From the 1930s, one of the hotly debated issues for Market Rasen’s council was provision of a new housing estate.
After many different locations being put forward, and wrangling with local landowners, the picture taken in the town’s Coronation Road above in the 1960s shows they got there in the end.
It was an image used to illustrate a retrospective look at the housing issue from former Rasen Mail editor Teddy Sharpe, printed in the May 16, 1981 edition.
Read on for the full article.
Council Houses: Did we really need them?
One of the behind the scenes discussions going on in Rasen council round fifty years ago was as to the location of the new housing site which the council was told it must acquire.
Now Market Rasen, truth to tell, didn’t want any council estate at all. It was pushed into getting what was to become the Wold View estate in the south west corner of the old parish.
Usually what happens in housing developments like these id that you fasten upon some particular site and then consider in detail how you are going to develop it.
If you said that on this issue Rasen council was split you would almost certainly in a literal sense be going too far. To have a split means that you more or less have conflicting enthusiasms. Rasen in its development of a between-the-wars housing site had no discernible enthusiasm at all.
Arthur Cocking was the prime mover in the scheme for building up what could be thought of as a new enclave which would get right away from the town’s old tradition of ribbon development. But at Housing Committee meetings there was this formidable point of view to consider, namely: “What’s the good of Wold View? It gets you nowhere. Better go on to the other side and build somewhere near Gallamore Lane”.
So far afterward, it is difficult to summarise the attitudes of mind of the councillors. But, broadly speaking, the locational advantages of Gallamore Lane seemed to be that closer links with the rundown village of Middle Rasen would be helpful and also that there was a road system of sorts deriving from this rutted and grass-grown lane.
One way, therefore, we leaned towards Middle Rasen while Wold View, if we went that way, provided us with a green field site on which long term growth could be looked upon as an objective.
At committee level, on balance, there was a leaning towards a Middle Rasen link up but we were against doing too much at or near the Middle Rasen parish boundary. We couldn’t really join up with Middle Rasen even if we wanted to. Therefore the restrictive influence of the parish boundary became an overriding factor giving councillors the feeling that they were in a cleft stick.
If it hadn’t been for this, as a guess, the major development which occurred on the south west of the town might easily have occurred on the north west.
The Rasen Housing Committee, meeting in the Spring of 1932, decided to approach Mr Wilson, snr, asking him to sell his field, No. 6 on the Ordnance map, and putting forward as the price at which the council would be interested around £50 per acre. Mr Wilson countered this by saying that at a price of £100 per acre he would be pleased to give the matter his consideration. But the committee, so it seemed, wasn’t willing to go further than £90 an acre.
The bargaining went on like this for some time with Mr Nettleship, a member of the committee, recalling that the council had agreed to buy two fields from him several years earlier but then hadn’t gone any further with the matter.
Another move tentatively put forward at this meeting was that of possibly buying land on the Linwood Road, which seemed to mean that the council had irons in the fire all round, price considerations all round obviously being a feature.
What happened a few months later was that Mr J J Casterton wrote to the Council offering two fields to the north of his house in Mill Lane for a sum of £350 and as a result of this it was decided to have a meeting with the council’s architect to consider a tentative lay-out plan. On the side it seemed also that Mr Arthur Cocking was showing an interest, probably in this site and entirely on the Council’s behalf rather than his own.
Arthur was a declared expansionist, not much good, one sometimes felt, as a speaker or a planner but holding the view that the council was too fond of talk and of sitting on the fence.
The division as between Wold View (or in its old name, Mill Lane) and Gallamore Lane wasn’t quite to be looked on in this light. This was rather an assessment of the merit of two locations.
Rasen had no planning department but it was the major planning operation of the decade to have the housing committee seated around the table and deciding where the new council estate was to be. Most probably, so one would now feel, the council’s decision at this time was a very wise one.
We had no planning decision of this kind in our history and Rasen as a result suffered from having been thinking too much in terms of straight lines - the roads, the railway, the markets and what not. Caistor, built around its market, had here the advantage of us.
But the Wold View housing estate was for us taking a new line altogether.
What a place like ours badly needed by this time, therefore, was to be ready to work on a new concept both in terms of council and private building. Demand for council houses by people who were getting married was creeping in on the side, confounding the critics who told us that we didn’t need any new houses at all.
The secret with low cost council houses was that tenants were not required to pay an economic rent and if you made a comparison with some of the older houses in Rasen you saw what a community house building programme on these terms had to offer. All in all, council and town came through a period of uncertainty with several clear gains being put down to its credit.
The Mail had a number of letters at this period saying that the condition of many houses both in town and country was going steadily from bad to worse. Borderline houses, it was claimed, were out of date, damp and insanitary.
One verse in a poem reaching the Mail office ran like this:
The roof is a wonder of openwork art,
You lay there and wonder, just clutching your heart,
The floor’s like the deck of a ship at half mast
You hoist up your slacks and shout ‘Shipmates avast’.
Our bed lists to starboard and makes us feel sick.
It’s 45 out, sir, wedged up - with a brick
And last night, as we listened, we heard if you please
A strange noise quite near us, a rat’s gentle sneeze;
And now we are wondering what next they will do,
If they’ss rout out our boxes and have a good chew.
The moral behind so light-hearted a housing complaint was supplied in an editorial addendum which read: “With old houses you mustn’t take too much for granted. Things may not always be what they seem.”