At the time of the First World War Brandon had two councils. The Brandon Parish Council dealt with matters pertaining to the town itself, whilst the Brandon Rural District Council oversaw matters to the town and the outlying villages which included those on the other side of Thetford – Barnham, Hopton, Fakenham Magna, Euston; as well as the more closely associated villages of Elveden and Santon Downham. Council members tended to be wealthy businessmen and landowners. No women served on the council during WW1, despite an election for a new parish clerk in 1917, when two women stood and one man. It was the man who was elected by the all-male panel. Councillors were also elected to serve on the Tribunals, which heard cases brought against men who refused to join the army. In more recent times Brandon Parish Council have ‘upgraded’ to a town council and their website can be found here.
In March, the Brandon Rural District Council (BRDC) announced those who were standing for election as councillors:
- Barnham, John Shurley Newdick, farmer.
- Barningham, Harold Arthur Oliverson, gentleman, Coney Weston Hall.
- Brandon, Albert William Rought-Rought, furrier, Heath House.
- Brandon, Basil Edward Spragge, Lieutenant-Colonel, North Court Lodge.
- Brandon, Herbert William Winner, baker, London Road.
- Brandon, William Bertram Wood, engineer and timber merchant, Norfolk House.
During this time, the Brandon Parish Council (BPC) met and discussed removing the ‘Coronation’ seats along the Avenue because they had become a magnet for anti-social behaviour by youths. Those present at the time were:
- Mr W Brown (Chairman)
- Albert Rought-Rought
- George Gentle
- H Lingwood
- W Clark
- Oscar Chapman
- W.J. Murrell
- Mr Frederick Mount (clerk)
(BRDC) In April, Dr George Cowan, Medical Officer of Health gave his annual report for the district, with its population of 5,863. There had been:
- 72 deaths (1.23%) – the biggest known killer had been Phthisis (Tuberculosis) with 6 deaths, followed by influenza and cancer with 4 and 3 deaths respectively.
- 132 confirmed cases of Tuberculosis, 13 of Scarlet Fever.
- 138 births (2.35%)
(BRDC) In July, the council wrote to the West Suffolk County Council asking them to step in and sort the constant flooding on Thetford Road. In September, West Suffolk County Council replied, saying their Highways and Bridges Sub-Committee had looked into the feasibility of pumping surface water from Thetford Road and putting it into F.J. Mount ‘s lime pit, but Mr Mount had objected, so they were still considering options. Colonel Spragge claimed this was a public scandal and the council clerk instructed to write to WSCC as a matter of urgency. Even in November the matter had not been resolved when WSCC said their sub-committe had approached landowner, Mr Wood, to drain the water onto his property but they were yet to appoint anyone to do the work. Mr Winter said the way the water had been allowed to lay on the road was scandalous and it was a disgrace to the place.
They also wrote to Mr Brearley, owner of Spartan Works on London Road, asking him to provide proper lavatory facilities when he let his land for summer fairs.
(BRDC) A traffic census was conducted on Bury Road, Brandon, which counted 563 vehicles, an average of 68.5 per day. The findings were this:
- Ordinary cycles – 355
- Light vehicles – 79
- Motor cycles – 28
- Motor cars – 21
- Heavy vehicles – 16
- Horses led – 10
- Hand carts and barrows – 10
- Omnibuses (2 or more horses) – 4
- Motor vans – 3
- Trailers – 2
(BPC) The parish council met in July and discussed repair of the footpath along the Avenue. It was reported the Avenue was 9ft 6in wide, and 340 yards long, so at a thickness of 2″ it was estimated that 60 cubic yards of gravel would be required. The council estimated the job would cost in the region of £30 and all agreed it needed doing.
(BRDC) The council discussed the affect the increased use on the district’s roads by military vehicles. It was suggested damage was slight but concerns were raised that roads were showing signs of deterioration, which would be exacerbated if the vehicles increased. The council prepared a plan to limit the wear and tear on road surfaces.
(BPC) In April, it was suggested much confusion had been caused in billeting troops unfamiliar with the town on account of no houses being numbered. Frederick Mount (clerk)) was tasked with fixing street name plates to buildings and getting residents to number their houses. In November it was reported to the council that Mr Mount had fixed up 26 street names plates and 554 house numbers had been painted, meaning all but two houses could now be identified by visitors. Mr Mount was paid £2 2s for his efforts.
(BRDC) In April, Dr Claridge, a specialist from Norwich, gave his gave his annual report for the health of the district, with its population of 5,863. There had been:
- 68 deaths (1.16%) – the biggest known killer had been cancer with 7 deaths, Phthisis (Tuberculosis) with 5 deaths, followed by influenza 4.
- 13 of Diphtheria, 8 Scarlet Fever and 5 Tuberculosis.
- 127 births (2.17%)
(BRDC) It was announced in June that measles and mumps would become ‘notifiable’ diseases, so any household contracting such diseases would have to notify the council. This was to prevent the disease spreading to troops billeted in the town.
(BRDC) The council approved the Post Office request to extend the telegraph service throughout the town.
(BPC) In October, it was reported that a lamp post had been broken by the E.A.R.A. (Suffolks) on 28th September. The Clerk said he found the lamp-post was broken off at the base and was rendered useless. The Adjutant had placed an order with Mr Woodrow to make the damage good, and a new lamp-post had been supplied. Then attention was drawn to the posts in the Old Avenue, which in the absence of street lighting, was a danger to the public. Councillor Parrott said he was opposed to the posts being put up in the first instance. The Clerk said they were now very dangerous. It was agreed to request the District Council to have them removed.
(BPC) Councillors insured the Water Works cottage and premises against damage by aircraft.
(BRDC) In November, the council was asked to appoint five members to sit on local Tribunals and hear cases from residents who refused to enlist.
(BPC) In January, attention was drawn to the fact that soldiers were climbing over the Avenue fence and of taking their horses down Coulson Lane. Mr Murrell said he had mentioned the former matter to one of the non-commissioned officers in charge of some of the men whom he saw getting over the fence, and he promised to bring it to the notice of the captain. The Chairman thought the best way to stop it would be by putting up a notice. Mr Murrell suggested that a reference should be made to one of the higher officers. In the result this course was adopted. At the same meeting, Frederick Mount (clerk) announced he had signed up with the Lord Derby Scheme, so was informing the council in case they needed to get a replacement. However, being aged 41 he was not expecting to be in the first draft of recruits and may be with the council for some time yet.
(BRDC) In April, councillors met in Thetford to discuss the deterioration of the district’s roads, due to the large amount of heavy military traffic using them. They resolved to ask the War Department to contribute £100 to the upkeep.
(BRDC) At the AGM in May, the following posts were confirmed:
- Chairman – Mr A.W. Rought-Rought
- Vice-Chairman – Colonel Spragge and Mr W Durrant
- Councillors – Rev C Green, the Rev H Brand, Mr A Cackett, Mr J Balaam, Mr H Plummer, Mr J Pickering and Mr W.R. Johnstone
- Clerk – Mr J Houchen
Dr George Cowan, Medical Officer of Health, gave his annual report for the district, with its population of 5,606, which had decreased by more than 250, likely due to men enlisting to fight. There had been:
- 74 deaths (1.32%) – the biggest known killer had been influenza with 6 deaths, followed by phthisis (Tuberculosis) with 4 and measles and cancer with two each.
- 28 confirmed cases of Scarlet Fever, Tuberculosis 11 and Diphtheria 5.
- 110 births (1.96%)
In November, four cases of Diphtheria were reported in Brandon, although the outbreak soon came under control because December saw just the one case.
(BPC) Frederick Mount (clerk) informed the meeting that people had been carving their names in the bark of lime trees lining the Avenue, so the council agreed to put up signs warning against this.
(BRDC) In December, the council meeting heard that three of its road workmen, aged under 50, had volunteered for the “road service in France”. The Council Surveyor, Mr W Davey, also informed them that he had volunteered too and asked the council if he could return to his council job when he returned from war. The council emphatically agreed he could do so. The council then agreed to increase the pay of the road workmen to 20s a week.
(BRDC) In February, the meeting discussed War Savings, with one councillor suggesting people were finding it hard to save money because able-bodied men were off fighting and those who were left behind were getting by on pennies. Lieut-Colonel Spragge replied,
“If you ask them whether they would rather have the Germans over here or pay 6d a week, you would have many who would save.”
(BPC) In March, the parish council heard that rats and sparrows were destroying valuable crops and food stores. Council members voted against imposing compulsory measures and pondered upon paying residents a reward for any vermin that were killed. The following month, the council decided to draw up a draft scheme to pay a penny per rat and 1½d per dozen for sparrows’ eggs. The subject rumbled into May, when the council reviewed its reward scheme, now they were going to pay 1s per dozen rats, 2d per dozen sparrows and sparrow’s eggs 1½d per dozen.
(BRDC) In April, the council grudgingly agreed to increase the pay of their road workmen. This was the second increase in five months and saw them get an extra 2s, taking their weekly wage to 22s, in line with the national average. In September, their pay was increased yet again. The council heard that farmers were paying 24 shillings a week, on account of labour being scarce, so the council, eager to retain its able bodied men, matched this wage
(BRDC) In July, the Medical Officer reported on an outbreak of measles in Brandon, 17 cases had been reported that month but it seemed to be under control. The council then agreed to give the Medical Officer, Dr Cowan, a 50% pay increase – from £40 to £60 per year; in part due to the increase in petrol costs. The council then discussed a request for a pay rise by its Inspector of Nuisances (Food Control), Mr S Miller. The council had put extra work on him in relation to the war, as required by the government. The council heard his wage was already £200 per year, and saw he received a ‘war bonus’ of £30 a year.
(BPC) – In August, the council appointed a new clerk. There had been three applicants:
- Mr Albert Edward Chapman, Bevor House
- Miss Welhelmina Mensink, 80 London Road
- Mrs Emma Clark, 42 High Street
Mr Chapman and Mrs Clark received three votes each, while Miss Mensink received one. The Chairman declined to give the casting vote, so the top two candidates went forward to a second vote, resulting in Mr Chapman being appointed and receiving a salary of £80 per year.
(BPC) In January, a letter was read from Police Inspector F Mobbs, asking the Council to appoint someone whom he could communicate with in the event of enemy daylight air raids and give the warning to the public. The matter was discussed and it was agreed that the Clerk, Mr Albert Chapman, would approach Mr George Wood to enquire whether the firm’s buzzer could be used to give warning if necessary, on the Sunday as well as work days.
(BRDC) The subject of wage increases raised its head again in May. The Council Surveyor, Mr Montague Froud, asked for an increased and received an increase of £15 per year. The road workmen once again asked for more money – they could almost command their own wage on account of the scarcity of able bodied men. They were now paid 30 shillings a week, almost double what they were being paid 18 months previously!
(BRDC) In April, the Medical Officer of Health, gave his annual report for the district. There had been:
- 88 deaths (1.71%) – which was 0.3% above the national average.
- 100 births (1.74%)