Monday, September 29, 2008

Local Election Day 1922

As I write this, it is a few weeks away from yet another Local Election (October 2001). I thought I’d give you a glimpse at the way things were in 1922, just to compare the way thing are now (with postal voting etc.) with the way it was nearly 80 years ago.

On 29 April 1922, the first Avondale Borough Council was elected, and the first Mayor was Mr James Watkin Kinniburgh.

This from the News (courtesy of Mrs P Ferry and the Kinniburgh Family)

“Never before in the history of Avondale has such keen interest been taken in any local affair as was manifest on Saturday last, when the election of the first Mayor and Councillors was held. From the opening to the closing of the poll there was a constant stream of voters, wending their way to the various booths….

“Throughout the day motor cars and other conveyances were speeding along in the interests of various candidates, and a pleasing feature in that connection is the fact that partisans frequently gave lift to opponents when the “right” car was otherwise engaged …

“Soon after the booths closed (7 p.m.) little groups of electors began to assemble outside the Town Hall, eager to hear the results. As the minutes sped by the crowd got bigger and bigger, and the old proverb, “It is an ill wind which blows nobody good” was exemplified, for hundreds patronised Empson’s Pictures to pass the time away, the result being that before 8 p.m. even standing room was not obtainable outside. However, those disappointed at not being able to see the picture found little incidents to keep them amused, one individual who had been imbibing somewhat freely giving some “patter” which caused a good deal of good-humoured chaff, while the local weather prophet came out in a new role, obliging the crowd with a vocal effort – an effort, by the way, which showed that a few years ago he must have possessed a voice of more than average sweetness.

“A welcome interlude in the long wait occurred about 9 p.m., when Mr Munns announced that Mr J. W. Kinniburgh had been elected as the first Mayor of Avondale, with the substantial majority of 159. Loud and prolonged cheers greeted this announcement, and “His Worship” mounted the steps of the hall, accompanied by the new Mayoress, and gracefully acknowledged the compliment paid him, and expressed his determination that no effort would be lacking on his part during the coming twelve months to show that the confidence reposed in him that day would not be regretted by the electors.

“Mr. W. J Tait, the unsuccessful candidate for Mayoral honours, heartily congratulated his opponent, and wished him a successful year in office. If, he said, the electors desired his services on some future occasion, he would always be at their service. Mr Tait was heartily cheered for the sporting manner in which he took his defeat.

“As the time sped on various rumours began to get circulated that so-and-so was “in”, the name being varied occasionally. Some people gave credence to the rumours, and rejoiced prematurely – or, maybe, were disappointed without cause. A little reflection would have shown that no authentic results could have been known until the returning officer made his declaration. However, by this means, some more time was “killed”, and when the picture show was over the ranks of the crowd were swelled until nearly a thousand people were straining their necks towards the upstairs windows of the Town Hall, inside which the votes were being counted up.

“At last, close on 11 p.m., Mr Munns announced the result of the provisional count, and as each name and number of votes received were announced the “backers” heartily expressed their jubilation. Several of the successful candidates and one of the unsuccessful ones mounted the steps of the hall, and expressed thanks for the support received; a few minutes later the crowd wended its way homeward in little groups, comparing notes as to how many “winners” they had picked. It was an occasion which will be long remembered, being quite unique as far as Avondale is concerned, for as stated above, never before has so much interest been shown in local affairs.”


  1. Go Great Grandad!!!! Cool post (yes I'm biased of course) You definitely are having some seriously cool fun

  2. Well, why on earth would I leave Mr. Kinniburgh out of this, eh? Cheers, OITS.