Urban Powers – 03 Mr John Simmons – What an Old Surveyor Surveyed

November 1919

Mexborough and Swinton Times, November 29, 1919

Mr John Simmons – What an Old Surveyor Surveyed

Mr John Simmons, civil engineer, Doncaster, said that he had practised for 40 years, and had been a way warden for the parish of Wheatley on the Doncaster Highway Board. He was fairly well acquainted with the Doncaster rural district, which had an area of about 168 square miles He put the population at 36,000.

Mr Marshall intervened to say that the rural district of Doncaster was curtailed by the Borough of Doncaster and the several urban districts, and had not the administrative area indicated.

Mr Simmons, proceeding, said he was familiar with the new urban district around Doncaster, and he had observed that an immediate result of urban powers was that they were as more vitality in the administration and improve public service, particularly with regard to roads, sanitation, and other amenities.

Dealing with a survey he had made of the Denaby district, he said that both Conisbrough and Denaby were supplied with water from the Cadeby pit. The water was good, but hard.

Conisbrough, was lighted from privately owned gas works, and the streetlamps were provided with incandescent burners. Denaby was lighted by the colliery company, and the burners were the flat flame typestop he did not see any means of white in the background, and many of the standards were without lanterns. All the roads were fairly well-kept in Conisbrough and Denaby. There were a considerable number of privy middens in the district, many of them as close to the houses as they could be under any bye laws.

In many cases it was necessary to empty the rescue onto the ground before loading the cart with it, and in that way the back yards became contaminated some of the middens, were in bad repair, and he noticed putrid matter is leaking from the walls, which were only half a brick in width. Generally there was no provision for conducting rainwater away from the houses.

Mr Talbot: do you really tell this Committee, who, we are hoping, are going to look at .it that Denaby Main is not well looked after, and well-equipped? – There are two almost distinct characters in Denaby Main. One is much more modern than the other. The modern part is very much improved.

You see a steady improvement as the houses get newer? – The last of better than the first.

The conditions in Conisbrough are pretty bad? – I shouldn´t like to say that. A great part of it is in very good condition.

In further cross-examination, Mr Simmons agreed that the sewerage scheme at Denaby Main, was working well, and that it was not a success when Conisbrough undertook it some years ago.he was not aware that the Colliery Company softened the water, and that the charged sixpence for it unsoftened and sevenpence for it and softenedand lighted the streets of Denaby Main for nothing. He thought that under urban powers, with a District Council of its own, the district would get better and more immediate attention to roads, lighting, sanitation and sewerage. He agreed that shortage of water would prevent the conversion of privvy middens into water closets. The lighting was very unsatisfactory. It was considerably worse at Denaby than at Conisbrough.

In answer to Mr Jardine, he agreed that privvy midden conditions should be improved without the formation of an Urban District Council for the purpose.

Only Half A Scandal

Mr Jardine: do you say that the sanitation of this district is a scandal? – I don´t know that I should put that word upon it.

We were told that in the beginning. Do you think the word is too strong or to mild?

It would not be too strong for a part of it; it would be too strong for other parts.

Further answering Mr Jardine, Mr Simmons said he could not call to mind another case of a new urban district cut in half by a river.

Mr Jardine: they are trying to include a portion of Cadeby over the River Don, to which there is no means of access without going round or swimming in the river.

Mr Neil: there is a ferry.

Mr Jardine: Very well, rowing the River. I do not know whether that is convenient as a general means of access.

Answering Mr Marshall, Mr Simons said he had not counted the privy middens in the place.

Mr Marshall: I will tell you. There are 3061 places of one sort or another in this Denaby Main area, and 1162 fitted with the water carriage system in this scandalous place. That is nearly half, Mr Simmons.

Mr Simmons admitted that there have been difficulties due to war conditions, which had mitigated against efficient public lighting. But in other places, Doncaster, for instance, they had already got over those difficulties.

Further questioned, he said he had not gone into the question of the probable cost of Urban Administration, or the economic effect upon the rest of the rural district.

Mr Marshall: You are not concerned with that? – No.

Of Course.

Mr Willey: you were one time connected with the Conisbrough Council as water engineer? – I carried out the water scheme for Conisbrough itself.

And is that a satisfactory scheme? – I should think so.

Mr Willey: I should have thought you would have thought so. (Laughter.)

Further answering Mr Willey, Mr Simmons said he was not aware that gas was sixpence a 1000 cheaper Denaby that Conisbrough.

Mr Willey: do you suggest that urban government would knock sixpence off at Conisbrough, or put sixpence on at Denaby?

I don´t suggest that, but they would improve the lighting.

They would bring the incandescent burners to Denaby and take the flat minister Conisbrough. (Laughter.) – No, they would put incandescent burners in at Denaby.

Do you know that the Denaby Cooperative Societies houses are fitted with hot and cold water and water closets? Do you know of any house in Conisbrough except, perhaps the vicarage (laughter.), which has a water closet? -No answer.

Re-examining my Mr Neil, Mr Simmons said that a number of the water closets at Denaby, mentioned by Mr Marshall, had no automatic flushing.

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