But in the 19th century into the 20th ours was pretty active.
And like snow in the winter sun they have vanished.
There will be people who remember the Association may well have been members and might also have the faded minutes of meetings but I have yet to find them.
It was formed in 1877 after the election of the first Local Government Board the year before. This replaced the old Poor Law committee which had raised a rate and looked after the governance of Chorlton since the 1830s.
Now much of the work of the earlier interested ratepayers here in Chorlton can be read in the minutes of the Vestry or Ratepayers meetings which were held regularly in the school house on the green from 1838. It is fascinating account of the day to day workings of the new poor law system of government.
But the new Local Board of Health was something much bigger, covering the four townships of Chorlton, Burnage, Withington and Didsbury.
And befitting this larger municipal enterprise some of the resident set up a Vigilance committee which later changed its name to the “Chorlton-cum-Hardy Ratepayers Association, its object to watch over the interests of the township generally and to take such active measures for the protection and welfare of the ratepayers as may be deemed advisable.”
There was also an executive committee consisting of president, vice president, honorary solicitor, auditor, and honorary secretary and ten members which met more often.
Like all such vigilance committees ours exercised its concerns across the board from the state of the highways, issues of public health and transport to the provision of education.
And of course in the great debate on whether we should vote for incorporation into the city in 1904 the Ratepayers Association had a view and indeed continued to do so after we had become part of Manchester.
It was according to one correspondant to the Manchester Guardian in 1905 “With such high and increasing rates after if not on account of amalgamation, we may expect the Council to pay early attention to such requirements for the district as tramway routes, baths, and library, as promised, and also much needed educational facilities by the speedy errection of the proposed elementary school.”*
And I do have some sympathy with the compliant given that in that May of 1905 the tram service still stopped at West Point**and our first municipal library was not opened for another three years and only then in a converted house on Oswald Road.
It had been an issue in the first Manchester Municipal elections after incorporation with the Progressive Party arguing, the advance of “good government” involved “exercising a rigorous protest against extravagance” and “preserving as far as possible the residential character” of Chorlton.***
And like all ratepayer associations I guess those concerns never went away, which I suspect would make them an interesting area of study.
As it is there is little to go on. In 1911 according to Kemp’s Almanack and Handbook the registered address for our ratepayers association was Albert Harris, Station Approach.
Now this turns out to be one of the many offices for coal merchants by Chorlton railway station, although Albert Harris described himself as “estate agent and coal merchant.” He lived on Maple Avenue.
Picture; courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, Withington Town Hall, October 16th 1906 m52133,
*J.H.Shorrocks, The Hard Case of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester Guardian May 22, 1905
**where Seymour Grove joins Upper Chorlton Road and Manchester Road
***Election leaflet, the Progressive Party, October 10th 1904