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Under the Electric Lighting Act of 1882, local authorities were empowered to set up electricity undertakings.The generating station, and two cottages to house its key operatives, were located on the Playfields, off Prospect Row.In the first few months the British suffered many reverses.Patriotism ran high in these days of Empire, and Queen Victoria sent consignments of chocolate to the troops wishing them a Happy New Year for January 1st, 1900.Not surprisingly, it was also used by carriers coming to and from the market.Things had not being going well in South Africa since Mafeking had been under siege since 13th October 1899, the day after the independent Boer Republic declared war.Walter Greene had been defeated when he tried to become MP for North West Suffolk in 1891, but this time he was unopposed.
The Suffolks' first battle was to assault Red Hill near Colesburg in January 1900 with heavy losses.
Thirty men from the 2nd Volunteer Battalion joined others from East Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Cambridge University to train at Bury. At 5.30 am, in a blinding snowstorm, they were cheered off at Bury train station by hundreds of local people. Rural life was however, in decline as foreign food imports undermined agricultural prices and thus wages.
On May 12th they joined the 1st Battalion The Suffolk Regiment, at the Vet River. Most people lived in the 500 villages and towns of under 5000 people. Also in decline was the use of water for transport as well as power.
Meanwhile on 23rd March, the 2nd Volunteer Company left Bury for Capetown, where they arrived on April 14th. By September 1900 it was clear that the Receiver who was managing the Eastern Counties Navigation and Transport Company Limited, had decided to throw in the towel.
He had been unable to raise more capital, and began to sell off the assets.