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Synopsis Preface Parish Revolution End of an era The lights go out Austerity & Progress The village grows Appendix



100 Years of St Bees - 1895 to 1995


Douglas Sim

ISBN 0 9526990 01


How the booklet was born

The 1894 Local Government Act brought parish councils into existence, and just hours before the end of that year, St. Bees parish council had its first meeting to conform with the Act. But 1895 was the year in which the council really started to operate, and to mark one hundred years of activity, I initiated a debate in council, on how to celebrate this.

Parish councils have tremendous scope for positive action within the community, and in St. Bees there has been a long tradition of an active council; the 1979 election had 22 candidates for 14 seats! Often the only outward sign is the sober minutes in the parish notice board. Therefore I suggested some kind of a booklet to celebrate the council's achievements and raise awareness of the value of parish government. A good way of doing this would be use the activities of the St. Bees parish council over the 100 years as the central thread of a history of the community of St. Bees.

Such a history was long overdue. The only community history has been Elizabeth Steele's "St. Bees - Story of a Cumberland Village" published in the early 1960's as part of a county-wide WI history project. Thirty years had elapsed since this pioneering booklet, and the time was ripe to add to the printed history of St. Bees.

The parish council agreed to publish "100 years of St. Bees" ISBN 0 9526990 01 and it was formally launched in early November 1995. I do not know if any other parishes in England and Wales embarked on a similar project, but it was the answer to many Christmas gift problems, and sold nearly half of the 1,000 print run by Christmas. It finally went out of print in 2000. After continuing to get requests for copies, often from students on geography and history projects, I have decided to adapt it for web viewing, as a reprint would not be commercially justified. So here it is.

Doug Sim, St Bees.


The overall scheme is as follows:

Preface As one door closes, another opens Events leading up to 1895
Chapter 1 Parish revolution 1895-1913 Founding of the council, the Pagan gift, new initiatives, lighting and other amenities. Power struggles with other committees.
Chapter 2 End of an era 1914-1938 WW1, the aftermath, rise of the motor car, aeronautics, electricity, preparations for war.
Chapter 3 The lights go out 1939-1945 WW2, evacuees, Mill Hill, Radar.
Chapter 4 Austerity and progress 1946-1972 New faces on the council.
Chapter 5 The village grows 1973-1995 1972 Act gives increased powers to Parish councils. Council business increases. Amalgamation Rottington/St. Bees. Development pressures, the St. Bees Plan.
Appendix Record of service 1895-1995 List of officers and councillors over the 100 years.

Local historian John Todd kindly wrote a succinct preface, which neatly summarises the events leading up to the period of the book.

The primary sources were the council minute books and correspondence files dating back to 1895, and the "Whitehaven News". Most of the business is routine, but occasionally there is an insight into the politics of day, such as the row over the stone on Pow beck bridge, and the acceptance by the council of the need for long range firing from Eskmeals in the build up to WW2.

The appendix, a listing of councillors over the 100 years, has proved a source of interest to relatives of those who served.

The pictures in this web version are slightly different to the printed book, because of the space constraints that well laid out web pages impose, and some new images have become available.

Read on!

Copyright D T Sim 1995 and 2004, adapted for web viewing by the author in 2004.
Pages layout revised 2007 by IWMcA

Adapted from the booklet "100 years of St. Bees", published in 1995 by St. Bees Parish Council, to celebrate 100 years of parish councils. ISBN 0 9526990 01