News Archive:

 19th December 2012.................
                    Quiz Night
 
 Super Social Evening
Happy Christmas

 1st December 2012......................    
                                                        ssHs stall at Sturton Village Christmas Market

 24th November 2012................    
ssHs stall at Stow Minster Christmas Market

21st November 2012
Message form our Secretary:
For those who attended the History Group’s monthly talk on November 21st I don’t think they were aware they would be in for listening to an almost 70 year old mystery being unravelled. 
Frank (Sandy) Powell, Chairman of the Lincoln Branch of the Submariners Association talked us through the closely guarded secret of the production of the X-Craft miniature submarines at The Britannia Ironworks of Marshall & Son Co. Limited  of Gainsborough.  Three submarines were built here – the X24, X25 and the XE9. The Admiralty never named these vessels but this was changed by the crews when they took possession – X24 became Expeditious, X25 Xema and
XE9 Unexpected.
Originally it was intended that these craft would be manned by three crew members but it was soon realised that should one member be killed the craft was too complex for two men to run so the craft design was lengthened by an additional 7’ to accommodate 4 men; the overall dimensions then being 51’7’’ long and 8’ 6’’ wide.  They ran at 6 ½ knots on the surface and 4 ½ submerged.  These vessels were designed to be towed to their area of operations by a full sized-ubmarine, usually a T or S class and the crew would be transferred from the towing craft to the X-Craft by dinghy when they reached their intended area.  Once the attack was over the X-Craft would rendezvous with the towing submarine and then be towed back to base.
The crew could not stand up properly inside the craft; most of the time they had to crawl from one area to another and to say conditions were cramped and claustrophobic is an understatement.  Operations could last for ten days so to imagine being almost bent double most of the time, constantly on alert for enemy craft and with one bunk to be shared amongst three men and being below the ocean – this was no mean feat.  Frank showed excellent slides of the interior of one of the vessels so we could actually see how cramped the inside of these vessels were.
As we now shop in Marshalls Yard it is difficult to imagine the ghosts of these men who worked in secrecy putting together another war machine to ensure our shores were not invaded during WWII.  All of the workforce who were involved with the manufacture were issued with a Password, which was changed each day, and were sworn not to divulge any information of the proceedings to anyone.  Of course all workers were constructing various parts which would then be put together at a later date and these parts were simply numbered and so the men had no idea on what they were working, however secrecy had to be maintained.  During the final stages they had to sleep at the works and for added security the buildings were protected by an armed guard for 24 hours a day.  However, in spite of all of these precautions it is thought that as the vessels were being put together at one end of the factory floor they were ‘hidden’ behind a curtain but when the oxyacetylene torches were being used the outline of the vessels were lit up a treat! The crews joined the submarines during the final build and it was during these final stages that the crew named their submarine.
Now how do you get such a vessel out of a factory to start its journey to the sea without anyone noticing? Albeit these vessels were referred to as ‘mini’ but nevertheless quite bulky items to be transported without anyone noticing and of course during the war these factories never closed, with the engineers working shifts around the clock.  Now this is where you just might like to go and have a look at an area in front of the present day Marshalls Yard to see whether you can spot anything.  Apparently a small door, about the size of a garage door, was built into the factory wall half way along the Beaumont Street frontage between the County Court corner/Market Street/Spring Gardens crossroads and the main entrance to Marshall’s offices (back towards Tesco).  A gas lamp stood in front of this door and this was constructed so that it could be lifted out easily when required and put back in place afterwards.  Frank said that there is now a lamp post in roughly the same area and implied if you travelled along the frontage from Tesco towards the Marshalls Yard traffic
lights this post is just before the main entrance to Marshalls Yard/West Lindsey offices.  I shall now look out for a few people standing around on the opposite side of the road looking suspicious staring at the site when I next visit Gainsborough!
It has now been revealed that two of the submarines were transported to Scotland by rail from Gainsborough’s Central station and the other began its journey by barge along the Trent.  It was out of the question for the convoy to be taken over Trent Bridge because during the war one of the bridge piers had been hollowed out to below water level and filled with explosives in case it had to be blown up following an invasion by the Germans.  To those of us born after the war this sounds very much like the plot of a book or film and it is hard to picture how serious these days were in a town we visit nearly every day but I know this was obviously the case and each day brought the threat of possible invasion so every precaution had to be taken.
As with most of the ‘war machines’ the remaining X-Crafts were scrapped between 1950 and 1960.  However one craft, the X-24, none other than Marshall’s Expeditious, has been preserved and can be viewed at the Royal Navy Museum in Gosport, Hampshire.  Added to this, one original member of the crew of the X-24 is still alive at 90 years plus, Vernon ‘Ginger’ Coles DSM who now lives in Newbury, Berkshire.  The X-24 carried out two attacks against a Lakesvag floating dock at Bergen in Norway.  It was on April 15th 1944 that the X-24 made an approach through 30 miles of islands and a minefield.  Charges were placed under the Bärenfels, a 7,500 ton merchant vessel standing alongside the dock which resulted in the Bärenfels being sunk but the dock only suffered minor damage.  However this attack made history because the X-24 was the first X-Craft to sink an enemy vessel.
The X-24 escaped successfully from this operation but on September 11th 1944 the operation was repeated by the same craft still intent on the dock.  This time the dock was exploded into two and damaged two ships moored alongside.  Again, X-24 returned successfully flying the Jolly Roger when on the surface showing that the mission had been a success.
Should any of you be down in Hampshire at any time I would imagine a visit to the RN Museum in Gosport would be a wonderful experience, particularly if when looking at the remains of the X-24 think of it as a new highly prized submarine leaving the secret door of the Britannia Works and then think where we all fit into this picture of past and present.

17th October 2012
Message from our Secretary: 
Hello everyone, Last Wednesday's Talk by Rod Fanthorpe was absorbing; if you like a tale with a twist at the end, this was one.
Most of us know the basic facts of the sinking of the 'unsinkable' ship -'At 11.40 pm on the night of 14th April 1912 en route to New York and on her Maiden Voyage, the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg that would ultimately lead to her sinking less than three hours later.  At around 2.20 am on the morning of 15th April RMS Titanic disappeared beneath the surface of the Atlantic ocean; a disaster that resulted in the loss of more than 1500 lives, almost two-thirds of the people on board. 
Rod introduced us to the Titanic with all of the usual facts and figures - 
-  RMS Titanic was the second of three Olympic Class ships built in Belfast at the Harland & Wolff Shipyard and was launched on the 31st May 1911. 
-         She weighed 52,310 tons
-         882 ft 9" (269.1m) long 
-         175' high                (Huge for the time but not large by modern standards) 
-         2,223 people on board including passengers and crew
-         20 lifeboats but should have been 64

Descriptions of food and life on board followed. But to make the story more personal Rod followed the movements of one Harry Bartram, a Lincolnshire lad who was born in Scotter and moved to Grimsby in 1907.  We heard a bit about Harry's life over the years and in November 1911 he moved to Manchester and became a potato salesman.  A romance grew up between Harry and a Lizzie Wilkinson but Lizzie's father disapproved of Harry and the couple eloped on the Titanic. Harry and Lizzie bought a joint ticket number 2926 for £26 (c. £1, 400 at today's cost).  The plan was to move across to America and live for a time with Lizzie's uncle. 
Leaving Harry and Lizzie to one side for a moment Rod then mentioned another person connected with Lincolnshire, James Paul Moody and Mr Moody's sad demise was reported in the Cleethorpes' Chronicle.  James Moody although born in Yorkshire, had connections with Lincolnshire through his father who had been born in Grimsby.  James went to sea at the age of 14 on his first ship the Oceanic. Moving along the years he was told to report for duty to the new vessel the Titanic.  It has been reported that Moody tried to help the emigrants out of the bowels of the ship and into lifeboats but with the language barrier they could not understand him. The last sighting of Moody was at 2.10 am on that fateful day. 
Meanwhile Lizzie and Harry become something of a mystery and possibly a future famous storyline.  Lizzie is woken up on the fatal night at 11.40 pm by a grinding sensation and apparently makes her way up to the boat deck and gets into lifeboat No. 16.  Obviously we all wonder where Harry is at this point and why he has not gone up to the deck with Lizzie. We hear that Lizzie is one of the lucky survivors who is taken away to safety on the RMS Carpathia and she arrives in New York with absolutely nothing.  Shocked and in a bad way she makes her way to Philadelphia by train only to find her uncle has recently moved house and of course had no idea of her coming to visit.  By and by the police help her and she is finally united with her uncle.  But what of Harry?   Sadly Harry's full-clothed body is found after one week and he is taken on board a cable-laying ship which has an embalmer on board and Harry is embalmed along with some of the other bodies which have also been found floating in the sea and he is laid in a coffin.  Now the mystery starts to unfurl. Harry is wearing a purple and green shirt - an unusual colour for a man but these are the colours of the Suffragette Movement - were Harry and Lizzie keen supporters?; Harry is carrying £200 in cash, a silver watch and chain, a George V Sovereign and 6 Gold and Diamond rings.  Were these intended to be sold once they arrived in America to set themselves up in their new life?  Had Harry returned to the cabin to collect these and in the
panic lost sight of Lizzie?  Harry's body was eventually reunited with Lizzie in Pennsylvania and the story was reported in detail
in the Lincolnshire Echo.  We all know of the 1997 film starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio - were these characters based on Harry & Lizzie?  Rod Fanthorpe thinks there may be something in this and hopes there is because  -   Harry was his cousin! 
ssHs were lucky enough last Wednesday to listen to their own epic tale of the Sinking of the Titanic and make their own assumptions and stories out of the interesting facts placed before us.
Next month we stay with the sea when on Wednesday 21st November Sandy Powell, Chair of the Lincoln Branch of the Submariners Association, comes to talk about the Mini Submarines built at Marshalls during the Second World War. 

 8th October 2012.................................    
The buzz of the 125th Sturton & Stow Agricultural Show also surrounded the History Society's stall at the Primary School on Saturday when visitors were eager to view photographs and cuttings of yester-year, the display this time mostly pertaining to the school buildings and staff.   Robin Wheeldon of Waddington had kindly loaned his photographic folder for the day relating to the Andrew family and this too caused a huge interest to both young and old visitors, particularly pictures of ploughing matches of years gone by.  Many thanks again to Robin.
Sharron, Graeme and Irv thoroughly enjoyed chatting to old and new acquaintances of the society, telling them about the up and coming Talks for the remainder of the year as well as the new list which is currently being put together for 2013.
Reminder for the 17th of this month - Rodney Fanthorpe will be speaking about The Titanic.  7.30 start in Sturton village hall.

20th September 2012
'Treading the boards' at the village hall last Wednesday evening for the History Group's delight were Dennis Greaves and John Derbyshire from The Gainsborough Theatre Group.  Dennis and John have been with the group for many years, both enjoying the successes as well as the trials and tribulations of the theatre group and their building, The Old Nick.
Dennis's act was in fact a 'Premier' as this was the first time he had played to an audience with facts and figures relating to the theatre. He began by regaling us with the early days when performances were only shown at Festivals.  During the 1950's theatres were in short supply in the Gainsborough area and schools, co-operative halls and memorial halls were used to perform in. Between 1969 and 1980 40 plays were performed which worked out at 4 per season - a great achievement for a small group.
1980 became an important date for the group and leading onto this we learnt a rough history of The Old Nick building.
As you may imagine from its name, The Old Nick was the original police station in Gainsborough.  It is an Italianate-style Grade II building at the junction of Spring Gardens and Cross Street - just above the vehicular access to Marshall's Yard.  Back in 1859 land on this site was sold to build a Magistrates' Court and Police Station.  These buildings served their purpose until 1972 when the new police station on Morton Terrace was built followed by the new Magistrates' Court on Church Street in 1978.
A Mr Douglas Parkinson purchased both of the old buildings in 1978 for £3,250 and in 1980 (the important date for the group) he told the members they could use the premises for rehearsals at a peppercorn rent. When Mr Parkinson died in 1992 he bequeathed the property to the Gainsborough Theatre Group and then the physical hard work began for them all. Piles of rubbish had to be cleared from many of the inside rooms, the outside stores and around the building itself in order to make it all presentable.  This took a lot of time, hard work, sweat and tears for the dedicated members of the group.
However roll forward to 2012 not only has the group gone from strength to strength, they are now looking to expand the building to incorporate more theatre seating, a comfortable communal area for theatre goers and a lift as well as 'Incubation' units along the top of the new extension for small businesses with the idea being that rent from these units will go towards the upkeep of the theatre.  All the information was supported by diagrams and power point presentation for this particular audience to enjoy and appreciate.
The group are presenting a play this week - 'Edge of Darkness' 7.30 pm start each night so should anyone wish to go and
experience their delivery now is the time to do so.

11th August 2012
Group visit to Scunthorpe Steelworks.

Message from Secretary - Sharron:
Who would have thought that 23 adults would have had a really interesting afternoon on a hot and sunny day in August in the middle of a Steel Works?  Well, that is exactly what our group of 'game' members did on Saturday when we made our way to view the huge industrial giant of the Steel Works at Scunthorpe.  I am sure most of us have all driven past these intimidating buildings emitting clouds of steam and either dismissed the site as an eyesore or possibly just wondered what goes on behind the railings.  What does go on has been doing so in one form or another for 122 years; the site actively began making steel in 1890.
The site is dominated by the Four Queens - the four blast furnaces which stand sentinel over the vast array of industrial architecture. These majestic furnaces are named Queen Bess (built 1938) Queen Mary (1938) Queen Victoria (1954) and Queen Annne (1954) - however only Victoria and Anne are currently in production at the moment.
Scunthorpe steel works is now owned by TatTa who is one of the world's top ten steel producers and also the second largest producer in Europe.  The Scunthorpe operation is home to the Long Products UK Hub and these works are capable of rolling rail up to 120 metres long, a first for the UK.  Steel made in Scunthorpe has been used in a wide range of applications from the construction of the Petronas Towers in Malaysia and the T'sing Ma bridge in Hong Kong, to simple every day objects such as paper clips and light bulbs.  Areas closer to home which we can identify with are the new Wembley stadium, the Humber Bridge and Heathrow Terminal 5. 
*Facts and figures poured out of our guide for the trip like the 3.3 million tons of liquid steel which is produced on site per year and apparently the plant is not at maximum output!
The slag heap - the non-metallic stone which is smelted out of the blast furnace - is the one of the biggest man-made mountains in Europe. 
* 11-12,000 tons of steel is produced per week.
*It takes approximately 90 minutes to cast 300 tons of steel from a ladle.
*The steel is made in 300 ton casts (batches) and all have a unique number marked on the end of the slabs and this number stays with that batch all the way through its processing and beyond. 
*It takes 10-12 tons of water to make 1 ton of steel.
*All steel is made to order and those we saw lying around in batches going rusty(!) were all sold. 
*11 locomotives are in use per shift. 
*10 million tons of traffic is carried around the site per year. 
*The locomotives are now remote control and the 'driver' can either sit in the small cab or stand on the side and drive the train with a hand-held set - a bit like playing on an X-Box I suppose - a good career extension for like-minded boys! Rather large toys at 90 tons however - the most powerful shunting engines in the UK. 
The locomotive which took us on our 12 mile round trip (yes, 12 miles!) is a 04-0 Saddle Tank built by Pecketts of Bristol in 1916 so it is now 96 years old! However that didn't deter it from carrying us around safely and efficiently it looking as though it had come straight out of a Thomas the Tank story with a uniform of an extremely shiny bottle green and with its brass glowing in the summer sunshine. This engine is now part of the Frodingham-Appleby Preservation Society which operates from the TaTa works.  Our engine was originally built for industrial use but it never saw service with British Rail. These days it is occasionally hired out (useful source of funds for the Preservation Society) to the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway at Ludborough, north of Louth. It has appeared there at least twice for their (LWR) Easter weekends, in 2011 and 2012.
As we made our way through the enormous complex I was amazed at how neat and tidy everything is.  Very good housekeeping methods are used with skips  for everything clearly marked and no litter!  TaTa are very environmentally aware and recycling is a way of life; even all of the 'muck' taken out during the various processes is reclaimed and recycled - nothing is wasted.  You can in fact recycle steel forever.
Safety is quite understandably also at the top of the company's list of importance, with large notices set around the site keeping all personnel aware of the constant dangers you are faced with in such a setting.  One which stood out read - 'The most important thing you will do today is ensure you go home to your family.
We were advised that the site is a self-contained small town with its own Fire & Rescue Service which is contracted out to the Humberside Fire Service; Doctors and highly trained nurses are situated in the medical centre - the nurses are in fact called 'occupational health practitioners; its own power station which was built in 1975 and creates 3/4 of the power required; its own water supply (doesn't use the domestic supply) and of course the much-needed canteen.
Although there is still iron ore beneath the town it is very deep and so the iron ore used in production comes into Immingham docks from Scandinavia, South America and Australia.  Sadly through the loss of our British Coal Industry coupled with the fact that iron ore smelting requires low sulphur content in the coal and this is not available in large enough quantities here in the UK, most of the coal used is also brought into Immingham from abroad too - approximately 1/4 million tons.  However in addition, a small amount from the Weardale coalfields is also used. 
Now I could actually carry on amazing you with further facts and figures or simply send you off to sleep! However one last item I must mention is that my personal highlight of the day was when I actually drove an engine!  The Arnold Machin is a diesel shunter - pale blue in colour (always important reference for a female!) and weighing in at 380 tons - and as smooth as silk to drive  - what an experience!
Marian Wade can confirm we did this together and I can state that she is extremely good at reversing and lining up with the steps. What do you fancy driving next time Marian???
These trips with the Appleby-Frodingham Railway Preservation Society are available to everyone all year round - check for dates and times and book through Brigg Tourist Information Centre and are free of charge but donations are gratefully received.  I can recommend it for a COMPLETELY different afternoon visit; try it and see.

20th July 2012:
It was heartening to see so many people at our meeting Wednesday18th July, thank you. We all experienced a colourful, informative and entertaining evening professionally introduced by Jane Young and her colleague Jo.  Jane spoke knowledgeably and passionately about the Form, Fabric and Function of pottery taking us from the early Saxon period through to the late Saxon period; showing us examples of items found in the Lincoln, Doncaster and Baston Fen area and covering most eras, ending with the 1930's, surprising us all with an attractive Shredded Wheat dish found at a car boot sale. She told us that the study of pottery is an important part of archaeology simply because pottery is durable and pieces survive, therefore it can be dated and the different types of pots and vessels can be identified by location, thus supplying details about trade routes and contacts. Small fragments, known as sherds or potsherds, are collected from most sites but very occasionally whole vessels are found although I think Jane said that during her time as an archaeologist she has only found four whole vessels to date. We were shown pottery pieces which had been hand made and not wheel turned and told how the clay from these pots often contains pieces of shell or other stone because these pots were used as cooking pots and needed to withstand the heat of the fire.  Feeling the indentations where the potter had placed his fingers to smooth and shape the pot was quite an experience when you think about how long ago this item had been made. The decoration on a 13th Century rabbit pie dish was another item which caught the imagination, as to whom had used it to cook their family's meals. Moving along the decades Jane explained about the entrepreneurial skills of Josiah Wedgewood who eventually had success after a long haul, with his hard paste porcelain when he tried to imitate the whiteness of tea-ware imported from China.  This delicate Chinese ware had become particularly popular amongst the high society of the day. Then we were told how to recognise pottery at car boots - look for orange-peel effect glazing and check for the colour at the base of saucers and pots to see whether they are original or not. 
Now if you came along to the meeting you will know which colours to look for so we shall see you all at the next car boot sale in Saxilby, turning over saucers and plates with a flourish!

17th July 2012:
       
       
Message from our Secretary:-
Thank you to all of you who joined us at this year's Open Day, 14th July, and another huge thank you to those who helped out either by fetching and carrying before and after; manning stalls; baking and keeping the refreshments flowing, and just by being on hand to make the day go so well.                
The committee is thrilled that the event was such a great success, a good follow on from last year.  The only problem being is that when you have a successful event you are then pushed even harder to make the next time even better so I shall be ‘bothering’ people even earlier than before to prepare for our 2013 event entitled, ‘Trades and Trades People of the Area’ so please begin to think ahead and look out any relevant artefacts and photographs you may wish to loan to us once again.
The displays in the village hall were colourful and inspiring and created many focal points for people to stop and chat both with old and new friends.  Rather than just showing items from the past which can become rather flat and repetitive, the group wanted to create an environment for the day where everyone could come in for a chat and search through the old photographs for familiar faces, read up about past events and generally enjoy themselves, realising that there is still that continuity of history and community spirit about which we all wish to safeguard.

23rd June 2012
Message from our Secretary:-
Good morning everyone.   I do hope you have managed to salvage some of the weekend in spite of this awful weather.  The group was lucky enough to be given a window of dry weather for Linda Crust to 'unveil' the village plaque on the village hall wall yesterday evening prior to her talk. If any of you have not yet seen the plaque please do go along to the village hall - outside wall -  and have a quick look as I am sure you will be delighted with the end result.  We are more than grateful to Nick Parker of Streamline Signs who has made a marvellous job out of many sketches and proposals handed to him by the committee; thank you Nick.   Hopefully these images of the village and surround will be in place for many years to come to be admired by all.

 


 
   
 
 Linda Crust with 
David Curtis and David Lucas
 
 History Society members
Friday 22nd June 2012
Linda's talk drew a good crowd as always and was well received.  She reminded us that during the Victorian age Britain was the most powerful nation in the world, experiencing an industrial revolution, advances in science and social reform.  She clearly explained inparticular, how these changes affected children through education and gave us a flavour of the lives of working class rural children. It is her ability to refer to local and personal anecdotes within this period which hold the listener and we look forward to hearing more from Linda at future meetings.

16th May 2012
Richard Pullen was our speaker on Wednesday evening the 16th May 2012.   Richard began by describing the state of Lincoln’s late 19th / early 20th century agricultural engineering, which would eventually allow Lincoln to produce WW1 Battle-Tanks.
At the outset of WW1 our offensive had stalled against the might of German defensive trenches, which they supported with razor wire and machine guns (German guns out-numbered ours by 200 to 1).  Our “Top Brass” examined the possibility for a new super weapon.   William Fosters were awarded a contract by The Land-Ships Commission to develop a Trench Crossing Machine.  Design and manufacture began at Fosters in 1915.   The first prototype was named “Little Willie”.
Richard explained how early tanks were death traps for drivers and gunners.  He illustrated in detail how they evolved following the various battles at Arras, Ypres and Cambrai.  In 1915/1916 our men were on the western front, and we viewed projected screen photographs of our Lincolnshire women manufacturing these tanks..   Richard also produced photographs showing exactly where tank manufacture and testing had taken place.   This was along Lincoln’s Tritton Road area, where today we shop at Asda & Morrisons stores.  
William Tritton became Foster’s Managing Director in 1905, and to recognise his engineering services to tank warfare he was knighted in 1917.
At the end of WW1 many old Lincoln Tanks were positioned in town parks and centres throughout the country, sadly only one such monument now remains at Ashford in Kent.  The original Little Willie never saw combat, and it is on display at The Bovington Tank Museum in Dorset, it is the oldest surviving tank.
Richard’s talk was well presented and extremely interesting, his knowledge was impressive, and he answered all the various technical questions raised by our enthusiastic audience.   It’s really great that we have organisations like Friends of Lincoln Tank dedicated to preserving Lincoln’s proud Engineering Heritage.   Richard Pullen is their Chairman, for further information see web-site www.friends-of-the-lincoln-tank.co.uk

18th April 2012
Mavis Wilkinson began her talk by introducing us to the obvious interesting women of the county such as Margaret Thatcher, Margaret Dickinson and Queen Eleanor but even with these characters she had additional snippets of information which increased the flavour of her talk. Others were then described such as:-
Princess Gwenllian -  daughter of Llewellyn who was the last true-born Prince of Wales.  Gwenllian was captured by Edward I at a few months old and sent to the Gilbertine Priory of Sempringham where she was kept for over 50 years.  This was to prevent her from marrying and having sons who may lay claim to the Principality of Wales.
Anne Askew of Stallingborough - A 16th Century supporter of reform who did not believe in the Transubstantiation and the only woman on record known to have been both tortured in The Tower of London and burnt at the stake.  She was burnt on 16th July 1546 aged 25.
Edith Smith of Grantham  - The first female arresting police officer in the Country.
Sarah Parrot: Lived at Bracebridge towards the end of the 18th Century.   For a considerable period of time she walked each week to Sturton-by-Stow and back, in order to attend meetings with fellow Methodists.
And the list went on; all females mentioned being very 'interesting' indeed.
Mavis supported her talk with books, cuttings and artefacts which she passed round the audience. The evening was educational,
warm and humorous.

27th March 2012
Circular from Secretary Sharron Banham:
-
I feel it is always special to find someone living amongst us who has hidden depths and this is what we found when Terry Marker was kind enough to speak to our group last Wednesday.  His subject was "A Tribute To Those Listed on the Sturton, Stow and District War MemorIal" and through a very detailed account Terry painted an extremely vivid and sad picture of all those lost so many years ago.
Terry served in the RAF for 39 years mostly as a pilot and qualified flying instructor but now his main interest is the study of the Great War.  He visits the Western Front many times a year and as a Badged Battlefield Guide with the Guild of Battlefield Guides, he also conducts small group tours of the battlefields; in other words he eats and breathes the Great War!
Terry began his talk by describing the War Memorial in detail.  How many of us have actually looked properly at this 3.5 metre tall Celtic Cross of grey granite with red granite facings?  How many of us could say which families lost their loved ones?  
We all know how young these former residents of our villages and other areas were but for a short time on Wednesday evening Terry reminded us of the trauma and devastation that the First World War caused amongst our local families.  Letters home from the said victims, some to arrive after they were killed were read out, emphasising the turbulence of emotions these families went through. 
Being a mother to a 19 year old and a 23 year old and I know a lot of you also have young offspring and grandchildren, I just can't imagine how the parents of these 'boys' coped and of course, how those affected  today cope with the horrendous problems which are still happening in other parts of the world. To remember the fallen in such detail even for a short while, courtesy of Terry's  interesting and informative talk enhanced by a Power Point presentation, was humbling and a nudge to remind us of what happened to the ordinary villagers so long ago.  

16th February 2012:
Rodney Cousins was our speaker on the 15th February and he was  armed with Willow basket work, some of which were made by a Mr & Mrs. Leggott of Saxilby, a variety of hand tools and photographs, together with personal accounts of his historical research, Rodney introduced the audience to what was a huge industry along the rivers Trent and Soar between Gainsborough, Newark, Nottingham, Grantham and Leicester between about 1850 to 1950.
Rodney explained that there were between two and three hundred varieties of Willow, many with local names, all common to this area due to wet land along rivers.  This is because Willow tolerates wet areas and thrives where many trees are unable to.  Willow names vary according to use, grower, place of origin and land ownership.  He demonstrated 'stripping the Willow', splitting a Willow rod and the basics of basket making. 
With the speed of growth - three years from planting to cropping -  creating a constant supply of materials ensured the Willow trade went from strength to strength.  Millions of 'rods' were harvested every year to be sorted, graded and prepared for basket making with whole families involved, producing countless wicker items such as the good old shopping basket and food hampers to eel baskets.  Records show that in 1890 one basket making company in Newark employed 300 people.  Thousands of men women and children were employed in the Trent area and the industry was worth millions of pounds.  To further illustrate his information Rodney gave a short slide show.
It's the snippets of information too that makes these talks interesting.
Nearer to home in Saxilby, until a few years ago, there was a working Willow Holt on the A57.  Rodney has managed to save the Willow varieties grown there as he regards them as equal to rare breeds of animal.  It is now considered, through images on Roman mosaics, that Boudicca's chariot was made out of willow to ensure light of weight for the horses and of course speed; The frame of the soldiers' bearskins were once made of willow; Sutton on Trent was considered the centre of the Trent Willow trade and where the process of creating 'buff' willow, the golden colour that we associate with Willow ware, was discovered.  Census records show that it 1841 there was one basket maker but by 1871 there were 20.  The sting in the tale was that in the 1960s the last basket shop in the village was selling imported wicker work! 
Rodney mentioned the renovated Willow Works at Beckingham, linked to the new RSPB managed Beckingham Marshes.  There will be various open days and willow related activities based there in the future.  Thanks to people like Rodney an important part of the area's social and industrial history has not been entirely lost and forgotten.

19th January 2012:
Last night the audience in the village hall was transported from a dark, wet January evening to an attractive water journey as Graeme Wade transported us down the Fossdyke, through the Brayford Pool and into the Witham en route for Boston. During our journey Graeme regaled us with titbits of information such as a brief history of the Fossdyke, the problems the High Bridge in Lincoln caused in the past to river going traffic and why the local councillors in the 18th Century didn't want the floor of the river lowering to allow the larger boats through (all to do with the economy as per usual) and the question of why the Titanic Works at Stamp End are known as such.  There were many more interesting snippets of information during the hour's talk and these, together with superb photography made the evening a huge success.  Thank you Graeme.
Amanda Alford thoughtfully brought along the October 2011 Newsletter of the Lincolnshire Waterways Partnership which complemented the talk exceptionally well.   Should you like to gain copies of these informative and colourful publications you can do so by contacting The Economic Regeneration Dept. at Beech House, Lincoln - andrew.jee@lincolnshire.gov.uk 








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