Friday, 28 September 2012

The Germans.

At the start of the First World War in 1914 there were two German brothers living in Boston who had been naturalised Englishmen for twenty-three years. The brothers, George and Leonard Cantenwine owned a butchers shop in High Street and late on the first Saturday night of the war a crowd attacked the shop because it was rumoured that customers had heard them expressing pro-German sentiments.
All the windows were broken and the shop looted and several of the attackers were later charged, surprisingly one of these was Alfred Harlow, another butcher.

Recruiting in the Market Place 1914, when there was hatred toward the German people of the town.
When he gave his evidence, Leonard Cantenwine asked the magistrates to be lenient and later several Boston people wrote to the press and expressed sympathy for the Cantenwine's and disgust with the rioters. In the first week of August 1918 when the war had gone on for four long years, an unsigned letter appeared in all the local papers explaining why the local farmers had not supported as well as had been expected the War Savings Campaign that summer. The writer pointed out that 'Germans' were living in Boston and had purchased farms near the military aerodrome at Freiston Shore. Leonard Cantenwine did own a small farm at Freiston and had recently bought a second at Leverton. The letter also accused these Germans of going to these farms daily in order to spy and hinted that they were preparing to assist in a landing of German troops on the coast. The writer was soon identified as Mr. Joseph Bowser J.P., also chairman of the Boston Branch of the National Farmers Union.
The Cantenwines had had enough and decided to defend themselves and started an action for libel against Mr. Bowser, The case wasn't heard until June 1919 when the war was long over. Many witnesses appeared for Mr. Bowser and they retold every little event of the war involving the Cantenwines in an attempt to show that the brothers supported Germany despite their naturalisation and, therefore, that Mr. Bowser's comments were basically true. Miss Bristowe, a barmaid at the White Hart and Walter Woodthorpe the coal merchant, told how Leonard Cantenwine in 1914 had forecast that the Germans would win the war and that he would become 'Burgermaster of Boston'.
The jury took only twenty five minutes to decide that Mr. Bowser's letter was defamatory but that the words used were fair comment on a matter of public interest. The Cantenwines were ordered to pay the entire costs of the case and it is no wonder that they soon left Boston.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Boston Hoaxed.

In 1921 the following was found in an old cutting book which, sadly, was dateless. The Peacock is mentioned and in the 1880's this hotel was renamed the Peacock and Royal after a son of Queen Victoria stayed there so it was obviously pre this date.

"................a military hoax was perpetrated on the Mayor and town of Boston (Lincolnshire) a good many years ago, and which made the town the laughing stock of the countryside for a good many years. One day a gentleman of smart bearing and military appearence arrived at the police station and asked to see the superintendent of the police. He informed this gentleman that he was Captain X--, and had arrived to prepare quarters for 500 troopers who were on the road, and would arrive in Boston the next day. The superintendent took the Captain to the Mayor, and the latter gentleman hastily summoned some of the Aldermen, and it was decided to give the troopers a public welcome. In the meantime the Captain, escorted by the superintendent, went to the chief hotel, the Peacock, and arranged for the officers quarters there, giving very generous orders right and left, even to the killing of several sucking pigs.

Every hotel and inn of the town was requisitioned, and the butchers were soon busy killing extra beasts and sheep. The Mayor decided that it would be the proper thing to meet the troopers on horseback, and invited those Aldermen and Councillors and prominent townsmen who could ride to do the same. The Mayor, leading the way with a numerous suite, all on horseback, started early, and reached Kirton, the first village south of Boston. There they waited, several hours elapsed, but no troopers ever arrived, and at last it dawned on the whole of the people assembled that they had been hoaxed, and very badly hoaxed too, as the captain had cashed numerous cheques which, like the soldiers, were bogus. Some of the butchers were very badly hit, and meat and provisions were very cheap for several days after."

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Victoria Pub.

In March 1920 an objection was put before the justices against the renewal of the licence of the Victoria Beerhouse in Rosegarth Street. The objection was that there were twenty five lodgers living in only six rooms. The statement evidently "staggered" the Mayor who, when he pointed out that there were only six bedrooms, the landlord replied that there were three beds in each room. Six times three equals eighteen the Mayor said and the landlord complacently remarked that they were double beds!

The area of Boston now occupied by the Police Station, old Quik-Save supermaket, Jobcentre etc. By the time this picture was taken most of Rosegarth Street had been demolished.
The Chief Constable stated that the licence was unnecessary and the renewal was not desirable. He said that in Lincoln Lane and Courts leading out of the lane, from the corner of Stanbow Lane to the Mission Schoolroom, a distance of 186 yards, there were 68 inhabited houses, three of which were licenced - The Blue Lion, The Victoria and The Duke of York. In Rosegarth Street there were three licenced houses, The Victoria, The Stag and Pheasant and The Hop Pole.
Inspector Swain said that he had known The Victoria for over 30 years and during the last twelve years had frequently visited the house. The class of trade he said was very rough and men and women from various parts of the town went there. On more than one occasion he had spoken to the landlord (George Henry Brady) about the conduct of the house. Brady, the Inspector added, had been too lenient with his customers, and they had got the upper hand of him. J. Broughton of 29 Lincoln Lane, a second hand furniture dealer, said he had been a regular customer for 43 years and that half the customers were local residents, and the volume of trade spoke to the necessity of the house. Evidence was also given by James Wm. Bull of Rosegarth Street, and Walter Vergin, boot repairer, Rosegarth Street. Fortunately for the customers the licence was renewed but the Mayor said they might give a warning as to that particular house, for further guidance.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Boston United stuff.

Thank you to Andrew Butler who sent me the following.
Boston versus Gak-Graz, April 1954.
The Standard saluting Utd beating the football league club Bradford Park Aveune in the FA Cup in the 20's.
The club mascot in the 1950's.
This is one of Andrew's oldest programmes from 1927.......and as he rightly says even I can't remember that far back!!!!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

September snippets.

This building, near Goodbarn's Yard in Wormgate, was once owned by the Barnard family and the large arch gave access to a riverside wharf. The family were brewers and owned a lot of public houses. They were also merchants who opened a bank in the 1790's but on 27 June 1814 they became the first bank in Boston to fail.


An old football programme advertising many forgotten Boston businesses including the Spick 'n' Span cafe, the Loggerheads pub and Cream Line Taxi's.


A cigarette card issued by Ogden's, a branch of the Imperial Tobacco Co. and showing Shodfriars Hall Boston.


An unusual view of Boston Market Place showing a flag flying from the top of the Stump.


Thursday, 20 September 2012

Some oddments.

Ellen Colam.

Mrs. Ellen Colam was born around 1843. Ninety two years later in February 1935, and living in Liquorpond Street, she shared her memories of Boston in the "old days." She chuckled as she recalled the taunting of the gypsies during her childhood who used to camp where Woodville Road is situated now. She talked about some of the murders which took place in Boston during her younger days, remembering the poisoning of Peter Mawer by Catherine Wilson (who was later hung for another murder) and also that of a little girl who went to a school which was near Hussey Tower, and who was murdered on her way home.

She had some interesting reminiscences concerning smuggling which used to be very rife in the town, and described how an infuriated crowd broke the windows of the house occupied by a man who had "split" on the smugglers.
But Mrs. Colam was also well aware of the modern things that were happening in 1935 too and listened to the wireless regularly being especially interested in the recent launching of the Queen Mary.

The Willoughby Road Almshouses.
These almshouses  were built for 10 poor men and their wives in 1874, they are on the site of an earlier almshouse known as the hospital of St Leonard. The hospital of St Leonard, for ten poor people, was established at Skirbeck in c1220 and was given to the Knights Hospitallers in c1230 and became known as St John the Baptist 's Hospital. In 1338 it supported 20 people in the infirmary and 40 at the gate, where alms (usually food or money) were distributed. In 1542 it was granted to Charles, Duke of Suffolk. The hospital appears to have continued as an almshouse, as in 1608 St Leonard's Hospital and `beadsmen' are mentioned.

Sarah Swift.

Sarah Swift was born on the Blossom Hall Estate in Kirton Skeldyke, about 5 miles from Boston, in 1854, the daughter of a tenant farmer. Trained as a nurse she rose to the position of Matron of Guy’s Hospital in London, retiring in 1909 but was recalled at the outbreak of the First World War to be Matron-in-Chief of the joint War Committee of the British Red Cross in the Order of St.John.

Known as the ‘Mighty Atom’ she gave devoted service during the war and in 1919 became Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire. After the war she founded the College of Nursing which later became the Royal College of Nursing in 1947. She died in 1937 at the age of 83. A ward at ‘Guy’s is named after her and she is remembered in Kirton in the Lady Chapel of the Church.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Boot and Shoe Laces.

Viewed from the outside the premises of Arthur Whittle and Co. looked small but this feeling was lost as soon as you passed through the double entrance doors. Passing through the office you came first to the stock room packed high with laces of every type all in smart boxes for the wholesale market and in the room above was the weirdest machinery. Imagine a room full of steel tables each bearing a huge "figure eight" composed of spindles and bobbins and you have the fundamental idea. Each "figure eight" represented a machine capable of turning out two endless laces, these passed on to another machine to be wound and duly cut into regulation lengths.

View from the Stump of Whittles Bootlace Factory.
On the same floor was the packing room and here nimble fingered young ladies handled and boxed the laces, no factory rule barred them from talking and they could also sing if they wished, which they often did.
In the days before the First World War the monopoly of the trade was for the main part in the hands of Germany and Austria, but Whittle's captured a large market and sent its products all over the country.
Before the premises became a lace factory they were occupied by a Mr.Fred Jackson who carried on business as a feather merchant, and rumour has it that it was here that the first Cheavins' filter was made many, many years ago.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Boston man who ate glass and coal.

In the 1920's Bostonian James Ladley (popularly known as Buck) lived in Caroline Court. Of medium build his tanned skin spoke of an open air life, and his street performances fascinated the crowds in the town. He would allow himself to be tied up in ropes from which he would free himself in an incredibly short time, he would break a piece of glass between his teeth and calmly chew and swallow the larger pieces, he would chew coal and brick and with his two hands bend double a piece of steel half an inch in thickness. Asked how he came to start such an occupation he said that he was out of work and had nothing to eat so he thought he would try to get some money in an honest way, and that is why he went on the market. As previously said, he used to get tied up and free himself in a certain time without undoing the knots. One May Day market two farm labourers, out for a days fun, tied him up and said they would give him five shillings if he could get free within 20 minutes, he told them to put 2/6d each in the ring and he would shake hands with  them. They put the money in the ring and as they did he just gave his hands a twist, the ropes fell loose, and he shook hands with them as promised. On another occasion he was doing his turn on Bargate Green when someone in the crowd challenged him as to whether he actually swallowed the glass, the man bet him £5 that he didn't. Buck hadn't the money to cover the bet but another market man lent him the money. Next came the question of how to prove that he really did swallow the glass and it was eventually decided he should undergo an X-ray examination at Boston Hospital, the loser of the bet to pay the cost of the X-ray too. He went for the examination and proved to the satisfaction of the man that there was nothing fake about it and went home that night with £5 in his pocket. Another time a man said to Buck that he could chew glass as well as he could so he thought he would give him a try, he asked the people in the crowd to be witnesses of the fact that the man had agreed to do it at his own risk and they agreed. Buck chewed his into powder and swallowed it and then came the mans turn, as soon as he got it in his mouth he began to bleed and Buck took it from him and dressed his mouth with iodine. The injured man put his hand in his pocket and gave Buck 10 shillings and whenever he passed Buck afterwards he threw 2 shillings in the ring. He took £11 odd that day at Beedall's corner.
After each performance he took two or three teaspoonsfuls of a celebrated golden syrup which cleared all the glass and coal dust out of his system He once had an offer to join the Circus but said the money was not enough in comparison with the risk and so he refused.
In his younger days he was a good boxer, wrestler and a weightlifter, he claimed that when he was 18 he could lift a quarter of a ton and when Fisher Clarks factory was being built he carried five 1cwt bags of cement (a quarter of a ton) tied together from the lorry to inside the building.
He would have been born in about 1889 as in 1935 he was 46 years old and a labourer on the dock. By this time he had not done his "magic"  in eight or ten years because certain people in authority did not look with a very favourable eye on his performances in the public streets because of the possible effect they might have on the younger generation but, as shown to a reporter of 1935, he could still bend the steel and lift a 4 stone weight (56lbs) above his head with the little finger of his right hand.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

A Grotto and Museum at The Whale Inn.

The Whale Inn (now demolished) in Main Ridge was once the home of a remarkable grotto and museum which, in years gone by, delighted many visitors and townsfolk. I remember seeing the last remnants of it in the early 1960's because luckily my Uncle (Bill Butcher) was the landlord of the Whale at that time. It was situated at the rear of the Whale and not the least interesting feature were the remains of some of the the old St. John's Church, which was at one time situated at the south end of town, and of which nothing now remains.

The room in 1971. The Inn was finally demolished a few years later when the Inner Relief Road was built through the town.
The museum and grotto was arranged by a Mr. Richard Ball and gained well deserved fame for the remarkable and original designs worked in the wall of the room in which the museum was held. These designs were worked entirely with various shells (chiefly oyster and cockle) and bottle necks. Worked in the wall in shells, could be seen a whale's tail, an elephant, a man shooting a bear and other decorations. At one end of the room was a sedilia, a stone seat for priests in the south wall of a chancil. This sedilia undoubtedly came from the Church of St. John and was probably acquired by Mr. Ball, together with many other relics of the church. These relics, chiefly carved heads and gargoyles, were to be found in the museum or in the grounds at the back of the Whale Inn. Even on the garden wall could be seen pieces of stonework which had obviously come from some ecclestical building. The principle feature of the museum was a skeleton of a Whale, measuring over 53 feet, which was captured in the Boston Deeps in 1847, visitors could enter the jaws and pass beneath the massive skeleton.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Around Boston. Mary Leffley.

On May 9 1884 an innocent woman, Mary Leffley, appeared at Lincoln Assizes accused of murdering her husband William at Wrangle, a village about 10 miles from Boston.
She had quarrelled previously with William Leffley and made a rice pudding before going to the market at Boston. Mr Leffley ate a portion of it whilst his wife was out and became seriously ill, dying later that evening.

Analysis showed arsenic to be present in the rice pudding and there was enough arsenic in William's stomach 'to kill 50 men'. It only took the jury about 40 minutes to decide on Mary's guilt and she was sentenced to be hanged by the neck until dead at Lincoln Prison - she protested her innocence throughout.

James Berry, the hangman, pictured left, recounted that when she came to be executed she clung to the bed and he couldn’t remove her from her cell, all the time protesting her innocence.
The Governor, a matron and the Executioner himself had to forcibly dress her and carry her to the gallows. Still screaming and resisting, the noose was placed round her and and 'she was thrown into the pit' !

James Berry in a newspaper article in which a journalist interviewed him before the innocence of Mary was established said :

"I’ve got a relic here, of every person I ever hanged." He picked up a white handkerchief, upon which were embroidered in red the initials, M.L. "This ‘ere handkerchief belonged to Mary Leffley, who I ‘anged for the murder of her husband in Lincoln five years ago. She held it between her hands when she was dropped, and she was screaming all the time. She gave three yells after I pulled the lever while she was going down."

It was years after when a local farmer, dying of cancer, made a death bed confession.
He’d fallen out with William Leffley and seeing his wife leave he sneaked into the cottage and put arsenic in the pudding !!

Mary Leffley played on hangman James Berry's mind for the rest of his life, but Berry had executed more than one innocent person.
An 18 year old boy, as he was being lead away by Berry said, ‘you’ll live to see me innocent Mr Berry’, and indeed he did.
In a twist of fate he was hanging two men for the Netherby Hall murders when one of them asked if he’d hung the boy, when he said he had the man told him he was innocent, it was his partner, about to be hanged next, who shot the policeman, his partner confirmed this before going to his death !

But it was Mary Leffley who finally brought the career of James Berry to an end, he gave up his office because the two innocent people he executed 'got on his nerves'.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Boston's Bells.

Some of the old Stump bellringers.
Mr. James Martin Rylatt of  'Pierrepont House', Sydney Street, was a bellringer at the Stump. He was educated at the St. James' School and upon leaving there was apprenticed to a Joiner in Wormgate. Leaving here he was next employed by the Great Northern Railway Co., and after 49 years of service with them he retired in June 1921. He died in September 1929 aged 78, but up to the time of his death he was in very good health, evidenced by the fact that he had been a ringer at the Boston Parish Church for over 60 years, and even at such an advanced age he ascended the tower twice each Sunday. Altogether, it is estimated that he must have ascended to the belfry tower well over 6,000 times.
In July 1932 the bells of the Stump were sent to Taylors of Loughborough to be recast.
The bells being lowered down.
The bells at Boston Station.
At the foundery.
Close up of one of the bells, notice that the people of Boston Massachusetts helped with the cost.

Monday, 10 September 2012

The Shaw Road ghost.

In 1961, a ghost was seen in the Shaw Road area by numerous people and although seen at different places, times and dates the description of each was very similar. Sheila Smith, of 32 Shaw Road, said at the time,
"I was walking along Shaw road at ten o'clock at night when I saw someone walking towards me. I didn't recognise him, but was about to say good night when suddenly I realised with horror that it wasn't real. It wore dark clothes of forty years ago, and it seemed to have only rudimentary features under something like a trilby hat. It glided towards me under a street lamp, and in a second it disappeared. I know it wasn't a shadow, and it was far too close to me to be imagination. I was absolutely petrified and ran up the road towards two people I could see and then my sister came along and I clutched hold of her all the way home." Her Mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Smith, commented : "I've never seen anyone look as bad as Sheila did that night, but then I know what she felt like because I've seen the same figure myself. It was at about the same spot in the road, again after dark, when I sensed that someone was overtaking me. I glanced over my shoulder as this same black figure, hatted and robed but without feet, glided past me. It went through a hedge and simply disappeared.
First to see the figure was probably Rosemary Booth of 18, Shaw Road, who worked in Hazell's drapery shop near her home. "I was on the riverbank as dusk was turning into night," she said, "when suddenly this thing appeared. It was transparent, and I could see a tree through it. It seemed to float over the grass towards the tree, and when it got there it vanished. I can tell you I daren't go any nearer that tree and I came home very frightened indeed."
Mrs. Edna Dales of 8, Shaw Road, was faced with the apparition in her dark back garden. "I was with our dog, when without a sound this figure, with its collar turned up and a hat on its head, and black all over, floated over the garden fence and across the grass. It went straight through the opposite hedge and vanished into the night. Brandy, our Labrador, would normally have gone for anyone in the garden after dark, but he didn't take the slightest notice."
It was on the same night that Mrs. Dale's daughter Janice saw the ghost near the Multisignals mast. "I was with a friend when I turned round and saw a man just like my Mother told me about afterwards. I told my friend to look, but by the time she did it had gone."
Shaw Road and its environs is built on what was known for many years as Dr. Shaw's Field, and he was apparently a doctor who lived in a large house at the Fenside Road end of the field, and left this country for South Africa 120 years prior to these sightings. But while he was here he was notoriously awkward over a right-of-way that ran through the field from the Witham Bank to Boston West --could it have been Dr Shaw?.....................

Sunday, 9 September 2012


In April 1959 a section of floor was due for renewal at the Holland County Taxation Department offices at Allan House, Carlton Road, Boston, and when the old boards were removed the workmen discovered a whole hoard of bottles. There was a lemonade bottle of the old glass alley type with a windmill embossed on its side, and the name T.T.Houghton, Billingborough. There was also quite a selection of beer bottles, bearing such names as J. O'Hara, Cross Keys, Boston, Swinn's of High Street, and the Hundleby Brewery Company. Finally, there was a smaller earthenware bottle, which probably contained gin at one time.

The old Taxation Department huts that at one time stood next to Allan House on Carlton Road.
For one moment there were thoughts of secret drinking parties by some of the High School girls who at one time occupied these huts but Deputy County Taxation Officer Mr. W.R. Smith had a more probable - and less sensational - explanation to offer. These buildings, he pointed out, were originally Army huts at Brocklesby Park, and were brought to Boston just after the First World War, and erected on brick foundations on that site. He thought that probably some of the workmen, after quenching their thirsts, got rid of their bottles by simply throwing them down in the foundations, where they had remained unsuspected ever since.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Cats and Rats.

There have been many locally owned chemist shops in Boston over the years, Hursts, Grimble and Kent, Frank Thomas's (who had a shop on the site of the Scala Theatre), Bailey and Alexander's, Mr. Davy in Wormgate and West Street, and Pearson's in Red Lion Street to name a few but I came across a story of one of  them recently who I believe should be remembered by Bostonians.

Grimble and Kent's, on the corner of Bridge St. and High St.
His name was Mr. Pishy Snaith and he occupied a shop in Main Ridge. I dont know the year of the story but it was before 1930 as Mr. Snaith had died by that year. He had a wonderful statuette of a racehorse in his shop window and he sold a remarkable scent, the perfume of which was supposed to be a cure for spinsterhood and bore the attractive title of "Husband catcher."
Hurst's chemist in the Market Place, on the corner of Dolphin Lane.
Anyway, the old gentleman was sadly teased by the youths of the day who delighted in causing him annoyance and one day they decided to collect as many rats as they could and put them in a sack, they also rounded up all the local stray cats they could find and these were also placed in a sack. One of the group called at the shop, closed the door, and when asked what he wanted, remarked : "I hear you want some rats, Mr. Snaith," and emptied 10 or 12 of them on the shop floor. In the midst of all the chaos a second youth arrived, "I hear you've got rats in the shop, Mr. Snaith, and you need some cats," and accordingly he emptied his bag of yowling spitting felines. What the climax of the story was is not told but Mr. Snaith (and his tormentors) are another example of the Bostonian character of old.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Fire at the Picturedrome.

In the early hours of a May morning in 1930 the Picturedrome Cinema in High Street (affectionally known as The Cosy) caught fire and was so fierce that by daybreak only the walls remained. The cause of the outbreak was unknown but was surmised that a smouldering cigarette end or a lighted match thrown carelessly down was the cause. The Boston Brigade managed to save adjoining properties and were praised by the local newspapers.

The Picturedrome Cinema in High Street.

The walls were demolished as they were unsafe but in doing so an interesting bit of old Boston was brought to view. It was part of the next door premises of C.C. Wright and was very ancient, having a Tudor doorway and no less than seven windows of that period.

The view after the demolition of the Picturedrome cinema showing the Tudor door and windows on the neighbouring property. The site is now the car park opposite the Golden Lion pub.