The Rushdens of 1907 and 1930 were compared in interesting manner at the Adult School
on Tuesday evening, when the members held a reception in honour of Mr. John Noble, who has returned to the town after 23 years in London, Ontario.
Mr. F. Noble, as chairman and son of the guest, welcomed the company. His father he thought, was a well-known and respected resident of Rushden in the past. He was a vice-president of the men’s Adult School, and also instrumental in starting the Male Voice Choir, becoming its first president. Since then the choir had progressed wonderfully and was known as the champion male voice choir of the Midlands.
Mr. G. W. Coles, J.P., chairman of the Rushden Urban District Council, expressed appreciation of Mr. Noble’s return, and said it was rather unique. It was more often that the father welcomed home his son, but in the instance it was the son who invited back the prodigal father.
Since Mr. Noble had been away some great changes had taken place, not the least of which was the Great War and the forming of the League of Nations. In Rushden much had happened. They had gone in for recreation for the people, and purchased the Spencer Park, where great improvements had been made. They had also been presented with Jubilee Park, and now they had taken over Rushden Hall and grounds, and he hoped that Mr. Noble would be present at the opening and perhaps participate in it.
No doubt their guest had recognised the fact that Rushden had extended its wonders. He perhaps had noticed the large new estate in Newton-road, but they had a larger one on the Irchester-road, where more houses were to be erected. The Council had also acquired a piece of land there for the erection of schools. After that, there were the swimming baths, which had paved the way for paying for themselves by taking £650 last year.
Mrs. S. G. Wildman, as president of the Women’s School said she was thankful to know Mr. Noble because her mother spoke highly of him as a great friend. It must have been a great experience to come back after 23 years, and a great joy to be able to recall old faces, friends and landmarks.
Mr. W. Bettles, president of the Men’s School said that in the year 1907, when Mr. Noble emigrated, there were two plucky fellows in Rushden. On was Mr. Noble because he had courage to emigrate at the age of 50, the other himself, because it was the year of his marriage, and the minimum wage in the boot factory was then only 24s.
Speaking of the changes, he said it was easy to become a teetotaller to-day, but it was not then. It was the same with becoming a member of the Adult School. They have become more elite and fashionable, and nowadays they would not welcome the idea of a muffler brigade on a Sunday evening.
If a man was to be attached to good company he had to be well-dressed and fairly well educated.
In Rushden, as elsewhere, there was nowadays a better spirit. It was not safe at one time to go out at night up the top end of Rushden, and if the boys from the respectable part went up to South End there was sure to be a row. Companionship, fellowship and unity were today more in their midst, and it was so because such men as Mr. Noble had stood up in the past for social righteousness.
Mr. Noble, who was greatly moved, said he had been intensely gratified by the kind words of Mr. Coles and the other speakers. As the lady president had said, his thoughts of returning home and recalling the faces of familiar people and landmarks were beyond words. It was just like a panorama before him.
He recalled the forming of the Adult School Male Voice Choir, their first conductor (Mr. Wm. Skinner) and their first practice when although there was a fearful mix-up, they had good voices that only wanted cultivating.
As for parks he had seen in the town, he had never encountered one yet on his travels in Canada to equal them for facilities for recreation and sport, and the swimming bath was a credit to any town in England, Canada or the United States.
Prior to the speeches which were interspersed with musical items,. A silent tribute was paid to the memory of the late Mrs. Noble. Those taking part in the entertainment were Miss O. Lamb and Miss M. Gomm (violin duets), Mr. P. Bridgement (baritone), Mr. C. Green (tenor), Miss F., Noble (soprano), Miss W. Page (soprano), and Mr. H. Neal. Councillor J. Spencer, J.P., proposed a vote of thanks, and Mr. E. Thompson seconded.
[in another part of the same edition of the Echo]
Mr. John Noble, whose return from Canada was celebrated on Tuesday evening, got thoroughly warmed up in his appreciation of the Rushden he has found after 23 years’ absence. It was the sort of speech that is expected of a man who is proud of his birthplace and if we lifted an eyebrow at the generous appreciation of the parks, we could quite believe that a hundred and one features of the modern Rushden had surprised and impressed the repatriated native. When all the developments of those 23 years had been detailed, it did appear that the town had a great deal to its credit, and Rushden Hall was a wonderfully good item with which to conclude the list. The only park here when Mr. Noble went overseas was the field near the Cemetery, and now there are three others. Such is “progress” or shall we call it “consolidation”? I prefer the latter, because, when all is said and done, the period of Rushden’s most rapid advance was from 1891 to 1901, when the population jumped from 7,400 to 12,400 and the number of houses from 1,523 to 1,575. In that period, also, most of the public buildings, including the places of worship, came into being, and the rateable value of the town increased by 100 per cent.