Extracts from the Minutes of
Chetton Parish Council
1937 – 1956
Collated by Eileen Reynolds, Parish Clerk
Chetton Parish Council
Although Chetton Parish Council had been in existence for some years the earliest record of the proceedings are the minutes of a Council meeting held at The Down School on Monday 8th February 1937. The members present were W.M. Mullard (Chairman), F.H. Millington, L. Jackson, W.R. Yardley, W.M. Jones and W.H. Birch.
The business consisted mainly of a discussion about what steps should be taken to celebrate the Coronation – “the Clerk stating that a penny rate produced approximately £4.15.0”. It was decided to hold another meeting on 22nd February “to decide whether a rate be levied or the money raised by subscription”. There are no minutes either of that meeting or of subsequent celebrations. The other problem, which appeared many times during the 1930’s and 1940’s was the state of general disrepair of both footbridges and footpaths in the Parish. At this meeting in February 1937 the Clerk was instructed to “write to the County Surveyor at Shrewsbury regarding the dangerous condition of footbridges in the Parish – these bridges having been reported several times to the local surveyor without any results”. The financial business of the meeting was the proposal that a cheque for £5 be drawn in the favour of Bridgnorth Rural District Council (from now on referred to as the R.D.C.) for the relief of rates on Chetton Parish.
The next meeting recorded was the Annual Parish Meeting for the election of Parish Councillors held at The Down School on Monday 15th March 1937 – followed by a Council Meeting. Item 1 on the Agenda was Footbridges. The Clerk had received an acknowledgement of his letter following the February meeting but Mr. Millington asked the Clerk to write again and ask for a footbridge on The Down Farm to be added to the repair list. Mr. W. Jones of The Down Farm was appointed ‘Air-raids Precautions Representative’ for the Parish and the Clerk’s salary was increased to £2 per annum. It is interesting to see an item in the accounts for “cleaning the School and lights – 3 meetings 4s 6d”.
At the next meeting on 29th March 1938 it was proposed that £5 should again be drawn for the relief of the Rates on Chetton Parish. Footbridges in a dangerous condition were – “from Chetton to Sydnall, the bridge having completely gone and from Faintree to Chetton the handrail only being left”. At the meeting on 28th March 1939 the saga continued with the Clerk reporting that “the Divisional Surveyor had promised to attend to the footbridges during the year and would make an allowance in his estimates”. However “the Clerk was instructed to write to the Surveyor asking for the footbridge over the brook on the footpath leading from The Down Farm to Wallsbatch Cottages be put in a proper state of repair – only one plank being left and the handrail having disappeared, and this over a drop of six feet”,
At the meeting on Wednesday 27th March 1940, the minutes state “The Chairman, Mr. W. Mullard, being the only member present – the meeting was adjourned to Friday 29th March 1940”. At that meeting four members were present with two apologies and the main business discussed was again the state of the footbridges. Work promised in the previous year had not been carried out and the Clerk was asked to write and for the following to be put in order
- on a path leading from The Down Farm to Wallsbatch Cottage
- on a path from Upper House, Chetton to Sydnall
- on a path from Bynd Cottage to Hay Farm, Neenton Heath.
The minutes also state that the amount for the rate relief of the Parish was £4. The Clerk was also instructed to ask “when sending payment of the 6/- if the use of the small classroom would be cheaper than for the large room at present used because it was noted that on the 27th inst. no fire or light was provided, while on the present occasion fire only was used”.
On April 21st 1941 the clerk was instructed “to write to Mr. Sherlock of The Stocking Farm, Faintree, that the obstruction placed by him on the public footpath leading from The Bynd Cottages to the main road must be removed within 7 days”.
The next meeting on 24th November 1941 has the District Audit stamp and the only business discussed was a footpath, which had been stopped up in the Faintree area. The farmer was instructed that he must remove the obstruction within 7 days.
The Parish Council did not meet again until 8th March 1943 when the only business recorded was the election of officers and presentation of accounts. No further meetings until 18th April 1945 – once again for the elections and accounts but the Clerk was asked “to draw the Surveyor’s attention to the dangerous condition of footbridge on path from Little Scotland to Lower Eudon and the Chapel”.
Following the election of officers on 11th March 1946 the Clerk, Mr. G.W. Powner, offered his resignation. He was thanked for his services but was asked – (as a final gesture) – “to draw the Surveyor’s attention to the dangerous condition of the following footbridges: Little Scotland to Lower Eudon, Chetton Grange to Chetton, Down Farm to Chetton”. On 12th November 1946 a new Clerk was appointed – Mr. R.G. Brown, at £5.5.0 per annum. His first task was to draw the Surveyor’s attention to the three footbridges mentioned in the previous minutes. The Council then proceeded to discuss the provision of four houses at The Down and four houses at Wallsbatch, Chetton, for agricultural workers. “The suggested site for The Down Houses was between The Unicorn and opposite the School and for the Chetton houses on land at Wallsbatch known as Pear Tree Meadow”.
Whatever happened to the new Clerk – Mr. Brown, is not recorded but at the next Council meeting on 21st April, 1947 Mr. J.M. Davies was appointed Clerk.
He was instructed to arrange for the removal of rubbish from Rectory bridge, to report the (bad) surface of Chetton lane to the Divisional Surveyor, to write to the R.D.C. stressing the urgency for “securing an adequate supply of water for the Parish and to protest to the R.D.C. stressing the need for the provision of additional accommodation in the Parish and to request a favourable allocation of new houses”.
On 26th April 1948 when the Council met again, the Clerk was instructed to write to the Minister of Health regarding the slow progress of the water scheme and pointing out that the R.D.C. would not commence building until a supply was obtainable. More problems with footpaths and bridges were reported, this time at The Bush Farm. In February 1949, the water supply was still being discussed, the new houses had not been agreed and a new item appeared on the Agenda namely the supply of electricity to the village. A sub-committee was appointed to discuss the possibilities with a representative of the M.E.B. The Clerk was also asked to write to the County Council asking for the Chetton road to be extended through to Lodge Farm. The Parish Council’s application for houses for agricultural workers was rejected and was reported at the meeting on 21st March 1949. The local manager of the M.E.B. had better news and said that “a scheme for an electricity supply to Chetton had been prepared for execution as soon as labour was available”. Investigations were also being made into a bore-hole to improve the water supply. The footpath between The Stocking Farm and The Bynd Farm had been blocked again and the farmer was warned that the path must be opened within 7 days.
The first mention of a precept from Bridgnorth District Council is at this meeting and the amount was for £6.0.0. The following payments were authorised: Clerk £5.5.0, School cleaner (two meetings) 55.0d, leaving a balance of ten shillings. The condition of Chetton Road had been causing trouble for some time. It was reported that “a quantity of glass having fallen from a lorry belonging to Mitchell & Butlers Limited some while ago, was still in the hedge bank and ditches near Wallsbatch to the danger of both children and cattle” and “loose chippings from the road (newly repaired) had been swept into the hedge bank”. The width of the road also “was insufficient to permit the movement of modern farm machinery”.
In August 1949 Mrs Wayne offered a piece of land to the Parish Council “for improving the junction to Chetton on cutting a new road from nearer the bridge”. The Clerk was instructed to communicate the offer to the Divisional Surveyor. It was also decided to suggest that “the well meadow, Chetton turn, be put forward to Mr Bannister as a good housing site having regard to the good drinking water available”. At the next meeting on 4th October 1949 the Clerk reported that the Divisional Surveyor was making enquiries “as to the possibility of making alterations at Chetton Junction”, and “it was understood that a supply (of electricity) would be forthcoming in the course of the next few months”. At the same meeting the Clerk was asked to write to the owner of the land where a gate had been closed on the footpath from Faintree to the Bynd Cottage. The owner was to be asked to unfasten the gate. There was another problem at Chetton where “complaints had been received of a vehicle parking for long periods on the lane from Chetton to Oldfield causing difficulties to other road users. The Clerk was asked “to write to Mr. Hill of Providence Cottage asking if he would make other arrangements for parking his car”. In November 1949 the Councillors learned that “good progress was being made on the electricity scheme but it was pointed out that present operations would not extend beyond Chetton people. The Clerk was asked to inform the M.E.B. that there was “a good demand for a supply at The Down, Faintree and Tedstill”. It now appeared that efforts to obtain a water supply for Chetton had failed and it was decided that the local Member of Parliament should be asked to meet the Council in this connection. Mr. A. Cartwright and Mr. F.H. Millington were appointed to represent the Council at the first meeting of Shropshire Association of Parish Councils on 5th December 1949. A final duty for the Clerk at this meeting was “to write to the Highways Surveyor and ask for the release of the roadman for cleaning the ditch on the road to Chetton. Recent rain was flooding on to the road swilling away chippings and leaving the original pot holes”.
On 21st March 1950 there was still grave concern over the failure of the District Council to commence building operations in the Parish and a further deputation was sent to discuss the matter with the R.D.C. The situation in Chetton Road had deteriorated with “sewage flowing onto the road near Gorby’s corner as a consequence of lack of ditch cleaning”. Pot-holes reported at the previous meeting were still not repaired and the “bridge from Wallsbatch to Mrs. Wayne’s orchard dangerous – one parishioner let through, fortunately without receiving injury.
April 25th 1950 saw the appointment of a new Parish Clerk when Mr Bowditch accepted the office. Housing and a water supply again predominated on the agenda. Mr Bannister of the R.D.C. had promised to take action on the Parish Council’s recommendation and the Councillors again pressed for four cottages at The Down and four in Chetton. It now seemed that water to the Parish would be supplied from two bore holes – one at Upper House Farm to supply Chetton Village and one at The Down to supply the School. It was hoped to persuade the Governors of the school to bring additional pressure for the scheme. At this meeting in April 1950, the W.I. were invited for the first time to send two representatives to Parish Council Meetings. It was also agreed that Councillors should “ascertain from the Parish Councils Association the position regarding the demolition of the Parish Pound and the dilapidated cottage”. On Tuesday 23rd May, Miss Wood and Mrs Price attended the meeting as W.I. representatives. They heard that refuse in improper containers would not be collected – further references to the untidy state of Chetton Village and how the Parish Council would be affected with reference to the Festival of Britain – it was agreed to discuss this matter at the Annual General Meeting. Problems on the highway remained and the Clerk was asked to request the Sanitary Inspector to examine the drainage at Gorby’s Corner. At the same time a request for a mirror “for traffic leaving the Chetton Lane to be aware of the downward approach of vehicles” should be made to the Divisional Surveyor. The next meeting of the Council was not held until 12th January 1951 and it was here that the possibility of erecting a Village Hall was first discussed. It was hoped that the accumulated interest on the Chetton Charities together with other grant-aid could be used and the Clerk was asked to ascertain the position. At the following meeting in March 1951 the Clerk reported that there was £160 in interest on the Educational Charities and it was hoped to utilise this money for the erection of a Village Hall. Pressure was also to be applied for the erection of 10 houses at The Down and 10 at Chetton (an increase of 6 for each site since the meeting in the previous April).
On 4th May 1951 Mrs Anne Yardley was appointed Parish Clerk and at the A.G.M. on 18th May it was reported that “there was a reasonable hope of bringing mains electricity to The Down in the not too distant future” and it was proposed that “a protest be sent to the Superintendent of Police in Bridgnorth about aircraft flying low over the village.
In June 1951 “A discussion took place on the subject of Chetton Charities. It was agreed that attendance money should no longer be paid to children attending the Down School and that some alternate use be made of the money”. On 21st September 1951 the following resolution was passed unanimously “that this meeting views with grave concern the water position in Chetton” and “that the water being tapped in the village of Chetton should be made available to all who require it”. “It was suggested that the cluster of cottages adjacent to the borehole should have a communal tap made available to them at a rate to be fixed. It was considered that with electricity available, thereby making it possible to insert an automatic sumo pump and adequate storage these things could be made possible without much trouble”. On 8th January 1952 Councillors again pressed for action on the undue delay in the erection of the proposed new agricultural cottages at Chetton and Eudon and the Clerk was asked to write to M.E.B. for information about the possibility of bringing electricity to The Down in the near future. Road conditions continued to create concern – especially Chetton Lane. The meeting on 11th Feburuary 1952, commenced with a minute’s silence “in view of the recent death of King George VI” after which the Chairman reported that “the water from the borehole at Chetton had been passed and that it is to be a public well”. It was on 28th March 1952 that the first mention of a ‘bus appears when there was a request to the R.D.C. for Foxall’s ‘bus to run up to Chetton at 6.15pm and 10.00p.m. on Saturday evenings. Trouble continued on the footpaths and bridges – a local farmer was requested to remove a barbed wire obstruction on a footpath and the County Surveyor was to be contacted regarding the collapsed bridge on the path from Hillhead to Middleton Scriven.
At last there appears to be some serious moves regarding the Chetton Council Houses. A meeting was held on 10th June 1952 at which Mr. Bannister, Chairman of the R.D.C. Housing Committee, Mr. Yelland, Surveyor, Mr. Butler, Architect and Mr. Harris, Clerk to the R.D.C. attended. “Mr. Bannister addressed the meeting giving the reasons for his Committee’s decision to site the houses at the far end of the field behind Providence House. This decision had led to opposition on the grounds that the new houses would be directly opposite the public house. After hearing all the difficulties involved, the Parish Council agreed “this decision was inevitable and urged that work should be started as soon as possible”. Unfortunately the news about the water supply at The Down was not so good and the Parish Council Chairman, Mr. Teague, reported that it was not expected to have a supply for at least two years. However on 21st July Parishioners and Councillors were given details of the Low Level Water Scheme and the meeting was unanimously in favour – however they wished to point out “that only a comparatively small number of people will benefit from this very large proposed increase in the Rates and wishes therefore, to urge in the strongest terms that every possible step is taken to expedite the High Level Scheme”. Events moved slowly and in October 1952 the Clerk was asked to make enquiries about progress on the water scheme, Council houses and the supply of electricity to the area. Mrs. Yardley retired as Clerk on 27th January 1953 and was followed by Mr. Wyatt of The Unicorn Inn. Unfortunately from 23rd June 1953 until 8th July 1954 the minutes were very difficult to decipher but it appears that by this time there had been a reduction in the number of new houses to be built and the Parish Council wrote to protest against the decision. Mr. Richards – Manager of local M.E.B. attended a meeting to inform parishioners about the proposed service. The following extract appears in the minutes for 14th July 1953:-
“Facts put forward by Mr. Richards
- That the scheme will cost £20,000, £14,000 must be raised from Consumers otherwise it will be impossible to carry out the scheme
- Individual consumers could have 3 phase at extra cost
- That due to people not returning signed agreements – this will delay work
- Mr. Richards tried to explain that single phase would be quite alright but the gathering were not impressed
- That the M.E.B. would call again on Clerk’s …. (with little hope) of reducing the original figure”.
For several months nothing further appears in the minutes regarding the electricity supply.
On 13th February 1954 however, it is minuted that “Chairman and Officers discussed at some length to whom the new Council Houses at Eudon would be allocated – the outcome being that the R.D.C. Housing Committee would be responsible for selecting six tenants” and on 9th March “Clerk was asked to write and request a further six houses to be built at Eudon whilst builders were on site”. The Clerk reported at the next meeting that he had received a letter asking for the names of prospective tenants for the extra houses. This was done although there is no record of those names.
An interesting point at this time was reference to a discussion on Rights of Way – Footpaths in the Parish of Chetton, however the only footpath mentioned is the one “from the Bine in a North-Westerly direction to link up with FP1. Copy letter attached”. Unfortunately that letter no longer exists.
A complaint was received regarding the state of Chetton Lane that it “was now unfit for children to walk upon as motor vehicles were turning surface into a quagmire and the children were having to walk into long grass, mud etc. to and from school. Clerk was asked to write to the Surveyor of Salop County Council”.
Work was obviously going ahead on the Council Houses at Eudon and there is an item in the minutes of 8th July 1954 stating “more satisfactory arrangements had now been made regarding water supply to new Council Houses at Eudon George”. This was the last meeting for the Clerk as he was leaving the district and on 10th November Miss Vale was appointed. The first two new houses at Chetton were almost ready for occupation and a list was made of farmers who required accommodation for their men. However, at the next meeting it was clear that not all of the houses would be available for farm workers and it was proposed that the R.D.C. should be asked to build a further two houses. There were other problems looming – “some of the houses were due to be occupied on the day following the meeting but neither water nor electricity had been turned on – and two weeks’ rent had already been paid in advance”.
For various reasons no minutes were recorded for either September or December meetings but on 15th March 1956 the question of Saturday ‘buses to Chetton was raised again “it was felt that if enough support was forthcoming we should try to get the Corvedale Co. or Foxalls to continue a good service to Chetton Village”. “Mr. Lamb said that he had heard the service ‘bus was very crowded with school children in the morning but Foxalls had said that if they ran a special school bus it would not pay them to run a service bus as well. It was decided to leave the matter until a complaint was received”. The last item on the minutes read “Miss Vale resigned and Mr. Millington said he would ask Mrs. Bache if she would carry on”.
Mrs. Joan Bache attended her first Council Meeting as Clerk on 14th May 1956.