Until 1887, Reading had three wards; Abbey, Castle & Church. In 1887 Reading borough boundaries extended considerably and the number of wards was increased to 10.
Katesgrove was one of Reading’s 10 new wards:
Katesgrove was described as comprising [ref 2]:
- 1,196 houses
- 41 other buildings
- 6,578 population
- £13,652 rateable value.
For the whole of the borough the statistics were:
- 59,543 population
- 10,826 houses
- £240,000 rateable value.
The division into wards was designed to take into account the possible expansion of population in outlying areas compared with central areas.
Each ward was to have three councillors which meant that the number of councillors increased from 18 to 30. The number of aldermen increased from 6 to 10 giving a council of 40.
The eighteen existing councillors were allocated across nine of the 10 new wards. George Philbrick and Isaiah Birt Nicholson, the only councillor who had opposed the extension of the borough boundary, were nominated for Katesgrove.
Isaiah Birt Nicholson’s term of office expired in 1887 and he was disqualified from standing as he had been removed from the list of burgesses [ref 3].
The candidates in 1887
- WH Simonds, a builder from South Street. WH Simonds junior was the proprietor of the South Street Swimming baths.
- William Poulton, a brickmaker from Milman Road. In 1888 he lived at Kingsclere Villas. Poulton’s Waterloo Kilns were on what is now Elgar Road, near Waterloo Meadows (see map).
- Richard Attenborough of Whitley Grove had been nominated but withdrew. He owned a large estate of land in south Reading and gave land for the building of New Christchurch School.
The election in Katesgrove was not contested on 1 November 1887 and consequently the elected candidates were WH Simonds and William Poulton [ref 4], who joined George Philbrick.
Reading Borough Extension Act 1887
The boundary of Reading had once passed along Christchurch Road to the Whitley Pump, down Basingstoke Road before cutting across Richard Attenborough’s land. It moved much further south into Whitley after 1887 and large areas to the southeast and west of Reading were also brought within the borough.
The extension of Reading boundaries required an act of parliament which was passed in September 1887. This had been preceded by a public meeting on 24 November 1886 where the private bill was opposed. Therefore, as Christmas approached, a poll of owners and ratepayers was held which produced a majority in favour of the bill. Depending on the value of property, voters were allocated up to six votes. In the poll 4,566 voters cast a total of 5,890 votes. 3,008 voters (66%) were for the bill and 1,548 (34%) against. However, 3,885 votes (65%) were cast for the bill and 2,005 votes (35%) cast against. Using the Reading Mercury’s estimate of the number of voters of between 8,100 and 8,200 gives an approximate turnout of 56% [ref 5].
A perambulation of the enlarged borough boundaries took place on 7 October 1887 which was
… concluded without any dispute arising with the lord of any adjoining manor or with any other person whatsoever [ref 6].
In November 1887, after the municipal elections, mayor Arthur Hill stood down after a four year term.
This act, gentlemen, it will be your task to administer, and it will always remain a satisfactory reflection that I hand over to my successor a borough of over 60,000 inhabitants, in as prosperous a condition as any town in England, with an enlarged council of earnest men, whose only object will be the welfare of the town [ref 7].
The size of the borough meant that in the 1888 Local Government Act, it became a county borough and remained independent of Berkshire. The population qualification for this was, after much negotiation, set at 50,000 inhabitants in the 1881 census or other satisfactory evidence .
In 1911, the boundaries were extended again to take in more of Tilehurst and Caversham.
References and Links
- Reading Corporation Extension Bill Map
- Reading Mercury 3 September 1887
- Reading Mercury 22 October 1887
- Reading Mercury 29 October 1887
- Reading Mercury 24 December 1886
- Perambulation of the Borough Boundary 1912 (includes 1884 and 1887)
- Reading Mercury 12 November 1887
- Alan Alexander, Borough Government and Politics – Reading 1835-1985.