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The Rushden Echo and Argus, 2nd February, 1945
Weather and Illness Affect Industry
Roof Leak Stops Lessons at Rushden School

  Repeated snowfalls and a long spell of low temperature made January the worst month in Rushden since the winter of 1940-41.

  Weather conditions and sickness contributed to a period of great difficulty for factories, farms and transport concerns in the area.  Sickness, however, was easily the worse evil, and the epidemic of colds had reduced staffs to the lowest point known for many years.

  “It is terrible,” said Mr. W. E. Capon, managing director of Messrs. John Cave and Sons, Ltd., boot manufacturers, on Tuesday.  “I have been speaking to several manufacturers and they all agree that this is the worst time they have experienced in regard to absenteeism since they have been in business.  It is mainly among the girls, and up to a quarter of the employees are away at present.”

Girls Away

  “We have suffered very severely from illness, especially in the closing room,” said Mr. B. H. Toms, director of Messrs. John White, Ltd., boot manufacturers.  “This morning there is a considerable number of girls not at work – I presume due to travelling conditions plus illness.  It is a bad as we have ever had it.”

  A notice outside the Rushden depot of the United Counties Bus Co. warned the public that services were liable to dislocation because of illness and other circumstances.  One in three members of the staff were away, and Mr. A. E. Hawkes said that the staff position was the worst he had ever known in 21 years.  With one or two minor exceptions, however, the services were all running, though most of the buses were unable to keep to the scheduled times.

Ponds in School

  Scholars at Rushden Newton-road School had an afternoon off on Tuesday because water was seeping through the roof and splashing down in hall and classrooms.  Caused by the sudden thaw, the trouble began in the morning, when teachers and scholars did their best to avoid the damp areas.  Conditions were worse after the dinner break, and the children were sent home.  The school was closed again on Wednesday, when two rooms still had “ponds” in them.

  The roof of this school suffered badly during an air raid in 1940, and many hundreds of tiles had to be replaced.

  Faulty roofs also caused trouble in certain streets, and several men stayed away from work on Tuesday because their homes needed attention.

Rural Problems

  Strangely enough, the rural areas, though heavily snowed-up on Monday night, complained on Tuesday of nothing more serious than transport difficulties and the late arrival of the postmen.

  The schoolchildren of Swineshead, who go to school at Riseley by ‘bus following the closing of the village school, had a day off because the ‘bus did not run.

  Farmers, though called upon for some hard work, were coping steadily with all their special problems, and the food required by the cattle was being taken about by tractor.

  Developing rapidly as Tuesday advanced, the thaw caused almost as much trouble as the long-lingering snow had done.  It followed quickly after the deepest snowfall of the month – a whirling affair on Monday night which added three or four inches to the existing layer of frozen and hard-trodden snow.

  There was a widespread bursting of pipes which had been frozen-up for several days, and plumbers received hundreds of calls.

  Road-ploughs cleared every street in Higham Ferrers on Tuesday and have also been used in Rushden, where the main roads have been kept in surprisingly good condition throughout the severe spell.

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