Tuesday, 27 November 2012

It wasn't funny at the time.

In February 1996 a Boston taxi driver who agreed to take a hospital doctor to work was recovering from a 1,300-mile round trip that took five and a half days to complete and left him hundreds of pounds out of pocket.
Vincent Martin's ordeal began when he agreed to take Thambitillai Arudchenthan, 30, and all his belongings from Boston, Lincolnshire, to Lerwick in the Shetland Islands to take up his new post as a senior house officer at the Gilbert Bain Hospital.

Dr Arudchenthan, who is from Sri Lanka, had calculated it would be cheaper to take a taxi than to fly to Lerwick and hire a van for his belongings: the flight alone cost £254. He called Star Taxis in Boston and asked if they would accept the fare. After a few hastily scribbled calculations on the back of an envelope, Star quoted a price of £300 for the trip and set about finding a driver.
Mr Martin, with only a vague idea of the geography of the route, accepted the challenge and, at 3am on February 7, they set off on a 13-hour, 440-mile journey through blizzards and high winds to Aberdeen, where Mr Martin was anticipating a two-hour ferry crossing to Lerwick.
Nineteen hours later, after 200 miles of being tossed about in one of the roughest parts of the North Sea, they docked in gales and sleet.
Mr Martin delivered the doctor and started for home only to discover heavy seas were preventing the P&O ferry St Clair from sailing on Thursday. There was no crossing on Friday and it was not until Sunday afternoon that Mr Martin reached Aberdeen after spending Saturday night at sea in a gale. He reached home in Lincolnshire at 3pm on Monday afternoon.
The Shetland Health Authority, which reimbursed Dr Arudchenthan's expenses, agreed to pay the taxi firm an extra £100, but Mr Martin calculates his loss to be £300. A spokesman for Star Taxis said that if they had known the crossing took 14 hours and that Mr Martin could be delayed for three days on Shetland, they would have charged £700 for the job.
Mr Martin said: "I don't want to point the finger of blame at anyone. The doctor looked after me and got my meals for me. The Shetland people were very friendly. It was just the monotony of being away from my family. I'll put it down to experience, albeit a bad one."

Saturday, 24 November 2012

It's a fair cop.

In Boston Court, George Ruthen aged 62, no fixed abode, cheerfully pleaded guilty when he was charged with being a suspected person and frequenting Strait Bargate with intent to committing a felony on the night of September 12th. 1921.
P.C. Rylott, giving evidence, stated that at 11.30 pm he was on duty in the Market Place, and saw the prisoner go across the road and try Loveley's door. He ran from there to a boot shop next to the Scala cinema and then went across to Harwood's the ironmonger's and tried that door. He then went to the Star Tea Co.'s shop in Strait Bargate and tried to break the lock. The constable got up to him and asked him what he was doing.  He said he meant to get in. He looked at the window and said, "I see it's Co-op, I thought it was a jeweller's."
He was taken to the Police station and charged, He said, "It's quite alright. You know what I have done, and what I intended to do."
The prisoner asked no questions and had nothing to say in reference to the charge. "All I wish is to go to the Assize's. " he said.
The Clerk of the court replied, "It is extremely likely you won't have any choice in the matter."
George said "It is a matter of indifference to me, sir."
The court passed sentence of three months hard labour.

Friday, 23 November 2012

W.H. Scuffham.

W.H. Scuffham was founded in 1950 by William Harlock Scuffham. Initially working on his own, William installed and serviced domestic and light commercial refrigeration equipment. Operating from his home in Boston he was assisted by his wife Mavis, who managed the accounts and dealt with customer enquiries.

W.H. Scuffham
The showroom at 95 West Street, Boston was opened around 1965 to provide a retail outlet for the company's products and services. This site also housed the engineers' workshop and sales and accounts offices.

The shop at 95, West Street in about 1965.
The fleet of Morris Vans.
William died in May 1974, leaving the business in the hands of his son David, who had recently completed his degree in Engineering at Leicester University. The company grew and expanded, recruiting new engineers. The biggest growth market was in commercial air conditioning, and the company became increasingly involved in this field. They also diversified into many other new areas, including crop drying (Dry Air Generators), and other specialist refrigeration systems.

The fleet in 1980.

Another view of the shop in West Street.

Today the company deals primarily in the commercial and light industrial market, using a fleet of well-stocked vehicles and are now able to offer a complete service, including design, installation and after-sales maintenance for a wide variety of air conditioning and refrigeration applications. The shop, sadly, is now a foreign food outlet.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Edward Whites.

In May 1939 Mr. Edward White died at his home "Ashleigh" in Horncastle Road.
Mr. White, who was 76, entered his father's business when it consisted of just a blacksmith's shop and a wheelwright's and from such small beginnings he had seen it grow to a well known motor engineering business.
When he entered the business the internal combustion engine was, of course, unheard of and horses were the transport of the day. There were no frost nails for horses' shoes then, (a nail with a sharp head driven into a horse's shoe to keep him from slipping) and in the winter they were frequently kept busy "turning up" which consisted of removing the horses' shoes, turning up the ends so that they would bite into the ground, and replacing the shoes on the animal's feet.
His father was an accomplished iron worker and, in addition to making his own horse-shoes, made a number of pieces of fancy iron-work. These included two pieces for inclusion in the Communial rail of Boston Parish Church, a pair of gates measuring 18ft. by 8ft. for a country house and a panel for one of the gates of Fydell House.


White and Son, High Street.

His father allowed him to sell bicycles as a sideline (which were then in their infancy) and in 1881 he built an ordinary (Penny Farthing) bicycle on which he cycled to Sutton Docks. Three or four years after entering the business, he took it over from his father, and carried on with the cycle trade. They then began to build their own bicycles, and had their own enamelling and plating plant.
Mr. White also built the first motorcycle in Boston, he saw a similar machine at the Cycle Show at the Agricultural Hall. It was a Singer machine, with the engine in the back wheel, and Mr. White purchased the necessary components and built a machine in Boston.
The firm had their first car on show in 1898/99.

White's motor garage, Bargate End, can just be seen near the left hand side of Bargate bridge.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Fisher Clark.

Throughout its history Fisher Clark has survived through its ability to move with the times. The shape of the familiar tag, with its cut corners, owes its design to Mr John Fisher, a tailor who settled in Boston in 1850. They were made of small rectangles of calico or buckram, folded over at two corners at one end, with the other end then folded over these for strength, and the whole secured by a metal eyelet forming the characteristic label shape of the original John Fisher patent.

John Fisher's Label factory, Sleaford Road, 1857.

Before long demand for these new labels outstripped that for suits, and Mr Fisher took George Clark, a son of a London bookbinder, into the business with him.
The early tags were used primarily for luggage and hamper labelling, and were quick to catch on. Such was the company’s success that Queen Victoria and the future Edward VII eventually became clients.
Mr Clark bought out the Fisher interest in 1876, but two years later, he died, leaving a widow and eight children – four of them sons. The eldest, George, then aged only 17, decided to carry on with their father’s business. He became the driving force that made Fisher Clark a major 20th century label manufacturer and remained actively involved in the business until his death in 1957.
The first purpose-built factory was opened in 1902, employing a lady clerk and 25 operatives. In 1921 Fisher Clark became a limited company. By 1938, and 21 extension later, the workforce had increased to 350. This site, which has been continuously developed and changes, is still one of two Norprint occupy in Boston.
One of the old Fisher Clark factories.
Fisher Clark joined the Norcros Group in 1960, merging with Tickopress in 1968 to form the nucleus of the current labelling giant Norprint International, which has an annual turnover of £50m. Within that structure Fisher Clark now operates as an independent Strategic Business Unit, Having proved its continuing relevance.
Below : Modern labels.

Monday, 19 November 2012


A few spare oddments.

This photograph is believed to have been taken in about August 1926, possibly at the opening of the playing field, which was situated next to the Black Sluice Bridge on London Road, Boston. Children from St. Thomas’ School and the surrounding area enjoyed the play area for many years until it was closed.
In the front row - Phyllis Charlton, Frank and Eva Chapman, Cyril Handley, Ron Diggins, Charles Atkinson, Terry Corrigan, Eric Stray, Ralph Broadley, Ruby Parker, Peggy Kemp, Ray Popple, (?) Clayton, (?) Barwick, Doris Bagley, Doreen Wain (baby in pram) and Elsie Patchett.
Others on the photograph are Gertie Bourne, Ethel Hunt, Barbara and Doug Baxter, Maurice East, Ralph Buff, Dick Hammond (on rings) and Jack Fletcher.

The demolition of the cattle pens in Wide Bargate about 1974.
Undated photo of marching dockers taken outside what looks like the Co-op Stores in West Street.
An unknown bus driver and conductress taken outside the Post Office in Wide Bargate.
An advert for Hubbert's Hairdressing Saloon.
An undated photo of an old T.V. detector van down Tower Street.
 The Stump and the river.

Goodies and ice cream.

We always said "Goodies" and never called them sweets.

Not many people will have heard of Mr. Tom Scotney's sweet making business at 55 Pen Street, but in 1939 (in his 80th. year) he had already been making sweets for 67 years, and apparently good ones they were too as countless ha'pennies were spent on Scotney's "broken scotch" and bulls-eyes.
Thirty of those years were spent working for Mr. Foreman, sweet-maker of Threadneedle Street Boston.
Fourteen years before he started his own business he was steward at the Peacock Bowling Club and many triumphs he could recall there, particularly at skittles, at which he had few equals. He often acted as a waiter in Mr. Clemows days when the Peacock catered for functions all over Lincolnshire. One of his specialities was his whooping cough candy, made from a recipe that had been in his family for a hundred years and it was said that he could put exactly two pounds of sweets onto the scales at the first weighing as he had had that much practise.

The Peacock in Mr. Clemow's days, where Tom Scotney often acted as a waiter.

Jakeman's were established in 1907 in Boston where they remain (at Sutterton, a village 6 miles distant) to this day and specialise in quality menthol based confectionary, they joined the LanesHealth family in 2007. LanesHealth are leaders in providing alternative natural remedies to many common ailments.

This Ice Cream Van which I remember as a boy was owned by Skinners and was a familiar sight in the Boston area for a number of years, Mr. Skinner was always welcome and I remember he used a handbell to let you know he was in the street. Originally starting life as a pickup, the model was adapted by its owners.
Another place I remember going to when I was a boy was the Brandy snap factory which was situated off Wormgate but I can find no information or pictures of it.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Wood trade in the 1930's.

One of the biggest employers in Boston at one time were the local woodyards. As teenagers in the 1960's we used to go down the river bank near Skirbeck Church and on the dock to climb the hundreds of wood stacks situated there, the dock was owned by the council in those days and you could walk on and off at will. Here is a very brief history of some of the Boston firms.

W.H. Lewin.
Sometime in the first half of the 19th. century the firm of W.H. Lewin, timber and hop merchants (a strange combination) came into being. In 1859 Mr. Frank Harrison entered the firm which was known as W.H. Lewin and Son, and a few years later he became a partner the name being changed to Lewin, Son and Harrison. It was in the 1880's that Mr. Harrison took over the firm, and changed its name to the familiar (to my generation) Harrison and Lewin.
In 1917 when Mr. James Tait became manager of the firm they had two yards in South End and by 1939 they employed 120 - 200 men, had six yards and storage room on the dock, the whole covering about ten acres.

J.S. Towell.
In 1917 J.S. Towell came into being when  Councillor J.S. Towell took over a yard at Bargate End. It was a very small business to start with but before his death in the late 1930's he had seen it grow until it gave regular employment to 120 men and up to 200 in the importing season. In addition to the original premises the firm also had yards in Skirbeck Road as well as all round the dock.

Above: A timber boat being unloaded at Boston Dock in 1926.
E.S. Trenery.
Just after the First World War E.T. Trenery and Sons, of Northampton, began to import timber through Boston and in 1925, Mr. E.S. Trenery dissolved partnership with his co-directors and commenced business in Boston on his own account. Two years later the limited company of E.S. Trenery and Sons was formed. Again, by the late 1930's they employed about 36 men (rising to 60 in the importing season) and had about two acres of storage ground.

May and Hassell.
A Bristol firm, started in 1885, May and Hassell opened their Boston branch in 1928 and ten years later the Boston branch handled more timber than any of its other branches. Their storage ground in Boston covered about ten acres and they had a regular staff of 50 men increasing to 120 during the summer.

All the above firms handled general timber but the timber trade did not stop there for there was also the telegraph pole industry as represented by Calders. After the coming of the railways to Boston a Mr. Calder started a sleeper mill on the dock for the cutting of sleepers for the tracks. In 1930, Sir James Calder, who was head of the firm, decided to extend the work to the handling and creosoting of poles, and a site on London Road was purchased, sidings were laid down, and the creosoting plant installed.
The growth of the business was extremely rapid and in 1934, the peak year, 45,000 telegraph and power line poles were sent to all parts of the country. As can be seen below Calders (now Calders and Grandidge) is still going strong in 2012.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Christmas 1914.

The following letter was sent by Private M. Rivett of the "C" Company, 2nd. Lincolns, to his wife at 9, Orchard Street, Boston in 1914.

"Just a few lines to let you know that I am still keeping well. I hope baby and yourself are the same. Well, this is Christmas Day, and we are having a nice day, quite enjoying ourselves. Not a shot is being fired, as far as we can hear. It is a mutual armistice and our Battallion is out of the trenches for a short spell.
I suppose the Germans are quite as pleased as us to have a quiet day, in fact, it was told to us this morning by several of our officers, who had been to the trenches, that our men met the Germans half way between the trenches, exchanged greetings, gave them cigarettes etc., and had quite a friendly meeting. Of course, only a few of each met, and without arms.
We had a fine dinner, boiled chicken, potatoes, turnips, leeks, topped up by a pound of fine plum pudding, with rum sauce. Not bad, was it? Tonight we are having a concert round the camp fire, in fact, they have just started. During the day we had football matches, with a new ball, sent by some kind friends. So you see it takes a lot to upset our men, or make us forget Christmas.
But what a change tomorrow. Our battallion will be in the trenches. Peace and goodwill forgotten, each man will be trying his best to pick off one or more of the enemy. But all will be different next Christmas, for something must soon give way under the great strain, and I am confident it will not be the Allies side of the trenches. It is splendid to watch our flying men go over the Germans lines, for they never turn back until they see what they go for. I saw one machine have at least thirty shells fired at it. Some of them were very close, too, and each moment I expected him to be brought down. But we were very pleased to see him fly back again. This is quite true.
The officer just told us that this morning the Germans sang their National Anthem,and our men responded with "Rule Britannia," which was encored by the Germans and sang again. One German said to one of our officers, "You will be here only a few days now, we have crushed the Russians." Our officer said, "But I can tell you a different tale. The German army has been badly beaten by the Russians." The German replied, "Why should I believe you any more than you believe me?" So you see they are still confident, and not yet beaten. The truth of this is vouched for by several of our officers.
I received your parcel, one from Mrs. Wallesley, and the one from the Boston papers. Thank all who sent me things, and Hannah for the pudding."

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Goodbye to the tank.

In early September 1937, large metal cylinders similar to torpedoes in shape and size, appeared alongside the First world war tank near the war memorial in Bargate, followed by the appearance of two workmen. These proved to be employees of Thos. W. Ward, Ltd., of Sheffield, who had recently bought the tank and the German field gun from the council as scrap metal at the price of £56.
The workmen said that the large tubes were part of the oxy-acetylene plant with which the tank and field gun would, within the course of that week, be taken to pieces. Oxy-acetylene burners they said would bore their way through the side plates of the tank, one side of which would be removed first, and the weapon would be gradually taken to pieces suitable for handling by the workmen. The field gun would also be taken to pieces in the same manner. The work was expected to last the week and on the morning of September 2nd. the work was being watched by an interested crowd.
Two years later we would be at war with Germany again and probably some of the scrap metal went into building arms for the new war effort but personally I wish we still had the tank and field gun. Not many pictures have survived of the tank or field gun, in the one below which was taken in 1921 at the unveiling of the war memorial the tank can just about be seen under the crowd of children sitting on it!! In the next one the tank is just visible.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

George Bass.

George Bass was born on 30 January 1771 at Aswarby, a hamlet about 20 miles from Boston. His father died in 1777 when Bass was 6 and he and his Mother moved to Boston. He attended Boston Grammar School and later trained in medicine at the hospital at Boston. At the age of 18 he was accepted in London as a member of the Company of Surgeons, and in 1794 he joined the Royal Navy as a surgeon.

George Bass.
He arrived in Sydney on HMS Reliance on 7 September 1795. Also on the voyage was Matthew Flinders. Together with Flinders, he sailed more than 18 000 kilometres exploring the coastline of Australia and proved that Tasmania was an island. Soon after they arrived in Australia, Bass and Flinders explored the coastline south of Sydney in a tiny boat called the Tom Thumb. Bass who was 24, and Flinders who was only 21 were both very adventurous. Very few people would have had the courage to sail into the open sea in such a small boat. During this trip they explored the land south of Sydney and found land suitable for settlement.

Memorial in St. Botolphs church (The Stump).
In 1797 Bass left Sydney in a whaleboat. He took with him 6 sailors and 6 weeks' supply of food. Before reaching Western Port, he came across a party of 7 escaped convicts and promised to rescue them on his return. He then sailed on to Western Port on the southern coast of Australia. Strong winds forced him to stay here for nearly 2 weeks. Bass suspected that there must be a strait of water separating the mainland from Tasmania (then called Van Diemen's land). He rescued the convicts on his way back and sailed back to Port Jackson, after exploring 300 miles of previously unknown coastline. In 1798, Bass and Flinders set off in the Norfolk to sail around Van Diemen's Land. The Norfolk was the first boat to be built in the colony and was built by the prisoners on Norfolk Island. Bass and Flinders discovered and explored the Tamar River. They then spent another 3 weeks mapping the north coast of Tasmania before they sailed down the west coast. They sailed down the Derwent River where Hobart now stands and then set sail for Sydney. They had proved that Van Diemen's Land was an island by sailing right round it. Flinders named the strait, Bass Strait, after George Bass. The discovery of this strait meant that ships could save days when sailing to England, by sailing straight along the south coast, rather than right around the bottom of Tasmania. This was their last voyage together. Bass sailed from Sydney in 1803 to travel to South America. He disappeared and was never heard of again.

Bass lived for a time at the Crown and Anchor in London Road Boston, the pub is now demolished but this sign was saved and embedded in the wall at the site.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Park-keeper Butterworth and "Sausage" Scott.

Mr. Thomas Ward was born in Boston but went to live in London in the mid 1890's, he visited the town again in 1937 and shared tender memories of his childhood days in Boston. Apparently the Corporation at one time bestowed ha'pennies upon the more agile youths of the period who frequented the People's Park (Down near the old swimming baths) and Mr. Ward explained how they did it.

The People's Park.
A clothes basket was balanced on a pole and across the basket sat a boy armed with a stick. He had to lean forward and knock off a ha'penny placed on a pole just within reach. If he did it without falling off. the ha'penny was his.

The Park with the General Hospital behind.
The man who saw that no one cheated and who placed the ha'pennies on top of the pole was Park-keeper Butterworth, often assisted by "Sausage" Scott, nicknamed because he always carried a sausage like article to chastise the bad lads that would not keep off the grass, climbed trees or picked the flowers.

Another view, with the Hospital again.
By 1937 the Central Park was where people went to relax and the People's Park became less and less used, it is now wasteland but I can remember even in my young days of the 1950's and 60's how you could still see the layout with its hills and bridges etc., though by then it was well overgrown and it was known to us as The Old Park,

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Tom Kemp

Tom Kemp retired in March 1937 after 44 years of employment as a paver and slabber at Boston Corporation, paving the streets at the time when they were of granite slabs. He was one of the first to pass over the Town Bridge after it was reconstructed (in 1913) and helped to pull the old bridge down of which he had a memento, a piece of ironwork in the shape of a figure "8", that his wife used as a stand for the flat-iron!

The old and new Town Bridge.

He helped in the construction of the Municipal Buildings and one of his last jobs was near the Sluice Bridge where he helped to make the circle (the small roundabout?) near the bridge and lay the pavement from Tattershall Road up to the bridge. For 15 of those years he was transferred from the town down to the dock, and while going to work from his home in London Road one day over the Swing Bridge, wheeling his bicycle, he got almost over the bridge when a railway engine came down the line. He couldn't get away and was pinned between the bridge and the engine. The bicycle was torn in half and he was left holding the handle-bars and the front wheel.
On another occasion he was helping to trace a gas leak in West Street when he struck a pebble while shovelling out soil. The spark from the pebble ignited the leakage in a main pipe but he jumped out before any damage more serious than singed eyebrows had occurred!
One embarrassing occasion which stayed in his mind was when he had been stationed outside the Municipal Buildings when they were opened in order to take the tickets of those who had been invited. He stopped one man from going through because he hadn't got a ticket and refused to let him pass, then the Police came and told him that the man was Mr. Doughty, the M.P. for Grimsby!