Tuesday, 9th May, 1871
New Public Offices For Wallasey
Yesterday, the foundation stone of new public offices for Wallasey Local Board was laid by Mr. Ellis Davies, chairman of the works and health committee, in the presence of a large concourse of people. The present offices of the board are in Church Street, but for a considerable time past they have been found very inconvenient, and totally inadequate for the increasing business of the parish. The site for the new offices is in the same thoroughfare, and nearly opposite the old offices. The building, which is to be constructed of brick, will be in the Italian style, and will have a frontage to Church Street of 48 feet, with a depth to the rear of 72 feet. The ground floor is designed to afford ample accommodation for the clerk and his assistants and the sub-treasurer, in addition to a spacious boardroom, muniment room, &c. The first floor is to be divided into offices for the surveyors, gas and water managers, committee room, lavatories, &c; whilst the basement will form a residence for the keeper. Mr. James T. Lea, the surveyor to the local board, is the architect, and Mr. S. Ellaby, of Liscard, is the builder. The cost, including that of the site, is estimated at £2000, and will be borne in the first instances by Mr. John McInnes of Egremont, the board having the option of purchasing the whole at that figure at any time during the period of their lease of 14 years.
The weather was beautifully fine and as we have said there was a large gathering of the parishioners, including the Rev. W.C. Greene; Messrs. Harold Littledale, Alfred Kent, T. Layland, R. Danson, H. Skinner, George Mason, T. B. Hughes, Captain Williams, T. Somerville Jones, J. T. Lea, Edwin Harris, S. Ellaby, James Hall, J. Rogerson, James Cowan, Robert Furlong, W. Gate, &c.
Mr. Harold Littledale (the oldest member of the board) was called upon to present the trowel, and was loudly cheered. He said they had met to lay the foundation stone of new public offices, which were very much wanted, and it gave him great pleasure to preside on an occasion of that kind, for everything was now going on uncommonly well in the parish (hear, hear). He was the oldest member of the board by some years and never at any former time had he known the parish to be in such a flourishing condition as at present; and he had never known commissioners to conduct their business better than those now in office (Applause). He had the honour of presenting the trowel to a most worthy individual, Mr. Dabies, their excellent and respected chairman of the works and health committee -- (hear, hear) -- who have devoted a great deal of time and trouble to the judicious discharge of the duties of his office. Having alluded to the handsome manner in which Mr. McInnes had met the board in the matter of the building, Mr. Littledale presented to Mr. Davies a very handsome silver trowel, which was supplied by Messrs. Jones and Son, Silversmiths, Castle Street, Liverpool, and which bore a suitable inscription. The trowel was subscribed for by a number of the ratepayers of the parish.
Mr. Davies then laid the stone amidst great cheering. He returned thanks for the compliment which had been paid him in having been selected to lay the foundation stone of the new public offices, and said he felt flattered beyond measure. He did not consider that he was entitled to such recognition of his services, although without fear or favour, he had endeavoured to discharge his duties to the best of his ability, and never allowed his feelings to overrule his judgment. HE should always look upon the trowel with the greatest pleasure and pride, not so much from its intrinsic value (although that was considerable) as from the fact of conveying to him the kind feelings and good wishes of his neighbours and fellow-ratepayers, and he should hand it down as a heirloom to his family (Applause). He was a ratepayer of 21 years' standing, and during that period he had observed a little of the rise and progress of the parish. The present local board was established (under the Public Health Act) in 1853, and that the state of the district was now very different to what it was then, not only in a sanitary point of view, but in many other respects. Eighteen years ago there was no regular system of drainage; and many of the roads and streets, which were now a credit to the parish, were in a most deplorable state, and quite unworthy of a place so near to one of the largest commercial towns in the world. The parish was much indebted to Mr. Henry Pooley, Mr. Penny, Mr. Cain, Mr. Hill, Mr. Littledale, and other gentlemen who had taken the initiative in introducing the Public Health Act, and in applying its provisions to the district. They had now a proper system of drainage, and a plentiful supply of the best of water (Applause). By a subsequent act they obtained powers to establish gas works and to purchase the ferries. The gas works had proved to be the most successful in a commercial point of view, the board having been enabled every year to the credit of the general district rate, and this year they have reduced the price of gas from 4s. 6d to 4s. 1000 feet. With regard to the ferries, they have been a loss to the parish in a direct point of view, but indirectly they have been of much benefit. Last year, however, the ferries had nearly paid their way, which was evidenced by the fact of the board being enabled to reduce the rates from 4s. 6d in the pound. at which they stood two years ago, to 2s, this year, and it was almost a matter of certainty that the rates would be considerably further reduced next year. On the whole, he considered that the parish financially, was in a most prosperous state (Cheers). Having congratulated the board on the favourable terms which the board had made with Mr. McInnes, Mr. Davies concluded by returning his sincere thanks to his friends and neighbours for the honour they had done him (Applause).
The Rev. W.C. Greene, chairman of the gas and water committee, congratulated Mr. Davies on the position he held that day. They had fought side by side for some years at the board, and he thought their exertions had been productive of good to the parish (Applause).
Mr Henry Skinner, a member of the local board, moved a vote of thanks to Mr. McInnes for the handsome way in which he had treated the board in the matter of the building. (Cheers).
Mr. McInnes briefly acknowledged the compliment.
On the motion of Mr. Kent, a vote of thanks was passed, amidst much cheering, to Mr. Littledale for presiding.
The interesting proceeding then closed.