Conisbrough Clearance Inquiry – Smoke Gave Impression That House Was on Fire

November 1959

South Yorkshire Times November 21, 1959

Conisbrough Clearance inquiry

Smoke Gave Impression That House Was on Fire

The daughter of an 87-years-old Conisbrough tenant who lives in Claremont Terrace complained to the Urban council that a broken chimney pot caused the smoke to blow back into the house, and people passing by thought the house was on fire, when doors and windows were open in cold weather.

This was revealed at a Conisbrough Slum Clearance Order inquiry on Wednesday, when the Clerk to Conishrough Urban Council Mr. R. F. Edwardson, told the Ministry of Housing and Local Government Inspector, Mr. E. Oakley that the daughter of the tenant Mr. Hodgetts, of 7, Claremont Terrace, had expressed concern at the plight of her father. “It is bound to hasten the end of my father”, she said, adding that she had found it necessary to wash her father’s clothes on two occasions. “He was covered in soot from head to foot”, she added.

The properties referred to at the hearing were ten houses in the terrace, and the Clerk, presenting the Council’s case, said the houses were sited approximately 10 feet above the level of the highway and front access was gained by a series of steep steps.

At the rear, within 10 feet of the houses, the land rose almost perpendicularly to approximately roof height.- The Council had also given regard to the fact that the remaining residential development in the vicinity consisted of privately owned dwelling houses, and it was not intended to place any obstacle in the way of private re-development subject to the compliance with the Building Byelaws.

Mr. Edwardson said that on September 5th, Messrs. E. Wilson and Sons, Young Street, Doncaster, agents for the owners, wrote to the Minister lodging formal objection to the Council order. The objections were that any existing detects were only in the category of repairs, and the houses could not rightly be regarded as clearance properties.

“This is a masterpiece of under-statement, as will be seen from the lengthy schedules which list the defective condition of each dwelling house, and apart from repairs show that the properties are defective in respect of several of the important aspects listed in the Housing Act, 1957, ( 1 ) Stability, (2) Dampness, (3) Natural Lighting, (4) Drainage and Sanitary Conveniences (5) Facilities for the storage, preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water,” said Mr. Edwardson

He added that council had scheduled the area for clearance because it was not considered that the premises could be made reasonable habitable at reasonable expense. He contended that for many years the object of the neglected the properties, and only carried out repairs and put under pressure by the local authority.

Appearing for the agents Mr Wilson said one of their main grumbles in the case was that the council had acted in an unethical manner.

“First of all the toddlers at beginning of 1958 that defects in the property should be remedied. Then they came along this year and told us the answers were unfit to live in, leaving the owners with a bill for £116 7s 9d in respect of repairs already completed” he said.

Mr Wilson said that the majority of the tenants were quite happy in their present surroundings, provided a few essential repairs were carried out. He said they had to rely on local contractors who were inundated with orders, and they could only ask these people to come carry out the work as quickly as possible.

Mr H Taylor, speaking on behalf of the building contractors, said people were really desperate would live anywhere. “The repairs could be done, but they will cost quite a bit”, he said.