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Thetford became the first town in Britain to elect a black Mayor.
During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Thetford developed many public services including a fire brigade, police service and local schools. In 1904 Thetford became the first town in Britain to elect a black Mayor; Dr Allan Glaisyer Minns a prominent local doctor.
In 1835 the old Corporation of Thetford was abolished, and a new Corporation was created and for the first time, democratically elected. The new Corporation was led by the Mayor, with four aldermen and twelve councillors.
For most of the nineteenth century the town MPs were from the families of either the Duke of Grafton or Lord Ashburton, and the elections were rarely contested. The Norwich Mercury reported that Thetford’s elections had become well known for their corruption. Until 1868 Thetford had been represented by two members of Parliament, but it lost its second seat to Scotland.
In 1904 Dr Allan Glaisyer Minns became Mayor, the first black mayor in Britain. Minns was a doctor, and had been the medical officer at Thetford Workhouse, and at the Cottage Hospital.
Police and Fire Brigade
Gas, electricity and water
There was some slum clearance in the town in the late nineteenth century. After 1895 a number of properties in Pike Lane, Star Lane and St Mary’s Lane were demolished or repaired. These clearances meant families needed to be re-housed and in 1911 the Corporation purchased a site on Bury Road for 50 council houses which were built between 1912 and 1914. The Newtown estate off London Road was built between 1920 and 1923. These two estates represented the first significant expansion of Thetford in almost one thousand years.
In 1836 a workhouse was built between Bury Road and the Little Ouse, near what is now St Barnabas’ Close. The workhouse housed 300 paupers and had a chapel dedicated to St Barnabas. The workhouse was abolished in 1929, but the buildings continued to be used as an unofficial workhouse until the 1950s, and then as a hospital until 1973 when the building was demolished.
Apart from the Grammar School and some small, privately run schools, there was no formal educational provision in Thetford until 1870, when the Education Act made infant education compulsory. In 1876 the Thetford United School Board was established and built a new infant and junior school of Norwich Road which opened on 1879, and in the same year a Roman Catholic Church School also opened.
Now the offices of Thetford Borough Council.
The School House on Bridge Street was built in 1880 in flint and red brick.
A terrace of four red brick almshouses built in 1885 by George and Sarah Tyrell.
Built in 1859 with an impressive brick façade.
Built in 1901 on the site of the earlier guildhall.
A cast iron and brick structure of about 1900 which is now subdivided and enclosed into four shops.
Built as a mechanics institute in 1887, and later converted into a public library.