19th July

Message from our Secretary:

On the 17th July Ben Irving fed us with detailed information relating to Lincoln castle but this time the facts featured after the Battle of Lincoln Fair 1217, all of which were embellished with superb slides of the current castle as well as artists' impressions of times gone by.  Even if you have visited the castle and thought you knew it inside out, Ben came up with those extra Tit-Bits which gave a gloss to the evening  - 

 - such as quoting from a sermon given by the prison chaplain, where you could feel the chill of the prison chapel through the words 
resonating around the harsh building where the prisoners could only see the chaplain and not each other because of the door system keeping them apart.

- or telling us about the oriel window seen as you walk through the East gate.  I have often commented about this window because although it is attractive I have always felt it is a little out of place.  Well apparently this window could have journeyed from Syria - so possibly older than the castle (I hope I have got this right Ben??!), taken to Sutton House in Gaunt Street, Lincoln and then rescued from there in 1850 and placed in the castle walls.  In fact it is on the first floor of the entrance to the castle so people entering could be viewed from the said window without realising.

- The Crown Court - 1822/26 built by Robert Smirk who also built the British Museum.  Not really 'fit for purpose' as the current phrase used these days, mostly as an excuse to re-build etc. but Lincoln is lucky in that our Crown Court and that of the city of Lancaster are the only two courts left in the country which are situated inside a castle.

The above are only three pieces of really interesting facts which Ben imparted throughout his talk and our thanks are extended to Ben for once again being prepared to come along and entertain us.  

22nd March:

Message from our Secretary:

On the 20th we welcomed Chris Hewis of Saxilby History Society, who gave an informative and interesting talk on the village of Torksey. 
As most of us know, this is a very small, relatively sleepy village, south-west of Sturton which we have all driven through at some time. Some of us may have walked around the lanes as well as crossed the recently renovated viaduct which was originally built in 1847 to carry the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway across the Trent.  So most of us know a little bit about the history of this village but Chris filled in many gaps, particularly emphasising how important Torksey used to be.  The village was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 and has an interesting history going back much further.  We know of the Roman connection because of the canal, The Foss Dyke which crosses the River Trent through a series of locks and it was here that the Romans founded a town here called Tiovulfingacester.   

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year 872 AD mentions a Viking winter camp at Torksey and recent archaeological finds suggest that the Vikings reused an earlier Saxon burh, or defended settlement, possibly a form of 'beach market' beside the river.  The latest research was conducted by archaeologists from the Universities of Sheffield and York who created five test pits on the banks of the Trent and these revealed how the camp was used by thousands of Viking warriors, women and children who lived there temporarily in tented accommodation.  The camp lay within a naturally defended area of higher ground, partially surrounded by marshes and bordered by the River Trent on its western side, known as Turc's Island - hence several centuries later, Torksey.  Several thousand individuals overwintered here, including warriors, craftworkers and merchants.  They also used the site as a base to repair ships, melt down stolen loot, and manufacture items required.   How did the Vikings spend their spare time during the long winters? Well, from the dig bucket loads of gaming pieces, made out of leather, were discovered so it is assumed gambling was rife as a past-time.   

Chris was adamant to point out that Vikings never wore horns in their helmets and the name 'Viking' is Norse and means Sea Pirate.  The Vikings which invaded our shores came from Denmark.   

Chris then mentioned Sweyn Forkbeard - not the pub in Gainsborough but the father of King Cnut - this spelling has replaced that which is known to most of us as King Canute.  Cnut was a fierce Danish warrior king who conquered vast swathes of northern Europe and ruled over England between 1016 and 1035.  So here we have it, historically, Gainsborough is the "capital that never was". In 1013 Sweyn Forkbeard, together with his son and heir Canute, arrived in Gainsborough with an army.   Sweyn defeated the Anglo-Saxon opposition and the then Anglo Saxon king, King Ethelred fled the country.

Sweyn was declared King of England, and he returned to Gainsborough.  Sweyn and Canute took up high office at the Gainsborough
Castle (on the site of the present-day Old Hall), while his army occupied the camp at Thonock (today known as Castle Hills) but unfortunately Sweyn was killed five weeks later when he was thrown from his horse in Gainsborough and Cnut established a base elsewhere.  

By the time of the Domesday Book in 1086, Torksey was the third-largest settlement in Lincolnshire, after Lincoln and Stamford. Two medieval monasteries were established here, and the residents were served by three churches. Of the three only St Peter's remains.  

Beside the river is the remains of the 16th-century manor house, Torksey Castle, which fell into disuse after its destruction in the Civil  War. The manor house (it was never a castle, despite the name) was built by the Jermyn family, possibly as a stopover on travels to York from their Suffolk home.  The location beside the river probably had a dual purpose; it was convenient for transporting goods but perhaps as important, the Lords of Torksey had the right to exact tolls from river traffic, so the castle would have been a profitable enterprise to maintain.  

The Jermyns supported the king in the Civil War, and the manor was ized by Parliamentary troops. However Royalist soldiers from Newark attacked and burned the house, (apparently whilst the Parliamentarian soldiers were 'well away' on ale found in the cellar!).  The house was never rebuilt; as per usual, stones were scavenged for local building projects, and some of the structure was lost when the Trent River Board raised the water levels in 1961.  There is no public access to the castle, but it can be seen from a footpath on the river's west bank, and briefly from the A156.   

Chris ended with a mention of the Brampton Pottery.  For those of  you who bought a copy of 'Memories of Local Business Life in Sturton by Stow', you can read the chapter Sharron wrote about this company which was established in 1802.

6th February:

Message from our Secretary:

Good afternoon everyone, 
Graeme set the group off again on its year of talks telling us about the history of Lincolnshire Railways and nostalgia filled the room!  I can't think anyone would not be moved when viewing photographs, particularly those as good as Graeme takes, of steam engines either stationary or with steam billowing around them as they ploughed through the countryside.   We were taken through a history of stations and towns in the county and the engineering capabilities of times gone by.  The engineering prowess and design of these work horses is something we won't see again so let's hope the numerous railway heritage centres and volunteers remain vigilant and determined to keep these wonderful pieces of history alive for generations to come.

Photographs of St. Mark's station then led Graeme to explain that when this station was closed (now St. Mark's shopping area), a new line had to be installed to connect trains leaving Lincoln for Newark and this was put in at the back of what is now Morrisons in around 1985/86.  This required an Act of Parliament before it went ahead and the line actually went through an old rubbish tip at Skew Bridge which had to be filled in with almost 400 tons of infill.  How many people would have known this today?  Graeme, all of your talks must be archived for the future! 

St. Mark's railway station, the first in Lincoln, was opened by the Midland Railway in 1846.  It was originally a terminus; the line was
extended through the station only a few years after it opened to connect with the Great Northern Railway just to the east of that company's Lincoln Central station.

Going back to 1984 Lincoln got a train named after it - The City of Lincoln for £1,500 and we saw photographs of the then Mayor of Lincoln, Geoff Ellis and Graeme  at the naming ceremony.  Fast forward to 2013 and the Lincolnshire Echo did the same thing on a much newer engine.

The signal box over the river Witham in Lincoln is listed and actually used to be a swing bridge.  Again, how many of you knew that or even remember seeing it in action?? 

The Lincolnshire Wolds Railway was used in several photographs.  This is a superb small railway heritage site and can be accessed at the Ludborough station (close to Louth) - see -  - there are excellent facilities here and you will see from the website that each month events are held on site, all of which help to keep this little gem going.  Do try the Signal Box experience here.  I was lucky enough to have one of these bought for me as a Mothering Sunday present!  Such fun and hard work - very physical running up and down the outside steps and opening and closing the gates -  but I learnt so much.  I was hooked! 

Another surprise in Lincolnshire is the Appleby Frodingham Railway Preservation Society which run trips around Scunthorpe Steel Works.  What?  I hear you cry; boring!  Not a bit of it, this is industrial heritage on our doorstep and is really interesting.  The society organised a trip on this railway back in 2011 and Graeme had the group photograph taken at the on-site station to prove it, and also to prove we returned in one piece!   On selected summer weekends Rail-tours  run round the Scunthorpe Steelworks site complete with well-informed guides (usually past employees of the steelworks and you will learn all about Iron and Steel Making with glimpses of red hot steel. These afternoon tours are suitable for all the family and on selected Saturday evenings adult only brake van tours are run which Graeme said are very interesting and exciting! You can also enjoy a coffee in a restored Buffet carriage when you make a short stop at the loco sheds.  All booking is done through Brigg Tourist Information Centre - 01652 657053. At this point eight years ago I drove one of the engines along a side track which was amazing!  Perhaps not for the driver who was sitting right by my side!

Graeme pointed out with the help of again more excellent photographs, that we are very lucky in Lincoln to be visited fairly regularly by the
'famous' engines such as Mallard, The Flying Scotsman and Sir Nigel Gresley usually bringing visitors to the Christmas Market or on a special outing to the county. 

Again I have to say that a couple of years ago I had the exciting opportunity on Haworth station to climb onto the footplate of The Flying
Scotsman and chat to the engine drivers whilst taking photographs.  To gain access there is a very tight squeeze through the door aperture and once on board the heat is so intense it is difficult to breathe but definitely an experience on my tick box list - brilliant; I thoroughly recommend it.

So, thank you Graeme for keeping us fully steamed up on a cold January evening.  For me you were talking to the converted on how we must retain this wonderful heritage and I only touch on the very outside of being a railway 'anorak'!  Don't I?????  But hopefully, some of you may explore the above suggested outings during this year. 

12th January:

A little late reporting, however we listened to a very different talk presented by Phil Turney of Sturton about The Secrets of Fashion and Design.  This wasn't just a talk about who wore what and when, Phil began by describing the processes of block printing and the more intricate stencil printing, which then moved onto silk screen printing introduced by the Japanese which gave more elaborate designs.  Then he moved on to the spindle which was subsequently outmoded to the spinning wheel and then fast forward to the Industrial Revolution when the invention of the  spinning frame by Richard Arkwright speeded up the industry as this was used for spinning thread or yarn from fibres such as wool or cotton in a mechanised way. It was easy to work with and by the end of the 18th century it was worth more than one million in modern-day pounds.  This was the start of the frenetic industrialised world we know today. 

Most of Phil's sections were coupled with slides including a photograph of a piece of hand-made embroidery which was made in 1750.  After this picture there was a slide of Phil working on screen printing but this, of course, was well after 1750!! 

We were told that even if we wandered down Savile Row today we would see the tailors/tailoresses sitting cross-legged on tables producing suits; rather a relief to know that some things down alter and haven't been wiped out altogether. 

Norman Hartnell's name came up  -  Hartnell was a leading British fashion designer, best known for his work for the ladies of the Royal Family. He gained the Royal Warrant as Dressmaker to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 1940; and Royal Warrant as Dressmaker to Queen Elizabeth II in 1957.  Phil told us that as early as 1923 Hartnell wanted to be a fashion designer but not one of the fashion houses would take him on so he was given £300 by his mother to help him find a suitable property where he could live and work.  He found his perfect place in Bruton Street and after a bit of a rocky start his star took off and his House became the place to go for your hand-made clothes and after a short while he started taking on over 2000 commissions a year. 

The famous dress for Queen Elizabeth's Coronation is regarded as one of the most important examples of twentieth-century design
and Hartnell  submitted nine different designs with The Queen eventually accepting the eighth! After listening to a few more anecdotes about this house-hold name, I feel a whole talk on Norman Hartnell would be possible. Perhaps Phil may think about this for 2020??

Our Secretary came away from Phil's talk feeling we had had more than one talk because he had covered so many integrated topics within his title.  Thank you Phil for this most interesting evening. 

1st January:

it was a delight to see so many of you attend our Christmas social event.  As ever, everyone was very generous with their supply of goodies to eat which got us all off to an eating regime for Christmas!!!! Entertainment came in the way of the The Gainsborough
Ukulele Strummers who played out several well known tunes which we could sing along to, including seasonal ones to put us all in the Christmas mood.

 Find us on Facebook - for extra news & information
Community Web Kit provided free by BT