Wednesday, 31 July 2013

July Oddments.

This is NOT Boston Stump!! It is Harkness Tower, a prominent structure at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
The tower was constructed between 1917 and 1921 and was donated to Yale by Anna Harkness in honour of her recently deceased son, Charles William Harkness.
James Rogers, who designed the tower and many of Yale's "Collegiate Gothic" structures, said it was inspired by Boston Stump, the tower of the parish church of St. Botolph in Boston Lincolnshire.

Below is a picture sent to me by Karen Loveley, a descendant of the Loveley family that had the dining rooms in the Market Place, showing the crockery used in the business.
Below: Building work (maybe the Tudor Room extension) on the now demolished Hessle pub. The landlord, Jimmy Hickinbottom (an old school-friend of mine) is in the centre among other well known builders in the town.
Date to the photo anyone?
Below: A pair of oak candle sticks marked on the base as being made from restored oak from Boston Stump in 1930-31.
Below: The Market Place in 1936.

Monday, 29 July 2013

100 year old Bridge.

I couldn't  let July 2013 go by without mentioning that the present Town Bridge was opened in July 1913, exactly 100 years ago.
It replaced Rennie's cast-iron bridge of almost a century earlier and between the times when the old bridge was demolished and the new one was built a temporary footbridge was erected. The pictures below tell the story.

 Above: The old Town Bridge.

Below: The S.S. Privateer pulling down the old bridge.

Below: Five views of the construction of the present bridge.

And finally the official opening in 1913.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Woman thrashes her husband.

Mr and Mrs Hilliar of Pinfold Lane in Boston had only been married for two
months in 1901 when they found out that married life didn't run smooth all the
time. She was 77 years old and he was 56. Their marriage started out fine, the
ceremony was performed by the chaplain and when the happy couple reached home
they entertained the whole district with two barrel organs which operated for
many hours opposite their dwelling to the delight of an admiring crowd. But, as already stated, only two months later they entertained the whole district yet again, but this time not with barrel organs.

A dispute arose between the couple with the result that the aged wife evicted
her comparatively youthful spouse, who at the time was only partially clothed,
and in endeavouring to escape from his irate better half his trousers fell over
his boot tops. Mrs Hilliar at once grasped the situation,  nimbly following her
retreating husband she seized him and administered to the intense delight of the
spectators a severe beating on the buttocks. Later on that night a more serious
encounter between the couple took place, in the melee the table was smashed and
arming herself with one of the legs Mrs Hilliar quickly ended the combat by
cracking her husband on the head, knocking him down senseless. The rumour spread
that the man had been killed and the police were sent for.

The corner of Stanbow Lane and Pinfold Lane, pictured in 1964 when all this area was due for demolition. When Mr and Mrs Hilliar lived in Pinfold Lane in 1901 it was a community in itself, with shops, pubs and dwellings.

Detective Sgt Sparrow was soon on the scene and though he didn't find the house
"swimming with blood" as had been reported, he discovered Mr Hilliar propped in
a chair, covered with blood, while his dutiful spouse, who was nearby, 
presented, in the glimmering light of the table lamp, almost as ghastly an
appearance as her husband. She too was covered with blood, but  it was caused by
her hugging and kissing her husband, as some sort of compensation I suppose for
having half killed him.
She was marched to the police station and took before the court and Sarah
Hilliar, aged 77 years, living at 5, Pinfold Lane, was charged with assaulting
her husband, Charles Hilliar, a french polisher, aged 56.
Mr Hilliar appeared in court looking very spruce in a trilby hat, light
trousers,  black coat and a mole-skin vest, and during the proceedings Mrs
Hilliard (when she was not weeping) cast loving glances at him.
He said he went home that evening and found his wife in drink, they started
quarrelling and she struck him on the head with a table leg which he identified
as the one produced in court. He did not remember any more, only that his wife
was taken away to the police station, he did not wish to press the charge.
Mrs Hilliard, who was weeping bitterly all the time said that she was very sorry
for what she had done and begged the court to let her go home and see to him.
She said they had lived happily until the previous Thursday and "Before the
Lord" she was sorry for what she'd done and hoped her husband would forgive her.
At this, Mr Hilliard got out of the witness box and placed his hands on the
prisoner's shoulder and said to her, "Oh, say no more",  which bought loud
laughter in the court.
When asked if she had any further remarks to make the prisoner said "I beg your
pardon my Lord Mayor (which bought laughter in the court) I hope you will let me
go back to my husband, we will live as happy as birds of the air (which brought
more laughter) I have nothing against my husband and I know my Lord Mayor that
he will be glad to receive me back again. I really have nothing against him. If
there is a fine I hope you will give me grace to pay it. I have only 10
shillings a week to play with and I beg you to give me grace and allow me to go
home with him. I know I insulted him and he insulted me as well, and called me
foul and bad names, and that was what made me hit him. I am sorry I did it, but
for what I have done, in the presence of The Lord,  I am sorry. Since I have
been locked up in the cells I have not been very well and I have had three fits.
She was fined 10 shillings, with 23 shillings and sixpence costs, and was given
a week to pay it. She left the court saying "Oh Lord! I cannot do it", which
brought forth  more laughter.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Torture in Boston.

In 1725, Patrick Blair, a Scottish doctor who settled in Boston, perfected a system of torture that he believed cured the insane and the engine house of the tower which supplied Boston with its water was the scene of some strange experiments carried out by him. Blair would blind fold people before the procedure as a way of further inducing terror. His final device included a large pump that elevated 18,000 gallons of water 35 feet in the air above the person strapped to a chair below. Additionally, he even sprayed water up into the face for a more complete effect. He used this final version to cure a woman who was, "mad, neglected every thing, ... kept her room, would converse with nobody but kept spitting continually" and refused to have sex with her husband. For 7 weeks before water treatment, she had "frequent bleedings, violent Emeticks, strong purgatives and potent Sudorificks and Narcoticks were not wanting". This brought about a partial cure: "gave all signs of recovery except that of the dislike to her husband". He strapped her naked into the chair which, "put her in an unexpressable terrour especially when the water was let down. I kept her under the fall 30 minutes, stopping the pipe now and then and enquiring whether she would take to her husband but she still obstinately deny'd till at last being much fatigu'd with the pressure of the water she promised she would do what I desired". But the next day she refused. So he water tortured her in this way two more times. But when she recovered, again she refused. So Blair, "I threatned her with the fourth Tryal, took her out of bed, had her stript, blindfolded and ready to be put in the chair, when being terrify'd with what she was to undergo she kneeld submissively that I would spare her and she would become a Loving obedient and dutifull Wife for ever thereafter. I granted her request provided she would go to bed with her husband that night, which she did with great chearfullness ... About 1 month afterwards I went to pay her a visit, saw every thing in good order". Blair proclaimed her cured! Blair claimed his water treatment by the "fall of water" was, "the safest method of curing mad people ... and sink the patients spirits even to a deliquium [melted] without the least hazard of their Lives." (Cure of Mad Persons by the Fall of Water, Patrick Blair, 1725 AD)

Where was this tower?

Blair said, .........since coming to Boston my endeavours have not been in vain. I was sometime in this place before I understood there was an Engine so fit for my purpose as it has since prov'd to be. It is built at about one and a half miles from hence in order to raise and convey water to serve the town. At some distance is built a Square tower 35 foot high. The water being forc'd to it by the engine ascends perpendicularly in a large pipe at one corner and is discharg'd into a cistern on the top of the tower which will contain about 80 Tun of water [17,920 gallons]. At the opposite corner the water descends directly by another pipe from whence its convey'd to the town. There are 3 habitable rooms in the bottome of the tower, the middle of which has a chimney. I have got a lateral pipe fixed to the descending one by which I make the water to fall in any part of the middle room I think proper. I have a bathing Tub 6 foot long, I place a Chair in it in which the patient sits. The chair is so fix'd in the Tub and the patient so ty'd to the chair that none of them can move. The lateral pipe has a cock by which I can stop or let down as much or as little water as I think proper. When the patients have got sufficiently of the fall I have a bed in readiness in the next room where they are laid and suitable care is taken of them.......

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Boston man saves Nelson's life.

An undated newspaper cutting, probably Edwardian, recounts that a Boston man named Gunby had saved Admiral Nelson's life at the Battle of Copenhagen. Standing by the Admiral as one of his bodyguards, Gunby used his own sword to ward off a blow aimed at Nelson by " a fierce Danish officer..........cutting him dead at the hero's feet".

Gunby, " a splendid specimen of the old British man-o'-war's man" - he was "of remarkable physique, standing 6'4." was there upon presented by Nelson with the dead man's sword, and at the same time rated as coxswain, which post he filled for some years. He also gave him a walking stick carved in imitation of a four stranded rope. These relics, the report said, were still in the possession of Gunby's son, then aged 86 and living at Mill Hill in Wide Bargate.

Monday, 15 July 2013

The Convict Ship "Success"

In September 1901 the ship "Success" visited Boston Dock. In a career spanning 106 years, the Success served as a merchant ship, emigrant ship, penal hulk housing men, women, and boys, explosives and store hulk, and finally, exhibition ship. She toured the world for the most part successfully for fifty years. As a sailing vessel her career is unparalleled. For an incredible span of 106 years she voyaged the world’s oceans and waterways. There are no truly reliable figures, but it is believed that tens of millions of people trod her decks. She has witnessed scenes of both immense happiness, and unspeakable suffering and death.

The "Success", this photograph was not taken at Boston.

On board her men, women, and even children have been imprisoned, couples have been married, and U.S. Marines recruited. She has transported indentured servants to work on sugar plantations and poor farmers to a new life across thousands of miles of ocean. She has seen wild parties and beauty contests. Her visitors have included royalty, movie actors, politicians, and numerous other celebrities. She has been both praised by politicians and preachers as example of "man’s inhumanity to man" and an object lesson in prison reform, and vilified as a fraud and a hoax. She’s even been called "The World’s Most Hated Ship"! She has been sunk, grounded, rammed and burned, and until time finally caught up with her one fateful day in 1946, her nearly indestructible teak hull always survived.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013


Reporting was very different in the past, the following descriptions and especially the interviewing of a six year old on the evening of the murder would never be allowed today.

In 1900 Sheriff Taylor, a well-known local farmer, murdered his wife and daughter (a girl three years of age) by blowing out their brains, he then turned the gun on himself inflicting such injuries that he was not expected to live. The Taylors occupied Washdyke house, a residence at the corner of Washdyke Lane on the Freiston Road. Taylor had built the house for himself in about 1898 and moved there with his family from Toot Lane. There were four children aged 6, 5 and 3 years and an 18 month old and it was the third of these who, together with her mother, came by such a sad end. Taylor was a parish constable and up to a year before was a member of the Skirbeck Parish Council, he was 30 years of age. Mrs Marshall, the mother of Mrs Taylor made the gruesome discovery when she visited Washdyke House. In the pantry lay the bodies of her daughter and the little girl, the child's head was completely emptied of brains and the skull was blown to pieces, the mother's head was also partly blown off and the brains of the victims and portions of their skulls were scattered in every direction while the place swam with blood. On the floor of the kitchen adjoining lay Taylor himself with a gun at his side. He had evidently, after shooting his wife and daughter, turned the weapon on himself for this face was blown partly away. Mrs Marshall at once raised the alarm and the police arrived, also very soon upon the scene were Doctors Arthur and Reginald Tuxford. The bodies of the victims were moved to an outhouse and everything possible was done forTaylor who was left in charge of the district nurse . Although so terribly injured it was strange to say conscious and sensitive to pain. He had held his head back to reach the trigger of the gun, the muzzle coming under his chin, and the charge completely carried away the lower part of his face, but the shot had missed his brain. His recovering from the injury was , however, from the first seen to be hopeless. Taylor was met going home on the afternoon at about 4 o'clock by William Russell, a roadman employed in Skirbeck and he said Taylor appeared to be the worst for drink. Further enquiries showed that Taylor attended Boston market and returned home at about 4 o'clock and after milking the cows went in the house to tea. A boy named Yates in the yard heard angry words pass between Taylor and his wife. Mrs Taylor went into the yard and sent Yates to fetch her mother who lives a short distance down the lane. At 5 o'clock a neighbour called Crawford, who heard the shots fired, saw two of Taylors children running down the yard to meet their grandmother. On entering the house, Mrs Taylor and their three year old were, as stated above, found lying dead in the pantry and Taylor was lying in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor. Mrs Taylor's youngest child aged about 18 months was discovered seated in a high chair at the table where it was a witness to the tragedy, the infant was uninjured. When spoken to on Wednesday night respecting the tragedy, the little boy Taylor, age 6, said " I wanted some lemon drink and mum went into the dairy to get it. Father put some wadding in his gun and shot her and she fell with their head in the milk pail. Little Clara was sitting in a chair at the table, and Father blew her out of the chair into the pantry, I did laugh when Daddy blew the chair in the other room. Little Clara fell against Mam's head. When Daddy shot himself he made so much noise I began to cry and I ran out of the house because I was frightened. Sheriff Taylor died about 9 o'clock in the evening and a portion of his jaw and teeth were discovered in the kitchen firegrate the next morning.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Old John.

In January 1900 John Tomlinson of  9, Duke Street, Boston, was summoned for acting as a pedlar without having a certificate. Nothing unusual about this, it was a common thing at that time, but what made this case different was that the defendant, an old man, appeared in court proudly wearing a large blue neck sash, ornamented with gilt stars and other striking devices and carrying a basket containing oranges, boot laces and other articles of commerce. His strange attire had been seen before as old John used to stand and lecture in the Market Place and elsewhere and the sash was associated with the Lord's Day Observance Society.
On being told the charge he said that he had told the police he didn't have a certificate but had got one the same day and he could do no more.
The police said that he was offering for sale oranges and boot laces and when asked if he was hawking he said that he was selling oranges. When asked if he was selling boot laces as well he said that he wasn't but the police said "What have you in there then" to which he replied, "Not laces - not leather ones, anyway".
The police told the court that he was well known for lecturing in the Market Place and old John accused the police of lying about the conversation about oranges and boot laces.
When the Chairman asked old John what he was going to do with the oranges and laces he threw some oranges on the table and said, "Those are oranges, you can have one or two if you like"
Anyway, old John was fined 2 shillings and costs and he thanked the magistrates.
I wish I had a picture to show you of John Tomlinson, what a character!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Pump Square

Along with the new buildings in Pump Square there are some very nice looking old buildings but it is what you can't see that is much more interesting.

The history of Pump Square is veiled in mystery, it is not mentioned by that name before 1600 but it was a place of importance long before that date. An old tradition says that a prison once stood there and that in this prison there were two dungeons below the ground level, one three steps lower than the other. It is said that in the floor of the lower dungeon a spring of water flowed continuously and the most difficult prisoners were confined in this cell where they had to pump up water for the inhabitants of the town, the punishment being that if the prisoner ceased from his work his cell would flood and he would be more uncomfortable. The two cells are in existence, they are arched and have groined roofs and were opened out for examination many years ago.

There are other reasons that seem to prove that Pump Square was a centre of some importance in the early years of Boston's history. Just as all the roads and lanes entering the town open into the Market Place, so all the narrow lanes east of the Market Place (Still Lane, Dolphin Lane etc.) lead into Pump Square along with the narrow lanes of Bargate (Mitre Lane, Silver Street) and Main Ridge.