Councillor Horatius the Hero

August 1921

Penistone, Stocksbridge and Hoyland Express – Saturday 20 August 1921

Councillor Horatius the Hero

The rugged independence of the rural North is fittingly exemplified in the person and characteristics of Councillor W. W. Norwood, of Conisborough, the hero of the dispute with the Ministry of Health as to who shall be master in Conisborough.

Mr. Norwood has rallied his wavering colleagues to renewed resistance against the attempt of “the big, pots in London” to appoint Conisborough’s medical officer of ‘health.

Some of the more prudent and less valiant were for vailing their tops to the ‘Ministry of Health. “God forbid that we should do this thing, to flee away from them,” said Mr. Norwood, like another Judas Maccabaeus. “Let us fight manfully, and let us not stain our honour. – This is no knock-out, boys,—fight on! For myself, I have had many a worse smack than this.” In this way he harangued the more timorous members into a state of comparative resolution, and while in that mind they resolved to “fight on” even as Willie had commanded them, and respectfully to decline to make submission to Whitehall on this great and vital question.

And now they are waiting with strained vision and not a little palpitation for the thunderbolt which . Whitehall may launch upon this rebellious and contumelious assembly. What will be the upshot cannot certainly be known. These desperate and determined men may be excommunicated, exiled, transported, sent to the galleys, or prudently left alone.

But the story of how Horatio Norwood kept the bridge will henceforth be incorporated in ‘the chivalry of ancient Conisborough. I have written the necessary ballad (which will be sung centuries hence), while the incident is hot and the facts and circumstances are fresh and beyond dispute.

Hushed and cowed was the assembly,
The Council were ill at ease,
Feeling not little trembly
And rather gone about the knees;
They’d brought on their heads by presumption found,
A very stern note from Sir Alfred Mond.

“When ,you chose the township’s M. 0.,
You reekoned without,” he began,
“A hint that I gave in a memo,
That I’d found for you just the right man;
It’s very perverse of you, even in fun,
To choose Dr, M. when I clearly said ‘Dunne.’

“Now you’d better get the doctor
Mentioned in my fi-at,
The M. of H. will not be mocked, a
Second’s thought should tell you that.
Second thoughts are the ‘wisest, so , ere you adjourn,
Let me ‘hear you’ve repented, and that by ‘ return.”

The Council were disconcerted.
Cheeks were perceptibly blanched,
And they heartily wished they’d exerted
Some prudence or e’er they had launched
On a course which had called forth a letter irate
From the head of a mighty Department of State.

It was then that the gallant Horatius
(That’s not his name, but ‘twill do)
Spake up and held forth thus, “Good gracious,
Here be fourteen good fellows and true,
Are we going to stand meekly up, just to be shot
By a fellow from London who thinks he’s some pot? ”

“Let us do some shooting also,
Let us show some Conisboro’ grit;
Our fathers never did fall so,
Or lay down to the first hit.
He pretends we are school-kids,—want showing our place,
Let us give him a real ‘un, slap bang in the face.”

The effect was quite dramatic,
The members’ pluck returned,
Some were gentle, some emphatic,
But all with valour burned,
“Write,” said the chairman, “and say we’re not worms,
But be careful to do so in suitable terms.”