The Council

Prior to 1987 Grindleford did not exist as a Parish. The village was made up of three different Parishes, plus parts of two others. To the west of the River Derwent from the bridge along Main Road to the laundry, up Sir William Hill and Leam was the Parish of Eyam Woodlands. On the east side of the river above the church and around the Maynard Arms was Nether Padley. The area around the railway station, Upper Padley, was in fact in Hathersage Parish. To the south up Goatscliffe and along the Calver Road past Stoke Hall to Knouchley was Stoke Parish. Haywood and Haywood Farm were in Froggatt Parish.

So there was no single Parish Council which covered the whole of the village. We were a village of bits and pieces. It must be said that the majority of the residents did not realize how the various Councils functioned or exactly where their boundaries lay. When anything required action or if anything went wrong, it was always up to “The Council” to do SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

Eyam Woodlands Parish Council was formed in 1913, before then a Parish Meeting had dealt with local affairs. The Local Government Act of 1894 states that there should be a Parish Council for every Rural Parish which has a population of 300 or upwards. According to the Census of 1894, the population of Eyam Woodlands was only 266 and therefore a Parish Council could not be formed. At the 1911 Census the population had swelled to 403 and therefore under the Act a Council could now be formed.

The Councillors duly elected made declarations of acceptance of office on the 16th day of April 1913. They were; J. S. H. Wainwright, Percy Joseph Turner, Tom Outram, Benjamin Thorpe and Peter J. Kenyon. The person appointed as Clerk to the Council was James Outram, of whom we shall hear more of later.

The reason for all this detail about the Parish Council is that it was part of my daily life in the village all the time I lived in Grindleford. Being in the shop I was in the front line for anyone who had a moan or gripe about Parish Affairs. The Council became even more of my life in 1959 when I took over the job of Clerk. A post I held for fifteen years until 1975 when my youngest son, Alan took over from me.

The power behind the throne, as it were, on the Council was undoubtedly its first Clerk, James Outram. Born in 1864, when the American Civil War was still being fought. Alexander the Second was Czar of all the Russians and London’s first underground railway was opened, James was 95 years old when he finally passed away in 1959. He was Clerk to the Council right up to his dying day.

He was a man who was very obstinate and set in his ways. He would not be told what to do and what not to do by anyone, be he Chairman, Councillors or County Council Official. He would only carry out the Parish Councillors decisions and instructions himself only when he totally agreed, or if they had been his ideas in the first place.

At one Council Meeting a debate was held on the provision of extra Council Housing for the servicemen who were returning from the Second World War. This debate had been a lengthy one and eventually a resolution was passed that the Clerk should write to the Rural District Council in Bakewell to ask whether they would consider providing some new houses in the village. James had very little confidence in the R. D. C.’s housing policy. He stated firmly to the assembled Councillors,
”Ah’m non reighton’ ter they fewills at Bakewell – ah know only too well what ther’ anser ‘ill be, wi’ out reighton’ a letter an’ wasting time an’ money on it”.
He did not write the letter either, the Chairman had to do it himself!

James was a very proud man. One year he took his books for the Annual Audit by the District Auditor at Bakewell. When he went back to collect them after the audit had been completed he went into the auditor’s office and asked for them. They were handed over to him and on seeing that the auditor had had the audacity to correct them, he threw them down violently to the floor, exclaiming, “What on earth has tha’ done to my books, man? They has all got red ink all over ‘em. Ahm non takin’ ‘em back in that state, when I left ‘em wi’ yer they was all neat an’ tidy”.
He stormed out of the Town Hall without his books and the auditor had to make arrangements to have them delivered.

He was also a man who got straight to the point and never wasted his words. A good example of this was in 1950, when the Grindleford Playing Fields Committee wrote to the Parish Council on a couple of matters. The village playing field was administered by its own committee and the Parish Council had never been involved in it. They did not support it financially or in any other way. The Honorary Secretary of the Playing Fields Committee, John Needham, wrote to James in his capacity as Clerk to the Council, asking if the Council would make arrangements to have some rubbish removed from the playing field. It was usual in those days for the Parish Council to request the District Council to remove any rubbish as and when necessary. The same letter also asked if the Council knew of any funds which may have been collected years ago and were lying dormant and could be used towards improving the field. James Outram’s reply was typical of the man. It was follows;

To the Secy. of the Playing Fields

Dear Sir,
Your letter was put before the above council last week when I was instructed to say the Council can not remove the rubbish but the RDC have a tip at Calver where you can take it but the dustman will not remove it. The note about surplus funds we have none.

Yours respectfully, James Outram.

Straight to the point, no words wasted and no marks for punctuation!

James was not always the most popular man in the village. In addition to his job as Clerk he was also the Rate Collector. One day he was out collecting the rates and he called at the Maynard Arms for his lunch. He ordered a ham sandwich to go with his drink. The barman went through to the kitchen to see the cook, Nellie Hill.

Old Nellie had been cook there for many years and, despite some unorthodox methods was a very good one. The barman gave the order.
“James Outram wants a ham sandwich”,
“Well, he’ll just have to wait for it, I’m busy,” replied Nellie.
“Come on, look sharp, he’ll only moan and groan all the more about it if he has to wait,” urged the barman.
“Oh, alright then,” conceded Nellie, “does he want mustard on it?”
“I don’t really know, he never said,” the barman told her.
Nellie had a large two pound jar of mustard at hand. She picked up the jar and dipped her broad pastry knife into it, spreading the hot mustard so thickly on the ham, that when she placed the top slice of bread on and pressed it down, the mustard shot out of the sides of the sandwich.
“I’ll hot the miserable ‘owd buzzard up!” she crowed.

During the Second World War all the road signs and nameplates were removed as a precaution against German paratroops. The idea being to try to confuse the enemy, as they would have difficulty finding their bearings. With the aid of the Parish Council, all the signs in and around Grindleford had been taken down, anything bearing the name of the village had been removed.

Late in 1940 somebody spotted that the War Memorial had been overlooked. It still bore the inscription, “To the Memory of the Men of Grindleford who fell in the Great War….” This caused a great deal of consternation amongst the Councillors. They had very carefully considered all the signs and notices which had to be taken down and had implemented the ruling very strictly. These signs included the Church and Chapel notice boards, the College’s sign (much to the disgust of Ella Phibbs), the Grindleford Model Laundry and Stoke Hall Quarry had to remove their boards. The Council had, however missed their own piece of property out.

As the lettering on the Memorial was in metal it was not easy to remove. So it was decided that an iron band should be put over it. This was done by the village blacksmith, Tom Hudson, at a cost of 7/6d. It was then removed at the end of the War, when there were other names to be added to those who had fallen in the Great War.

This always seemed to be an ironic incident to me. That our enemies may have gained an advantage over us, due to an oversight by the Parish Council, from a Memorial to our First World War dead. It is an episode that we can smile at now and seems of little consequence. At the time though, it was deadly serious.

When James Outram died, he had just one tooth left, one of his large front ones. It was said that he had died swallowing this, but that is just gossip. The Parish Council then had the job of finding a new Clerk.

Jabez Ollerenshaw, the Chairman, came into the shop and asked me if I was interested in the job. I replied that I was busy enough with the shop and my family. Jabez was a man who would not take no for an answer. He kept pestering me for several weeks to take the job, until one day he tried a new ploy. He informed me that he had found someone who would do the job. The only thing now was that strictly speaking, they should advertise the post and interview applicants. If they just interviewed one applicant they could be accused of favouritism. Would I write a letter applying for the job so that they could hold a meeting and appoint the person who was willing to take the job on. I would not have to attend an interview or do anything else as this other person was to be given the job. It was only to make it fair that the other person wasn’t getting it as a favour.

I wrote a short note to Jabez, going through the motions of applying for the job. A few days later he called into the shop for some groceries. After completing his purchases he said,
“By the way, Mr. Jacques, you have got that job as Clerk to the Parish Council that you applied for. We have got a meeting next Tuesday at 8.00 o’clock in the schoolroom. I look forward to seeing you then!”
“You crafty old devil, Jabez Ollerenshaw,” I thought. Of course, that is just what he was.