|The Rushden Echo & Argus, 20th February 1931, transcribed by Jim Hollis
Mr George Denton
Passing of Mr. George Denton - A Life-Time of Service to Rushden
Town’s First County Councillor and Water Board Chairman
We regret to report the death, which occurred at his home at “Eastfields,” Rushden, early on Sunday, of Mr. George Denton, one of the town’s best known and most respected residents, who throughout his long and active career was prominently identified with public work of all descriptions in the town.
It would not, perhaps, be too much to say that his influence, energy and efforts on behalf of Rushden, years ago, had much to do with the town growing from a village of a few thousand inhabitants, to the progressive up-to-date centre it is to-day. His life covered the wonderful period of the town’s development, a development with which, in all its varied phases, he was so greatly concerned.
Mr. Denton, who was born at Rushden in October, 1849, was the son of Mr. Benjamin Denton, founder of what is believed to be the first boot manufacturing business in the town. But it was more than a boot factory that the Dentons kept in those days; they were general providers for the village, and their premises embraced departments for grocery and drapery. Later the leather dressing was taken up.
Mr. Benjamin Denton was not granted a long life, and it was as a young man that Mr. George Denton became responsible for maintaining an industrial establishment of great importance to the place. The firm became noted as Government boot contractors, and at various periods Messrs. Geo (junior), Reginald, Jack and W. H. Denton came into the business, with the result that it survives in the form of a factory in Station-road. Mr. Geo. Denton retired from active participation about 1922.
Last of Local Board
His influence as a business man has been shown to be considerable, but many will consider that Mr. Denton’s greatest service to Rushden and district was as a member of local governing bodies. He had great administrative ability, a genius for handling details, perseverance, power in debate, and a wide range of knowledge.
By the courtesy of Mr. George S. Mason, clerk to the Rushden Urban Council, the minute book containing the first meeting of the Rushden Local Board was opened, and Mr. Denton was revealed as one of the original members. With his death the last of the original Board passes to eternity.
This first meeting was on May 15th 1891, and the members at the table were Thomas Wilmott, George Denton, John Claridge, William Clark, George Henry Skinner, William Henry Wilkins, Samuel Knight, junior, Albert Franklin and Paul Cave. Mr. W. H. Wilkins was the first chairman of the Board.
Mr. Denton continued for some 16 years as an influential member of the Local Board and Urban Council, and was chairman of the Urban Council in 1901 and 1902, being succeeded by Mr. Fred Knight.
Those were the days when the water supply was Rushden’s dominating problem, and as a Council leader Mr. Denton naturally took a prominent part in the promotion of the triumphant Sywell water scheme. There was much opposition to face outside the Council, but in 1902 the Higham Ferrers and Rushden Water Board was duly founded. Of that authority Mr. Denton was the first chairman and remained in that post until 1907.
Mr. Denton was Rushden’s first representative on the Northamptonshire County Council, which he joined when the county authority was set up in 1888. In due course Rushden was permitted to have a second representative, and for years Mr. Denton and the late Mr. John Claridge worked together. Very rarely were they opposed at the elections, and his distinguished service continued altogether for about 19 years. Mr. Denton was also a chairman of the old School Board.
In politics, Mr. Denton was a strong man for the Liberal Party, holding most of the honours that could be bestowed for local political service, and he was, of course, a strong and influential supporter of Mr. F. A. Channing, later Lord Channing. He revelled in the heat of political controversy, and had all the energy, confidence and knowledge required for platform work.
---And Temperance Worker
Mr. Denton will also be remembered as one who was ever loyal to the Temperance cause. He held but few offices in this work, but would never spare himself in advocacy of Temperance, and only a few years have passed since he emerged from comparative retirement to take the chair for the Rev. S. W. Hughes, D.D., at a memorable meeting, in which agents of the Fellowship of Freedom and Reform were conducting a noisy opposition, stalking up and down the hall and throwing defiances and challenges at the chair. Mr. Denton was one of the founders of the Rushden Coffee Tavern, and for some years acted as secretary.
The Denton family has made itself famous in sport. It has supplied notable players to the games of cricket, football, and hockey, but the more particular cricket, and the twin brothers W. H. and J. S. Denton are known as brilliant exponents of the game, while A. D. and T. H. Denton have more than a local reputation.
A Noted Cricketer
Many of the younger people, however, are probably unaware that Mr. Denton was himself a talented cricketer. He was a regular player for the old Rushden Cricket Club from about 1870 for 25 years or more, and once or twice appeared for Northamptonshire in the days when their matches were played on the Racecourse at Northampton.
A really good bat, he was very keen on the game, and was one of two or three young men who were the first to recognise that the modern fast round arm bowling demanded a more scientific style of batting than that of the old swipe and pull which had been characteristic of village cricket, and that a length ball should be met with a straight bat.
Mr. Denton’s associations with the High-street Independent Wesleyan Church at Rushden extended over a very long period. He was a scholar of the Sunday School, subsequently a teacher, and 60 years ago secretary of the school. Afterwards he was elected superintendent. In the church Mr. Denton held offices as leader and trustee. He was instrumental in forming the Sunday School at Wymington, and also in the Mission School in its early history at the Moor-road Infants School. In addition he was for a number of years circuit steward in the Wellingborough Circuit.
He was for many years a member of the Independent Wesleyan Church Choir, and to the end always sat near the choir, with a tunebook and a copy of the anthem.
Mr. Denton remained in fair health until last Christmas Eve, when the fatal illness broke upon him, there was a steady decline, and during the last week he was practically unconscious. He died peacefully in his sleep.
Mrs. Denton passed away three years ago. The bereaved family comprises Mr. George Denton (eldest son), Miss Mabel Denton, Mr. Reginald Denton, Miss Frances Denton, Messrs. T. H., J. S., W. H., and Harry Denton, Mrs. Frank Parsons (Irchester), Mr. Don Denton, and Miss Doreen Denton.
The funeral took place on Wednesday and was attended by many leading men of the town.
A service at “Eastfields” was conducted by the Rev. C. J. Keeler (minister of the Independent Wesleyan Church) and attended by the following: Mr. and Mrs. G. Denton, Mr. and Mrs. Reg Denton, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Denton, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Denton, and Mrs. Harry Denton, Mr. and Mrs. Don Denton (sons and daughters-in-law), Mr. W. H. Denton (son), and the Misses Mabel, Frances and Doreen Denton (daughters), Mr. and Mrs. Parsons (son-in-law and daughter). Messrs. H. C. and L. Brawn (brother-in-law and Nephews), Mrs. T. A. Baker (Irchester), Mr. H. Merriman (Chesham), Nurse French, Mr. H. Wilkins, G. H. and J. A. Denton (grandsons), and the Rev. J. Sinfield.
Only the male mourners followed to the cemetery, where the Rushden Urban Council was represented by Messrs. G. W. Coles, J.P., (chairman), L. Perkins, M.B.E., (vice-chairman), T. Wilmott, T. F. B. Newberry, J. Roe, F. Green, D. G. Greenfield, M.D., C. Claridge, C. W. Horrell, C.A., J. Allen, Arthur Wilmott, L. Tysoe, J. Spencer,J.P., J. Hornsby, J. T. Richardson, G. S. Mason (Clerk), F. L. Heygate (treasurer), W. L. Beetenson, H. Lack (Rates Clerk), F. S. F. Piper (Sanitary Inspector) and J. W. Lloyd (Surveyor).
The Independent Wesleyan and Mission churches were represented by Messrs. W. Lack, W. Gutteridge, J. S. Clipson, J. T. Mackness, E. Wrighton, W. Burgess, E. Leeding, W. Ladds, J. Smith, G. Linger, I. Twelftree and others; the office and factory staffs of Messrs. B. Denton and Son, Ltd., by Messrs. J. Perkins (manager), F. Brown, A. Thompson, C. Bonham, W. Hardwick, W. Burgess, G. Wagstaff, P. Cox and S. Saward.
Others noticed at the graveside were Messrs. F. Sharwood, C.C., (president) and S. C. Brightwell (secretary), representing the Rushden and District Boot Manufacturers’ Association. F. Corby (School Managers), J. T. Bettles and F. S. Knight (Rushden Temperance Society); J. S. Mason, T. A. Baker, O. Claridge, R. Marriott, Harry Jaques, J. E. Clark, L. Sanders, W. W. James (Wellingborough), Geo. Selwood, H. Eaton, H. R. Patenall (Higham Ferrers), J. F. Cook, Baxter, F. Noble, A. Wright, Dr. R. W. Davies and the Rev. E. E. Bromage, Mr. J. H. Partridge. Ald. F. D. Brazier (chairman of the Water Board) and Councillor T. Swindall were kept away by indisposition.
Mr. Nichols, the gardener at “Eastfield,” had lined the grave with tulips and evergreen.
Flowers were sent by the family; Mr. and Mrs. Brawn and family; Mrs. Ette and family, Mr. and Mrs. T. Lilley (Northwood); The Misses Lilley (Dovercourt); Mr. and Mrs. Harold Lilley; Mr. and Mrs. E. S. Lilley (Colchester); Miss Ratcliffe and the Misses Parsons (Irchester); Mr. and Mrs. W. Timpson (Hale); Mr. and Mrs. T. A. Baker (Irchester); Mr. and Mrs. C. Cunnington (Golders Green); Mr. and Mrs. Slaughter (Stoke Newington; Mr. and Mrs. Merriman (Chesham); Mrs. Stapleton and Mrs. Skeeles; Nurse French; Mrs. Sykes (Clacton-on-sea); Directors of Odell Leather Co., Ltd.; Staff and employees, B. Denton and Son.
The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs. T. Swindall and Sons.