John Howlett became a major figure in the town, being elected as a councillor in 1921, then an alderman and finally, in 1930, mayor. He was one of the principal supporters of the enlargement of the borough.
New Milton, with its urban district council and strong sense of self-government, resisted to the end, for as Howlett remarked, it was ‘governed by a Council which out-classed the rest of us in experience, knowledge and sheer capacity for work. They had been masters in their own house since 1926. . . ’
However, the benefits of enlargement finally carried the day and in 1932 the borough of Lymington expanded to include Pennington, Milford-on-Sea, Hordle and New Milton. The new borough had nine aldermen and 27 councillors.
Howlett was awarded an OBE in 1950 for his services to the industrial world and in 1955 was made Freeman of the Borough of Lymington. He had been responsible for enlarging the borough, building the Masonic Hall, constructing the town’s first council houses and refurbishing the Sea Water Baths.
John Howlett died in 1974, at the age of 91, having made an immense impact on both Lymington and his chosen industry.