George Winship was Abingdon’s Inspector of Nuisances and Borough Surveyor for forty-one years and brought Abingdon into the twentieth century. Much of what he did is still with us today.
George Winship was born in London and became a pupil civil engineer in London in 1866. He worked first for the Kent Water Works Company and then in Great Malvern, where he was engaged on the water supply and on gas and street improvement works.
At the beginning of 1877, Winship was appointed Inspector of Nuisances for Abingdon for three years. His first jobs were superintending the laying of new sewers and private drainage. Not long afterwards, the then Borough Surveyor became ill and Winship was appointed to the post on a temporary basis, which lasted till he retired. When the new waterworks opened in 1878, he added Waterworks Manager to his job titles. He made many improvements to the waterworks and wrote papers about this which were published in international journals.
One of his biggest tasks was to make sure the town had enough water. He was constantly adding more space to the waterworks at Wootton and added a supplemental supply from the artesian well under The Square. He ordered and supervised the installation of the gas engines in the basement of the County Hall that we can still see today, in order to pump water to the top of the County Hall to provide extra pressure, and made sure that there was a constant supply of clean water for every house and business in the now-expanding town.
Winship also made sure that the local lodging houses were fit for human habitation and he inspected canal boats for sanitation. His department was responsible for keeping the roads in good condition and licensed garages to keep petrol. It was George Winship who sited the original post boxes for the Post Office and the telephone brackets for holding the cables for the newly invented telephone system.
George Winship remained in his post for forty-one years, making plans for buildings such as the new fire station and supervising their construction, ensuring the streets were kept clean and in good repair and finding new sites for dumping the 3000 tons of rubbish that the town produced each year. He was also responsible for ensuring that the numerous sheep, pigs and other animals kept around the town and brought through the town for sale and slaughter didn’t cause any nuisance or extra noise.
George Winship married Ellen Jane Smith in 1872. They had nine children and were married for fifty-three years. He retired in 1918 and died in 1928.
© AAAHS & contributors 2013