George Williamson

  • 15 Jan 2012
  • Worcester People and Places
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For a century, the Blockhouse was dominated by the Providence Works, and within ten years of George Williamson going into the business, the labour force increased from 400 to well over 1,000, and the works had become one of the largest of its kind in the country. His greatest achievements however, lay in his work for the City. For 40 years, he was identified with every movement in Worcester, politically, and social. He held office of Mayor in 1893, but it is as chairman of the Streets Committee that he is best remembered. He did for Worcester in a smaller way, what Joseph Chamberlain did for Birmingham.

He widened the central streets and made them modern thoroughfares, among them being High Street, St.Swithun's Street, Bank Street, St.Nicolas Street and Pump Street. Some of the streets leading from the Cross and High Street were almost like tunnels. St Swithun's Street was only 15 ft. wide, and from the upper, overhanging storeys it was almost possible to shake hands with people across the street.

In 1887, a paved footpath was made on the east side of the river to enable the esplanade to be used when, at times when the level of the river was high, it had previously been impossible. He raised Hylton Road out of reach of all but the severest flood, and improved the access to Shrub Hill Station. He widened and fenced the New Road, widened Severn Street, paved Croft Road and a number of similar places.

He brought great energy to all his tasks. Between the years 1886 and 1893, he brought 47 private streets into statutory repair, and 49 Courts were paved and drained and otherwise improved at the owner's expense, and in addition, the worst areas of overcrowded 'rookeries' were cleared and drained. Having thus improved the streets he added to the elegance and comfort of many of these by planting trees and providing seats. He was one of the pioneers of public lighting by electricity, building as chairman of the committee, the first municipal power station.