Scrapings of Discontent

Burton Road in quieter days – outside Craven Lodge circa 1930

(With thanks to the Francis Frith Collection)

I presently reside in Burton Road, Melton Mowbray, sometimes referred to as ‘Burton Hill’, which is actually the area centred abutting Craven and Victoria Streets.  After the establishment of Craven Lodge as the first residence to be built across the River Eye in Burton Road, dwellings of lesser proportions began to appear at the turn of the last century.  But these were not much ‘lesser’ in cost or design, as many fine houses began to appear on both sides of that road to Oakham during those first two decades of the 20th century, most of which were taken up by wealthy or prestigious people, many of them incomers to the town.  But like most newly developing neighbourhoods, a little acrimony mixed with petty jealousies occasionally bubbled to the surface, especially when matters of status needed to be settled.
It was with some amusement therefore, that I spotted in the Grantham Journal of May 21st, 1910, within the transactions of the monthly meeting of the Melton Mowbray Urban District Council, suggestions of a domestic dispute involving two prominent members of local society.  In the red corner stood local solicitor Mr James Atter, newly in town from Stamford in Lincolnshire, married and with a young family. In the blue corner, stood bachelor civil servant and recently down from the capital city, The Hon. James Walsh, General Inspector of the Local Government Board [and he with two servants and a butler].  The Journal reporter was to file his copy thus:

‘A COMPLAINT FROM BURTON ROAD. – The following letter from Mr. Jas. Atter was read, viz. :— Melton Mowbray, 13th May, 1910.  Dear Sir, – Quite recently cart loads of soil, which I claim belong to me, have been removed by employees of the Urban District Council of Melton Mowbray, from the frontage to my garden on the Burton-road, Melton Mowbray.  Such cart-loads of soil have, I understand, been given to, or sold to the Hon. Mr Walsh, or his landlord, and deposited near the building in course of erection for him.  Such soil would have done very well for my kitchen garden.  Assuming the Council had a power to sell or make a gift of such soil, do you not think it would have been better if the Council had made the offer of the same to the true owner thereof?  I dispute, however, the Council’s right to act as they have done, and I defy production of an authority for so acting.  Perhaps you will place this letter before your Council, and afterwards inform me what they propose doing in the matter.   Yours truly, JAMES ATTER.”

The DEPUTY SURVEYOR said the soil in question consisted of road scrapings which had accumulated along the the frontage in question, and was removed because it was an advantage to do so from time to time.  The CLERK said the soil was clearly the property of the Council.  Mr. WILLCOX suggested that a letter be sent to Mr. Atter pointing out that there was no intention on the part of the Council to encroach upon any rights Mr. Atter might possess with regard to his frontage.  Mr. GILL said they they must regret perhaps that the scrapings were removed without asking whether he would have cared for them, yet they must not admit he had the right to them.  He claimed them as his property.   Mr. BREWITT expressed a similar opinion, and it was decided, on the motion of Mr. GILL, seconded by Mr. MANCHESTER, to reply to Mr. Atter to this effect.’ 

And on such matters it has been said, great nations have foundered, though so far I have not learned of the final result in this particular matter.


I would draw your attention to the fact that Melton solicitor James Atter, although born in Stamford in 1870, proudly represented Leicestershire at cricket for many years and his two sons James Edward, b. 1896 [sadly killed in action in France on 16th August, 1916] and David Lawrence, b.1908, would later represent Oakham School with the bat and ball. See this website for further information.


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