Friday, 20 May 2011

The last two men in Boston Stocks

The Stocks on Bargate green are a grim reminder of a punishment of times past, but have you ever wondered what kind of person was punished this way? Well, the last two people in Boston to be put in the stocks were "Barber Joe" and "Squealy Green".

The old Stocks in Wide Bargate.

Squealy Green was a queer fellow, him and his wife used to bury the stray cats and dogs for the Corporation but he would then go with a rake and get them up again, and then  they had to be buried once more which meant double fees. Eventually the Corporation found him out and Green was marched to the stocks.
Barber Joe is believed to be the very last to go to the stocks, he used to go to the Angel Inn (below) and shave the countrymen in the Tap Room. He would take his shaving tin in his pocket and put it on the Tap Room fire to boil and when the water was hot set to business.

The Angel Inn, Market Place, Boston.

It was a regular barber's shop on a Saturday night. He did very well but was not satisfied and started shaving on a Sunday morning in his own house at the back of the White Hart, that made the other barbers jealous, and they laid a complaint, and Barber Joe was put in the stocks one Monday morning.
Jim Maline and Joe Ashton were the two constables who put him in the stocks and they had to stand by him all the time he was there. People kept throwing pennies and half-pennies which the constables picked up but Barber Joe raved and shouted and made them put the money on the post in readiness for himself later.
So there you have it, Squealy Green and Barber Joe, two of old Boston's historical people who deserve to be up there with Herbert Ingram, Jean Ingelow and the rest of them.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

A paddock in Red Lion Street.

The Centenary Chapel  in Red Lion Street (below) was opened for service on October 1st, 1840 and was destroyed by fire in 1909. A new one was built in its place (second picture below) but what was there on the site previous to 1840?
Well, according to Mr. George Pearson, an old Bostonian, speaking in July, 1914 there was a large paddock there, bounded on each of its four sides by a high massive wall which had been built solely for the purpose of keeping out the general public.

Above:   The first church, burned down in 1909.
Below:   The new church built on its site.

Access to the enclosure, which, as part of the property of the Red Lion Hotel was popularly known as the Red Lion paddock, was only gained by one small gate set into the wall on the side flanking Red Lion Square but, in mockery of these precautions (the young of the town especially) scaled the walls or picked the lock of the gate and took part in organised games and sports. Mr. Pearson himself confessed to going in the paddock and said on Saturday afternoons it was crowded. The ground was also sometimes occupied by a touring dramatic company, which presented plays to all who might turn up, the paddock thus serving as an open air theatre. The "Strolling players", as they styled themselves, came at any time of the year and were as irregular in their visits as another travelling group who gave exhibitions of daring horsemanship in a temporarily erected booth. 

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Neglecting Boston's history

The neglect of Boston's history is nothing new, when the Court Room in the Guildhall was dismantled in 1878 an old turned oak balustrade was removed and for the next 33 years formed part of Mr. G.E. Hackford's garden fence on the Haven Bank !!

Fortunately in June 1911 it was rescued by the Boston Antiquarian Society and given to the Corporation and it was hoped that the old balustrade would find a resting place in the Peoples Park (near the old General Hospital and swimming baths) where it would be a suitable addition to the memorial archway (pictured below) made from the oak timber removed from St. George's Hall in the 1890's. I don't know if they actually did this with the balustrade, maybe someone out there knows?

Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Blue Lion

At 11 p.m. one night at the end of June 1964 in Stanbow Lane, Boston, a beat group shattered the cool night air with a twanging version of "Knees-up Mother Brown" and with this soundtrack one of Boston's good old fashioned pubs curled up and died. All the regulars were there, and in the yard, lit by a string of naked light bulbs, some of them did get their knees up as they danced around on the hardened earth that was once a lawn.

The Blue Lion, bottom left,
"I shall enjoy this, it will be the last", said regular Jack Fletcher as he drank his pint of Mild, and he could have been speaking for everyone present as they ordered their last drinks because for after more than 180 years progress had caught up with the pub and it was to be demolished as part of the Lincoln Lane re-development scheme.

Before the footbridge was built over the river, the Blue Lion can just be seen on the left, opposite the Stump.

"It used to be one of the best pubs in the town", said Mr. Owen Hill, a regular for nine years. "I've been in the bar when you couldn't move". You could move on the closing night though, the bar was only half filled and a handful of regulars stood out in the yard listening to the beat group "Jerry and the Kodas".
"A lot of the old ones aren't here". explained Mrs. J. Holland, another regular. "When their houses were pulled down and they moved onto the Council estates it was too far for them to come".
At last the final pint was pulled and farewells were exchanged as the regulars went off on their different ways and later in the week when the landlord and landlady, Mr. and Mrs. Bob Mawer moved out the shell of the Blue Lion looked out over the river with sightless eyes, as though it could already see the demolition men coming.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Gert and Daisy

Nellie and Bessie Williams, two elderly sisters living in Revesby Avenue (and before that in the New Street area) were known by everyone in Boston as Gert and Daisy. I remember they were teased a lot by the children and teenagers of the town but always gave as good as they got.
They were almost always seen together on their walks around the town but sadly, one night in February 1964 Nellie, aged 70, failed to arrive home. When she was reported missing Boston Police began a widespread search and brought in Police dogs to help them, they concentrated part of their search on allotments and questioned children leaving school.
Her description was issued, slim build, grey hair, wearing a black coat, hat and boots, and only five feet tall. Nellie and Bessie had lived together at 12, Revesby Avenue for a little over two years. A neighbour said, "They were always going out for walks, often after dark. Almost always Bessie, who's even smaller than Nellie, used to walk on in front of her sister, and if she was vexed she used to walk home on her own"
Another neighbour said, "They never seemed to have much to eat at home, they often went for meals at the Cherry Corner Cafe. Sometimes their windows were screened by blankets, and often they could be heard from the street arguing inside". He went on, " I think they were born in Boston, but I've never heard that they did any work apart from a short while when, Nellie once told me, she scrubbed floors at the White Hart Hotel"
Unfortunately, a few days later, poor Nellie was found dead in the the River Haven and her sister Bessie was taken into Frampton House old folks home until other arrangements were made.
Gert and Daisy, two true characters of Boston who should never be forgotten!!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Red Lion "Bus"

In July 1964 Mr. Arthur Windley, a poultry farmer of Mareham-le-Fen bought the remains of a horse drawn 'bus' which was being auctioned at Frampton. Mr. Windley managed to get the bus for nine shillings and even he at the time described it as "a heap of firewood" So why so much interest then? Well, the old horse drawn bus, minus chassis and forecarriage (which was eventually got to Mr. Windleys farmyard at Mareham) was one of Boston's two Red Lion buses which used to transport passengers from the Red Lion Hotel to the Railway Station.
Mr Windley was hoping to rebuild the bus to its original state, "It's in a terrible state, I'm going to have to spend a lot of money to restore it", he said.
I don't know whether Mr. Windley did restore the vehicle or not, maybe someone out there knows the outcome of this story?
The horse drawn vehicle (above right) in the picture was a Red Lion Hotel bus.

Friday, 6 May 2011

The past looking down on us

I took all the following pictures within the last couple of months which proves that the past is all around us if we look around.

This drainpipe is on the house next to Rob and Jan's shop in High Street, we have guttering older than the U.S.A. !!!

Cheer's and Son's, the tailors, traded for years in West Street (in the premises now trading as West Street Furnishings) and their painted sign can still be seen on the brickwork.

Johnson's Seeds, established in 1820, once had a shop where the Waterfront pub is now.

Above and Below: These date plaques are from the old General Hospital and have been put into the houses that were built on its site.

Below: And a bit further on are the old Corporation Baths.