Sunderland History - North of the River Wear - Southwick - Southwick Urban District Council Header

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Southwick,s population in the 18th century, like many small townships were predominantly farmers.

However things were to change for the better when the 19th century saw the introduction of many new industries including pottery and glass manufacture. The evolution of wooden shipbuilding  to iron ship construction contributed to  a rapid increase  in local commerce. 

Southwick Local Board, which was the begining of what we have today known as a council started on March 26th 1863. Chaired by a Mr Dodd Pratt, its nine members had their first meeting three weeks later.

Although, like today, unemployment and transport was an issue, so was disease and electrification a major topic at the meetings.

Fighting a Sunderland TakeOver.

By 1885 Southwick Local Board had achieved great things for the community including sewerage and fresh water pipework. The streets were not only cobbled but many now had modern gas lighting. They had even formed there own Fire Service. Needless to say, Sunderlands attempts to have Southwick township incorporated with them was fiecely fought off. This was an expensive victory which resulted in the local rates being doubled despite enormous help and contribution from some of the weathly residents. This support included business owners  Robert Thompson, John Crown and Charles Pickersgill. Landowner W.D.Pratt together with Brickworks owner R.Hodgson and Anthony Scott from the potteries. All supported Southwick in there representations to fight off the proposed bill. These heavyweights in industry helped demonstrate to the House of Lords that the townships financial and and general sanitary conditions were much better than Sunderlands and there fore the takeover would be a downward step.

Southwick Town Hall
Southwick District Urban Council Offices.

Not until the 1880,s were there any signs of a decline in the local economy and employment. Many people , over the prosperous prior years had moved to Southwick but now many businesses were going into decline whilst the population was still growing.  The Council finances were were unable to provide sufficient funding to assist those in need and without National Assistance , Southwick District Council was to be no more when on April 1st 1928 , Southwick on Wear was to become part of the Borough of Sunderland.


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