well
Pump in Maldon Square
Pump in Elmy’s yard, Bridge Street
Pump in Mill Lane
Pump in Rusts yard, Chipping Hill
Mr Stevens’ private well’.

4 March 1868. Letter from Terling
Re Vestry meetings etc. Henry Cawdron to Arnold Taylor. Wells sorted.

  1. 6 March 1868. From J Howell Blood to Taylor (749)
    ‘Sir, I beg to acknowledge the receipt of Mr Arnold Taylor’s Report as to the Sanitary State of Witham and also a letter from yourself with a copy of the correspondence with Capt Luard.
    I have to observe that the Board of Health having after long and anxious consideration, determined that Drainage and Water supply were necessary, adopted certain Plans prepared by a Mr Church. The Board called a meeting of the parish for the 3rd February. The Hand bill calling such meeting has been provided to you by Capt Luard and it was intended to express a wish to have the opinion of the parishioners on the subject of drainage and water supply and to have suggestions made in furtherance of that object. I believe the only resolution proposed at that meeting was “That this meeting request the Board of Health to take the sense of the Parish as to whether the town should be drained or not”. The Chairman declined to put the motion, and I feat this has caused annoyance. When the deputation attended the Board they again asked that the sense of the parish should be taken, but they did not say on what particular subject and the Board naturally concluded it meant the sense of the Parish on the question proposed at the meeting, as to whether the town should be drained or not, and an answer was sent accordingly, which answer I am glad to see you approved. On behalf of the Board I shall shortly submit plans to you for approval and I am quite sure that I am justified in saying that if any more economic and at the same time efficient plan can be shewn, the Board will gladly accept it.
    I have the honor to be Your most faithful servant, J Howell Blood’.
    Endorsed by the person receiving the letter ‘Send a copy to Captain Luard and say that the chairman was acting in the proper discharge of his duty in refusing to put such a resolution’ [rest hard to read].

7 March 1868. Another from Terling Vicarage to Arnold Taylor

 10 March 1868. From  W W Luard. to Taylor, Local Government Act Office (809).
‘Memorial against proposed drainage scheme, Witham. … Sir, I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of yesterday’s date enclosing copy of a letter from Mr Blood of the 6th instant and of your reply to that letter.
On behalf of the Deputation I beg leave to point out that Mr Blood’s letter does not fairly represent the question at issue between the Parishioners and the Local Board of Health.
At the meeting of the 3rd February it was distinctly stated by the Chairman that a particular plan of drainage had been definitely adopted by the Board, and we were invited to offer suggestions for the furtherance of that plan and no other. As this plan was considered entirely inappropriate and far too costly, a resolution was proposed, but not put to the meeting, the exact words of which were “that the Board of Health be requested to take the sense of  the parish as to the drainage of the Town”. Had this course been adopted other plans might have been suggested and the present state of dissatisfaction avoided but as this resolution was not put to the meeting and therefore does not exist at all, it seems irrelevant on the part of the Board to refer to it in explanation of a much more definite resolution – which was carried without a dissentient voice at a very large public meeting, namely “that the Board of Health be requested to take the sense of the parish before proceeding with their plan for draining the Town”, more especially as upon the receipt of the unsatisfactory reply of the Board the Deputation explicitly stated that the question upon which it was wished the sense of the parish should be taken, was not as suggested by the Board “whether the town should be drained or not”, but as to the particular plan adopted by the Board.
The Parishioners are not only willing but desirous that proper sanitary measures should at once be adopted, and I have now the honor to forward a memorial from a very large majority of the owners and ratepayers, which they feel assured will receive the attention and consideration so nearly unanimous an expression of opinion is entitled to claim.
I have the honor to be Sir Your most obedt servant W W Luard, for the Deputation.’.

21 March 1868. From Arnold Taylor (809/68)
Board of Health stated that will shortly submit plans

  1. Report. Not signed (899)
    Handwritten report under Sanitary Act 1866 re Terling etc. Account of what happened so far. Also includes entries from Guardians minutes, 1867 Dec 16 etc. Conclusions.Copy of letter 9 Jan to Guardians from John Simon re Terling

More re Terling.

  1. 19 March 1868. From J Howell Blood, Witham Local Board of Health (914) Mr Church will deposit plans at Local Government Act Office.

  2. 30 March 1868. From J Howell Blood, Witham Local Board of Health (1159)
    Copy of resolution etc. (application for loan of £6000 for works of drainage and water supply, proposed Rev John Bramston, seconded Mr Beadel, carried unanimously).Tables of estimates under LGA 1858.
    Estimates for sewerage works, Witham.
    First page under brick sewers says ‘No Brick Sewers required’. Rest has .list of lengths of sewer, with the following details:
  3. Gradient in 100 ft.
    Average depth
    Lengths, yards lineal
    Price per yard lineal
    £ s d
    The places are as follows:
  4. [some may have the left hand side slightly trimmed off]:
    Bridge Street
    Engine House up High Street
    Back Street
    Witham House to Maldon Road
    Maldon Road (2 sections)
    Maldon Road
    Mill Lane (3 sections)
    Guithavon St (3 sections)
    Queen St
    Main road [?] chipping Hill
    Church Street
    Church Street
    Block drainage for cottages
    [?] Under Railway – cast iron
    [?] River – wrought iron

Outfall works: ‘Cast iron rising main from the engine house to the Witham settling tanks with stand pipe over which the sewage from the low level section will be pumped. Pipes and connections complete’.
Special flushing works: ‘Six 6” stand pipes to be attached to the sewers and flushed from the hydrants fitted with flexible hose and lockdown grates. These pipes are also to act as ventilation’.
Pumping works: ‘Centrifugal pump. Cast iron receiving tank with gear and connections complete’.
Sewage irrigation works: ‘Settling tanks, valves, pipes and connections for conveying sewage upon the land in close proximity with the settling tanks both at the Witham and Chipping Hill outfalls’.
Land. Engineers commission. Contingencies and legal expenses. Total for sewers £2,862 0s 0d.

Estimates for Water Supply works, Witham
Table of lengths of ‘cast iron mains’, giving
Size  (all 3” except 5” for first one)
Length in yards
Price per yard
£ s d
Lengths are:
From Engine House along part of High Street to Queen Street
From Engine House to Union.
High St up Mill Lane
Guithavon St from High St
East [???] of High St
Back St
Maldon Road
From High Service Reservoir to Chipping Hill
Upper part of Mill Lane
Church Street
Cost also includes bends, hydrants and casings, sluice valves and casings, ‘land, artesian well, engine house and commission’.
Pumping works in detail: ‘One 8 HP High Pressure and Condensing Engine with expansion gear, two Cornish Boilers three 8” [???] well pumps to be worked by eccentrics keyd upon a 5” wrought iron shaft driven by a spur wheel and pinion’.
No impounding reservoir.
Service reservoir: ‘The service reservoir is of wrought iron and will contain 20,000 gallons, the tank will be 20 feet deep and will be fixed upon a brick tower having a square base with an octagonal shaft the height of same being 50 feet from the surface level to the bottom of the reservoir. The tank will be enclosed at the side thereof with brickwork and the top will be covered with a roof. The rising main to supply same will be 5” diameter and connected with the bottom of tank and will also be fitted with a 5” overflow pipe and wash-out the same will be connected with the sewer. The supply of water will be constant’.
Total for water £3,138 0s 0d.

 More on Terling [not noted]

  1. 21 April 1868. From J Howell Blood, Witham Local Board of Health (1408)
    Acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 3rd ult and Mr Arnold Taylor’s report. ‘I have to inform you that the Board have resolved to continue Mr Shee the present Inspector of Nuisances in his office for a period of 6 months at a salary of £8 and have directed him to make a thorough inspection of he whole parish … nuisances … privy accommodation and report.   …
    Scavenging, the Board consider that more frequent visits by their Inspector and requiring the immediate removal of all Manure or other offensive matter … will be an effectual means. …’
    Endorsed by Arnold Taylor: Won’t be enough on ‘paltry salary’ [deleted and ‘???’ salary included instead] offered.’

  2. 28 April 1868. Letter from Robert Rawlinson (1492)
    Recommending agreeing loan. Well calculated.
    Endorsed by person receiving the letter: Sanction recommended.

9 May 1868. letter from W G Luard
Acknowledges letters saying will be official inquiry on 2th instance re estimates and plans. Ask for plans to be sent to Board of Health for parishioners to inspect.

  1. 9 June 1868. From John Bramston (2076)
    ‘A few weeks since a meeting of the parishioners was gathered to meet Mr Rawlinson from the Local Government Office..’ I was asked me to take chair. Mr Church was there and also Mr Chancellor architect and engineer presented a plan. Resolved to send both plans to Sec of State. May they now send Mr Chancellor’s.
    Endorsed by person receiving letter. Yes

  2. 15 June 1868. Copy letter from Local Government Act Office (2076)
    Reply to letter of 9 June from Bramston re ‘rival plans’ send plans etc. from Robert Rawlinson.

  3. 2 July 1868. From J Howell Blood to Taylor (2380)
    Plans sent ‘a long time since’ and request for loan. Resolution passed at Parish meeting laid your letter of 16th ult before the Board of Health on the 27th ‘and on the other side, I send you copy of the resolution passed at that meeting’.(i.e. Board done all they can and sent to Home Office. Board decline to comply with conditions laid down in Taylor to Bramston.)

  4. 17 July 1868. From Clarke, of Victoria Chambers, to Local Government act Office. (2859)
    Acknowledgement. Will deal quickly.

  5. From J Howell Blood to Taylor (3155)
    Mr Clarke to whom the plans referred, have made report recommending Mr Church with slight modifications that adopted. Please proceed re loan.

  6. Clark to Taylor (3206)
    Saying same as last

  7. 3 September 1868. Robert Rawlinson. Report. (3211)
    ‘Witham is a town having a population of about 3,500
    persons and a rateable value of £14,000 per annum.
    At present there is no system of main sewerage and house drainage is therefore, necessarily defective. There is no public mode of water supply. Some of the better class houses are drained into cesspits and water is obtained from pumps, wells, and springs. The subsoil is an open alluvial gravel so that sewage matter can filer into it to the contamination of well-water in the vicinity of cesspits – most of the cottages have neither drainage nor proper means of water supply’. LGB was sent plans. in March. In February a memorial sent from town saying public meeting of ratepayers objected to Local Board of Health plan as not the best.
    ‘After due notice to both parties I attended in Witham and inspected the district as also looked over certain rival plans … Chancellor and heard the complaints of the memorialists … [who] admitted … works … necessary, the dispute being as to details. I recommended that an independent Civil Engineer should be authorised at the cost of the ratepayers to survey the district … report … assented to and William Clark Esq Civil Engineer has surveyed … report. Local Board of Health received … accepted … on 29th ult, make further applic … £7,000 … Mr Church … as modified by Mr Clark.’ Approve but only sanction first estimate till more details.
    ‘The proposed works when executed will be of great and permanent public utility in the town of Witham’.

  8. 7 September 1868. J Howell Blood to Taylor (3245)
    Some time ago deposited plans … ‘Those plans have not yet been officially approved, tho I understand are virtually so, they have gone through a somewhat severe ordeal’. Anxious to commence.

  9. 8 September 1868. From J Howell Blood  (3245)
    Acknowledge receipt of letter and sanction.

23 Oct 1868. J Howell Blood to Taylor (3751)
Tenders accepted. Can have advance of loan?
Endorsed by person who received the letter: Need to apply to Public Works Loan Commissioners.

  1. 14 December 1869, George Adnams to G C Lewis esquire. (3899)
    ‘Witham, Sir, Having the management of House property in Witham I shall feel obliged if you will inform me if I can use earth closets. I have made enquiries of several members of the Board of Health but cannot obtain this information. I remain, Yours respectfully, George Adnams.’
    [he was managing the late George Thomasin’s property; he was Thomasin’s wife’s brother in law]
    {Endorsements by person receiving the letter. As usual hard to read.] ‘Refer him to the section which … as to earth closets‘ … Sanitary Act … (31 & 32 Vic c105) any enactments and any act of Parl  … as any place … the constrn of a water closet shall … approval and the Local authority be satisfied … and an earth closet a place for the reception of dedor… and fecal matter made … in regulation from time to time.’

End of file   PRO / TNA  Ref. MH 13/209 (General Board of Health and Home Office, Local Government Act Office: Correspondence)


A dissenting voice.

On 31st January 1869, Dr Henry Dixon wrote in his diary about the new works. He lived in Rivenhall then, but had previously been a doctor in Witham. He was a staunch nonconformist in religion, and a defender of the rights of the poor. So he frequently opposed the doings of the establishment. This time his words do seem rather to contradict the ideals of his professsion. This is what he wrote.

“Witham is in an uproar.  Contractors and Navies are cutting up the streets to form a culvert as a main drain to all the cesspools & other offensive matters from the dwellings.  This culvert is from 6 to 16 or more feet deep into which the House holders will have to carry drains, at their own expense.  Water is to be pumped up by steam to flush the drains, and the outlet will be carried on to a great distance before it is ultimately discharged upon some convenient spot, not yet determined, upon Socketted glazed Pipes from the culverts, made somewhere in Yorkshire.  The expence of this formidable work will be not less than £8,000 and think so small a parish of but 3 or 4000 inhabitants falling for years to come upon small traders will I expect be ruinous to many.  I think £400 or 500 would if judiciously used been fully sufficient to clear away the nuisances complained of.   I have a full knowledge of every cottage and locality in the place that required alteration & further more know something of drainage”.The photo of Dr Dixon is ref. M1515


 Success   – the photos


The Water Tower

The Water Tower was completed in 1869,.and was the most obvious sign that Witham at last had its own water supply and drainage. These two photos of the Tower, above and below, are copies from the late Roy Poulter’s collection. He was once kind enough to lend them to me.

The picture above is  dramatic in itself, but also because it shows us that imposing doorway. I wish I knew who built it all.

The photo below is from the roadside, from a different angle – so no door. Collingwood Road itself was built in the same year, 1869, on land given by the Oliver family, owners of Freeborns farm. It connected the railway station and Newland Street. In addition one of its  purposes was to give access to the Water Tower.

In the photo below, the building on the left housed the office of the local authorities, first the Local Board of Health and next, from 1894 onwards, the Urban District Council. Then in the 1930s, when mains electricity arrived in Witham, it became the electricity shop.

By the way, it seems that whatever you do with a photo of a water tower, it always looks as if it’s leaning over – sorry about that.


Above, the Water Tower in about 1905-1910 (ref.M1732). The long Public Hall, built in 1894, is finished, in front of and left of the Tower. But the new Constitutional Club, built in 1910 beside the Public Hall, isn’t there yet. This photo was probably taken in black and white originally, though  colour was coming into use. Fred Hayward, who took it, was one of Witham’s best and best-known photographers, and may have been standing at his house, at the top of Collingwood Road (now number 55).

Below, in 1916, soldiers marching down Collingwood Road with the Water Tower behind them (ref M0453). They were billeted in Witham for training during the War.

The photo below is  interesting (my ref.M0604). The man in the trap seems to have chosen to be photographed in front of the Water Tower (in about 1910). Yet it was he, as Captain or Mr Luard, who in 1868 led a deputation opposing the Board of Health’s final plans for drainage and water supply. He was over-ruled. By the time of this photo, in aboout 1910, he was Admiral Luard, one of Witham’s best-loved gentlemen.


The Waterworks

The new waterworks premises were behind the Swan, at the bottom of Newland Street. The exterior and interior of the main building are shown in the first two photos below. These were taken by me in  1988 [my refs P18/19, 20]. It had the attractive  brickwork which often featured in Victorian waterworks buildings. I understand that this is where the water first arrived, having been brought from somewhere on Lord Rayleigh’s land. His help was very welcome, but sometimes people were anxious about being so much under his control. I think the water was then pumped from the waterworks  to the top of the water tower, and then distributed  by gravity to individual properties.





The Waterworks cottages

It was an important job, keeping the water supply flowing. The UDC provided these houses (below), mainly for the waterworks engineers – they are still there. The first one to be built was the one on the right, occupied by the man who ran the pumping station which took the water up to the water tower. This information was given to me by the late Peter May who was brought up in the left-hand cottage, built in 1929. His father was Len May, clerk of works of the Council’s outdoor workers.



The Swimming Pool

After the first waterworks had closed, there was a successful campaign for the old tanks to be used as a swimming pool. Before that, the Council’s “Bathing Place” was in the river Blackwater. The new pool is shown in the photo below, with the Waterworks Cottages behind them.


The Fire Station

Witham’s original Fire Station was in a small brick buiding which still stands at the corner of Guithavon Street in Mill Lane. During the Second World War, more space, more vehicles, and more men were needed. So additional men and additional buildings were provided, known as the Auxiliary force. The photos below show the Auxiliary Fire Station which was put next to the Waterworks  during the Second World War [taken by Harry Loring:in 1967, my ref.M0342].  Then there are some of the firemen who were based there (ref.M1502). They were known as the Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS). In April 1941 the old and new forces were amalgamated into the National Fire Service. Most towns about the country had similar arrangements to cope with the extra demands of War time.

The Drainage and Sewerage System

The two pictures above show the Sewage Works House in Blackwater Lane. Like the Waterworks cottages, they enabled the workmen to be on hand to deal with any problems. The Hammond family were in charge for many years. The buildings were used  for many other purposes. For instance, the lower picture shows the old stables where all the Council horses lived and were cared for. Their help was needed by alll the different departments.


Lastly, the  Hydrant  which still stands, on the pavement outside the former site of the works. Here the powerful water pressure from the works could be used when needed, particularly for fire fighting.  American hydrants are yellow so they can be found more easily (taken in 2023).


Witham UDC, Council minutes 1945-1947

Witham UDC Council minutes 1945-1947

No cover. Has page numbers starting at 733 so probably came out of previous volume.

Mostly noted Witham rather than Silver End and Rivenhall. __________________________________

16 April 1945, AGM, page 733 [first item in book]

Councillors Maidment and Cuthbe to continue as Chairman and Vice-Chairman.

Same date, in Committee, page 734

Letter from Miss Lucy Croxall, ‘Area Commandant, Witham and District Girls Training Corps’. The National Association of Training Corps for Girls holding cadet week May 6-12. Hope to have Parade and Drumhead Service on Sunday 6th. Invites Councillors and asks permission to use Recreation Ground. Agreed.

30 April 1945, page 735

Street Lighting. Circular received from Ministry. Asked Council to extinguish street lighting from May 1st for period of double summer time. Agreed

Fireguard services to be wound up.

[page 736] Arrangements to be put in hand.

Town Planning Scheme discussed. Took into consideration report by Surveyor. Also financial aspect to improvements in High Street between Bellamy’s Winches in Newland Street and Glover’s in Collingwood Road [i.e. narrow part between 38 and 64 Newland Street].

Bypass proposed round Witham and Rivenhall End given consideration. Agreed unanimously that it should not be included in the Plan, and that alternative, either by widening High Street and Bridge Street, or otherwise, should be carried out. Felt generally by passes not best means.

Approved proposal for improvement to entrance of Church street at Chipping Hill entrance.

28 May 1945, page 737

Report from Mrs R Pelly about WVS in last 6 years. Long. To be circulated.

Location of Retail Businesses. Mr P A Revett of 12 Guithavon Road applied to begin business as ‘cabinet maker, upholster and house furnisher’. Agree.

Sitting as Town Planning Committee, page 738

Plan 1121 from Messrs Betts and Longhurst of Romford re Moat Farm estate. Letter expected so defer.

P A Revett asked for temporary workshop at rear of 12 Guithavon Road as cabinet maker. Don’t agree.

Accounts as usual

25 June 1945, page 741

WVS report circulated. Letter of appreciation to be sent to Mrs Rosalind Pelly, the centre leader.

G Turner resigned as Sanitary Inspector. Thanks for his work.

Hon Secretary of Welcome Home Fund is arranging events July 7th to the 13th. Asks District Council to arrange concert on 9th. Officers offered to do it.

The week concerned is also local Holidays at Home week, so regard the effort as part of the Council’s arrangement for this, and allocate £25 to the officers for the concert.

[page 742] After reports from Essex meeting etc., Council consider that local co-ordinating Committee should be set up re welfare of ex-service men and women and families and dependants. Consult the voluntary organisations for views, and then have a meeting.

[page 743] Re Public Health Committee. Ministry of Supply will arrange early removal of books that the Council still have, and hope Council will reconsider taking part in the new Drive. Answer that will if can.

Same date, as Town Planning Committee, page 744

Further development of district. Clerk has discussed with County Planning Adviser. It appeared that ‘some major future development of the district might be suggested later’ [no details], what were Council’s views. Agree in principle.

Clerk had heard of a Company in West Ham who anxious to build factory elsewhere in county, he approached them and asked them to consider Witham. Approved.

Chairman and Vice Chairman left meeting ‘on account of otherwise experiencing difficulty in transport to their homes’.

Part exchange offer of new typewriter accepted.

16 July 1945, page 748

Plan 1121 for Moat Farm Estate. Submitted by G A Joslin, architect, of Brentwood, on behalf of Universal Welding and Engineering Company of Harold Wood. Council not satisfied that would be carried out immediately. May have to be taken into account with other major proposals of a major character.

3 July 1945, page 749

Permanent housing proposals. Ministry of Health sent list of architects. Resolved to employ an architect and approach Mr A E Wiseman of Chelmsford. If not, try Mr F W Chancellor of Chelmsford.

Circular received. Additional powers given to Local Authorities re requisitioning unoccupied houses, for ‘housing persons inadequately housed’. Resolved to make register of unoccupied property and present to Council.

30 July 1945, page 750

Re election of member for South Ward on death of Councillor J N Pelly. Four names received. Only Mrs R Pelly got any votes (5). She is of Blunts Hall, Blunts Hall Road. She therefore to be elected.

Same day, in Committee, page 751

Public Hall. Secretary of Witham Congregational Church enquired about quote to use the Hall on Sundays for Religious services between 10 30 a.m. and 12 30 p.m., and 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., from first Sunday in November to last Sunday in March 1946. Information re costs. Resolved that labour would be available, and quote £3 3s inclusive per Sunday.

[pages 751-752] Register of properties to consider for requisition. Resolved to requisition the following subject to approval of Ministry of Health:

1 ‘Barclays Old Bank and premises, Newland Street’. [no. 59 or 61]

  1. ‘Medina Villas Newland Street, including the empty shop if that be necessary’.
  2. No — Newland Street, being an empty shop with living accommodation.
  3. ‘Durwards Hall Lodge, Rivenhall’
  4. No 47 Newland Street
  5. The Aye-Aye café, Hatfield Road.

Clerk and Surveyor had viewed hutment accommodation ‘at the abandoned Searchlight Station, Wickham Hill’. Seven or eight hutments would, with small alterations, water and cooking facilities, and septic tank, be very good.

[page 752] Mr A E Wiseman, architect, will do new housing in Glebe Crescent.

Temporary Housing. Ministries of Health and Town and Country Planning have given permission for temporary housing at Runnacles Street, Silver End and Church Street, Witham. Resolved that ‘the engineering work involved be carried out by the Surveyor with direct labour, using, if required, German prisoner of war labour’ [note:these were the prefabs].

Planning applications approved, including from Essex County Council for Junior and Infants School at Cressing Road [this is Templars School]

24 September, 1945, page 754

Welcome Mrs R Pelly as Councillor, and Mr E H C Wadhams as Sanitary Inspector.

British Restaurant Committee of 7 September presented. Clerk had letter from three LNER employees asking for deferring. Clerk had written back saying concerned that Committees’ recommendation had become public knowledge before being put to the Council. Report adopted nem con. (Cllr Cuthbe abstained).

[page 755] Housing. Surveyor’s plan for layout at Wickham Hill and conversion approved. Choice of tenants left till known whether Council permitted to take it.

[page 756] Layout etc from Mr Wiseman, architect – comments listed, and disagreements.

29 October 1945

[pages 759-60] Bankside, Highfields Road, demolition and clearance. One tender received for work of demolition. Sent to Regional Home Office for approval [note: probably the bombed house near the railway].

[page 761] Medina Villas. Arrangements made with Mr Burton of Messrs Baker and Burton, architects of Colchester, to prepare specifications.

In connection with Housing Committee’s decision to ‘install Crittall windows in their new permanent houses at Church Street’, ‘resolved they be of Crittall Galvanised Steel’.

Thanks to British Restaurant people.

[page 762] Circular received re fuel economy.

Unsafe state of condemned property at 34 Bridge Street. Owner is H D Brown of 30 Bridge Street. Not possible to contact him but Mrs Brown said he is trying to get a local builder. Mr Brown was told of unsafe state in January 1944. Resolved that he be given 48 hours notice, otherwise Council will ‘exercise their powers under the Clearance Order by demolishing the property and recovering the cost in accordance with the law’.

Same day, in Committee

Plan 1133, from Adams and Mortimer, revised lay out of Cocks Farm Estate. To refer to North Essex Planning Committee.

[page 763] ‘Land at Chipping Hill known as Blade Wenden’s yard’ [note: formerly Smith’s yard, between the Albert and 1 Braintree Road]. Application on behalf of owners and also from Playle of Maldon on own account, for use of certain land for industrial purposes, resolved that proposals should be advertised at expense of applicants.

[note: I stopped making notes at end of this meeting].

Last one in these papers is 19 March 1947.

The Grove

A mansion was built here by the first Robert Barwell in about 1690. He had apparently profited in the cloth industry. Like the earlier clothier, John Freeborne, he was a Quaker. When he died he left his property to his grandson, another Robert Barwell. He and his relatives added considerably to the land and buildings so the estate came to include a number of separate pieces of land.

For several decades in the 1700s, the Earls of Abercorn lived here (some of them titled Paisley or Hamilton). In 1761 the future Queen Charlotte stayed overnight at the Grove with the Abercorns. Local people were allowed to gather to watch her. She was on her way to London to marry King George III (whom she had never met).

In due course an avenue of trees was planted on the other side of the road, the origin of our road called The Avenue. Philip Morant wrote about the Grove in his history of Essex, saying that it was “a good house” and that “the noble owners of it have improved the estate, with plantations of trees, and other decorations”.

The next resident was Thomas Kynaston from London, who was also Lord of the Manors of Chipping and Witham. It was he who had a bath house on the River Brain (see )

In 1805, Roger Kynaston, Thomas’s son, sold the estate to the Du Canes of Great Braxted. The main Du Cane resident in Witham was the Reverend Henry Du Cane, a magistrate. Although he does not seem to have been attached to a parish, he was firmly attached to the Church of England, was extremely annoyed when a new Cathilic church was built opposite him.

In 1841 his household consisted of nine servants and seven Du Canes, the youngest of the family being Percy aged six months. In 1839 the usually non-committal Tithe Award described the estate as “a Mansion House, Garden and Pleasure Grounds”. In 1848 White’s history described it as a “fine old mansion of red and black brick … with pleasant grounds”, and across the road “a beautiful avenue of trees, about a quarter of a mile long, and open to the public”. Many observers had noted how the Grove stood at the entrance to the town, and enhanced the view of Witham as seen by travellers from Colchester. This might have been affected when that road was taken up over the new railway to Maldon in 1848. But we can see that the Grove had become one of the grandest places in Witham. And by this time a possible rival, Witham Place, was in decline.

The next surprising thing to happen was the sale of the Grove’s entire contents. This was in 1883, after the deaths of both Henry Du Cane and his widow. It’s quite impossible to do justice to the Sale catalogue but if you are in the Essex Record Office, read it (ERO Sale Catalogue B5183). There were 1460 lots, in 18 bed and dressing rooms and four reception rooms. The first summary page included 3,000 volumes of books, two haystacks, wine, greenhouse plants. But as I say I can’t possibly describe it all. Quite a large field at the back, the Grove field, would account for the farming equipment. After it was no longer cultivated, it was often put to use for pageants, cricket matches etc.

Part of the grounds are occupied by the old police station, and some by offices. The Grove field is now the Grove housing estate.

Some arrangement must have made the house liveable in. Because in 1896 Percy Laurence bought it. He was very active in the community and gave land to good causes such as the Constitutional Club and the War Memorial, and a new town clock when the old one burnt down in 1910. He was also president of a large number of Witham organisations. Laurence Avenue is named after him.

When he died in 1921, the Grove estate was divided into lots and put up for sale. Then another sale in 1932 disposed of the fixtures and fittings, and in the following year the house was demolished. Some sizeable “outhouses” were retained, and provided very acceptable family houses until they too were pulled down in 1967.

There is a  more detailed account of the history of the Grove in the Essex Record Office, reference ERO T/P 198/10, “Survey of the Grove”. It was prepared by the Witham Archaeological Research Group in 1967.

Rowley’s Rooms, the Grove Hall, and the East family


This photo is dated 1957-60 and was taken by John Scott-Mason. The tall gabled building set back, right of the chimney, is the former  Rowleys Rooms which became the Grove Hall. Some of my Facebook friends kindly identified the car as being a Moggy (a Morris Minor with a split screen). ‘A well-built car


1929 Rowleys Garages, motor, electrical & general engineers; motor car agents; Daimler hire service; garage; official repairers to A.A. & R.A.C. High street & (works) Maldon road. T N 32
1929 Rowleys Garages, motor, electrical & general engineers; motor car agents; Daimler hire service; garage; official repairers to A.A. & R.A.C. High street & (works) Maldon road. T N 32
1933 Grove Hall Cafe & Service Station (late Rowleys) (F. W. East A.I.Mech.E. proprietor), motor engineers & garage; official repairers to A.A. & R.A.C.; up-to-date servicing of all descriptions; taxi & bus hire service, High street. T N 32
1933 Rowleys Garage, see Grove Hall Café & Service Station
1937 Rowleys (Witham) Ltd. motor car agents & dealers, motor engineers, & garage, & motor haulage contractors & electrical engineers, Maldon road. T N 32. See Advt. Index


Braintree and Witham Times 15 November 1929, page 2
Report of British Legion branch at ‘Rowley’s café’.

Braintree and Witham Times 22 November 1929, page 1
‘Witham News …’
At Rowley’s Hall, Miss Marjorie Brown, M.O.A.D., and Miss Catherine Brown, M.O.A.D, ‘gave a dramatic recital and display of dancing in aid of the Witham Nursing Association and the Colchester Hospital’.

Braintree and Witham Times 29 November 1929, page 2
County meeting of British Legion at Witham in Rowley’s restaurant. 

Braintree and Witham Times 6 December 1929, page 1
Witham: …
Sale of work in Rowley’s hall re church. …
Advert for ‘Rowley’s Rooms, Witham,. Dancing every Friday, 8 pm to 1 am; admission. Single 2/-, Double 3/6. Special late buses’.

Braintree and Witham Times 13 December 1929, page 1
Adverts, Rowleys room again [and repeated thereafter]

Braintree and Witham Times 20 December 1929, page 1
Hockey Club dance in Rowley’s rooms. One of MC s was A C Askins.

Braintree and Witham Times 17 January 1930, page 1
Dancing continued at Rowleys Room

Braintree and Witham Times 7 February 1930, page 1
Rowleys ad as usual. Dancing every Wednesday. Says ‘new floor’. Special late buses ant trains to neighbouring towns. Stan Bearman and his band.

Braintree and Witham Times 7 March 1930, page 2
Dancing takes place every Wednesday evening at Rowleys Room.

Braintree and Witham Times 28 March 1930, page 1
Rowley’s Garages Witham. Cars for sale described.

Braintree and Witham Times 17 April 1930, page 1
Advert Rowley’s Café Witham. Grand Easter revel and dance 4/- each incl refreshments. Prizes. Cabaret. Special late buses.

Braintree and Witham Times 5 December 1930, page 5
Last night at Rowleys Hall, Witham branch of British Legion held a dance in order to raise funds to relieve distress among local unemployed.
Sale of work at Rowleys Hall by ladies working party of church. Vicar said ‘Witham had changed in last few years. Formerly almost purely agricultural, Witham was today an industrial town and its prosperity depended chiefly on the industries … Unfortunately at present industry was not so prosperous as they would like to see it and some of the people who depended on it were feeling the pinch. But the people of Witham had always responded most nobly to any call put before them, and despite present day difficulties he felt sure they would once again do their best’. Annual sale for parish needs this year instead of foreign missions. [but seems to be for church maintenance]

Braintree and Witham Times 13 March 1931, page 5
‘Conducted by Councillors. There were 110 present at Rowley’s Hall on Sunday, when the Witham Brotherhood service was conducted entirely by members of the Witham UDC. …’

Braintree and Witham Times 4 February 1932, page 10
Refs to meetings and dances at ‘Rowleys Hall’ here and at other times.

Braintree and Witham Times 6 October 1932
page 8 ‘The business of Rowley’s petrol station and tea rooms officially changed hands as from yesterday, the new proprietor being Mr R East, late of Petersfield, Hants. Mr and Mrs B Rowley have moved to Hoddesdon, Herts, where Mr Rowley has taken over the hold Highway Tavern’.

First phone conversation between JG and Rosemary Brown, nee East. 10 November 2002.
Now of 15 Speedwell, Woburn, Milton Keynes. MK17 9HT (tel. 01525 290012).
She is wife of Stewart Brown. She is 84 now (2002). Her family came to Witham when she was about 14,  i.e. c. 1932.
She was daughter of Frederick and Frances Rose[?] East. Her mother was born in Dublin and sent to England when her parents died. Frederick and Frances’s children were Bob (b. c. 1911), Josephine, Frances, Doreen, her (Rosemary) (b. c. 1918), Patsy, Tony (in order, i.e. Bob eldest).
She had a happy childhood though father very strict, a Victorian father almost.
They lived in Avenue Road. Father’s garage on corner of Avenue Road and Newland Street and they were at ‘The Bungalow’ behind it in Avenue Road, a sort of bungalow. Above it there were no other houses on their side, up to the bend in the road, just a field with sheep in it.
The garage was the Grove service station; he sold it to Beardwell, who also bought the hall later. It was taken over during the war.
There was a dance-hall and restaurant to the left of the garage in Collingwood Road [note: probably should be Newland Street.???] Big building that went right back. A café in front. There were special Monday night dances for 6d in the early 1930s. Bob East ran them.
She used to go to open air swimming pool behind the Swan, and was in the swimming club. Mrs Ingram, greengrocer’s wife was a champion swimmer and trained them, they entered competitions and had sports day etc.
She was shy. Shortage of young men after WW1. Girls danced together at dances. Big groups of friends went around in a crowd. Eg moonlight walks round Terling, a dozen of them, boys and girls. Young for age.
She was naughty at school, didn’t work. When they came to Witham she and her younger sister and younger brother went to Mr Osteritter’s school in Guithavon Valley. He perhaps Austrian. Going down Guithavon Valley from the top, from Collingwood Road, you passed a row of houses and then came to his little house, low down, a sloping path down to it. School in sort of conservatory at the back. Mostly young boys, some from Dr Barnardos or some such. She would work separately in another room. She left at 16 but her sister Patsy went on to Colchester High School and her brother Tony to Miss Murrells.

Second telephone conversation with Rosemary Brown, nee East, 21 February 2003
Her father Frederick East was made redundant from good job in rubber factory in Petersfield, had big house there. Came down in the world to come to Witham 1932. Her father was a mechanical engineer but hadn’t run a garage before. They were foreigners in Witham then.
Re the garage and dance hall at the corner of Avenue Road and Newland Street. The Easts came here in 1932. Before that the garage was Rowley’s garage, so ‘Rowley’s rooms’ that I found in the local newspaper c 1930 with dances etc must be the same one. There were two Rowley sons, Len who had a band, and went into WW2 and did well, and Wilf who was more of an engineer and stayed with the garage. The Easts called it the Grove Hall. Doreen and Frankie East ran it, they hadn’t done anything like that before but were ‘domesticated’ and did well, young and energetic.

Further info from Eve Sweeting, Bob East’s step-daughter, discussed in 2002. Bob East built 18 Highfields Road, c. 1955. Bought ground from Mr Brand the baker. He married Eve’s mother (Mrs Canning). He only died last year, at age of 90.



Braintree and Witham Times 1930.
page 2. Witham and District Homing Pigeon Society. Meet every Tue at 8 pm. Cups and medals. Secretary is Mr G Speight.
page 4. Advert for Pigeon Society. President W L Maclaren. Vice Presidents Lieut Col E A Ruggles Brice, MP, C R Baldwin esq., C Warren esq. Chairman H M Barham esquire. Sec Mr G Speight. Invitation to all fanciers.

Interview with Ken Miller, born 1935. Lived at Moat Farm. Extract about an episode in about 1950.
Q: That was when you were …?
Mr M: Still young, yes, like, fourteen or fifteen I suppose.
Q: Did your mum work at all?
Mr M: Yes, she worked, she worked at the people, she was cook in Faulkbourne Hall for a while. Yes. Cause I was horrified, I went there once [in c.1950] and there was hundreds of pigeons, white pigeons in the proper dovecote, and I said what are they, of course they killed them to eat. And I was horrified as a kid to think that they actually bred them to eat. White pigeons. I suppose they were nice and tender cause they were corn fed and all that.



The National Archives

Pigeon policy (KV 4/229-231)  from 1945 to 1950

These files relate to the Security Service’s interest in Britain’s post-war pigeon policy (which was led by the Joint Intelligence Committee).


Covering 1945-1947, KV 4/229 deals with the establishment of a post-war sub-committee of the Joint Intelligence Committee to examine pigeon policy. The Security Service was initially not included in this committee, and when it was, there was a conflict with the Secret Intelligence Service about whether a military or civilian pigeon loft should be maintained (eventually the Security Service view won out, and a civilian loft run by Captain Caiser from his home in Worcester Park was established). The Second World War had revealed that pigeons were now obsolete for signals purposes, but still had a role to play in intelligence work, and the JIC was anxious to ensure that Britain maintained its own pigeon capability and was adequately protected against enemy pigeons. The proposals are fully considered on the file, which includes the Security Service assessment of the post-war plans. The file includes an appraisal of the wartime anti-pigeon Falconry Unit (“whilst they never brought down an enemy bird – probably because there never were any – they did demonstrate that they could bring down any pigeon that crossed the area they were patrolling”). The file also includes the results of experiments on the impact of radio transmissions on the effectiveness of homing pigeons.


The story continues in KV 4/230 (1947-1949). The armed services dropped out from the sub-committee in November 1948, having no further interest in the subject, leaving just the two intelligence agencies and Captain Caiser. There was some correspondence about the control of pigeons in a future war with the Home Office as it updated defence regulations. JIC asked the sub-committee to examine the impact of radiation on homing pigeons, and as a result a number of pigeons (and their handlers) were exposed to small doses of gamma radiation in the Arethusa experiment at Portland dockyard, to no recordable effect.


Finally in 1950, as recorded in KV 4/231, Caiser asked the Security Service for some funding for his expenses in maintaining the government loft, which triggered an examination of the costs and benefits of the loft. As the loft had barely been used in 5 years, the Service recommended that the loft be disbanded and the Pigeon Committee wound up, and this was agreed in May of that year.


Braintree and Witham Times, 1929

Selective notes on the Witham entries. Especially about unemployment, the Urban District Council, and meeting places. Made by Janet Gyford, February 2003 et al.

The paper was founded in this year, 1929.

There were very few photos in the paper at this time, and none relating to Witham; I have noted one re Dan Crittall of Silver End on page 2.

Items in square brackets [ ] are comments added by JG. Items in quotation marks ' '  are exact quotations from the minutes. The rest of the text is in note form, i.e. notes written by JG to summarise the reports.

For Braintree and Witham Times for other years up to 1939, search for the title or part of it in a Search box, to see how far I've got.

For Rowley's Rooms, Hall, etc., the Grove Hall etc., and the East family, see:

1929 (didn’t get exact date)

Page 2.
Photo of front of car with cracked windscreen. Caption says ‘This is not an advertisement for Triplex Glass, but shows the windscreen of Mr D F Crittall [Dan]’s car after he had hit a pheasant whilst travelling at speed. The bird was of course killed instantly, and Mr Crittall had a lucky escape’.

25 October 1929, First issue, only four pages

page 2.
Leader begins ‘Our ship is being launched in placid waters’.

‘Stroller’s notes’ … ‘Witham, for as long as I can remember, has remained the same old-fashioned country town, without vision or desire to get out of its well-beaten rut. Certainly, the traffic on this main thoroughfare has livened things up of later years, and if it gets much livelier, the authorities will have to see to the building of a new arterial road to relieve further congestion. With Witham on this important main road, it is curious that it still goes along without pretension or desire to live up to present-day requirements’

15 November 1929

page 2.
Report of British Legion branch at ‘Rowley’s café’.

page 3.
Anonymous letter from reader saying that water supply in Witham is ‘of the worst’.

Advert, just text, just saying ‘Metal Windows are the staple industry of Braintree, Witham and Maldon. Metal Window makers should insist on living in houses with metal Windows. If Braintree builders recognised this, further houses with wood windows would not be built. Advt Crittall’.

22 November 1929

page 1.
‘Witham News …’
‘The next General Election. The Executive Committee of the Divisional Labour party met in camera at Witham on Saturday afternoon.. We understand that in all probability Major Herbert Evans will again be invited to contest the constituency in the Labour interest’.

Crittall Social Club celebrates first anniversary of its opening.

Whist drive organised by Women’s section of Witham Labour Party.

Miss E Luard and Girls’ Friendly Society are planning to put on ‘The King of Sherwood’. C L Dudley is to be Robin Hood and May West to be Maid Marion.

At Rowley’s Hall, Miss Marjorie Brown, M.O.A.D., and Miss Catherine Brown, M.O.A.D, ‘gave a dramatic recital and display of dancing in aid of the Witham Nursing Association and the Colchester Hospital’.

page 3.
Witham Police Rifle Shooting competitions.

29 November 1929

page 1.
Witham: Gramophone Concert at Church house in aid of Church House Repair fund. ‘Beautiful gramophone and records’, ‘kindly lent by Mr B C Afford’. Event arranged by Mr H B Peecock.

Horse ran amock in High Street on Saturday afternoon, belonging to Blunts Hall. Constable on duty at Maldon Road corner tried to stop it without success. Returned when reached Whitehall. Eventually caught. A good deal of traffic so caused hold-ups.

Women’s Institute Annual meeting at ‘the Hut’. Committee elected. Mrs Hancock rendered solos.

L.N.E.R. ad for excursions to London for Xmas shopping, 5/- return from Witham.

page 2.
County meeting of British Legion at Witham in Rowley’s restaurant.

Witham Urban District Council:
Report of Housing Committee accepted, presented by Councillor Eb [Ebenezer] Smith. Approved plan for 44 new houses, ‘of the parlour type’ to be sold to owner occupiers in easy payment terms, the first 10 to be erected fronting Highfields Road.
[Note: this Highfields Road estate was one of several estates built by the Council for sale . Its progress  is mentioned several times in later entries].

Public Health Committee. Water to be turned off at night for time being because No. 1 engine to be taken down for repairs.

Unspecified work to be done on road at Chalks Lane.

Ambulance – Problem with vibration. Messrs Charles Warren Ltd to be asked to alter springs.

Sub committee appointed re proposed cemetery.

Matter of abattoir to be deferred indefinitely because of expense.

National Union of Railwaymen had complained about overhead wires for telegraph and electric lights. To write back and say no problem, double deckers can pass.

Miss Mondy to be allowed to use field at rear of Cressing Road houses for Girl Guides Hockey team.

Advert from Witham UDC re. erection of ‘a number of good class houses of the parlour type in pairs for sale on easy term. Not less than £10 down. Applicants invited. F H Bright, clerk of Council, at 6 Collingwood Road’.
[note: parlour type houses had two living rooms, one of which would usually be the parlour and kept for best. The Council did try building some non-parlour type houses with only one living room. The idea was to be able to ask lower rents, but nevertheless they were not very popular]

page 3.
More correspondence about water supply in Witham.

6 December 1929

page 1.
Witham: Works at Crittall’s to be closed Xmas eve till the following Monday. The Saturday morning before the holidays will be worked.

Witham Labour Party Women’s section had whist ‘in the Club’.

Cribbage at the White Horse in aid of St Dunstans.

Legion. To visit Witham Brotherhood.

Fire in canteen at Crittall’s dealt with. ‘Great excitement was caused among the householders in Albert Road, whose dwellings are in close proximity’.

Sale of work in Rowley’s hall re church.

Rifle shooting at Territorial HQ in Guithavon Valley. Popular. Legion taking part.

Bowling club, held Whist drive at Constitutional Club.

Advert from Fred H Fuller ‘the butcher of distinction’.

Advert from ‘Rowley’s Rooms, Witham,. Dancing every Friday, 8 pm to 1 am; admission. Single 2/-, Double 3/6. Special late buses’.

Advert for Turner’s Mans shop  ‘Ladies! Delight your men folk’.

Advert for Diana of Witham. Display of gifts for mothers and children. 4 o’clock ‘Vocal Solos and Wireless Selections’.

page 2.
‘Stroller’. Reference to the aircraft hangar previously ‘on an isolated spot on the Essex Coast’ during the War and acquired after by Crittall’s. One half canteen at Witham, other half near Silver End factory.
[Note: the Witham half continued here through the life of the factory, and then I believe it was taken away for preservation, possibly to Stow Maries].

13 December 1929

page 1.
Witham: Witham Musical and Amateur Operatic Society, 9th season, will present the Gondoliers.

Interest in the Witham Council’s proposed Highfields estate. Lots of applications and some allotted. ‘A distinct acquisition to the town’

Prize distribution re sales competition at Witham Co-op Soc. Names. Prizes include furniture and a gramophone.  ‘Mr A G Bright presided over a crowded hall’.

Crittall’s athletic club Witham. New sports ground on Rivenhall Road to be ready next year.

Robin Hood performed at Public Hall, Girls Friendly Society. Miss Edith Luard. Mr C Dudley’s ‘beautiful tenor voice’. Names. Piano Miss L Croxall.

Adverts, Rowleys room again [note: and repeated thereafter]

page 2.
Leader discusses traffic. I.e. not moving. Proposal to abolish horse traffic. Causes waste of petrol in London because of delays. Principal offenders the Post Office, brewers, railway cos, scavenging services, delivery services. Tax horses or horse traffic meanwhile. Some people say should keep them for security but don’t agree.

‘Stroller’: Rumour that King and Queen of Denmark in Witham. Actually passed through on train at 70 mph on way to Parkeston and home.

page 3.
Advert for Navy and Army Stories. Braintree, Witham and Chelmsford. List of goods.

pages 4 and 5.
Lots of ads re Xmas gifts including W. Loveday Ltd., J Glover (‘wireless receivers’), Davies’ clothiers (72 High St), Lixall (the Corner shop Witham, confectionery), White’s (toy and present bazaar, 68 High St), Turner’s (men’s, 54 High Street), W Day and Co (leather goods toys etc., 95 High St; also why not have lunch or tea in Days café), Edward Spurge (big ad including umbrellas, 42 High St.), Diana of Witham (gloves, hankies, etc.), James Sorrell, (meat), W W Burrows (Guithavon Valley, coal). J M Barham (‘The Clock House, Witham’, gifts).

20 December 1929

page 1.

‘Witham Post Office is to have electric light in the near future’.

Scouts dance, Legion Hut.

Rev Napier, curate, to leave.

Hockey Club dance in Rowley’s rooms. One of MC s was A C Askins.

Whist drive, Maldon Division Women’s Conservative Assoc. Witham branch, at ‘the Club’. Record attendance.

Whist drive in Catholic Schoolroom.

Footballers, first annual dinner re Crittall Athletic Football Club at White Horse.

Record success of Robin Hood.

Crittall Sports Club draw.

page 2.
Crittall Manuf Co Gen Meeting. Record profits.

Branch of Labour Party formed a month ago at Great Totham. Concert held.  W Burrows of Witham made speech on Labour Movement.

Ads as before, later pages.

27 December 1929

page 1.

Xmas whist by Education Committee of Co-op.

Sacred cantata at Congregational Church by choir of 40, conducted by Ernest Mason. ‘The soprano solos were taken by Miss Eileen Little, always a favourite’. Miss Winnie Drake at organ.

Carol singers organised by Miss Milly Evitt raised money for charities.

Women’s Institute monthly meeting at The Hut. Mrs A C Mens organiser. Mrs P Brown retired from committee after 10 years and Mrs Dier retired as President. Miss E Luard to be President next year.

Prize for mother of most children under 10 years won by Mrs Hawkes. Prize for youngest mother by Mrs Driver.

Mr J V Stoffer, well known athlete, had motor accident a few months ago and right leg broken. Used to represent County. Also soccer.

page 2.
Magistrates’ court, various motoring offences, speeding, lights etc. Also some for children not attending school [note: these were regular items].

Leader. Review of year. Gen Election gave Labour chance. Power shaken by disruption and narrow majority re Coal Bill. ‘The numerous financial crashes, the outpouring of gold to America … Floods.. Likely increase in taxation. From brightness into gloom. District has progressed rapidly including building houses.

Whitehall cinema ads and reviews [note: this in other weeks too]

Has been six pages in each edition. Will be back to four pages after Christmas.

Witham UDC, Council minutes, 1933-1945

Witham Urban District Council,
Council minutes.
The volume for 1933-1945
Reference  E.R.O D/UWi 1/1/5

Not comprehensive notes. Mostly looking for various specific items, i.e. some AGMs, war preparations eg. Air Raid Precautions, some by looking in index. Then started more fully in WW2, September 1939. Didn’t do much on housing this time.

Page numbers given below are pages of the actual item, not the beginning of the meeting.

Items in square brackets are comments added by JG.Items in quotation marks are exact quotations from the minutes.The rest of the text is in note form, i.e. notes written by JG to summarise the  minutes.

Silver End and Rivenhall were added to Witham Urban District in 1933, adding to the Labour representation. My notes tend to concentrate on Witham.
For other volumes of Council minutes, and for Committee minutes, search for minutes in a Search box, to see how far I've got.


19 April 1933

page 1. Annual Meeting. Chair to be Councillor Ebenezer Smith [note:  he was the first Labour Chairman]. Vice Chair to be Councillor W W Burrows [also Labour, I think].

Committees to be:

Public Health: W W Burrows, W G Naylor, A G Manning, E L Smith, B O Blyth.

Housing: A G Manning, Miss Pattisson, W W Burrows, H L Evitt.

Estates: E L Smith, Miss Pattisson, B O Blyth, H E Reader.

Rating and Valuation: W G Naylor, A G Manning, H E Reader, H L Evitt, W W Burrows ex officio.

Chair is ex officio on all.

[page 3] Letter from Braintree Area Guardians Committee re previous correspondence. Is Council able to consider any work for men ‘as a condition of relief’. No action.

28 January 1935

[page 110] Letter from Whitstable Urban District urging provision of shelters at Employment Exchanges, ‘to ensure that persons attending … having to wait there … could do so under shelter from bad weather’. Shouldn’t be in public view. Resolved to support.

15 February 1935

[page 117] Support to various resolutions from other Urban Districts condemning Unemployment Act 1934, part II, and harsh application of the Act, and protesting against reduction of relief.

25 March 1935

[page 122] Resolution from Aberdare Urban District Council ‘that … the policy of the Government with respect to Defence is completely at variance with the spirit in which the League of Nations was created to establish a collective world peace, gravely jeopardises the prospect of any disarmament Convention, and so far from securing national security, will lead to international competition, and the insecurity thereby engendered, and will ultimately lead to war’. Moved by Councillor K Cuthbe, seconded by Councillor T R Mott, [two Labour Councillors from Silver End]’ that it should be supported. 8 voted for and 2 against, so carried. Send to Prime Minister.

29 March 1935, in Committee

Interviewed candidates for Sanitary Inspector. Appoint the following (I think subject to the interview still to be held with the one in Wales – see F and G P Committee minutes): Mr Jonathan Holdsworth, 60 Treen Avenue, Barnes, SW 13. Six for him, three against, three abstained.

15 April 1935

[page 131] Lengthy reply received from Prime Minister to resolution about Defence [no details] [see 25 March].

27 May 1935

[page 136] Resolution from Urban District Council of Purfleet. Resolved that Council views with alarm the present grave international complications. The feeling of insecurity is hindering the recovery of World Trade, and we earnestly implore His Majesty’s Government to pursue a Policy of Peace’. Agreed to support.

[page 138] Library. Agreed sealing document re hiring of library room in Council offices [may not be first reference though first in index].

16 July 1935

pp 150-1. Re report of Public Health Committee. ‘Travelling facilities for the Sanitary Inspector.’ This matter, referred to in the report mentioned above, was taken in the absence of the officers. Resolved that the consideration of the recommendation on the subject, as contained in the Report, be deferred until September next, to be taken in conjunction with the Clerk’s Report, then to be submitted, on the working of the reorganised staff during the past six months’.

23 September 1935. Council in Committee

page 159. Report on internal clerical staff. Includes after discussion resolved that, inter alia:‘(1) Having considered the several matters brought before the Public Health Committee by the Sanitary Inspector, he be asked to carry out his agreement with the Council as it stands’.

27 January 1936

page 178. Report of Finance and General Purposes Committee of 24 January – Sanitary Inspector, travelling allowance, resolved to refer into committee.

[page 179] Report on meeting on 21st inst between ‘a Housing Inspector and General Inspector of the Ministry of Health and the Chairman and several members of the Council upon the Council’s duties under the 1930 and 1935 Acts’. Mr W T Bowman, Chief Housing Inspector, and Colonel Hayward, General Inspector’s Office .

Mr Bowman. Ministry of Health thinks the Council’s programme of Slum Clearance under the 1930 Act is inadequate. He has come to advise. He gave summary of duties under this and also under 1935 (Overcrowding) Act. Council have obligations. Can’t shelve them. From information on his file, he knew there were additional properties to deal with. Council must assist their Sanitary Inspector. Otherwise Ministry has powers to act.

Questions from Councillors:

If action already taken under Section 19 of 1930 Act re two or more properties which could have been a Clearance Order, is it possible to drop proceedings and commence new proceedings as a Clearance Order? Yes, provided demolition orders not served yet.

Re Clearance Order or Demolition Order, Council not obliged to rehouse the displaced persons, but ‘for every house demolished the Council must build a new house’.

Should preference be given to owner occupiers, e.g. elderly couple who have acquired house for old age? Act does not specify. All properties below standard can not be tolerated.

Inspector then went round district.

He visited the Clerk later and said could not get round all but had seen as follows:

210 places suitable for Clearance Areas

40 suitable for demolition under section 19.

Total 250.

Probably another 125 houses at least in area not seen, so total 275. So any programme showing less than 275 houses for demolition would be unsatisfactory.

Mr Bowman said ‘The Ministry in earnest over the position in Witham, that it would be constantly watched’. He thought members had taken note and would assist the Sanitary Inspector and get him a clerical officer and qualified assistants. The number of houses he had seen would not be put in any communication, but the Clerk might inform members of what was expected.

31 January 1936, Council in Committee

page 183. Sanitary Inspector, increase in salary. Recommendation of F and G P referred to this meeting from full meeting on 27 January. As in newspaper, i.e. Councillor E L Smith, mentioned that this subject had not been again brought forward by the sanitary inspector, but had arisen from a conversation he had had with him in which the official stated he was not disposed to accept a previous offer made by the Council to pay for petrol and oils used in his car upon a 30-miles-to-the gallon basis, and he had requested the sanitary inspector to inform the Council of his decision. In consequence of which the Sanitary Inspector’s decision was referred to the F and GP Committee.

Councillor EL Smith and Councillor Manning proposed that the Council ‘provide a bicycle for use by the Sanitary Inspector within the district in the performance of his duties and that the Council pay any necessary bus fares incurred by him’

Councillor E Smith JP and Cllr Mrs Horridge moved amendment to increase his salary to £40 per annum. Five for amendment and six against, so lost.

The motion being put there were six for and six against. Chair refrained from casting vote so no decision.

Councillor E Smith – would move at next meeting.

24 February 1936

page 185. Public Health and Housing Committee report of 7[?] Feb adopted. No specific reference in these minutes to Sanitary Inspector’s salary etc.

20 April 1936, AGM

[page 193] Present. Councillors E L Smith, W G Naylor, A G Manning, J Croxall, H J Rowles, D J Maidment, K Cuthbe, E Smith, Mrs A M Horridge, C E Richards, H E Reader, A J Horner, W W Burrows.

Elected Chairman: W W Burrows (nominated by E L Smith, seconded C E R Richards, unanimous).

Elected Vice Chairman: E L Smith (nominated by W W Burrows, seconded by A G Manning, got 7 votes)

Also nominated as Vice Chairman was Cllr D J Maidment, nominated by Cllr E Smith and seconded by K Cuthbe, only got 3 votes.

27 July 1936, in Committee

[page 213] Air Planning in Essex. Letter from North West Regional Planning Committee. Messrs Norman and Dawbarn’s recent report advises provision of ‘aerodromes at Bishops Stortford, Braintree and Bocking and possibly near Saffron Walden’. Defer for further consideration [I didn’t follow this up].

31 August 1936

[page 214] Letter from Mayor of Jarrow about unemployment there because of closing down of shipbuilding and iron and steel works. Asks for financial assistance to protest to Government. Defer till ascertained whether within Council’s powers. Same for a plea re Wharncliffe colliery disaster. I’m

20 October 1936

[page 230] Discussion re Temples Meadow, Chipping Hill. On proposal to build. Essex Archaeological Society and Council for the Preservation of Rural England say site of a camp of historic value and national importance. Was suggested should be up to HM Office of Works to declare it an ancient monument. Mr T A Henderson, ‘Town Planning consultant’ said if it did, it would be for them to bear cost. Some pointed out that already considerably built. Thanked Planning advisers etc. Councillor Rowles and Councillor Horner proposed that whilst allowing resolution permitting development, question of preservation should be put to HM Office of Works. Ruled out of order. Resolved that thank the bodies for their representations and inform them that resolution to stand and suggest they approach HM Office of Works about it being an ancient monument. Councillor EL Smith as part owner, did not vote.

[page 234] The Avenue, Avenue Road and Collingwood Road. Refer back numbering.

9 Nov 1936

[page 237] Re Air Raid Precautions. Councillor A J Horner to be appointed to collaborate with Councillors E Smith, D J Maidment and the Clerk.

9 March 1937, in Committee

[page 259] Clerk had enquired whether any Coat of Arms of Witham were registered. Told that no. Cost of obtaining one would be £81 10s to Heralds College. Resolved not to proceed.

30 March 1937

[page 263] ‘Hutley Recreation Ground. Letter from solicitors ‘stating that the Executors of the Will of the late Mr Philip Hutley desire to commemorate his long association with the town and the council, by presenting the meadows shown on the tracing … as a Recreation Ground for the inhabitants of Witham. Agreed to accept and send appreciation [probably just over Moat Farm bridge going down, and to the left, through the viaduct nearly to the Mill House in Guithavon Valley. Belonged to Powershall in tithe map (and probably at Domesday in 1086). Powershall did not have any meadow near to it].

[page 264] Joint letter to Secretary of State by Secretaries of Local Government Associations arising from conference at County Hall Westminster, about Air Raid Precautions. Says Local Authorities appreciate urgency, but reiterate previous representations that cost should be born by HM Government. So reluctantly advise Local Authorities to defer any further expenditure re ARP or emergency Fire Brigade organisation, till Government have decided financial issue. Resolved to take this advice and spend no more on same for time being.

19 April 1937, AGM

[page 272] Elected Chairman: E L Smith (nominated by W W Burrows, seconded by A G Manning). No other nominations, unanimous.

Elected Vice Chairman: A G Manning (nominated by W G Naylor, seconded by H E Reader). No other nominations.

9 July 1937, in Committee

[page 290] Air Raid Precautions. Wing Commander Sparling, AFC, County organiser of ARP, addressed meeting. Stressed point that first thing should be to appoint an organiser. Said should be possible to get voluntary offer. Leave open with view to getting volunteer.

30 August 1937

[page 289] Air Raid Precautions. Captain Hill had approached Vice Chairman (A G Manning) on behalf of ‘the Legion of Frontiersmen’ saying that they would volunteer to undertake preparation of scheme for ARP for Urban District. Thank them and appoint 3 Councillors to confer with the Legion and to form an ARP Committee.

25 October 1937

[page 315] Air Raid Precautions. Councillor Captain J N Pelly had been to meeting at Braintree. Report to come from County organiser.

29 November 1937

[page 319] Letter from Jarrow about cost of living for unemployed. Get MP to bring matter up. Agreed to support.

[pages 321-322] Air Raid Precautions. Letter from Colonel E A Ruggles-Brise, MP, in reply to letter from this Council asking him to associate himself with action on Bill to secure local burden to product of rate of 2d in the £. He says in general agreement on Bill, and the point about the 2d has been largely met by decision to put 3 year limit on operation of Bill and to consult with Local Authorities if cost higher than foreseen. To give copy to press.

31 January 1938

[page 327] Air Raid Precautions. Captain P T Hill has asked for sum not exceeding £10 to be petty cash for ARP scheme. List of expenditure will be kept. Agreed.

28 February 1938

[page 334] Delegates to go to Conference on Air Raid Precautions to be held by Essex County Council.

[page 335] Letter from Councillor Captain J N Pelly volunteering his services from UDC ‘on the Committee which apparently will be formed jointly with the Braintree Urban and Rural District Councils of ARPs’. Resolved not to appoint anyone till after London conference but to keep him in mind.

28 March 1938

[page 341] Air Raid Precautions. Since ‘the Town’s meeting held in the Public Hall on Tuesday evening last’, progress made. Arrangements for First Aid classes to begin immediately, for both men and women. That afternoon there had been a joint meeting of the ‘combined area’ at Braintree, when it was decided to advertise for organiser for combined district to be paid £300 plus travelling expenses.

[page 343] Resolved to constitute Air Raid Precautions Committee to consider scheme and the appointment of a Sub-organiser. Committee to constitute Finance Committee plus Councillor Pelly and present Chairman, plus others co-opted as needed.

20 April 1938, AGM

Witham UDC, Council minutes, 1918-1933

Witham Urban District Council,
Council minutes, the volume for 1918-1933
Reference E.R.O. D/UWi 1/1/4
Notes by Janet Gyford
Not comprehensive notes. Mostly looking for various specific subjects, sometimes by looking in the indexes in the original volumes e.g: house numbering; first proposed Council houses in 1921; Electricity; War.

Page numbers given below are pages of the actual item, not the beginning of the meeting.

Items in square brackets are comments added by JG. Items in quotation marks are exact quotations from the minutes.

The rest of the text is in note form, i.e. notes written by JG to summarise the minutes. 

For other volumes of Council minutes, and for Committee minutes, search for minutes in a Search box, to see how far I've got.


27 May 1918

page 2 Letter from Food Production Department enclosing a copy of a letter from Mr Crittall and urging Council to acquire field under Cultivation of Lands Order 1917 no 2. Unanimous that the Council should acquire under the Order that part of the field that is uncultivated.

Letter from Essex War Agricultural Committee read, asking ‘if any of the Council’s Workmen will be available for voluntary work on the land’. Reply that all fully engaged.

page 3 Seats for wounded soldiers. Mr J A Beadel applied for permission to put two seats for accommodation of Wounded Soldiers in front of Congregational Church. Yes and thank you.

Food Control. Letter from Lord Rhondda re institution of National Kitchen. Refer to Local Food Control Committee.

Welcome Mr F H Bright, new Clerk to Council.

24 June 1918

page 5. Endorse payment of £100 as advance to Local Food Control Committee.

Re land at Payns Haven. Letter from Crittalls saying that ‘in the event of any portion of the land at Payns Haven being required for the extension of Munition works, such portion as is required must be released to the Company, they paying compensation to the tenants for loss of crops’. Agreed.
[note: Payns/Pains Haven was the field in Braintree Road where Crittall’s built their factory. Previously it belonged to the Co-op].

National Steam Car Company propose to extend ‘their Boreham Omnibus Service; on to Witham on weekdays’. Consent

16 July 1918

page 6 Household Fuel and Lighting Order 1918. Considerable discussion. Don’t unite with another Local Authority. Advertise for Local Fuel Overseer, also to be secretary of Fuel and Lighting Committee. Also appoint the following onto the Fuel and Lighting Co to supervise and assist the overseer:

E C Quick, Maldon road, Schoolmaster

Mrs Thompson, Guithavon Street, Witham, Schoolmistress

E Smith, Braintree Road, Signalman

Councillors Pinkham, Taber, and Hutley. The latter to be chair.

Flag Day. Letter from Admiral Berisford, asking sanction for holding Flag Day for funds of Society for Wounded Soldiers and Sailors in Hospitals etc at Home and Abroad. OK.

Condolences to Mr J E Smith on death of his son Allan killed on active service in France.

29 July 1918 or is it all 20 August?

page 7. Secretary for Fund for Wounded Soldiers and Sailors says thanks and is there anyone they could approach to assist. Mr Afford will do, and also lend shop for day, but cant organise. Tell Secretary and refer him to Mrs Brandt with view to her forming a Committee to organise.

page 8. Household Fuel and Lighting Order. No reply from Mr Quick. Captain Abrey to be on Committee. Applications from Mr E C Quick, and from Mr W P Perkins if the salary is increased. Leave to Committee.

Bell field. Letter from Witham United Charities saying had considered report and valuation of Mr W Gardner. Resolved that Council offer £520 for the field.

Will Council sell Mr F Bonner the timber building on the Hospital site? Refer to Committee.

Letter from Local Government Board ‘as to the collection of Fruit Stones etc’. Give it to Mr B C Afford, secretary of Witham Food Production Committee, who had matter in hand.

Food Controller has decided to extend term of office of Local Food Control Committee.

 20 August 1918, page 11

Gift of seats. Mr W Pinkham on behalf of his son Mr B Pinkham, offered to give two seats ‘to be placed in suitable positions in the Town for the use of Wounded Soldiers and the public. The offer was gratefully accepted’.

Special meeting, 30 August  1918

Mr Pinkham submitted return of material estimated to be needed during the two years following the War. Return to the Minister of Reconstruction [no details]

page 15. Letter from Ministry of Food re saving fuel by cooking food in National Kitchens. No action.

25 November 1918

page 19. Question of cultivating the field at Paynes Haven considered. In order to avoid unnecessary labour and expense which would ultimately fall on Messrs Crittall, write and ask them how soon they contemplate building operations.

page 21. Peace. Mr Pinkham called attention of Council to fact that ‘Peace might be declared in the near future’. Desirable to prepare for ‘proper celebration’. Moved form into Committee to consider. Agreed.

30 December 1918

Steam Roller has arrived and commenced work on Wickham Hill.

page 23. Progress with purchase of Bell field.

27 January 1919, page 24

Mr W Pinkham applied for leave to carry ‘an Electric Light Cable over the road to the Factory of the National Glove Company at Chipping Hill’. OK if to satisfaction of surveyor.

9 September 1919, page 57

‘Motor Ambulance. Mr R C Gaymer attended the meeting and informed the Council that the Hon C H Strutt had purchased a motor ambulance which he wished to present to the Council for the use of the Town and neighbourhood … resolved … be accepted … write … thanks.

Mr R W Wakelin offered to garage the ambulance free of charge … thanks…

Resolved that the words “Witham Urban District Council” be painted on the ambulance and that the necessary licence be taken out in the name of the Clerk … no definite scale of charges, but that if the person removed was able to pay, such person should pay the actual running cost, or efforts be made to recover same from the Parish Council concerned’.

Clerk to write to neighbouring Parish Councils, tell them arrangements could be made to use the ambulance ‘by calling Telephone No 52, Witham’. Committee to take charge of it to be R W Wakelin, A W Garrett, and Captain Abrey.

[ERO C/DF 11/14, Register of motorcars 1918-1920
Includes: HK 5741. Witham Urban District Council, Witham, F H Bright, clerk. Ford 20 H P. Ambulance body. Grey. For Hospital work. Registered 12 September 1919]

Telephone line. Postmaster General – ‘application to erect an overground telegraphic line over and along Hill Lane, Witham, from junction of roads at White Horse Inn to the site of Messrs Crittalls new factory … granted’ [Hill Lane, after the nearby Saxon earthworks, was an earlier name for White Horse Lane].

29 September 1919, page 61

Electric Lighting.

Letters from Messrs Crompton, Mr H P Girling and Suffolk Electricity Supply Co read. Referred to Roads Committee

21 October 1919, page 66

Furniture Warehousemen and Removers Association had written about whether Council had facilities for providing water for Steam engines when in district. To write saying no facilities but two or three rivers where engines could take in water

21 October 1919, page 64

Street lighting

Mr Napier Prentice, Secretary of Suffolk Electricity Supply Co Ltd. attended.

Questions. Replies.

Advisable to install system of overhead conductors to distribute electricity.

Council could do work, or if Council decided not to go into Electricity Supply for selves, Company could do work.

In view of ‘proposed developments for Electricity Supply a Generating Station should not be built at Witham’ but if his company did supply they’d bring it from Braintree by overhead wires. In near future his company would probably promote a large Power Stn in Essex.

Cost of installation would be approximately £1,000 for 104 lights, and interest, upkeep, electricity etc. would be £3 per annum per lamp.

Clerk to ascertain ‘whether Messrs Crittall were anticipating installing Electric Light at their new Factory, and would be willing to undertake the lighting of the Town’.

18 November 1919, page 69

Street lighting. Letters from Suffolk Electricity Supply Co Ltd. confirming the statements of their Secretary at the Oct meeting, read.

Letter from Crittall Manufacturing Co ‘stating that they were not in a position to supply Electric Light to the Council’

Clerk to write to Suffolk Electricity Supply Co Ltd. that if prepared to state definitely that liability of Council for lighting their 104 street lamps with Electric Light’ would not exceed £3 per lamp per annum, Council willing to proceed. Gas agreement expires Xmas next. To write to them for terms.

16 December 1919, page 70

Surveyor’s report. ‘Plans of proposed show room in Newland Street for Messrs Wakelin and Leeding and a pair of Cottages in Maldon Road … deposited’. Former accord with bye laws. Latter does not in so far as party wall were not carried up to roof and the size to the roof timbers … Plans referred to in Surveyors report were considered by Council and approved.

13 January 1920, page 76

Letter from Suffolk Elect Supply Company, now East Anglian Electricity Ltd, read. Agreement would be considered.

31 May 1920, page 97

Letters from East Anglian Electricity Ltd. Difficulty in obtaining material. So couldn’t undertake supply of electric light in Witham till next year. So not to terminate agreement with Gas Company this year.

 30 August 1920, page 108

‘CENSUS – NUMBERING OF HOUSES:- Mr W Pinkham proposed in accordance with notice:-

That the Resolution passed at the last meeting of the Council that the Houses in the Town be not numbered be rescinded, and that the Houses in the Town be numbered.

On being put to the meeting 3 voted in favour of the Resolution and 3 against, and the Chairman gave his casting vote against.

The Resolution was therefore declared lost’.

Doesn’t say anything about rescinding this latter decision.

Nothing else about census in index Or about numbering or names or street numbers

25 October 1920

Letter from East Anglian Electricity Ltd. Company at present negotiating with Railway Company re way-leave and for permission to put High Tension Line along railway Braintree to Witham.

20 December 1920, page 125

Electric light. Letter from East Anglian Electricity Ltd. Company being reorganised. Appealing to public for capital. So not possible to obtain capital and complete line to light Witham by midsummer next.

12 May 1921, page 141

Special meeting.

‘HOUSING – Loan for Site – Mortgage and Order for Certificate. The Clerk submitted the Mortgage with the Public Works Loan Commission for securing the sum of £1600 and interest at 6½% on the Rates levied by the Council … the said loan being raised for the purchase of a site in Braintree Road Witham for the erection of dwellings for persons of the Working Classes, also the Order for Certificate for the said sum’. Mortgage and order sealed.

30th May 1921, page 144

Letter from Minister of Health. Before deciding application for loan of £1,200 ‘for carrying out works … sewer from Cocks Farm … an Inspector to visit the locality’.

27 June 1921

Letters 8th and 9th inst. from Mr Dean, amended estimates for the 12 Workmen’s cottages, and a letter from the Office of the Housing Commissioner, ‘unable to authorise the acceptance of a tender for these Houses at the present time’

Clerk to write saying therefore should postpone inquiry re sewer.

25 July 1921, page 150

Electric lighting. Letter from Messrs A S Payle and F S Leatherdale, ‘asking permission to erect overhead Electric Mains in the Town with a view to installing Plant for supplying the Town with Electric light’. Clerk to write for details and their financial position.

20 or 29? Aug 1921, page 153

Mr Pinkham reported on interview with Housing Commissioner re Minister stopping progress with Council’s housing scheme. In exceptional cases the Minister is allowing some to be proceeded with if complied with Housing Circular no 222. Proposed the matter be referred to Committee of Council Chair (J E Smith), Chair of Housing (Pinkham?) & Mr E Smith and Clerk.

20 or 29? August 1921, page 154

Correspondence with Leatherdale and Payle. Resolved to do nothing at present. Gas co for revised terms.

14 September 1921, page 156

Mr E Smith proposed strong protest to Minister of Health re action on Housing Scheme. Council have followed instructions and obtained approval and purchased land and accepted tenders ‘which are urgently needed but are now prevented by the Ministry form proceeding’.

Serious financial responsibilities incurred already in carrying out Minister’s demands. So ask for definite statement for what will be met by Minister.

No seconder.

31 October 1921, page 163

Mr H Lawrence offered to the Council for purchase, ‘the Historic Drunkard’s Cage now standing on his premises’. Clerk to ask price etc.
[This was at the corner of Newland Street and Mill Lane]

2 November 1921, page 168

Mr H Lawrence said he required £30 for the Cage. Clerk to thank him and say could not at present purchase it. ‘Mr E Smith proposed and Mr E Pelly seconded that the Clerk inform the Antiquarian Society of the offer now made to the Council and should the Society be desirous of the Cage remaining in the Town the Council were willing that same should be placed in the Recreation Ground’.

No more references in index to volume of UDC minutes 1918-1933

30 January 1922, page 175

The Cricket Club had complained of ‘considerable annoyance from spectators in the Recreation Ground when playing matches in the Park and asking the Council to take steps to prevent a repetition of this annoyance.’

Instruct caretaker to take names in future with view to prosecution.

24 April 1922, page 184

Annual meeting.

Present Miss Pattisson, Messrs J E Smith, C S Richardson, W Taber, E Smith, E Pelly, R Little and Capt S Abrey.
[note: This was a momentous occasion. It was the first meeting ever when one of the Councillors in attendance was a woman. She was Miss Charlotte Pattisson, who had just been elected. Like many women elsewhere, she was strongly supported by the Women’s Institute. I think there had just been an extension of the qualifications, allowing more women to put themselves forward.]

J E Smith to be chair, C S Richardson Vice chair, unanimous.

Chairs of Committees etc. Finance was the whole Council. Proposed by Mr E Smith and sec Mr W Taber that Mr E Pelly be chair of Finance Committee. Amendment proposed by Mr Pelly, seconded by Captain Abrey that Mr Pinkham be re-elected chair, amendment was lost 4 to 3. Original proposal carried 4 to 1.

Housing Committee was the whole council and W Pinkham to be chair. Others included allotments, W Pinkham to be chair.

24 April 1922, page 186

‘Houses – Numbering of – Mr E Smith gave notice that at the next meeting of the Council he would move that the houses in the town to be numbered’.

29 May 1922, page 189

Fine on resignation of Councillors discussed. Clerk had searched minutes. Only found that 10 shillings paid by W B Blood when he resigned in 1886. Decided that in future it should be £10 if not ill or leaving district, or £1 if ill or leaving district.

‘A letter dated 29th ult. was read from Mr W Pinkham resigning his position as a Councillor and fully setting out the reasons for taking that step. The Clerk stated that the resignation was not complete inasmuch as the fine had not been paid. … £10 … inform Mr Pinkham.

29 May 1922, page 190

‘Houses, numbering of: Mr E Smith proposed that the houses in the town be numbered and that the Council who already had the numbers in stock bear the cost. Carried.

29 May 1922, page 190

‘White Hall boundary posts – a letter was read from Mr E T Edwards stating that the Council had removed some iron posts from the edge of the pathway in front of White Hall which he understood defined the boundary of the property and asking by whose authority they were removed. …’. Referred to Roads Committee.

29 May 1922, page 191

‘Pump Chess Lane. Miss Pattisson called the attention of the Council to the unsatisfactory condition of the pump near Chess Lane and the Surveyor was instructed to get same repaired forthwith.’

29 May 1922, page 191

‘Char-a-bancs – A letter dated 29th inst. from Mr A A Powell Jones was read as to the parking of char-a-bancs in the High street. The Clerk was directed to confer with the Supt of Police thereon’.

26 June 1922, page 194

‘Electric Lighting – A letter dated the 22d instant from Messrs Girlings Ltd was read putting forward a suggestion for lighting the Town with electric light. No action was taken in the matter’.

11 January 1924, page 274

Electricity Supply Bill. Copy of County of London Supply Bill. Sent by Shoeburyness UDC asking support for opposition. Let stand over.

11 January 1924, page 274

Attention called to inconvenience to inhabitants of Church Street and Cocks Farm site because no post box any nearer than Chipping Hill Post Office. Postmaster General to be ‘urged to erect a Pillar Box near Mrs Brown’s corner at Cocks Farm’

.[This was the corner of Chalks Road and  Braintree Road (now a garage). Much of the Council’s new building at this time, e.g. in Cressing Road, was on land formerly belonging to Cocks farm]

28 January 1924, page 280

Letter from County of London Electricity Supply Company. Conference of representatives of various Local Authorities involved. Mr Pinkham to attend with the clerk.

25 February 1924, page 283

Mr Pinkham reported from conference of representatives of various Local Authorities involved in London E S Co. [no details]

31 March 1924, page 288

Letter from East Anglian Electricity read, enclosing draft form of consent of the Council to grant them special order by Electricity Commissioners. Defer. Ask representative to come.

31 March 1924, page 288

Letter from County of London Electricity Supply Co. Clauses to be put in Bill to meet Local Authority objections.

28 April 1924, page 294

Mr Pinkham reports on interviews with East Anglian Electricity Ltd. ‘to whom it had been suggested that the supply of electricity should be given to Witham by means of a circuit rather than that Witham should form a dead end’. Advised that Council would consent to Special order, in Witham UDC et al, and urge circuit. Agreed.

30th June 1924, page 304

Letter received from ‘inhabitants of the Cocks Farm end of Braintree Road thanking the Council for their efforts in inducing the Postmaster General to erect a Pillar Box there’.

17 October 1924, page 314

Resolved to light lamp at Woolpack in Church Street. Mr W Pinkham dissented

28 July 1924, page 308

‘Public Urinal. Mr E Smith called attention to the necessity of a Public convenience in the High street having regard to the great number of persons now travelling through the Town by road and moved the Council should …’call attention of Essex County Council and/or Ministry of Transport to the problem, and that …’ to meet the requirements of the great and increasing number of persons of both sexes travelling through this Town by road transport which frequently stop in the wide part of the High street, where owing to the absence of such convenience, they cannot avoid being a nuisance to some of the residents’. As it would be for travellers, Essex County Council or Ministry of Transport should make grant. Seconded Mr Burrows, carried.

23 February 1925, page 328

‘Census of houses to be condemned. The question of considering the houses in the District to be condemned also arose.’ Referred to Public Health Committee.

29 June 1925, page 341

‘Open air bathing. Mr Pinkham informed the meeting that it was proposed to erect an open air swimming bath and that it was found that the old Waterworks was suitable for same’. Referred to Public Health Committee. Involved removing partition between the two tanks.

9 October 1925, page 348

Reference to loan to Mr F H Crittall under Section 5 (2) of housing act 1923.

30 November 1925, page 353

‘On the written representation of the Medical Officer of Health it was resolved to make closing orders in respect of the following houses.

23, 25, 27, 29 Mill Lane

44, 46, 48, 50 Mill Lane

7, 8, 9, 10, 11 Guithavon Valley

21, 22 Powershall End

82, 84, 86, 88, Church Street

17 Church Street.’

Tenants may remain 3 months after orders operative.

Also resolved that notices be served on owners mentioned in report whose property was to be repaired.

30 November 1925, page 353

Housing Committee report adopted except E R Springett be allocated no 10 Cressing Road and P Kingsmill no 14.

19 April 1926, p 361

Discussion about the Avenue re, offer to Council of it. Discussion. No resolution. Mr J E Smith had letter in press.

5 May 1926, page 363 [i.e. re General Strike]

Volunteers. To enable all persons wishing to render service if called upon, it was decided to ask Captain L F Bevington to undertake this duty and attend at the Council Chamber to enrol volunteers. Notices to this effect be published in the town.

5 May 1926, page 363

Mr W Pinkham drew attention to fact that ‘certain people in the Town washed their cars and were never charged for the water. In particular he mentioned certain garages’. Reply that collector should enforce payment by people who used water for cars.

18 August 1926, page 370

‘The Horse “Punch” fell into the Sewage Ditch at the Sewage Farm on Friday night and it was with great difficulty that he was extricated’. Ditch to be fenced in. Also the horse now fit and should ‘dispose of him at next Auction sale at Chelmsford’

21 December 1926, page 377

To purchase ‘motor dust cart’. Mortgage taken out for it, £180.

30 May 1927, page 385

‘Back Rivenhall Road Name’. Report of Housing Committee. Proposed name before Council. Miss Pattisson and Mr Dean proposed “Rickstones”. Mr Burrows proposed “Oak Road”. Rickstones chosen.

31 October 1927, page 394

Housing scheme, reduced Govt Subsidy.

Proposed by Mr Ebenezer Smith and seconded by Mr Pinkham and unanimously resolved, that clerk to complain to Ministry of Health re building of 20 houses in Rickstones Road which were planned on subsidy as in Housing Act 1924. Not completed by 30 September 1927 because of inclement weather. So under revising order of Minister, these 6 houses will get less. So, desire that lower subsidy shouldn’t apply to houses under building contracts unable to be completed.

31 October 1927, page 394

Mr Pinkham proposed, and unanimously resolved that photographs of Councillors who have in the past occupied the Chair be obtained and hung in Council chamber and that present and future Chairmen be required to furnish photos. (Chairman didn’t vote.)

27 February 1928, page 397

Councillor J Ernest Smith retiring, ill health. 24 years service. Appreciation.

26 May 1928, page 402

Closing Orders. Proposed by Councillor Burrows and seconded by Councillor Manning that closing orders re 131, 133, 135, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27 Newland Street, 32, 34 Chipping Hill, and 28 and 30 Maldon Road be sealed. Councillor Pinkham moved amendment that they be not sealed. Four members voted for and one against them being sealed . Amendment lost so sealed.

Present Councillors C Stewart Richardson (chair), W W Burrows, E L Smith, William Pinkham, A G Manning, H L Evitt, Miss Pattisson.

29 October 1928, page 406

Resolved to seal closing order re 112 Newland Street, property of Mr James Porter, and to the order determining the closing order made re 21 and 22 Powershall End. Sealed.

28 January 1929, page 412

Street lighting. Resolved that seal affixed to agreement with East Anglian Electricity Supply Co for lighting of three lamps, one each at the following points, Collingwood Road corner, Maldon Road corner, and corner near Gasworks where Bridge Street adjoining Newland Street.

[previous reference in index to street lighting is 26 July 1926, when lighting for the coming season lighting referred to Public Health Committee]

29 April 1929, page 417

Sanitary Convenience – chairman to sign contract.

24 June 1929, page 420

Signing of mortgage for £510 for ‘Sanitary Convenience’.

17 August 1929, page 426

Public Health Committee report of 9th instant adopted re Bathing Pool.

17 August 1929, page 426

Resolved to adopt report of Public Health Committee re street lighting ‘so far as the number of electric lamps is concerned, and to request the East Anglian Electricity Supply Company to agree that the number consists of six 300 watt and six 200 watt lamps at £67 14 6 per annum, the lamps to be lighted from sunset until 11 p.m., from September 1st 1929 until April 30th 1930 inclusive. Left in hands of Chairman and Clerk to make best terms possible.

Gas lamps ‘The Witham Gas Light and Coke Co Ltd having quoted £2 16s per lamp for lighting all the street lamps as per last season with the exception of 33 in the main street’, resolved to accept.

27 January 1930, page 439

Closing orders. Resolved that those for 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 Guithavon Valley be sealed out of the meeting.

23 February 1931 page 482

Electric light poles. Councillor Ebenezer Smith referred to minute of Public Health Committee of 16 November 1928 re removal of ‘electric light pole which is in a dangerous position near Millfield Terrace, Guithavon Valley, and that the pole has not yet been moved’.

Resolved to instruct Clerk to draw attention of Company to it and request removal.

27 July 1931, page 494

Reports include:

‘Public Health Committee, 15 July, 18 July and 22 July 1931

‘In connection with the item on the street lighting in the Report of the Committee of the 22nd July, the Supply Company Limited stating that if the Council require a price for their lighting annually, the Company would desire to submit a fresh tender.

After consideration of this matter it was resolved to accept the Company’s tender as set out in that Report, namely, for lighting per annum £156.10.0 plus annual charge for equipment for 7 years £88 10 0. Total £245.0.0, subject to the whole of the street lighting being included in a fresh Contract.

The reports were then adopted.’

31 August 1931, page 498

‘Automatic signals. The question of the provision of automatic light signals at the Collingwood Road and Maldon Road corners was raised, when it was resolved to refer the matter to the Public Health Committee for consideration and report.’

28 September 1931, page 500

Mr F H Bright was resigning as Clerk. Letter to him etc. expressing regrets. Appointed 1918. F G Bright thanked the Council for appointing him replacement.

26 October 1931, page 501

‘Councillor Eb Smith enquired what steps have been taken with regard to Mr G Dowsett’s Guithavon Valley property, now that all the condemned cottages have been vacated.’

Chair of Public Health would invite Mr D to next meeting.

29 December 1931, page 505

‘Street lighting. The report, dated the 21st December 1931, of the Public Health Committee was considered. The Clerk reported that the additional number of lamps recommended by the Public Health Committee is eleven, and the price quoted by the East Anglian Electric Supply Company Ltd is as follows: Seven years contract … £42 15 6

[resolved to adopt whole report]

Councillor Naylor said shouldn’t enter contract for 7 years and voted against the report as far as the seven years contract.’

29 February 1932, Page 512

Closing orders. Resolved that the orders on ‘Mr Dowsett’s properties in Guithavon Valley be lifted, the properties having been altered and put into a proper state of habitation’.

14 September 1932, page 527

Clerk reported … Chair and himself ‘interviewed Mr Richards with the object of negotiations for purchase of the site at Chipping Hill where two old cottages have been demolished and another one is being erected, for the purpose of throwing such site into an open space there and so preserving the appearance of that particular part of the town, which is considered by a great number of people to be a beauty spot. Mr Richards willing to sell but price too high. ‘Offers amounting to approximately £50 have been received from residents towards the price if the site can be acquired for the purpose stated’. Agreed to offer £150 for site. And Council to extinguish manorial incidents.

26 September 1932, page 530

In Committee. Mr Richards accepted.

[I’m not sure what happens here – whether I’ve cut some off or whether there wasn’t any more of interest  JG]

Witham UDC, Council minutes, 1896-1903, extracts relating some building plans


Witham Urban District Council,
Council minutes.
The volume for 1896-1903.
Reference  E.R.O D/UWi 1/1/1
Notes by Janet Gyford

Not comprehensive notes. Mostly looking for entries connected with building plans especially (a) for builder Joseph Smith in Chipping Hill and (b) around 1900 and 1903 for specific buildings.

For a list of Witham building plans, see

Page numbers given below are pages of the actual item, not the beginning of the meeting.

Items in square brackets are comments added by JG.

Items in quotation marks are exact quotations from the minutes.

The rest of the text is in note form, i.e. notes written by JG to summarise the minutes.

For other volumes of Council minutes, and for Committee minutes, search for minutes in a Search box, to see how far I've got


28 Aug 1897

page 74. Deputation under Canon Ingles attended, ‘requested permission to plant some fifty trees each side of Collingwood Road as a permanent memorial of Her Majesty’s long reign.’ Resolved consent given subject to situation and protection being to approval of Council, plan first being submitted, and Committee taking responsibility for any resulting accidents.

page 75. ‘Read Surveyors report upon which as to Mr Smith’s houses near Mr Blackies late residence. Read letter from Mr Sherrin to the Surveyor complaining of the sewer overflow and the Surveyor was directed to reply that the manhole complained of was not in accordance with the plans submitted to the Council and approved.

As to the houses in Station Road the Surveyor reported various defects and irregularities and the Clerk was directed to write to Messrs Smith and Son that the Council could not approve the plans submitted to them on the  31st July and stating the various reasons and requesting other plans in conformity with the Bye Laws’

20 September 1897

page 77. ‘Extraordinary meeting … to consider plans and drainage of Messrs Smith and Sons house in the Temples field and certificates of habitation thereof held 20 Sept 1897’

Surveyors report read. New block plan for house and stables and sections and detail plans produced. Long discussion as to amended plans. Decided the only course was to treat these plans as submitted for the first time, that they were to remain for 14 days as required by bye laws, and if house, then complete a certificate of habitation would follow. Mr S intimated his intention of cancelling the original block plan submitted on 27 March of six houses on Temples Field.

7 Dec 1900

Messrs Wombwell’s menagerie given permission to stand in the High Street Thursday next provided the use of the highway was not obstructed.

Deputation from Witham Literary Institution; they offered their ‘library and fixtures’ as a free gift to the Council ‘for safe custody for the benefit of the Town and as a nucleus of a public library’. Matter adjourned

Plans for a pair of villas in Avenue Road next Mr Taber’s houses submitted by Mr Smith and ref to Bld Cttee

27 July 1903

Chairman reported Post Office plans approved [plan 127?]

 31 Aug 1903

Chipping Hill Recreation Ground

Letter from Canon Ingles about damage to fence by unknown offenders. Mr Rust involved in maintaining fence somehow, for his horses [quite a long entry]

Report had suggested ‘the opportunity of undesirable conduct in the shelter in the evenings owing to there being no means of closing it.

28 Sep 1903

Agreed to adopt the Libraries Act.

Bld cttee  Mr Rust willing to build his shed without putting it over the sewer. so agreed he could.

26 Oct 1903

Site for water tower – excavation had shown a ‘pocket of sand’ on the south side of the excavation, so the engineer had changed the site for firmer ground. It was slightly lower so it would involve increasing the height of the tower by 6 or 7 feet.

Building committee- discussions with Mr R Moore on behalf of Mrs Moore – all to do with infringement and correcting it [probably re. plan 129 et al]

28 Dec 1903

‘Mr Brown’s house in Maldon Road’ (probably plan 128)