There was a general election in the offing this week a hundred years ago. The prime minister, the Marquess of Salisbury, had decided to capitalise on the general euphoria that followed victories at Ladysmith, Pretoria and Mafeking and campaigning was about to begin in earnest.

At an election meeting at the Grand Theatre, Stalybridge, one of the speakers was 26 year old, Winston Spencer CHURCHILL who was a relative of Mr WHITE-RIDLEY, the Conservative Candidate. The Reporter described him as "the writer whose graphic and thrilling letters from the seat of war in South Africa had been of such intense interest to Englishmen throughout the world."CHURCHILL seconded a motion in support of government policy and "asked the people to set their seal to the works done by the soldiers and to ratify the responsibilities they had assumed.

CHURCHILL was to win his first seat in this election, being elected MP for Oldham on 1 October 1900. Unlike today, voting did not take place everywhere on the same day and the elections ran for several weeks

22 September 1900

A father was sent to prison for a month for cruelty to his children. Robert BARKER, a marine store dealer of Old Street, was before Ashton Borough Court to face the charge brought by the National Society for the Protection of Children. It appears that an earlier case against BARKER required him to improve conditions at home.

Mr REDDY, an inspector of the Society had visited the home with detective sgt TOLSON: "There seemed to have been little or no improvement made in the condition of the children and of the cleanliness of the hose. The place was packed up and blocked up with old iron, bottles, wheels and lumber. The bedrooms even were littered with old ironmongery." Two local women had intervened and taken two of the children to a seaside home "and were thereby greatly improved in health."

The magistrate had visited the shop and said: "You cannot do business in a shop blocked up like you have. If anybody goes in, they cannot turn around to look for what they want."

"Mr W H KNOTT, Inspector of Nuisances and Surveyor to the District Council has sent in his resignation. He has secured a similar appointment under the Reddish District Council on a commencing salary of 175 per annum." The report ends with the mysterious comment: "His position at Hurst has not been a pleasant or comfortable one for some time."
The Reporter echoed an article in the Manchester Evening Chronicle which urged Ashton to diversify its industrial base, particularly in light of the Cotton Famine of 1900 which was threatening to close many local mills.

"Ashton-under-Lyne needs a new industry. So far it has been, with few conspicuous exceptions, all cotton, cotton - nothing else but cotton. The writer went on to bemoan the fate of the old mill of Mr Ely ANDREW in Guide Bridge. "Time was when this was one of the most prosperous and successful mills in the town. Many a happy memory clings to it. But the mill has fallen upon evil times. The busy hive is deserted."

However, he was encouraged to find a fledgling car company using the mill. A Mr TURRELL had founded the Pollock Engineering Company and was producing the 'Turrell Light …….. (can't make out the last word) He had worked for the British Motor Company in 1896 and in the same year, had driven 'Old No. 3' in the Paris - Marseilles race

"An accident occurred at Ashton New Moss colliery on Tuesday afternoon resulting in the death of a collier named Mosbach(?) WILLIAMS aged 43 of 188 Guide Lane, Hooley Hill." He had been clearing up near the coalface when a fall took place and he was struck by debris. ROBERT BARDSLEY who was working nearby witnessed the accident. WILLIAMS was partially covered and complained of pain in his back. He was brought to the surface and taken to the Infirmary where he died five hours after the incident.
May BROADHURST of 33 Whiteacre Road suffered severe burns after trying to light a fire in her back yard. The six year old girl and a number of friends were attempting to light wood which they had collected when a gust of wind blew the burning paper she was using over her pinafore, covering her clothes with flames.

Her coal merchant father, John, rushed out when he heard her screams. He put out the flames and undressed the girl to find excessive burns to her face, neck, chest and legs. A doctor was called, but her condition worsened in the early hours of the morning when she died.

"John SMETHURST is to be complemented on an excellent batting performance against Bolton in the last engagement of the season of the Ashton Club." When he arrived at the crease, his team had lost five wickets for just 16 runs. "SMETHURST commenced to hit out and his spirited example put new life into the men remaining."
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