PEOPLE – BATTY J.E. – Ex Mayor and Councillor & Death Of
COUNCILLOR J. E. BATTY
(EX- MAYOR OF REDCAR)
By HUGH W. COOK, Redcar
In a recent interview with Councillor John Emmerson Batty, who has lived in the town 47 years, I was strongly impressed by his remarkable memory for details. He told me a score of little unknown facts about Redcar.
Councillor Batty, who was made a Justice of the Peace in 1920, was Mayor of Redcar in 1930 – 1931 and during their year of office Mr and Mrs. Batty did a large amount of good work on a very unassuming way, and extended their kindly help in all directions.
In 1905 Councillor Batty was appointed by the North Riding Education Committee a manager of the Redcar group of Council Schools on which body ha has served continuously up to the present time. he was elected a member of the Borough Council in 1922 and a member of the North Riding County Council in 1929.
A True Born Yorkshireman
Born in Middlesbrough in 1860 he was educated at St. Paul’s Church School and finished off his education at the High School soon after it was opened.
On leaving school he entered the office of Downey & Co., of Coatham Ironworks, Redcar, but in 1880 he commenced business on his own as a china, glass and hardware merchant in Middlesbrough, coming to Redcar in 1886, 47 years ago.
That year he married Miss Clara Liddle, daughter of the late John Liddle, proprietor of the Temperance Hotel, Bridge Street, Middlesbrough. Councillor Batty, from the first showed an active interest in the welfare of the place, which at that period was just recovering from a trade depression, many of the houses being empty and even boarded up.
In those days he was Hon. Secretary of the Redcar Tradesmen’s Association, and took an active part in the Independent Order of Good Templars and the Temperance Society.
Some years ago he had charge of a monthly newspaper called “The Templar Monthly,” which was distributed free around the district. I am not able to enumerate all Councillor Batty’s public offices, but for many years he was auditor of the Burial Board and one of the overseers (the assistant overseer at the time being Mrs. Thompson. He was also for some time secretary of the Band Committee, when the old bandstand stood on wheels.
Our good friend was always a keen player of draughts and chess, and he laughingly re-marked to me, “The only place where one could get a good game in the old days was in the porter’s room at the station, as all the railwaymen took a great interest in the game.”
Through his energetic efforts of Mr. Batty and a few others the Redcar Literary Institute was first formed in 1896, and for over 33 years he most ably carried out the duties of Hon. Secretary, and under his influence and guidance this institution developed into one of the most successful organisations in the district.
For many years he has taken a great interest in local history and possesses a fine collection of writings, cuttings and sketches, and his memory regarding the old history of the district is remarkably good.
In 1929 Councillor Batty, in conjunction with Dr. A. S. Robinson, published a very instructive book entitled ” A history of an Ancient Church at Coatham.”
For six years Mr. Batty has acted as treasurer to the local Blind Institution.
I am pleased to note that he favours the idea of a Museum for Redcar, and apparently believes that the scheme will eventually be carried out.
The John E. Batty School
Coun. Batty, a man of many parts, and one who seems to have devoted the greater part of his life for the services of others – has always taken a keen interest in matters effecting the educational welfare of Redcar and in recognition of his long and faithful service his colleagues on the board of managers of the Redcar Group of Council Schools (with the consent and approval of the North Riding Education Committee), decided that the school should be erected on the Crescent Estate and opened on September 19, 1930, should be designated the “John Emmerson Batty Council School,” an ideally fitting tribute to one who has done so much excellent work in local educational matters.
After 33 years’ service as Hon. Secretary to the Redcar Literary Institute Mr. Batty retired three years ago, and was presented with a handsome silver salver and a scroll testifying to the value of his services to the Institute.
A True Helpmate
Mr. Batty acknowledges that he has always had the help and assistance of his wife both in business and public affairs, ever since their marriage. They both enjoy fairly good health. Mrs. Batty has herself taken an active part of the Wesleyan Church work, also the social and temperance side of it for many years.
In 1913 Mr. Batty converted his business from a shop in High Street, Redcar, into a lofty arcade of several shops and a large hall. A few years ago he retired from business. However both Mr. and Mrs. Batty still kept in touch with the town affairs, as they do even to-day and probably as long as their health will allow them they will still refuse to rest from their labours.
Personally, after having known them for 32 years, I add my tribute by wishing them both health and happiness for the reminder of their useful lives, which I trust will be long ones.
Accreditation Cleveland Standard 04/11/1933
Death of Coun. J.E. Batty
Great Local Historian
A FORMER MAYOR.
Death robbed Redcar of one of her most beloved citizens this week, when Councillor J.E. Batty, of Coatham Road, Redcar, passed away at the age of 73. In spite of the fact that his health has been failing for some time, the announcement of his death came as a great shock. His interest in public affairs had remain with him to the end, and only three weeks ago he presided at the annual meeting of the Redcar Literary Institute. The founder of the Institute, and a life member, he declined at the meeting to take any further active office on account of his age, and a letter from the Institute Council regretting his decision was received at his home on the day of his death.
Born at Middlesbrough in 1860, Councillor Batty was educated at St. Paul’s School, and later at the High School.
After entering the office of Messrs. Downey and Co. a Redcar firm, he left at the age of 20 to start his own business on his own account in Middlesbrough as a china, glass, and hardware dealer. Forty-eight years ago he transferred to Redcar, acquiring premises in the main street of the town to which he was ultimately destined to become Mayor. The same year he married Miss Clara Liddle, Middlesbrough, and with her assistance extended the business so considerably that in 1914 he was able to construct an arcade on the site now occupied by Messrs. Woolworth’s.
An Early Closer
During his business career Councillor Batty took a keen interest in the first Redcar Tradesmen’s association, and was secretary for some time. The Association was responsible for a voluntary agreement for fixing closing time being arrived at between local shop keepers, long before the Shop Hours Act came into operation.
Before the local compromise was effected the majority of the shops remained open till after midnight. Councillor Batty was largely responsible for the formation of the Plate Glass Association, which undertook to insure shop windows, and at the same time, to keep the money in Redcar.
A member of the Church of England, he was converted to the Wesleyan Church by his wife, and he became superintendent of the infant department of what is now the Trinity Methodist Sunday School. All his life a total abstainer he was superintendent of the juvenile branch of the Redcar Lodge of the Independent Order of Good Templar’s, and edited a monthly paper in connection with the temperance movement. Drunkenness at the time was far more prevalant than to-day, and it was his horror of the effect of intoxicants on young people that led him to found the Redcar Literary Institute. So strongly did he deplore the fact that only place for social intercourse during the week were the public-houses that he called a town’s meeting to discuss the problem and, with the assistance of Mr. T. D. Ridley, Mr. A. O. Cochrane, Sir Hugh Bell, and other well-known local men, founded the Institute in two rooms over a fruit shop. Councillor Batty’s idea was that the Institute should offer educative rather than re-creative facilities, but modern developments have caused it to be modeled upon lines different in many respects from those he originally planned.
A Great Organiser
In the early days lectures and recitals at which the most prominent people were engaged were a regular feature, whilst Councillor Batty organised an annual exhibition which lasted a week. There were side shows, stalls, and an orchestra, and also offered Redcar’s first cinema entertainment. The exhibition was held in the Central Halls, and the last one was held when King George acceded to the throne. All this was during the time Coun. Batty was Secretary of the Institute and office which he held until 1929 – a period of 33 years.
In the earlier days, when there was a town band, he was a keen supporter, and was secretary of the Band Committee.
He was also treasurer of the local branch of the Institute for the Blind.
Councillor Batty was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1920, and in 1922 he became a member of the Redcar Town Council, shortly after the Borough’s incorporation. In 1930-31 he was honoured with the Mayoralty, and it is well known that only his failing health prevented him from being nominated again. He was Chairman of the General Purposes Committee of the Redcar Council. Four years ago he was appointed to represent the Coatham East Division on the County Council.
Fond of Delving into History
Coun. Batty was deeply interested in local history, and had a splendid collection of writings, cuttings, and sketches, which together with his keen memory, made him probably the foremost authority on local matters. Once whilst searching through some papers, he found records of a trust made presumably by a former Marquis of Zetland for the purpose of assisting poor scholars to obtain to obtain secondary education (a characteristic which was to be detected in every phase of his 48 years public life in Redcar) led him to investigate the history of the Trust.
Co-operating with the Town Clerk (Mr. R. McLean) he discovered that the money bequeathed had simply been accumulating, and he set to work to revive the Trust. With Councillor Batty as secretary, the Zetland Educational Trust distributed last year £70 to scholars from working class homes. The money is used not so much for providing scholarships, but for assisting poorer scholarship winners in the provision of books, clothes, and equipment.
For many years Councillor Batty represented the school managers of Redcar, Guisborough, and Brompton on the North Riding Education Committee. Glowing tribute to the esteem in which his work for education was held was given in 1930, when his colleagues on the Redcar group of Council Schools decided, with the consent of the North Riding Education Committee, to name the new school on the Crescent Estate after him.
A Touching Scene
On Tuesday there was a touching scene at the school, when two hundred people who had gathered for an election meeting were informed of his death a few hours previously. They stood for a few moments in condolence.
It was said of Councillor Batty that he would never turn away an appeal for charity, and scarcely a day passed without some demands being made on his generosity. The last thing which occupied his attention before his heart failed him this week was an appeal from a little girl who had no coat to go to school in. He had the satisfaction of making arrangements for her to get one before he died.
Although he did not devote much time to outdoor recreations, he was always keenly interested in sport of every kind. Besides being a life member and a vice-president of Redcar Hockey Club, he was a vice-president of the Borough Parks Bowls Club, and was associated with the Redcar Cricket Club. He never played cards, but was a keen draughts and chess player. In an interview with the “Cleveland Standard” earlier in the year, he laughingly remarked that the only place for a good game of chess in the old days was in the porters room at the station, as all the railwaymen took a keen interest in the game. Once he recalled a champion who had played for Oxford and for his county visited Coatham School. Coun. Batty defeated him.
A magnificent record of public life and social service is brought to an end by Councillor Batty’s death, and the community has lost one of its most highly esteemed and courteous members. Councillor Batty leaves a widow, a daughter (who is a teacher at South Bank) and three sons who hold responsible positions under the Treasury.
April 15, 2010 People & Characters