Urban Powers – 2. Mr Holmes Evidence – The Water Supply

April 1900

Mexborough and Swinton Times April 1900

The Opinion of Mr Holmes

Mr Charles Holmes, miner, Chairman of the Conisbrough Parish Council, said he lived in Old Conisbrough, the water supply was nearly all from spring, and it was distributed to a very limited extent. He would say there were 650 houses in old Conisbrough, to which the water was not distributed. In those places where it was distributed, the distribution was done by means of standpipes, and some of the people had to go a considerable distance for it.

The witness bore out the leading statement as to the source, storage and distribution of the water supply from Cadeby. That supply he believed was sufficient for the whole of the proposed district if pumping operations were not stopped. The supply was private, and if it was stopped a supply could be octane from Doncaster or Sheffield Corporation. The district, at the present time, was dependent upon the enterprise of a private company. In new Conisbrough and Denaby the water was not laid on to all the houses, but was supplied by means of stand pipes. In the summertime there was a great scarcity of water in Old Conisbrough. The matter had been brought before the Doncaster Rural Council, but so far nothing definite had been done. Before the increase in population the water supply from wells was sufficient for Conisbrough. In his opinion, the matter could be satisfactorily dealt with by an Urban Council.

With regard to the lighting of the district that was supplied by private enterprise. He certainly thought a public authority auto more control over the lighting undertaking than the present stop the interests of both Conisbrough and Denaby were the same. The churchyard at Conisbrough was closed sooner than it would have to be but for the increase of population, consequent upon the opening of the coal mines. A cemetery was provided for Conisbrough and since it had been open there being 992. Interment is up to 1900, 572 from new Conisbrough and 420 from Old Conisbrough.

Cross-examined by Mr Wedderburn, the witness did not agree that to make a Main into an urban district was not nearly so desirable as to leave it as it was. He did not agree that Denaby was so well governed by the munificence of the Corrie Company that it was desirable to leave it as it was. The sinking of the collieries had cause the district to develop, because it had caused the demand for houses the population had increased owing to the collieries. He did not know that the people of Denaby were perfectly content with what was provided for them in the way of provision of water, education and roads. He believes the district wanted better looking after generally. For instance, they wanted a nuisance Inspector. The powers possessed by the Rural Council were not enough to govern the place.

In the course of the cross examination, the witness subjected to an inference by counsel that he will be the Chairman of the new urban Council If it was formed.

Mr Waugh: that is an old joke.

Mr Wedderburn (to witness) you need not be afraid; it will never happen. (Laughter.)

Cross-examining continue, the witness said he did not know that an offer being made by the Colliery Company to the rural Council supply water for Conisbrough at the rate of 6d per thousand gallons.

In reply to questions by Mr Bairstow, the witnesses said their branches to be game by having urban powers was that the district, would be unable to get a better water supply, Betty scavenging, a medical officer of their own, a nuisance Inspector, and many other things. He had reason to believe that the quality of the water from the Cadeby borehole and improve. Before the last enquiry there were complaints about the water, that it was objectionable.

Replying to Mr Ellison, the witness said he wanted the district to be independent of the Doncaster Rural Council. The only adoptive act adopted by the parish council was the gas lighting act.

Mr Ellison: can you tell me a single benefit that you can give Denaby which the Colliery Company has not already given?

Better supervision in matters. I refer to before – scavenging. I consider the way the scavenging work is done is a great scandal, both at this end and the other. We should have better supervision.

Continuing, the witness said he was not aware that any influence had been exercised by the Colliery Company on their workmen in respect to the question of urban powers. He was an employee of the company, and no pressure had been put upon him.

Cross-examined by Mr Edmondson, the witness said Cadeby was in the Doncaster Parliamentary Division, Denaby, was in the Rotherham Division.

Mr F.Parker Rhodes: you’re anxious to include Cadeby because you say it may be necessary to take steps to protect the Cadeby borehole?

I think it is right that the source of the water supply should be to some extent under the control of the authority.

Further questioned on this point, the witness said the parish Counsel were unanimously of opinion previously that they wish to have Sheffield water laid on.

Processes on personal opinion on the water question, the witness said that as the Cadeby water and improve the question was now more open than at the last enquiry. Possibly Cadeby water might be selected.

Are you any objection to urge against the Cadeby supply, except, it’s hard?

From what I hear of it now, I have not.

Mr Baddiley, representing the School Board, desired to ask a few questions of the witness. But Mr Wedderburn’s raised the legal objection. He contended that if Mr Baddiley examined the witness He, and the other advocates in opposition would be entitled to cross examine him.

Mr Baddiley said he would not press the matter, as he thought he could get the evidence he required in another way.

The enquiry was shortly afterwards adjourned for luncheon.

In re-examination, after luncheon, Mr Holmes said he had a perfectly open mind on the question of the Cadeby water. His object was to get the best water he could for the district. Formally there were numerous complaints after the Cadeby water. It was discovered that some contamination got into it, but this was remedied. Afterwards there were some complaints that it smelt, and it did not taste very nice. Since there have been a reservoir constructed, and the water was more exposed to the air, those complaints had been very much modified. He was prepared to consider the question of the adoption of the Cadeby water on its merits if an opportunity occurred to do so. With regard to the number of men employed at the collieries and lived in the parish of Conisbrough, he thought there were between 1200 and 1400.