22nd October:

Message from our Secretary:

For the first time since we formed our society, I had a cancellation of speaker on the morning of our meeting.  Unfortunately Mavis Wilkinson was not well enough to attend so I set out to find another speaker to entertain the crowds!

And I was successful in the form of Mr Peter Robinson from Fillingham.  Peter is President of the Lincoln Engineering Society which was established in 1923 ;author of a series of books on Lincoln's industries and he is a keen and proficient model maker.

However it wasn't Lincoln's industries which Peter regaled us with on Wednesday night, he gave a full and very interesting talk on 'Grimsby and the Fishing Industry'; another huge industry Lincolnshire was once renowned for.

With the aid of excellent photographs and diagrams Peter began his talk with a short description of the lie of the land around Grimsby and how the River Freshney, which rises from at least four springs on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds, originally entered the tidal River Humber at Pyewipe, north west of Grimsby, but was  re-routed to supply Grimsby Docks.

The Grimsby Haven Company was formed by Act of Parliament in May 1796 for the purpose of enlarging and improving the Haven of the Town and Port of Great Grimsby and in 1805 a Corporation was founded to create a new dock after which the town began to grow rapidly.  More new docks were then necessary to cope with the expansion and the Grimsby Docks Act of 1845 allowed the necessary
building works to begin and the development of Grimsby as a fishing port really took off. This boom was aided with the arrival of the railway linking the town with London (Billingsgate Market) and the Midlands.This made it easier to transport goods to and from the port to the markets and farms.  Coal mined in the south Yorkshire coalfields was brought by rail and exported through Grimsby.

With excellent old photographs we were able to see how the docks looked and grew over the decades.  Peter pointed out interesting pieces of industrial heritage which are still there - original lock gates, old warehouses, the controversial ice house - all in a sorry state and a harsh reminder of how important Grimsby once was. In the past you could walk around the docks to gain the flavour of this area but unfortunately because of tight security around industrial areas these days, only dock personnel are now allowed within its confines.

The original dock, completed in 1856, contained a floating pontoon which rose and fell with the tide and at which the Smacks, landed their catches. Fishing smacks were traditional fishing boats, the name Smack literally means sailing vessel and these boats predated trawlers.   In order to preserve the fish whilst at sea some of these boats had a  well amidships. The well was filled with circulated external water which kept fish alive until delivered to land.  Eventually ice was used and so  a building was erected in 1858 for the storage of ice taken from neighbouring ponds in the winter. This proved to be insufficient for the growing industry so then ice was imported from Norway in sailing ships. Later the ice factory was built.

For much of the nineteenth century, wooden sailing ships, reliant entirely on the wind and tides, ventured only as far as the Faroe Islands and the Norwegian coast.  Two inventions dramatically changed the fishing industry: steam power, enabling the ship to sail faster and reach the fishing grounds of Iceland, and man made ice, preserving the fish on board and therefore allowing ships to stay at sea for weeks on end. After the Second World War, oil burners and diesel electric engines replaced coal; navigational equipment was revolutionised by technological advances; and stern trawlers replaced the traditional sidewinder vessels.

It is the Humber Sloops and Keels which are associated with the ports of Grimsby and Hull and still held dear by the Humber Sloop and Keel Preservation Society. The Keels had large square sails and were designed for river traffic such as sailing along the Witham and Fossdyke to deliver goods.  The square sails gave the boats power to sail along narrow waterways.  The Sloops were designed to sail efficiently in the river’s shoal-ridden open estuary waters as well as to make coastal passages.

The Dock Tower which is a well known Grimsby landmark, was completed in 1851 and was designed on similar lines to the Palazzo Publico in Sienna, Italy. The tower was built to provide water pressure to power the hydraulic machinery (for cranes, lock gates and sluices) at the Docks using the 26,500 gallons of water held in the reservoir at the top. Peter told us of his nervousness whilst climbing up inside the tower on a very rusty and unstable ladder when he was admitted to look round.

After the tower was completed building then followed of the Royal Dock in 1852. No.1 Fish Dock was completed in 1856, followed by No.2 Fish Dock in 1877. Alexandra Dock and Union Docks were completed in 1879. During this period the fishing fleet was greatly expanded.  Peter then gave us some very interesting figures.   In  1857 there were 22 vessels in Grimsby. Six years later there were 112. By 1900 a tenth of the fish consumed in the United Kingdom was landed at Grimsby despite the many smaller coastal fishing ports
and villages that also supplied the nation.  The demand for fish in Grimsby grew to such an extent that at its peak in the 1950s, Grimsby laid claim to the title of 'the largest fishing port in the world'. The population of Grimsby grew from 75,000 in 1901 to 92,000 by the 1930's.

The Herring Lasses of Scotland got a mention also - they followed the fishermen down the east coast as they followed the seasonal migration of herring.   Herring were processed on the quayside of all fishing ports.  Chris Bowler, whilst giving the evening's thanks to Peter, reminded the audience that Margarate Dickinson, a 'local lass', had written a novel about this particular area of the fishing industry called the 'Fisher Lass' which gave a good idea of the hardship of these times and how hard the women had to work - as well as the men of course!!

Fifty years ago Britain's fishing industry employed around 50,000 fishermen. Then came the 'Cod Wars' of 1958/61 and 1972/73 and this began the decline of Grimsby's fishing industry (and not just Grimsby of course). Now just six boats are registered in Grimsby to go out fishing.  Foreign vessels may drop their catch but the dockland area is now just a mere spectre of its former self.

However on a more positive note a syndicate of businessmen a few years ago managed to purchase one of the unused docks and after a lot of hard work and money being pumped into the area, this dock now has anchorage for 200 yachts - much more pleasing to the eye than run-down buildings.  In time hopefully, more of the area may be turned over to the leisure industry and at least the 'waters' of Grimsby will continue to be used by those people who love the sea and sailing.

9th September:

Saxilby U3A visit Sturton Village for history tour provided by ssHs members. 

Group photograph outside Sturton Methodist Chapel 

27th July:

Visit to Grimsthorpe Castle: 


23rd July:

An evening visit to Lincoln Transport Museum was enjoyed by 24 people from the history group.  In fact it was a night of 'Boys (and Girls) and their Toys'!  A shed full of vintage buses and cars created conversations of memories, past experiences and lots of laughs. 

Our guide for the evening, Pam Francis initially explained that the Lincolnshire Vintage Vehicle Society was founded by a group of local businessmen in 1959 with the aim of preserving local vehicles of historic interest. 


Former Lincoln Corporation bus number 5, registration VL 1263 was the Society's first vehicle which was soon joined by others.

The vehicles were initially kept at the Sobraon Barracks on Burton Road, Lincoln but in 1962/63 the land on Whisby Road was acquired and the Society moved into what is now their base.  The first building however was a wooden hut, a former NAAFI building, with a new building only being erected in 1993.

The museum was granted Registered Museum Status, followed by Accredited Museum Status in 2009 and now houses a collection of over sixty vintage cars, buses and commercial vehicles, all painstakingly restored by skilled enthusiasts. Numerous displays around the museum capture relevant bygone scenes which created a lot of oohs and aahs.  Artefacts complementing the vehicles all add to the nostalgia of the museum.  My favourite has to be the Caenby Corner AA Box which is open behind a glass screen and displays all that the patrol-man needed.   These black and yellow boxes were once a common sight on all of our major roads, initially being used as a base for a patrol-man between calls.   The boxes were initially lit by oil lamps at night and contained maps, a fire extinguisher and a telephone for members' use.  Later on the boxes provided a means for AA members to seek assistance and to shelter from the weather whilst waiting for that assistance to arrive.  Members were issued with a key that was standard for all AA boxes.  At one time there were 1000 boxes on our roads. Those were the days!!!!

6th July:

Our annual Open Day, on the 4th July, was a huge success.   Held in Stow Minster the theme was "Weddings and Christenings through the Ages".  On a beautiful warm summer's day the setting was perfect for the marvellous displays of Wedding and ChrIstening gowns, with numerous accessories, photographs, trinkets and memorabilia.  The steady flow of visitors were able to browse and reminisce whilst appropriate music was heard creating a fitting atmosphere.   There were bell tower tours and refreshments available throughout the day. Sincere thanks to all who helped and contributed.

19th June:

Linda described a Billy Paddison as one of her favourite "dead" people, him having left detailed records of his life with Lincolnshire Archives.  Thus her evening talk on Wednesday 17th June was about his morals, marriage and Methodism in the Lincolnshire Marsh based on his diaries and photograph albums, in Saltfleetby 1839-1916.

Linda Crust is Editor of the book “Billy Paddison of Soloby”.

22nd May:

On the evening May 20th we were very lucky to have Dr David Marcombe,  the former director of the Centre for Local History at Nottingham University, and currently a trustee of the Spital Chantry Trust  together Dr Ann Borrill, visit the group to talk about St. Edmunds Chapel at Spital in the Street.  This is a Grade II Listed chapel that stands on ancient lands of the Duchy of Cornwall and on Ermine Street (now the A15), one of the most important main roads in England. The chapel is rather hidden away and as you drive through Spital you would actually be hard pressed to notice it.  Why is this chapel here and what significance did this very small hamlet on an extremely busy route, have?                                                                             

Spital in the Street mean Hospital in the Street but Dr Marcombe was quick to point out that 'hospital'here was not a medical term.  The name Hospital in this case means hospitality (obvious if you think about it) and that is what this hamlet was, a place where travellers could receive care and sustenance during their treks around the country. There were two places to stay in Spital at that time, the Long Hall of the hospital was where you were directed if you did not have any money and this is now the chapel we see today.  If you had money to spend you were shown to what was then The Swan which would have given you rather a better overnight stay. Ermine Street was a main route for all travellers and through Dr. Marcombe's clear and full talk accompanied by varied and interesting slides, we managed to see this local area through his eyes.

The hospital called 'Spittal on the Street’ was built in 1396 by Thomas Aston, a canon of Lincoln, and connected with the chapel of St. Edmund, where a Chantry had been founded in 1343. So we can still see the medieval Chapel of St Edmund, the Quarter Sessions house (built in 1592), the old coaching inn - The Ostrich (now a house and we shall learn more about this particular building when Dr M. returns next April to talk to the group again ). The area outside the chapel has a physic garden and adjacent is an orchard which has been lovingly replanted by Ann and can boast 22 varieties of Lincolnshire apple.  As an aside, the chapel was open for the West Lindsey Open Churches weekend for the first time this year and David and Ann were absolutely amazed that they received 600 visitors over two days! ! They ran out of biscuits very early on apparently!  Should you wish to have a look around the chapel on other dates you can email David and Ann on and they will advise you of available dates and times.

The chapel has the status of a 'Royal Free Chapel' and is not subject to visitation by the Bishop of Lincoln or the Archbishop of Canterbury. The dedication of the chapel to St Edmund who was killed in 870 suggests a possible Saxon origin. The first documentary evidence of a chapel is in 1165 and during this century the Knights Templars ran the hospital until the 14th Century.   During that time the hamlet became the home for Templar Corrodians, retired members of the orders who needed looking after in their old age; a kind of pension service.

Between 1395 and 1397 the chapel was reconstructed by Thomas de Aston, Archdeacon of Stow, and a prebendary of Lincoln Cathedral; the Pope granted special privileges to those who contributed to the rebuilding.  Aston built 7 new Alms houses as well as a house for the warden.  However there was no longer provision for travellers within this new regime.

For many years during the English Reformation the chapel was used as a meeting house for the Lindsey Quarter Sessions but when the Wrays built a new Sessions House nearby in 1594 the old chapel became derelict. The chapel was rebuilt in 1616, using some materials salvaged from the earlier building and from small exploratory excavations it is thought that this chapel was probably smaller than its predecessor. Continuing as a chapel to serve the almshouses and the local community it was refurbished again in 1665 following damage and neglect during the Civil War.

Dr M then showed us a slide of a drawing of the hospital complex in 1780 made by a Swiss draughtsman.  We could see that some of the almshouses had fallen down and the whole complex was in a very bad state of repair.

During the 18th Century there was a lot of corruption within the Diocese.  The Dean and Chapter of Lincoln kept money back which should have gone to the upkeep of the buildings at Spital and it was pointed out that this type of problem was not just limited to Lincolnshire.

Moving to the 19th Century, the school in Market Rasen took the de Aston name of the founder (as above) and this gave the school many of the endorsements of the hospital; an important watershed in the history of Spital. The almshouses were closed in 1842 although the chapel remained open as a chapel of ease to serve the local community areas around Spital.

In 1830 John Pretyman rebuilt the chapel taking the unusual step of re-orientating the building West/East (i.e. with the communion table at the West end rather than the East). Dr. M. said they have evidence that the restored chapel was furnished out with box pews, again possibly reused from earlier builds. A final refurbishment in which the sanctuary was raised and a perpendicular style roof installed resulted on October 7 1889 with Bishop Edward King coming to Spital to re-open the chapel. Bishop King was very interested in medieval history and this spurred him to become involved with Spital.  He managed to raise money for restoration of the chapel and William Walker, an architect from Lincoln who had begun his business in 1864, worked a 'make-over' on the building.

Sadly a dwindling congregation in the 1970's forced the chapel to be closed and the pews were sold.  Several proposals were put forward as to what to do with the chapel and David and Ann were determined that it should survive so in  1995 it was purchased by the Spital Chantry Trust of St Edmund which is dedicated to the restoration and refurbishment and now the building is open on certain weekends for us to go along and view how the Chantry Trust have managed to bring this chapel back to life.

An exceptionally interesting evening with lots of points of interest for us to possibly go and see at some future date.

20th March:

On the 18th March Richard actually began his talk with thanks to Terry Marker and the work Terry has done to help Richard find out details of one Cecil Dove, up until a few months ago, just a name among names on the Harby War Memorial.  With the research carried out by Terry, Cecil Dove has become more of a person for Richard to continue his search on the family and he will keep us posted about further findings.

The Talk, 'Curious Lincoln', gave us an insight into the hidden gems of our city.  The Lincoln most tourists and locals never see probably because we simply don't know where to look or we are too busy rushing about shopping or getting to work.  But these things are there for us all to find either outside in the streets or in the local museum.

Richard began with Iron Age Witham Shield. This was found in the River Witham close to Washingborough in 1826 and now resides in the British Museum. Believed to be from 300BC the shield is made of wood with bronze facing and Richard told us that it was more ornamental than practical.   A copy is kept at the Collection but unfortunately this replica has been displayed upside down!

Moving on to Roman Lincoln Richard referred to many sections of Lincoln as we know it but painting a very different picture as it was in the days of the Roman soldiers.  The Romans built a legionary fortress at the top of the hill and this fortress was defended by a deep ditch with an earth bank held in place with timber revetments and with wooden towers at intervals along the wall. Four gateways were built; North, South, East and West.  From about AD90 the site became a Colonia, a self-governing town for retired legionaries and named Lindum Colonia.  The interior of the city was full of houses, shops, workshops, temples and bath houses. Many of these structures were decorated with painted wall plaster and floored with high quality mosaics over underfloor heating.  The central site of the former legionary headquarters became the forum and basilica, which was the very centre of Roman public life. It contained law courts, civic offices, markets and workshops and this was all around what we know as The Bailgate.

In 1878 Bailgate was dug up and workmen discovered the bases of Roman colonnades .  Cobbled circles mark these areas today.

A small door almost opposite the Assembly Rooms leads down under the roadway, once open at certain times during the year unfortunately this is now privately owned and its secrets within carefully guarded.

Shuttleworth's 19th Century mansion (Clayton & Shuttleworth fame - engineering works) stood where the Lincoln Hotel (previously known as The Eastgate).  At the front of the hotel is part of the old East Gate which gives us an idea of how massive these gates would have been.

If you walk along East and West Byte you are following the route between the close wall and the Roman wall of the city. The wall close to The Castle Hotel is the largest piece of free-standing Roman wall in the country known as Mint Wall and a lot of Roman coins have been found close by.

The Stonebow was the south wall of the city fronting on to the river Witham.  The postern gate for pedestrian access to the city is now under the RBS bank and if you have never been down to see it I recommend a visit.  Although nothing spectacular it does give you an idea of where everyone entered and left the city on foot at the south side and a certain amount of goosebumps are felt as you notice the well worn path through the gate - all those feet so long ago!  You can in fact visit the gate on 13th June this year and see what you can feel!!!!

Richard then moved on to Medieval Lincoln which he said he could talk for hours on as there is so much to explore.  However we hadn't got hours on the clock although we could have sat through all of the interesting facts.  Features to look out for - Boundary Stones of the Medieval City at Newport, The Steep and Eastgate.

Check out the downstairs room at the Ice Cream Parlour in the Bailgate, it has a 13th Century vaulted ceiling.

Look for the Medieval crucifix in the entrance to Exchequer Gate on the boss beam of the roof.

Have you ever noticed the head looking out of the cathedral wall onto Eastgate?

Have you seen the Medieval Tithe Barn on Greestone Stairs?

The old Greyfriars Museum was Greyfriars Infirmary.

The list goes on.

Picture where The Works stands.  Many of you will know that this is where the church, St Peter at Arches stood, and was moved to the Ermine.  Behind this church was the Butter Market and the facade of this was used in the building of the current Market which stands facing City Square.

St. Helen's church in Boultham contains many memorials and references to the Ellison family who lived at Boultham Park and  there is a very large block of granite from the walls of Sebastopol with an inscription to the men of Colonel Ellison’s Regiment.  In front of the block are a pair of defused mortar bombs of the sort used in the Crimean War.

I could list a lot more of interesting items which I have in my notebook but I can't expect you to read an email which resembles a tome! As is usually the case, we never see what is on hand locally so next time you are in Lincoln, keep your eyes peeled for the unusual and 'Curious'.

29th January:

Newspaper Gainsborough Standard report Graeme Wade's "Chesterfield Canal" talk on the 21st January 2015.

See page 23 - with photograph 
26th January:
Message from our Secretary..............

Once again we are extremely grateful to Graeme Wade for opening the New Year Talks.  Although the snow had not reached us by last Wednesday it was a bitterly cold night and I was therefore delighted to see we had 27 people brave the elements, no doubt remembering how interesting Graeme's talk was last year.
You may think, Chesterfield Canal?  What has that to do with Lincolnshire?  Well directly not a lot, but indirectly the canal itself passes through Misterton, Gringley on the Hill, joining the River Trent at West Stockwith, all of which are not a million miles away.
The canal is now maintained by the Canal and River Trust who own the 32 miles of canal from the River Trent to Kiveton Park.  Derbyshire County Council owns the 5 miles from Chesterfield to Staveley and the Chesterfield Canal Trust is campaigning to close the gap of eight miles in between.
Graeme has beaten a well trodden path along the canal to bring us up to date photographs which complemented his talk very well.
As always he manages to find those little 'curiosities' to put on film which make his talks all the more interesting as well as broadening the subject.
We were told that the canal has 64 locks  with a rise from sea level at West Stockwith to Norwood Tunnel (the current limit of navigation) of 240 ft (73m).  There are two tunnels along the canal path, Drakeholes Tunnel (the A631 Gainsborough to Bawtry road runs over the top) and Norwood Tunnel.  The latter collapsed in 1907 dividing the canal in two.  There are now major restoration plans being discussed to reunite the two sections but this may be a long ongoing situation!
The canal was opened in 1777, the Act of Parliament authorising the building having been passed in 1771.  The well known engineer and builder of the time, James Brindley, was appointed to carry out the work.  Unfortunately he died soon after work started and John Varley took over.  However it being essentially a 'Brindley' canal the route follows the contours of the land - i.e. it flows round corners rather than building many locks; the reason being it was less costly to do it this way.
Graeme started our journey in the spot closest to Lincolnshire, West Stockwith.  This is where the lock is situated to the tidal section of the River Trent.   Graeme being an accomplished boater for many years, advised us that it is not an easy place for boaters to get into because it is situated on the outside of a bend where the flow is greatest. The idea when moving downstream from Torksey is to come down the river on the tide and hope to arrive at West Stockwith at low water when the flow is slowest.  This is still not always easy and it is preferable to turn well above the lock and come down backwards using the inside of the bend!  To a non-boater like myself, this sounds like extremely hard work!  Apparently going the other it is best to leave West Stockwith at the bottom of the tide so as to get a good push up the Trent.  Graeme claims it is quite exhilarating to pass through Gainsborough in a narrow boat at about 14 knots with a tide flowing upstream at 10 knots!  I think I shall not be putting narrow boating on my 'bucket list' after all!  Sorry Graeme.
The photographs which Graeme showed for each point of call brought to light how different places known to us from the many journeys we take in the car, look from a different angle.  He also added pieces of historical interest such as marks showing on bridges, particularly at Wharf Bridge at Misterton where what looks like a piece of old wood attached to the bridge, is in actual fact the original protection post with rope marks embedded in it.
At Shaw Lock further along, we saw a photograph of a plate on the keystone showing the date of the building along with the initials of the builder.  We imagined how the horses had to be taken over the top of the Drakeholes Tunnel while the men 'legged' the boats through. The boats today are colourful and attractive and used by enthusiasts and tourists but I am sure they all give these men a thought as they pass silently through the tunnel.
Each bridge and stretch had interesting items to keep us all entertained such as 'Whitsunday Pie Lock', the most famous lock on the canal.  It is rumoured that it was named because a farmer's wife baked a huge pie on Whitsunday to celebrate the opening of the lock.
A pleasant assumption but it is more likely to be so called owing to the reason that it relates to a field tenancy changing hands at Whitsun and also partly derived from an old word for a small enclosure as a 'pightle'.  Whatever the reason, it is an interesting name and added more colour to the talk.
We journeyed along the route passing through Retford and Worksop and then saw from more photographs that the canal now starts to climb rapidly through Shireoaks through a number of locks to Turner Wood, an attractive area in the middle of a flight of some 31 locks to Kiveton Park.  Here at Kiveton are the remains of the wharf where stone for the Houses of Parliament were loaded from the nearby South Anston quarry.
So as you will see, if you have read this far (!), even though Lincolnshire had a small mention, the historic content was enough to keep us all captivated for the evening.
Many thanks once again to Graeme who has promised he will return next January with Part II of the story of the Chesterfield Canal.

1st January:

We were sad to learn on the 27th December 2014 of the death of Mr. Dennis Gilbert, one of the Society's Honorary Members.

Mr Gilbert has been an active part of the community for many years, and a knowledgeable resident of village life.

Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.


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