Monday, 7 January 2013


At about 10 p.m. one evening in June 1905 two families of German Gypsies entered Boston having been moved on from Wisbech. Their arrival caused much excitement in the town and large crowds followed them through the streets. They were brought to Boston, presumably, by the Wisbech Police and encamped for the night on a piece of waste land at the High Street end of Fydell Crescent.
At daybreak, many people congregated in the vicinity of the two vans inhabited by the gypsies, watching with great curiosity the strange spectacle that met their view. It was a picturesque scene, and had the surroundings been of a more rural character, would have constituted exactly a picture that an artist would love to paint. The tumble down caravans with their low arched roofs, dilapidated windows and general suggestion of age and poverty, rendered them great objects of interest. Worn and weather-beaten it was a wonder how the gypsies, having such scanty protection, had fared during the thunderstorm through which they passed the previous day on their journey from Wisbech to Boston and the pathetic and poverty stricken appearance of the gypsies provoked a feeling of sympathy in many who saw them.
Their were two families of them, a man and woman and four children in one van, and a man and woman and five children in the other. The behaviour of the gypsy children must have shocked the strict parents of Boston when seeing that youngsters from three to twelve smoked constantly. Unkempt and poorly-clad, they flitted here and there puffing away at the stale "fag ends" of cigars and cigarettes which were tossed to them by onlookers. The women, whose tanned and pleasant faces always bore a happy smile, busied themselves with telling fortunes and begging coins whilst smoking long clay pipes.
Conversation with the male members of the band showed that one family came from Potsdam and the other from Dresden and that they had been in England for about seven months. There were five vans originally but three of them left England for Germany, via Grimsby, a few weeks before. While in London they were told that if they could reach Grimsby the Society of Friends for the Relief of Foreigners in Distress would ship them home and they were now trying to make their way there. It was seven weeks since they had left London and they had been moved from town to town by the authorities. Their object in coming to England was to make a living by playing musical instruments but had failed to do so and now wanted to get back to their own country.
During the morning the Chief Constable (Mr. A. Adcock) intimated to the visitors that they must leave the town. Some horses belonging to Mr. Walter Woodthorpe were requisitioned and the gypsies were moved on to Stickney (a village about 10 miles from Boston) where they would no doubt be attended to by more Police. It was clearly stated that Bostonians were "glad to see the back of the Gypsies who were far from clean."

No comments:

Post a Comment