History of East Northants Council recorded in booklet by former employee

The authority will cease to exist from April 1 after a 47-year history

By Stephanie Weaver
Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 7:00 am
The booklet looks back on the history of ENC
The booklet looks back on the history of ENC

A booklet charting the history of East Northants Council (ENC) has been produced by one of its former employees.

Sharn Matthews was executive director at ENC before retiring in 2019 and with the authority ceasing to exist from tomorrow (Thursday), she has spent the past six months creating a booklet to commemorate the end of the council.

The booklet provides a potted history of the achievements and events of the council since its inception in 1974.

The photo showing the councillors and staff of Thrapston Rural District Council in 1935

When ENC was created nearly 50 years ago, Queen Elizabeth II had only been on the throne for 21 years and the UK had just joined the European Union (or the European Economic Community as it was known in January 1973).

The first official guide to the new district described it as 'largely a district of quiet country with pleasant villages, some but a stone's throw one from another, and pleasant towns to which more and more London commuters come to live.'

There was no A14 at the time and the A45, A43, A6 and A605 went right through the centres of towns and villages like Bulwick, Oundle, Higham Ferrers and Rushden.

Milestones featured in the booklet include Rushden's Splash Pool opening in November 1990, the Nene Centre opening in 2004, and planning permission for Rushden Lakes finally being granted by the Secretary of State in June 2014 after a public enquiry.

It also notes how ENC issued its first anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) in 2001 for harassment and causing distress to people living in Rushden and Higham Ferrers, and how it was one of the first councils in the UK to successfully apply for a Criminal Behaviour Order after a conviction for breach of a noise abatement notice in 2017.

Sharn told the Northants Telegraph: "As part of this research I have been looking at documents that pre-date East Northamptonshire Council including a set of press-cutting books from the Oundle and Thrapston Rural District which span its entire life from 1935 to 1974 .

"Oundle and Thrapston Rural District Council was one of the six councils which were brought together to form ENC.

"I hadn’t appreciated that the change to unitary will be the third shakeup of local government in the county in 100 years.

"Among the press cuttings was this photo of the staff and councillors of an even older council – the Thrapston Rural District Council which along with the Rural District Councils of Easton on the Hill, Gretton and Oundle were merged to form the Oundle and Thrapston Rural District Council in 1935.

"As you can see from the attached image of the final councillors and staff there were only two women present – both were assistant clerks and both transferred to the new council which must have been quite a relief to them as apparently the four councils had 29 staff and only nine were needed for the new council so 20 were made redundant.

"It would be great to try and see if any of their descendent are still in the area."

Sharn says the two women were Miss France, who she has managed to track down from the 1939 census as living with her parents in Halford Street, Thrapston, and who may have married a Mr Smith in 1947.

However, she hasn't managed to trace Miss Bird.

If you know of any of the descendants of Miss France or Miss Bird, email [email protected]

Sharn is currently in discussions to find a long-term home for these items so they can be preserved for future generations.

To read more about the end of an era for East Northants Council, click here.