Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Great news: Boundary Commission says Newmarket is to be in a new (old) Cambridgeshire constituency

Great news has arrived on my screen today, courtesy of the BBC.

Following the government's decision to reduce the number of MPs and parliamentary seats (from 650 to 600) in the House of Commons, the Boundary Commission has published its proposals for re-distributing seats to take account of the need now to have MPs representing more constituents on average than heretofore.

The result appears to be a much bigger upheaval than some expected. In my area (presently South East Cambridgeshire), the BBC says as follows:

"It is proposed that Newmarket merges into an Ely constituency, together with the whole of the district of East Cambridgeshire, which almost entirely encircles the town. The commission said the decision was reached because "Newmarket has strong communication links with Ely and the rest of the proposed constituency.""

Provided the Beeb has it right, I regard this as great news, for it is a fact that Newmarket (presently partly in Suffolk) is surrounded by Cambridgeshire. The parts of Cambridgeshire that surround Newmarket are in East Cambridgeshire District Council's area. It all makes sense and, believe it or not, there was an old 'Newmarket Division' of Cambridgeshire. MPs elected for the division were Sir George Newnes, Bart., who won first in 1885; Colonel Harry McCalmont, who won first in 1895; Sir Charles Rose, who won a bye-election in 1903; Mr George Henry Verrall, who won in January, 1910; Sir Charles Rose, who won again in December, 1910; and Mr John Denison-Pender (later Lord Pender), who won a bye-election in 1913. The seat was done away with in 1918.

Mr Verrall, who lived at Sussex Lodge, Fordham Road, Newmarket, was the last Newmarket MP to live in Newmarket. He appears to have been most diligent in his politicking and I have a cutting, dated the 16th of February, 1907, from the Newmarket Journal, describing one of his visits to my home village:

"Swaffham Prior.

Conservative Dinner. - The annual dinner of the Conservative Club was held at the Cock Hotel on February 6th, when between 60 and 70 members and guests were present. The President, Mr H.A. Kent, occupied the chair, and was supported by the Rev. L. Fisher, Mr Leonard Ambrose, and Mr C. Woollard. After the loyal toasts, letters from the following gentlemen regretting absence were read: Messrs. C.P. Allix, M. Tosetti, A.P. Garnett, G. Manley, and the Rev. W.A. St. John Dearsley. An address of considerable length was given by Mr G.H. Verrall, and spirited addresses were also given by the Rev. Mr Cheshire (Witcham), Messrs. J.A. Wootten (Cambridge), C.C. Ambrose, and F. Palmby. Songs were sung by the Rev. L. Fisher, Messrs. Wootten, Bonham, J. Galley, R. Galley, Way (Exning), and others. Mr J.E. Collin presided at the piano. A very enjoyable evening concluded with a vote of thanks to the speakers, singers, &c. Mr and Mrs Milgate provided an excellent dinner."

Sadly, Mr Verrall died on the 16th of September, 1911.

Here is a picture of old Newmarket showing the Jubilee Clock (erected to mark Queen Victoria's golden jubilee in 1887) and the throng of traffic in the High Street and on the Bury Road.

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