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Begining - Parish Revolution A Socialist Utopia Early Council

The early Council

The Early Councillors

Despite a national decline of interest in parish councils during the early 1900s, in St. Bees elections continued to be well contested. Church and School had been represented by the Revd. E. Knowles, Vicar until 1897, and Revd. H.T. Newbold, the Grammar School Headmaster until 1903. But status was not an automatic vote winner. In 1904 their successors, Revd. H. Snape and Revd. H.A.P. Sawyer stood, but neither was elected. However, the Curate, the popular Revd. Henry Burgh, romped home. Such is the power of the secret ballot.

The pre-war years brought the deaths of two stalwarts of the council’s early days, who typified the calibre of person attracted to the early council.


The Council’s first Chairman, John Bowly, died in office on December 14th 1911 aged 69. An able and experienced Civil Servant, he came to West Cumbria in 1877 after serving as Clerk to the large St. Saviour's Poor Law Union in London in which there were no less than 350 Poor Law parishes to administer. His first appointment in West Cumberland was Clerk to the Egremont Local Board, and over the years he held many important local government posts. He seemed unable to retire, and at 67 he was still Clerk to three district councils and one water committee, and Assistant Registrar to the Whitehaven Board of Guardians.

St Bees - Early councillors

Leading figures of the parish at the 1911 celebrations of the coronation of King George V.
L to R Back row, T E G Marley; industrialist, Rev A Ainley; Vicar, Captain Huck; science master at St. Bees School, John Hartley; Headmaster of the Village school.
Front row, Henry Kitchin, John Bowly; Parish Council Chairman, Henry Fox; Landowner, James Graham; Postmaster, J D Kenworthy; Artist. Picture taken on the terrace of St. Bees School by F J Livesey, the Priory organist.

For the epitome of the successful industrialist, we must turn to George Scoular of Fleatham House. He was one of those Victorian self-made characters who straddled business, local politics and community affairs with ease. The son of a Scottish blast-furnaceman, he came to the area in 1870 as Engineer to the Parkside Mining Co. near Frizington. He had interests in the Outerside, Ellenborough, Flimby and Broughton Moor Collieries, and at his death he was also Managing Director of the St. Helens Colliery, Siddick. A staunch supporter of the YMCA and a member of the Whitehaven Technical Education Committee, he was also Chairman of the St. Bees Parochial Committee, a County Councillor for Trinity Ward, Whitehaven, and a founder member of the St. Bees Parish Council. His death in March 1912 removed another able member from the council.

The deaths of Bowly and Scoular co-incided with the ending of a golden chapter in village and national life. National prosperity and standards of living had risen over the preceding 50 years, the railways had reached most corners of the country, and public health had improved dramatically. But the clouds of war were gathering, and it was up to the new Chairman, T.E.G. Marley of Monks Croft, to take the parish helm as Europe moved inexorably towards the horrors of the First World War.