The following are incomplete extracts from the Parish Council minutes from the last 110 years. They were previously published in the Kingswear parish magazine.
The early days of the Parish Council.
Some months ago I was asked to collect two cardboard boxes from the balcony of the Village Hall as they were thought to contain documents belonging to the Parish Council. In one of them I found the Minute Book dating back to 1894, the year that the Parish Council was formed under the local Government Act of 1894 – “The Parish Council Act”.
The election was held on the 19th December 1894 and 19 people stood for the ten places (times change). Top of the poll was George Casey of The Priory with 107 votes. Thomas Avis was also returned with 92 votes just behind the local vicar the Rev. Frederick Walker. The law required that the chairman of the then Parish Meeting convened the first meeting of the Parish Council and Mr Percy Hockin did this on the 31st December. He also set the first agenda to be the matter of the “Great Western Railway Company and the appropriating and filling up parts of Waterhead Creek and interfering with the rights of the public over the creek, foreshore and the railway”.
The first meeting was on Monday 7th January 1895 in the Upper Room of the Trust House at 7.00pm (we now meet there on Tuesdays at 7.30pm). Members signed their declarations of acceptance of office, elected the Chairman and Vice-Chairmen and then adjourned for three days. At the resumed meeting Thomas Clark became the first Clerk and a Treasurer was also employed. A precept was made on the Overseer of the Poor for £15, this to be paid to the Council one week later. The Overseer collected tithes from certain landowners under the Poor Laws. The GWR were preparing a Parliamentary Bill to take over part of the creek and the Council decided to try to come to a friendly agreement on the matter instead of opposing the Bill from the outset. The Chairman subsequently met representatives of the railway and asked for a landing place on the jetty near the pontoon, a footbridge across the line to the river and a footbridge across the creek to Hoodown ferry. The Council was also concerned that the National Telephone Company’s wire across the river from Dartmouth was dangerous and ought to be routed under the river.
The Council continued to meet once or twice a month and before long the Council was complaining to the District Council about the state of the roads and the drains. The Council successfully persuaded the Inspector of Weights and Measures to come to Kingswear one day each year so that the 18 tradesmen of Kingswear did not have to take their equipment to Brixham for checking. A letter of thanks was sent to the Captain of HMS Britannia for his help with the fire at Le Chalet.
In August 1897 the Council received a letter from Col. St John Daubeney who had recently purchased the land at Lighthouse Beach enquiring about any right of way over his land to the water. The Council maintained that the path was a public right of way as the public had used the path to Lighthouse Beach for at least 40 years. After a meeting with the landowner the Council agreed to pay for the repair of the path. However land slips at the path continued to present problems some of these being cleared by Col. Daubeney and some by the Council. In October 1901 it was claimed that the public had a right to bathe on the foreshore and for decency a small tent should be provided “for to undress and dress in”. However in July 1902 it was reported that people were bathing on Lighthouse Beach without bathing drawers on. “This was very indecent and a great nuisance to females”. The police constable was dispatched to investigate but did not catch anyone. It was decided that it was probably visitors who were responsible. However it was decided to place a notice on the beach saying that the Parish Council would prosecute anyone found bathing in the nude.
In November 1898 the Post Office proposed that the last collection of post be at 8.15pm so that it could catch the train leaving at 8.30pm. April 1900 saw the death of the Medical Officer for the Poor of the Parish. The Council suggested to the Board of Guardians another doctor, resident in Kingswear be appointed. The coal traffic was another focus for the Council with complaints that coal barges were moored where they endangered other boats and that dust arising from unloading coal was a nuisance.
The Chairman was authorised in November 1900 to purchase four lamps to light the Trust Room, as candlelight was too poor for Council Meetings.
At that time the Kingswear Cemetery had a mortuary and in May 1901 the Clerk had to write to the neighbouring parishes pointing out “that in the case of a body found drowned in the waters adjacent to their foreshore they will have to bury the body if the Parish Council allows the body to be taken to the Kingswear mortuary for the inquest”.
In September 1901 there was local concern that some houses were very high and had no back door and that a ladder be purchased to act as a means of escape in case of fire. After much discussion a 46ft ladder was purchased. The ladder was hung on the wall under the arch and a notice posted asking for volunteer firemen. A later proposal to protect the ladder with a canvas cover failed.
In March 1902 there was great excitement as the King and Queen came to Kingswear on their way to Dartmouth to lay the foundation stone for the new naval college. A stand was erected for 142 school children and flags were hired for the visit. The District Auditor, however, disallowed this expenditure.
In September 1902 street lighting was becoming of interest and offers were received from the Acetylene Light Company and the Urban Electric Light Company of Dartmouth. The latter offer was favoured and 17 lamps of 25 candlepower each were proposed. The agreement with the Company was signed and sealed by the Council but, as the Council did not have a seal, one had to be purchased for the occasion. In November 1903 the Brixham Gas Works applied for permission to supply gas to Kingswear but this was opposed by the Parish Council. I presume that the gas was to be used for street lighting not cooking or heating. If anyone wonders why Kingswear does not have a gas supply – blame the Parish Council (of 1903).
The last Minute in the book was for a Council Meeting on 9th December 1904. At that time the Council had Finance, Water, Lighting and Cemetery Sub-Committees. Mr Clark was the first Clerk although the handwriting in the Minute Book changes several times suggesting that there was a frequent change in the holder of this post. A letter dated February 1901 names George Casey as Clerk and his handwriting goes back to December 1897 when he ceased to be recorded as a Parish Councillor.
Kingswear Parish Council – 1905 to 1913
Last year I found the very first Minute Book of the Parish Council stored in a cardboard box on the balcony of the Village Hall. It covered the period 1894 to 1904 and I wrote about what concerned the Parish Council then. I thought that it might be interesting to take the story forward, so I dusted out the next tome, which covers the period up to just before the First World War.
The first meeting recorded in the Minute Book was held on 13th January 1905 in the Trust Room. Mr Witmore was the Chairman and Mr Casey the Clerk. The Council were concerned that a Mr Rendle had removed material from the catch pits without permission but it is not revealed what the catch pits were. The Great Western Railway intended to widen the railway bridge over the entrance to Waterhead Creek which would also give an extra 12” clearance under the bridge. The GWR also gave the Parish Council permission to “tip a few cart loads of jars, tins, etc. into the creek”!
In March a Mr Knapman was paid £2 per annum to clean the public steps at the end of the jetty and Mr Barratt of Kirkham Park was allowed to lop, but not cut down, the trees opposite his house as they were blocking his view. The Council also appointed two managers for the school. It is sometimes difficult to locate places in the village referred to in the old minutes. There was reputed to be a “dangerous corner under Luckraft’s where the main and parish roads diverge”. When it was dark several “people were thrown down there by the projecting stone from the end of the wall”. Later the Council complained to the rural district council that they had not erected the promised post and bar, as there had been another accident. Was Luckraft’s where we now call the Banjo? An extension to the cemetery was also discussed.
Mr Tollit wished to add a bay window to his house but had to get the OK from the Parish Council first as it would project over a parish road. Consent was given so that Mr Tollit then could apply to the Totnes Rural District Council for planning permission.
There were more reports of nude bathing on Lighthouse Beach and the police constable was asked to catch those responsible so that they could be prosecuted.
In those days the steam laundry site was in the parish of Brixham. Brixham UDC often communicated with the Kingswear Parish Council when matters straddled the boundary between the two councils. Brixham was more advanced that Kingswear as not only did they have a typewriter, they also had a telephone – the telephone number was 6.
In 1906 the Council was concerned that the end of Beacon Road, near to the lighthouse, was very narrow and made worse by irons placed to protect the wall from cart wheels. They wrote to the Totnes RDC asking for the road to be widened. The RDC agreed to make Lower Contour Road an “ordinary road” and take responsibility for it if the parish council would contribute £57-10s-0d towards the cost of improving the road to the required standard. The Council agreed to this, as it would help protect the parish’s mains water and sewer pipes, ideally with “sufficient strength to permit traction engines to pass over them”. Pressing the local residents for the money brought in £50 after several attempts. Totnes RDC metalled Lower Contour Road in 1907 and Brixham UDC was asked to do the same for the part of the road in their jurisdiction.
A question was asked as to what had happened to the Poor Lands that used to be owned by the community. However research revealed that the Poor Law Board had sold them and in 1879 the money had been used “to widen the turnpike road leading from Kingswear Station towards Torquay”.
Correspondence reveals that the 1901 census showed that there were 841 people living in the civil and ecclesiastical parishes of Kingswear. Bearing in mind that Hillhead did not exist then and that part of the village was in Brixham UDC, this compares well with today’s electoral role count of 596, which does not include children of course. We have many more houses in Kingswear now but less people.
The Council received the income from the Peters and Kellys charities, which produced £1 each every year. In 1907 2s-0d was given to 20 poor residents, 10 men and 10 women, including all five residents of the Alms Houses. All recipients were listed by name, was it embarrassing to be labelled poor?
Under the new Compensation Act the Council were required to insure their employees. The Parish Council employed several people on a part time basis and they resolved to employ just one person full time. He was to be paid 18s per week with the Council paying house rent, rates and taxes and also providing his tools. His time was divided two days on the water supply, two days scavenging and two days on cemetery and other parish council tasks. A separate person was employed on the road contract for the RDC and others to man the fire engine. However the Council approached Dartmouth to enquire if they would provide a fire service for a fee. The Parish Council would pay the ferry charges, which would be “£1 after ferry operating hours and no steam in the ferry launch”. The fire ladder owned by the Parish Council was to be kept in the Trust Room.
In 1908 the Kingswear Parish Council agreed to the postman’s request that one evening delivery each week be dropped so that he could have a half day holiday, however the Post Office itself would not allow it. In 1910 the Kingswear Post Office opening hours were shortened to 8am to 8pm.
In 1909 the National Telephone Company asked permission to erect a pole so that the Royal Dart Yacht Club could be connected. In 1911 the Parish Council owned a Bath chair for loan to residents.
In 1912 the GWR were criticised for trying to stop people from walking from Waterhead Creek to Britannia Crossing claiming that the path was private. The railway’s response was to ask for £310 to construct a proper path.
The last minutes in the book are dated 14 March 1913 and were signed by the Chairman on the 15th April. The rest of the Minute Book contains blank pages – why, were the Minutes recorded in some other form? The next Minute Book that I have starts in April 1917 so most of the First World War years appear to be missing.
Kingswear after the First World War
At times I have written about what I have found in the past minutes of the Parish Council. I have written about the period from when it was founded in 1894 until March 1913, the Council meetings during the Second World War and subsequent infilling of the creek originally intended as a memorial to those who fought in the War.
The minutes from the Council’s inception are more or less complete except that there is a gap between March 1913 and April 1917 which covers most of the First World War. If anybody should find this minute book in their loft I would be most grateful to have it.
I have now reviewed the minutes of meetings from 1917 until 1933. There were two sets of meetings, those of the Council and those of the Parochial Committee. Both had the same Clerk who wrote similar minutes and both employed the Cemetery Caretaker but for different roles. The membership of the two bodies was the same. Both met on the same day in the Trust Room as the Council still does.
Council meetings were mainly limited to the payments of accounts – usually the wages of the Cemetery Caretaker and the bill for the electric street lighting; and general business – often as not the sale of grave spaces and the provision of materials to the Cemetery Caretaker. The minutes of the Parochial Committee had a similar agenda only this time the Cemetery Caretaker was paid for his role as a Water Bailiff and as scavenger (road sweeper). Much of the Committee’s time was taken with the supply of water to the village, the collection of house refuse and the state of the roads.
In 1917 Mr Tully was allowed to let his pigs run on the rubbish tip in return for £3 a year on condition that no structure of any kind would be built on the field (now the sports field). The overseers (local tax collectors) were asked to collect £12 to pay for street lighting. A letter was received from the Devon Executive Food Production Committee on potato spraying and the council later purchased a potato sprayer for the parish. A handrail on the path to Lighthouse Beach had become broken and the clerk was instructed to get it repaired.
The council found that £50 had been given to the vicar to pay for the upkeep of graves in the council cemetery but the vicar was reluctant to hand the money over to the council. An advertisement for a new cemetery caretaker produced only one applicant. He was offered the job at 28 shillings per week to rise to 30 shillings if his work proved satisfactory (for those of a tender age one shilling equals 5p). The following year the caretaker was allowed Saturday afternoons off. The council bought him a “good second-hand Pennsylvania Lawn Mower” for six guineas.
Kingswear was then partly in Totnes RDC and partly in Brixham RDC and in 1919 Brixham was charged £3 per annum to use Kingswear’s rubbish tip. The Water Bailiff was troubled by broken stopcocks at Sunny Cot and Orchard Terrace and a leakage at Belgravia Terrace. The resident of The Redoubt applied to be connected to the water supply and the failure of the supply to Church Park was traced to the pipe being blocked by roots.
In 1920 the Dartmouth and Kingswear Midwife Association asked for a representative from Kingswear to join the Association. The people of Kingswear had been tipping in Waterhead Creek with the understanding that this was allowed by the Great Western Railway who owned the Creek. However the railway did not agree but were prepared to allow the Council to tip free of charge but private individuals had to apply for permission and pay six pence per load. The Parochial Committee restarted the pre-war practice of supplying ships with water at 16 shillings a time. The Kingswear Co-operative Society won the tender to collect house refuse for £68 per annum. The roads in Kingswear were in such a poor state that the Committee threatened to hold a public meeting to withhold the payment of rates until they were improved.
Brixham UDC expressed a desire to take Kingswear and Churston Ferrers into their boundary. Dartmouth made a similar suggestion. The council rejected both approaches. The drought was causing an inadequate supply
of water and householders were warned not to use the water in their
gardens. As an emergency measure the stream
running through a field named South Underridge was
diverted to a reservoir. There appear to
have been two reservoirs, one at the top of Wood Lane and the other in Higher
Contour Road near the field known as Wilful Murder (does anyone know the origin
of this name?). (The field is named in the Luttrell Sales document of 1874 and sold as
The cemetery caretaker complained that a Dr White had demanded sheets when conducting a post mortem at the mortuary at the cemetery. The Council agreed that providing sheets was not the duty of the caretaker. As the village had had no public lighting for three months the Council asked for a reduction in the electricity charges and the Electric Light Company offered 50 shillings for each month.
In 1925 the Council met with representatives from Dartmouth to complain about the inadequate service of the horse ferry and the excessive charges on the GWR steam ferry. The government proposed that the role of Overseers be abolished and the task of raising rates be transferred to Urban and Rural District Councils, naturally the Overseers objected. The council extended the cemetery by buying part of the adjoining field for £112.
Ministry of Health provided a lecturer for a public meeting in the Trust Room during the 1926 National Health Week. There was a report that the owner of the Kingswear Castle Road leading to Mill Bay Cove had tried to stop the public from using it. It was held that he could not do this as the public had used it for over 50 years. Upon inspection no notice barring the public was found.
Burial charges were raised in 1927 to help pay for the extension to the Cemetery. To dig a grave would cost 11 shillings 6 pence and an extra two foot depth a further 6 shillings.
1929 saw another approach from Dartmouth to amalgamate with Kingswear. The GWR wanted to charge for busses turning under the railway arch and there were complaints that the Devon General bus was blocking the arch to Alma Steps and also leaking oil which had to be covered with sand. The all-night street lights were to be discontinued to save money. The Rural District Council pressed the Kingswear Parish Council to install a “refuse destructor” (i.e. an incinerator). The Council were not against the idea but at £200 thought it too expensive. A Capt. Byers complained about the nuisance of the refuse tip but the Council replied that the tip had been there for many years before Capt Byers’s house had been built. However the refuse field had been a constant source of complaint and the Parochial Committee decided to dig a new pit to bury all the tins, bottles and loose rubbish, to burn what could be burnt and to spread the rest over the area.
The Council considered replacing the earth closet at the Cemetery Lodge with a “cleaner arrangement”. The Totnes RDC enquired if houses were needed in Kingswear. The cost of building a parlour type house was given as £570 and the non-parlour type as £520. The rent required would be nine shillings and eight shillings respectively and the District Council wished to know whether tenants could be found at these rents. The Parochial Committee decided that Kingswear needed eight parlour type houses. A possible site was a ¾ acre area in Wood Lane.
1931 saw another approach by Brixham to incorporate Kingswear into its boundary. Ten fathoms of rope was purchased and “a lifebuoy be provided at Lighthouse Beach in view of the greatly increased bathing there”.
In 1933 the District Council wrote that the 12 houses at College View were unfit for occupation and asked for recommendations for suitable sites for re-housing the occupants. Today only numbers 1, 2 and 10, 11 and 12 remain.
The Parish Council during the war
The Second World War saw much activity in the Dart with the presence of the Free French, the 23rd M.T.B. Flotilla, and a Belgian fishing fleet, not to mention the US invasion force. All local beaches were closed to the public except for Lighthouse Beach inside the anti-submarine net across the harbour entrance. I scanned the Kingswear Parish Council minutes to learn what life was like at the time. There was surprising little mention of the armed forces which must have dominated both Kingswear and Dartmouth – perhaps it was a case of “careless talk costs lives”.
That there was something afoot was evident before the war and a public meeting was called in May 1938 to enrol volunteers for the ARP (Air Raid Precautions).
Five days after the war started, on the 8th September 1939, the Council had its normal monthly meeting but “questioned whether it was necessary for the Council to carry on during the Crisis. It was proposed that the Council now meet quarterly”. However they held many extra meetings to deal with pressing matters.
In December 1939 the Electricity Supply Company agreed to reduce their lighting charges in view of the blackout restrictions. The County Council wrote that the requested road improvements in Kingswear would now have to wait until after the cessation of hostilities. For the duration of the war the grass in the unused part of the Cemetery would be cut only twice a year while the occupied part cut regularly as usual.
The District Council allocated a trailer pump to Kingswear for fire fighting. Its operation required a team of eight volunteers with a further four people in reserve. The Kingswear WI enquired about salvage work (we now call it recycling) and a joint committee was established. At the request of the District Council a War Saving Committee was also formed.
In July 1940 the Parish Council wished to know what powers there were to provide air raid shelters for the public. In December the cemetery caretaker reported that the ceiling of the waiting room at the cemetery had fallen owing to enemy action. There was a question about the running of the lower ferry after an air raid alert had been sounded. It would appear that the passenger ferry had ceased operation. The Ministry of Health asked that part of the cemetery be set aside for members of the forces killed in action. There was a concern that the cemetery might run out of space and it was agreed that in future space would only be available to residents of Kingswear. A public meeting was held, attended by about 50 people, to set up a Fire Watching squad.
Kingswear Parish Council was responsible for the collection of refuse, the cost of which was reimbursed from Totnes Rural District Council. An increase in this funding was requested in view of the housing of evacuees and the number of residences taken over by the Services which increased the amount of refuse normally collected. Refuse was to be collected in future of Mondays and Fridays, instead of Tuesdays and Saturdays to allow the man at the tip (the cemetery caretaker) to better scavenge for anything useful for war purposes. It was agreed that the iron railings on the north end of the cemetery be offered for salvage – it is not clear that this offer was ever taken up.
In 1942 the long serving cemetery caretaker handed in his notice. The Parish Council questioned whether he could do this under the war conditions prevailing but the Labour Exchange confirmed that it was in order as the caretaker was over military age. There were 13 applicants for the job and three were chosen for interview. The successful candidate worked at the Dartmouth Coast Guard Station.
January 1943 saw the Clerk resign. This time there were only two applicants for the vacancy (there must be a message here). The Council received payment for the waste paper it collected and wished to provide a bin for waste paper from the armed services. The Chairman wrote to the officer in charge of Britannia 3 with a view to getting the paper stored in sacks there, however this request was unsuccessful. Where Britannia 3 was is not clear except that it was near The Square. Perhaps it was another name for HMS Cicala which was housed at the Royal Dart Hotel. HMS Cicala is not mentioned in the minutes.
In March 1943 a Victory Gardens Week was organised with the WI and the Red Cross and was later reported as a marvellous success. The Imperial War Graves Commission offered 5/- annually for the maintenance of the grave of Charles Ryder RN – there were to be a total of four war graves in the cemetery. The Council declined to contribute to the Aid to China Fund as they have already had several fund raising activities.
By April 1944 the end of the war was clearly in prospect. The Council agreed to purchase the following items for the Cemetery Mortuary: enamel washbowl and jug; cake of carbolic soap, two towels; waterproof apron and a heating stove ‘of the Valour type’. Clothing coupons were needed for the towels and apron but how these were obtained is not explained.
Kingswear had contributed £4707-13s-0d to the Salute the Soldier Campaign. This would have been a large sum at today’s value but then it must have been a fantastic effort. There was a letter from a Miss Gillbard of Leicestershire asking for a permit to enter the Kingsbridge area. Assuming that Kingsbridge should read Kingswear there is no explanation as to what this was about.
The Cemetery Caretaker was given four weeks notice as he was not performing his duties in a satisfactory manner. This time there were 18 applicants for the post. The successful applicant, an ex-soldier, on moving into the Cemetery Lodge asked for electric light to be installed. However the cost of providing a supply was £240 and deemed too expensive. The Chairman of the Council presented the Royal Humane Society’s Certificate of Merit to three boys for their gallant rescue work in Waterhead Creek; unfortunately no further information is given. (Peter Watts, now in Australia lived in Kingswear at the time. He tells me that the three boys Terrance Satchell, Alan Dudley and Trevor Dudley who rescued Edward Hopper). On the initiative of the WI the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty proposed to increase the water supply to Kingswear by 10,000 gallons a day.
In December 1944 Lieut. White DSO, Officer Commanding the Free French and 23rd M.T.B. Flotilla wrote thanking Kingswear for their hospitality during their stay. A picture of Gen. De Gaulle and a Cross of Lorraine were presented. The sealed minutes of the Kingswear Invasion Committee were placed in the Council archives. This shows that there had been other Parish Council activity that was never reported in the public records. I wonder if these minutes still exist, they would make fascinating reading.
In April 1945 a public meeting was to be held to plan for “Welcome Home” events for those returning from the war and to celebrate the European Victory. The Chairman of the Council warned that “Any festivities of hilarious celebrations for Victory in Europe Day would not be akin to the occasion”. The meeting unanimously agreed that there be no V E Day celebrations. However plans for the ‘Welcome Home’ were started with representatives from the WI, Civil Defence, Clergy, Children’s Club, Boy Scouts, Red Cross, Parish Council, School, National Fire Service, Mother’s Union and the WVS.
It was suggested that the static water tank, next to the butcher’s shop in Fore Street, was converted from fire service use to that of a supplementary reservoir for fresh water. However the Fire Service did not agree and dismantle it.
15th August 1945 and “The Chairman stated that the Council was meeting under very memorable conditions. Victory over Japan Day was being celebrated and that meant that hostilities had ceased throughout the world. In the midst of their rejoicing he thought it only fit to remember those who would not be returning to the village and had paid the supreme sacrifice”. It was agreed that a tea should be given to all children in the parish and an al fresco concert and dance held in The Square.
The Welcome Home committee asked the Council to acquire Waterhead Creek for conversion to a public park and recreation ground as a memorial to the services of the Forces.
P.S. For those who remember the old money, do you realise that a first class stamp now costs over 5/-?
Council Minutes 1946 Onwards
In August 1945 Councillors resolved to go on a parish ramble to visit all parts of the parish (which was much smaller than it is now). The street lights were to be switched on again and an extra £100 precept was raised to meet the cost. However the Ministry of Fuel and Power asked that street lighting be kept to a minimum. A letter was sent to the Ministry of War Transport complaining about the lower ferry service and the ‘Military Authorities’ were asked to remove the dragon teeth road blocks near the Post Office.
September 1945 The victory celebrations had been a great success and the Council resolved to provide a similar tea and entertainment each year on the Saturday closest to the 14th August. However in April the following year this was rescinded and left for future years to decide.
November 1945 The National Fire Service was asked to repair Alma Steps and Kittery Slipway after being damaged by the removal of pipe lines. Following a letter from the WI the Totnes Rural District Council were asked if they could get the passenger ferry service restored.
January 1946 Kingswear Parish Council is to accompany Dartmouth Borough Council on a deputation to the Ministry of War Transport concerning the lower ferry.
February 1946 It was resolved that the two bottom rows of grave spaces in the Cemetery should be single depth only owing to the possibility of flooding. A coin box operated telephone was to be installed at the Cemetery. Mr Stanley Hearn of Leeds complained about the water supply to the Readout. The Rural District Council was asked to impose a one-way system including Lower Contour Road and a speed limit of 10mph.
March 1946 The Ministry of Health authorised the Council to incur reasonable expenses for Victory Celebrations on the 8th June.
April 1946 The Council invited quotations for the supply of drinking water to Lighthouse Beach. The concept of the tunnel or bridge across the Dart was to be kept at the forefront of the Council’s programme.
May 1946 The council decided not to increase the Clerk’s salary whereon the Clerk then tendered his resignation.
June 1946 The Council refuse to accept the resignation of the Clerk. The Council agreed to a request from the Ministry of Fuel and Power to discontinue street lighting during June, July and August. The council were offered an acre of land in Ridley Hill, previously used as an allotment, for £120. The Council forwarded the offer to the RDC. A letter was received from Mr R Bovey, GWR Stationmaster at Kingswear regarding the Council’s request for a later train to Kingswear. The company subsequently agreed to run a late train on Wednesdays and Saturdays to arrive in Kingswear at 10.42pm. A letter was also received from the officer Commanding, Kingswear RAF Station concerning the Victory Day celebrations. The chairman proposed that a dance be held to raise money in support of the parish rates. The idea, together with a proposal to increase the Cemetery burial fees were to be put on the agenda for a public meeting. The National Council for Social service later informed the Council that they could raise the cemetery fees without referring the matter to a parish meeting.
July 1946 In discussing the duties of the new cemetery caretaker, the Council resolved to permit him to tend to the upkeep of purchased graves in his own time. His was not to be allowed to charge for this but could accept a gift. The caretaker would move into the Cemetery lodge, rent free, and reimbursed a week’s rent (9s 4½d) for his present accommodation in Woodland Terrace.
October 1946 The County Council proposed a countywide War Memorial and asked the Kingswear Parish Council for a contribution. It replied that it was in the process of acquiring land for a playing field as a war memorial and all available funds would go to this purpose. A sub-committee was set up to try speed up progress in acquiring part of the creek. A resolution made in December 1940 was rescinded to allow non-parishioners to be buried in the cemetery. The Clerk at last got his pay rise, from £39 p.a. to £52 p.a. The National Council of Social Service offered the help of an advisory officer, Mr Tilstone, to help with the project.
November 1946 It was suggested that two hours was quite long enough for a Council Meeting and if necessary the Council should meet more often.
December 1946 A further request from the Ministry of Fuel and Power asking the Council to economise on street lighting.
January 1947 It was proposed that the very generous gesture of the Dominions and Colonies in sending food, fruit, etc. to needy parishioners be recorded in the Minutes.
February 1947 Solicitors for Mrs Lipscombe expressed her dismay that the grave space reserved for her had been sold to a Mr Peters. The proposed solution to allow Mrs Lipscombe to be buried in her parent’s grave was accepted. The Council resolved to examine the Cemetery records and verify registration. An advertisement in the local press would ask the holders of purchased spaces to confirm their ownership with the Clerk.
February 1947 The council discussed the RDC’s housing plans for Kingswear. On the Readout Quarry Site it was proposed to build three ground floor maisonettes with four above, the building to have a flat roof. The alternative of a ridge roof was proposed but lost on a vote of five to three. The College View site and “Frisby’s” site were possibilities for future building.
March 1947 A further scrutiny of the Cemetery records revealed that 115 spaces had been sold. The Council now believed that its records were correct and that there would be no need to place the newspaper advertisement.
April 1947 The council agreed to pay Mrs Lipscombe £8 in damages and two guineas costs over the mistake with her reserved grave space.
June 1947 The building on the Redoubt Quarry site will start in August at a cost of £1350. The Cemetery caretaker was allowed to keep 12 chickens and 2 goats within the Cemetery precincts.
July 1947 The County Council were considering employing a traffic warden for Kingswear. A number of road signs were proposed: traffic to the ferry should be directed along Brixham Road while traffic for the village should go along Higher Contour Road. The RAC and AA were asked to send patrolmen to help the police direct traffic during busy periods.
September 1947 Special meeting was held to discuss a wedding gift for Princess Elizabeth after adverse comments in the press. The heads of all known organisations were called to a meeting in the Village Hall to discuss what should be done.
October 1947 172 food parcels from the Dominions and Colonies had been distributed in the village. It was suggested that “Wheelbarrow Pump Firefighting Parties” be formed. The Ministry of Fuel and Power was still impressing upon Councils the need to reduce public lighting to a minimum. The Council wondered whether they should be using more 40 watt bulbs and fewer 100 watt ones.
November 1947 The Chairman reported that he had been proud to represent Kingswear when the King and Queen had visited Dartmouth via Kingswear. Mr P A Wilkins died and left ‘certain lands’ by way of a gift to the people of Kingswear. The WI requested that the Council organise children’s entertainments on November 20th to celebrate the wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Lieutenant Mountbatten. Something for the old parishioners was needed. The Council resolved not to object to the proposal that the lower ferry service was to cease at 8.00pm.
The council agreed to write to the Minister for
Education and the local MP in support of
Jan/Feb 1948 The Council have lost the key to the fire fighting apparatus stored under the archway at The square. Brixham Fire Brigade denies any knowledge and the postmistress is to be asked.
February 1948 The Council advertised the vacant post of Clerk at a salary of £40 per annum. There were three applicants.
The History of Jubilee Park
My previous trawl through past Parish Council Minutes took me up to the end of the Second World War. A Welcome Home Committee had been set up for those returning from the conflict and that Committee had asked the Council to acquire Waterhead Creek for a public park and recreation ground as a memorial to the forces. The idea of a recreation area at the head of Waterhead Creek dates back to 1870.
The Council approached the owners, the Great Western Railway, who in the form of the South Devon Railway, had bought Waterhead Creek from George Luttrell in 1875 for £975. The purchase comprised “two gardens, three potato plots, Wellspring Orchard” as well as the Creek itself. In July 1945 the railway agreed to sell the eastern half of the creek and a public meeting was held. There was much discussion on what was to be provided and proposals for recreational facilities, gardens and bathing pool were forwarded to the GWR who wished to know the purpose for which the creek was required. The Totnes Rural District Council approved the change of use.
Estimates of the cost of the work were obtained. A reinforced culvert up to 6 ft in diameter was said to be needed and a retaining wall was deemed to be essential. The total cost could be £40,000 – big money in these days let alone then. There was little hope of any grant. In June 1947 the Waterhead Creek scheme was dropped indefinitely as most of the parishioners were now against it. The word ‘indefinitely’ was held to mean that the idea could be resurrected in the future.
The GWR wrote another letter in 1948 concerning the part of the Creek that they were prepared to sell. Mr Tribble, a local constructional engineer, was asked to advise the Council on how to proceed and he presented plans to the Council to fill the whole of the creek as far as Church Park Cottages with changing rooms and toilets just west of the lime kiln. He estimated that the total cost of the scheme would be £28,757. There was another public meeting and in December the Council met with a representative of the newly nationalised British Railways at which the plans for infilling were approved. The area to be conveyed was 5 acres 0 roods and 11 perches.
The District Auditor advised that the Council had no powers to acquire land or carry out any work in respect of a war memorial. However there were powers available under the 1937 Physical Training and Recreation Act. With the consent of a Parish Meeting, of the County Council and of the Ministry of Health, the Parish Council could obtain a loan from the Public Works Loan Board. The loan could not exceed 4d in the pound or 8d in the pound if consented by a Parish Meeting.
The Duchy of Cornwall, which held the fundus (the land below the high water mark) for most of the river, was contacted regarding its ownership. The Parish Council Minutes for 1950 to 1954 are missing but in August 1952 the Duchy sold half the fundus of the Creek to Kingswear Parish Council for £5 “for a recreation and children’s playground and as a memorial to those of the parish who gave their lives in the war”.
In September 1955 the terms were finally agreed for the purchase from the British Transport Commission. The Council’s solicitor waived his fee so that the only expense was that of Stamp Duty of £2-10-0d. A public meeting debated the purchase of the land for £175. Voting was 15 for and 7 against. The money was to be raised by the Memorial Park Committee and donated to the Council. The Chairman and Vice-Chairman signed the contract in November 1955 after a Council vote of 6 for to 2 against. The Torbay and Brixham Coaling Co Ltd, lessees of the foreshore, were given three month’s notice to quit.
In January 1957 Cllr Hearn offered to donate the purchase price of £175 to the Council in memory of his late wife provided that he could erect a plaque at the Creek inscribed “This Creek was given to the Parish by Stanley G. Hearn in memory of Gertrude who died at Kingswear on the 20th September 1950”. It is not clear that the plaque was ever erected.
Hardly had the ink dried on the purchase when the Parish Council found that there was another side to owning land. The County Council complained that there was a fracture in the drainage culvert under the Parish Council’s property. There started a long history of complaints of flooding and as can be expected everybody claimed it was someone else’s responsibility. Initially the Kingswear Laundry was blamed as it was their water discharging through the culvert and a stagnant pool developed when it became damaged. In 1961 Waterhead Cottages were flooded. The problem was held to be that the Laundry culvert now had to take all the road surface water together with the overflow from Wilful Murder. This latter reference appears to relate to the tanks under the verge near to the junction between Higher Contour Road and Lower Contour Road and near to the field of the same name. The overflow of these tanks was said to have increased when the pipeline across the river from Dartmouth brought water to the village presumably because this new supply meant that water was no longer taken from the tanks. There was more flooding a year later and the County Council placed responsibility for the flooding at the Kingswear Parish Council’s door but the latter pointed out that the flooding had occurred before there had been any tipping in the Creek. Finally in 1984 with more flooding of the road the County Council provided a new drain to prevent future flooding which hopefully has solved to problem once and for all.
In 1957 the Ministry of Housing and Local Government told the Council that it could not grant a lease of the land to another body but they could appoint a Committee to manage the Creek under the Local Government Act 1933 Section 85(2). The War Memorial Park Committee was wound up and its funds transferred to the Council. From then on all deliberations were conducted by the Section 85 Committee on which there were both Council and lay members. The Clerk discovered that a tithe was payable for the Creek but as it amounted to only 3/2d which was less than £1 p.a., the Tithe Redemption Commission were not able to require it to be redeemed, i.e. cancelled by a one-off payment.
The Kingswear Parish Council gave the County Council received permission to place material arising from the Kingswear-to-Churston road improvement scheme in the Creek. More tipping came from material taken in developing the new turning point at Hawke’s Corner (the Banjo) and from SWEB works in the parish. The water culvert was extended so that further tipping could take place. Meanwhile Dartmouth Borough Council negotiated with British Railways the tenancy of the western part of the Creek.
Tipping began to get out of hand and in 1961 the vicar, who was a member of the Kingswear Parish Council, complained about the “indiscriminate tipping of undesirable material at Waterhead Creek”. The reason for this was somehow related to the improvements to Hoodown Lane and the County Council offered to level the infill when the road work was completed. The Public Health Inspector then complained about the tipping in Waterhead Creek and threatened to take legal action against the Parish Council. In turn the Council blamed the household refuse on the Laundry Company. A notice banning tipping without permission was erected.
In March 1962 Tribble & Co completed the extension of the water culverts at Waterhead Creek comprising a main 15 inch culvert and a 12 inch smaller culvert on the southern shore. Tipping was permitted again under strict control. Several members of the public tidied up the top of the creek only to find that a boat owner and a local trades person then dumped more rubbish there. The long term objective was still to provide a recreational ground for the youth of the district.
1964 saw strong opposition to the suggestion that land at the head of the Creek should be taken over by Dartmouth Borough Council for use as a car park. In turn the Parish Council complained about two corrugated iron buildings adjacent to the Creek which belonged to Dartmouth Council. Dartmouth was asked to clean up the sheds and the foreshore on either side of the Creek and to consider transferring their lease of part of the Creek to Kingswear. The sheds were demolished. Fifty £1 notes were given anonymously to provide seats on the Hoodown side of the Creek in the memory of the late Sir Winston Churchill.
In June 1967 British Railways said that they were not willing at the time to sell their remaining land in the Creek and in reply the Council offered to lease the land until it became available for purchase. Miss G L Ferris, 2 Agra Villas, gave a sum for the improvement and laying out of Waterhead Creek as a recreational ground. Later she bequeathed £1030. 16. 2d. to the Council for the Creek.
A prize of 5 guineas was offered for the best suggestion of how the Creek should be developed to be judged at a public meeting. It was agreed that the existing tipping area was to be levelled and seeded with grass and a 10ft. wide path should be bulldozed all round that part of the Creek already owned by Kingswear Parish Council. The path was to be 2ft. higher than the highest tide level. Boats were to be allowed to be stored on the north side of the infill area and a concrete slipway constructed for the use of small boats. The Devon Playing Fields Association offered £200 towards the provision of children’s playing facilities.
In 1969 the Council were informed that they needed planning permission in respect of the infilling of the Creek notwithstanding that tipping had started in 1948. The Duchy agreed to sell the remaining 0.64 acres of fundus in Waterhead Creek still owned by them. This purchase includes a rectangle of creek in the Darthaven half plus the bed of the stream that remains at low water as far as just short of the railway bridge. Presumable this means that as the course of the stream changes so does the Council’s ownership! The purchase excluded any coal found beneath the Creek which would belong to the National Coal Board although they would not be allowed to excavate it.
In 1970 the site was now referred to as Waterhead Green. The WI offered their help as part of their contribution to European Conservation Year as did the Kingswear Residents Association. British Railways granted a legal easement for a footpath over its land to join with that over the Council land and in May 1971 the footpath was opened. The following year they sold their remaining land in the western part of the Creek without informing the Council.
In June 1974 the Parish Council won a Westward Television “Treasure Hunt” quiz and received a cheque for £75 which was divided equally between the Village Hall ‘new window’ project and the Waterhead Creek capital fund. Members of the Kingswear Residents Association and of the Protection of Kingswear Society offered to help in the provision of further hardcore, top soil, levelling and seeding. A circular distributed throughout the parish asked for financial contributions, for offers of trees and shrubs and for manning working parties. In 1977 the development became part of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Appeal as a parish project.
In 1978 the future of the former refuse tip at Mount Ridley Road was discussed with the SHDC and it was agreed that the site could be levelled to provide an area “large enough for ball games to be played”. Did this mean that the creek land was no longer required for a playing field?
In 1980 Cllr MacKenzie-Thorpe organised a fireworks display in the Creek for the 5th November and this has become an annual event. Yensen, who had built the houses on the Old Laundry site now known as Waterhead Close, were given a three year lease for 12 moorings in the creek for their homeowners. In return they built the slipway.
Which brings us more or less up to date; however I have not found when the grassed area was formally named Jubilee Park. Even today any suggestion for further development of the Creek is still the best way of getting the public to come to a Council Meeting.
The End of Another Era
In 1883 the Churchyard became full for burials and in 1884 the authorities, in those days the Church Vestry which ran local affairs, became concerned that should an epidemic break out they might not be able to bury all the dead – not an unlikely occurrence in those days. They purchased land for a cemetery near to the entrance to Kingswear, known as Lower Meadow, for £240 from a Mr Richard Roberts, yeoman of Hoodown. The land was consecrated by the Bishop of Exeter in 1885. A cemetery caretaker was obviously required as the Lodge was built for him in the cemetery grounds. The 1894 the Kingswear Parish Council was formed and took over the responsibility for the running of the civil parish including the cemetery.
The Parish Council employed several workers, all on a part time basis. Over the years the Council has been responsible for the water supply, road repairs, road sweeping, the collection of rates (tithes), street lighting and refuse collection – the refuse tip was where the sports ground is now. Various local government reorganisations moved responsibilities to the rural district council or the county council. In some cases the Kingswear Parish Council continued to provide local services as agents of a higher authority; in others those authorities took over the direct employment of the local labour.
In 1949 the
Until recently holder of the post has been employed by the Kingswear Parish Council and seconded for the equivalent of two days a week to the South Hams District Council for various cleaning work. Neither the Kingswear Parish Council nor the District Council can trace any formal contract covering this arrangement, perhaps it just evolved from the 1800’s. Now that is to change.
From the 1st October 2001 the District Council will no longer employ part-time staff. This placed the Kingswear Parish Council and the employee in a difficult position as the Council could not provide extra work to fill the extra two days, nor justify increasing the precept to pay for it. However the District Council offered him a full time position. Now, after well over a hundred years, the Kingswear Parish Council will have no other employee other than the Clerk. The work that he had been doing is to be contracted out to a specialist ground maintenance company.