Thursday, 29 August 2013

Anyone for Rat Pie?

At the Sessions House in Boston in 1908, Lucy Hodgson of Old Leake applied for an order of separation from her husband, Henry Hodgson, on account of his persistent cruelty. Henry came to court wearing a silk hat, a blazing red tie and white flowers in his button-hole and during the case made notes in a large notebook, with a long pencil, and throughout acted in a most extraordinary manner. He was accompanied in court by his two youngest children, a third, wearing Workhouse clothes, being with the mother.
Mr Gane, who appeared for the applicant, said the parties were married in March 1890, and from the first month of the marriage the woman's life had been one of continual misery. She had lived in a state of destitution. With the exception of one half pound there had not been a bit of butter in the house for twelve months, and for weeks and weeks together she and the children had had nothing in the way of meat. The disposition of Mr. Hodgson was almost beyond belief and when the court heard that he once went home with some rats, gave one to the cat and another to the dog and then told his wife to stuff others with sage and onions and cook them, and then gave them to his wife and children to eat, they hardly thought that he was in his right mind.

He had used actual physical violence on many occasions, and matters culminated when his wife left him and took one of the children with her and became chargeable to the Boston Union, and they had since been living in the Workhouse. The case had been taken in hand by charitable people in the neighbourhood, who were astounded and disgusted that any woman should receive such treatment at the hands of any man. After Mrs Hodgson and her son became chargeable to the Parish Mr Hodgson notified the fact by publishing on the side of his house that he had lost an old cow and a bull steer.
Mrs Hodgson said there were six children living - Lucy 19, Annie 17, Lizzie 15, Henry 13, Thomas 7 and Abigail 5. Before they had been married six weeks Mr Hodgson began ill treating her, and on and off he had continued to ill treat her during the whole of the time. On the day she left him he came home between 2 and 3 o'clock in the afternoon. She was not very well. She was sitting down sewing, and he said she would smother against the fire with the door shut. She at once got up and began sweeping the floor, and he went towards the fireplace and got the fire shovel and went towards her with it in a threatening attitude, and she was terrified and left the house. Hodgson then picked up a big butchers knife and put it on the table in front of him.
On one occasion he locked her out of doors until 11:30 at night, and on another he was beating young Henry in such a manner that she asked him to stop, when she pleaded for the boy Hodgson got the door bar and pushed her out of doors with it. He had frequently struck the children, especially Henry in her presence, without any reason whatsoever. He had pulled her by the hair of the head, on many occasions pulling the hair out, and he had thrown buckets and other utensils at her in a way to injure her. During the summer of 1907 she went out to work and she let him have most of the money she had earned. For several years they had been living in a state of destitution because he would not provide them with food to eat. They had often had to go without butter, tea and sugar.They did not always have meat in the house, sometimes they had been without for five or six weeks, and they had lived on bread and potatoes. Mr Hodgson was always at work, except on rainy days, and his wages averaged 18 shillings a week.
Mrs Hodgson said that Mr Hodgson, two years previously, had thrown a bucket at her, knocking out two of her teeth and breaking another one. She had always kept the house clean, and done the work in the garden that he ought to have done. She asked for the custody of the children because did not think they were safe with him. Previously, because Thomas was playing in the morning, he had made him sit on top of a cupboard, and she dare not interfere.
Mr Hodgson alleged that the house was in a filthy condition, and that he had been spending his time killing bugs and fleas and taking cobwebs down. The cobwebs, he said, were so thick that they would make wagon ropes for the whole parish.

The chairman said the bench were unanimous in granting a separation order, and gave Mrs Hodgson the custody of the children, and ordered Mr Hodgson to pay her seven shillings a week and the costs. Mr Hodgson said that he was very sorry to hear that. He added that he couldn't pay, saying that he only had Tuppence halfpenny, and if you can get any more you are a good fellow. I have offered her a good home, and I'm not going to pay. The mother and the three children left the court together and went to the workhouse.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Fish Market.

Mr. T. G. Locks, looking back in the year 1908, said the following.      (pre railway in Boston was before 1843.)
The old Boston Market Place. This was where the fish was sold prior to the time that Mr. Locks talks about. The circular structure to the left was the Fish Slabs.

"A picture that comes back to me is that of a summer morning in olden times, before the era of  railways. At the fish market at 5 AM all was life and bustle. The coachmen and guards of the "Mail" and "Perseverance" coaches were there, amid a crowd of other buyers, bartering and haggling for the famous Boston Deeps soles. They would purchase all the large and medium fish, well knowing that they would readily dispose of it among the gentry on the road between Boston and London. No sooner had these worthies departed then the tradesmen and leading residents would come in. They were early risers in those days, and the smaller soles would be disposed of to them at the rate of about eight pairs for a shilling. The business went on until 11 AM, when the old Fish Market was closed for the day.
Later the old wooden slabs for the display of fish were replaced by slate, and gas was laid on as a substitute for candle lanterns. The oyster fishery was then a very prosperous one, the Boston Deeps oyster being as famous as the Boston Deeps sole. During the season thousands of these shellfish were landed, and were piled in great stacks from one end of the stalls to the other. How plentiful these delicious oysters were may be imagined from the fact that they were sold at the rate of three a penny. Unfortunately, however, the greed and selfishness of certain fishermen struck a blow at the industry from which it never recovered. Not only did they remove from the beds the "brood"oysters, or "patches," as they were called, in order that they might sell them for "beer money," but the beds were weakened by over-fishing and the dispersal of the spawn. This, and the choking of the beds with mud, led to their destruction, and the Boston Deeps oyster almost became a thing of the past. Efforts have recently been made to re-establish the beds, and it is hoped they may be successful. It is deplorable to think, however, that for the sake of making a paltry tuppence to fourpence a score for these unfit oysters, incredible injury should have been done.
Further changes were made in the old Fish Market as time went on, and the salesman, whose faces were once familiar, have gone, one by one. That part of the building where I carried on business for many years, and where my father was established long before me, has been taken by the Corporation and transformed into public lavatories. Familiar names have disappeared, and I alone am left of the old merchants who were the pioneers of the fish industry in Boston. Strangely enough, the alterations and improvements which were commenced a year ago, have brought me back to the site which I occupied several years ago - the first stall from the Assembly buildings in the market. The ancient Fish Market was what Dickens would've termed "a cold nosed, stony toed, dreary place" in which to do business, and the biting winds searched through the open railings, chilling you to the very marrow. The modern Fish Market is bright, comfortable, and attractive. The oyster and other shell fish trade is carried on at a bar or saloon at the rear, the front portion, facing the street, being arranged for the sale of other fish, which comes in daily from the pontoon. Here, under the supervision of my son, the traditions of Ye Olde Fish Market will be continued on the newer and more up-to-date lines, which present day conditions require, and I fancy that if some of the former residents could revisit the scenes of their youth, they would be considerably surprised at the variety and cheapness of many denizens of the deep which were almost unobtainable in their day."

Friday, 23 August 2013

Death on the Railway.

Below is just one of the many deaths that occured on the railways at Boston.

In 1907 a fatality occurred on the Great Northern Railway at Boston. The victim was a porter named Samuel Wilson, aged 30, who lived at No. 2, Bartol's Row, Brothertoft Road.

He had been on the staff as a porter since November 1902, and was doing temporary duty as an assistant shunter, and was piloting a goods train from the Sluice Bridge through the station.

Boston Railway Station in the early 1900's.

When it arrived at the West Street crossing he jumped off the engine, with the intention it was supposed, of giving some directions to the signalman. Unfortunately he stepped immediately in front of a light engine, which was being brought from the locomotive shed into the station by a driver named Gee. Poor Mr. Wilson was thrown along the line for a distance of five or six yards, and although Mr. Gee pulled the engine up with all possible haste, its wheels passed over Mr. Wilson's body. Inspector Kane, of the railway companies police, was at hand at the time, and he personally removed the body from beneath the engine. A doctor was sent for at once, but it was plain that nothing could be done for him. The upper portion of his skull had been taken off, and both legs were crushed, so that death must have been instantaneous. Several people who were standing at the crossing waiting for the gates to re-open, witnessed the occurence. The only explanation that could be guessed at was that Mr. Wilson forgot to look out before stepping from the footboard, or that the approaching train was obscured from view by steam from his own engine. The body was removed to the Eagle Hotel to await the Coroner's inquiry. He was a married man but had no children and was known among his friends as an extremely religious man. He was a member of the Railway Mission, and was familiarly known as "Salvation Sammy." Among the effects found in his coat pocket was a Bible, with his name on the flyleaf.
Below:  The Railway Mission Hall used to stand in Fydell Crescent, the site is now part of Marriott's Motors who thankfully saved this stone from it and placed it in their reception area.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

When Tawney Street was new.

In The Boston Guardian 1906, Mr A.R. Parker looked back at the changes in Boston during 
the years from 1850 to 1906.

New streets have been opened in recent years in the heart of the borough. For
instance, the once beautiful private park (known in former times as Hopkins Park) has been sliced up, and speculators and builders have certainly been in unison with regard to appearance to make this a very pleasant thoroughfare leading from Red Lion Street into Robin Hoods Walk. In the centre of Bargate another opening has been made, called Tawney Street, adjoining the very old time establishment of Woollard's Carriage Work.

Woollard's Carriage Works is in the centre of the picture with an unknown old building next 
door, and below is the scene today.

This also has a through way into Robin Hoods walk, but as only one side is at present being rapidly filled in with delightful villa residences, the aspect to the front of these villas ispicturesque, with its splendid row of giant trees formed up in line and reaching the whole length of the newly formed street.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Main Ridge and two Boston characters.

Main Ridge as it is today. Once it was all orchards and hedgerows.

At one time Main Ridge could boast of its picturesque rural surroundings. One
side of the ridge, as far as the opposite side of Pen Street corner, consisted
of luxuriant orchards, with gardens attached, which in the spring blossomed into
a perfect little Eden. It was enclosed by a hedgerow along the whole length,
with the exception of a dwelling-house occupied by the owner or tenant, situated
nearly at the top end of the garden facing the roadway. Adjacent to the gardens
was pasture land with cattle grazing. The fields were called "Fancy" Fox's
fields, and they were "claimed" by the Ridge boys for recreative purposes. Many
times the appearance of "Fancy" caused a general stampede among the lads.
Fancy was a butcher, and most eccentric in habits. He was a prominent figure in
Boston beast market, with his long white slop and top hat, and was considered a
splendid judge of cattle.
Another familiar figure in the meat trade was "Shandy" Ryan, who was possessed
of a Shakesperian turn of mind. One day when he was in Pack and Linton's,
milliners, in Strait Bargate, he saw the curtains at the end of the room of the
establishment which separated that portion as a private department, and he took
possession of these curtains,  drawing them on one side and delivering an
oration from Hamlet. Satisfying his own curiosity without the interference of
the assistants, he quietly closed the curtains and withdrew. His qualities as a
buyer of cattle were also well known.

Source : Boston Guardian 1906, Mr A.R. Parker looked back at the changes in Boston during
the years from 1850.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Death at the May Fair.

George Gould, aged 26, was an able seaman in the Royal Navy serving on board HMS
Swiftsure. He came from Edinburgh, but was spending his leave at Boston with
second-class Petty Officer W. N. Faunt, of the same ship. On The night of
Friday, May 5, 1905 they entered the "twin yachts"at Boston May Fair and sadly
George lost his balance and was violently thrown down. It was seen that he was
seriously injured, and Dr South was summoned, and an examination showed that the
poor mans spine was fractured. He was removed next day to the hospital, where he

HMS Swiftsure, the ship that George Gould was on leave from.

Evidence of identification was given by William Faunt, Joiner, of 14 Muster Roll
Lane, Boston, with whom the deceased stayed. The coroner adjourned the inquest
for a week for the attendance of other witnesses.
After being sworn, the Jury proceeded to the hospital, where they viewed the
body in the mortuary. On their return the coroner briefly narrated the
circumstances of the unfortunate man's death. William Faunt, Joiner, identified
the body just viewed as that of the deceased George Gould, whom he saw alive on
May 5th.
The May Fair circa. 1905.

The funeral took place at Boston cemetery. The coffin was covered with the Union
Jack and conveyed on a gun carriage and large crowds assembled to see the
procession. The coffin was carried from the cemetery gates to the church, and
then to the grave, by four coastguards. Also present were two seaman belonging
to HMS  Pembroke, and a party of 15 coastguards and Naval Reserve men under the
command of Lieutenant R. Taylor.
When the coffin had been lowered into the grave, three volleys were fired over
it by the Coastguards and Naval Reserves.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Old Memories.

A 101 year old's memories today would be interesting, read on for the memories (floggings, etc.) of a 101 year old in 1904.

Nathaniel Wright was 101 years old in 1904 and remembered five sovereigns
sitting on the throne of England. He looked back on his life and here are some
of the things he told us.  "I like a glass of beer for my dinner", he said "I
never learned to smoke, what is the use of putting a pipe in your mouth and
blowing out clouds of smoke? Half the folks now kill themselves from drink and
other bad habits. I never had a doctor, I have been a hard-working man - all my
life up at 4 o'clock in the morning regularly. Now I can go to bed at 6 o'clock
and sleep all night, and have never had an ache or pain".
In his boyhood Mr Wright met with an adventure which nearly put an end to his
career. He told the story with great relish. "I was raking in the yard," he
said, "walking backwards, when I fell into a deep pond. My mother, who saw me
tumble in, ran to my father, who was threshing in the barn, calling out, 'Our
Nat's drowned.' My father at once rushed to the pond, and I was pulled out. They
thought I was dead, but I soon came round and here I am still."
Mr Wright was actually born at Leake, a village about eight miles from Boston,
and his father was a farmer who also followed the occupation of a slodger, or

Fen Slodgers.
Before the fens were drained they swarmed with wild ducks, geese, teal,
tern and many other kinds of water fowl, and proved a source of great profit to
the slodgers, thousands being sent yearly to London and other markets. "The
wildfowl came in thousands," Mr Wright said, "and I have known my father to kill
scores at a single shot. There were also a good many decoys in the Fen. One was
eight acres in extent, and the owner of that particular decoy, a man named
Williams, possessed three dogs trained to tempt the birds into the decoy. One of
those dogs was named 'Shall you come?' the second 'Catch it,'and the third 'Kill
it.' "
Mr Wright lived in a dwelling on the old Roman bank composed of turf walls and
mud, and when the drainage of the fens commenced there were no houses for the
thousands of men who came from all parts of the country attracted by the high
wages offered, six shillings and seven shillings a day being earned by the men
employed on the works. In most cases the men brought their families with them,
and the problem of where to live was settled by the erection of huts of turf and
"There was no coal and very little wood in those days," said Mr Wright, "and for
fuel we had to burn peat and dried cow dung. There was no wheat or oats grown,
and the bread was made of barley meal. It was baked on the hearth, the hot
embers being raked over it, and I can well remember that as we sat round the
hearth we could look up and see the stars shining above us. We had no plates or
dishes, using wooden plates and tins, and when we got some china we treasured it
as if it were gold." "I never went to school," continued Mr. Wright, "but an
uncle taught me to read and write. When I grew up I  became a carpenter and
followed that occupation all my life."
"I remember the news of the Battle of Waterloo being received as well as I do
anything that occurred yesterday. I did not often go to Boston in those days,
for fear of the press gang. I had no desire to be a soldier, though two uncles
of mine were soldiers, and another one was at the Battle of Trafalgar. I
was at Boston, however, to see the illuminations when peace was proclaimed.

The cat-o'-nine-tails.

"A sight I shall never forget was seeing two men flogged at Boston. That took
place when I was a boy. Two strapping  young fellows, pretending that they were
cripples, had been begging in the market. They were taken before the justices
and ordered to be flogged. They were marched round the Buttermarket (which once
stood in the Market Place) four or five times in charge of two constables, while
a man followed behind lashing them with the cat-o'-nine-tails. Before they had
finished the blood was streaming off their backs. I then made up my mind if that
was the result of doing wrong, I would go straight, and I may say that I never
appeared before the magistrates except once, and that was when I was sworn in as
a constable."

The Buttermarket once stood in the centre of the Market place. It was around this building that the two young men were flogged with the cat-o'-nine-tails.

Mr Knight shook his head over the changes that had taken place in regard to
dress since his early days. Young men were then content, he said, to go to
church in white slops and knee breeches, while the girls wouldn't think of
spending so much on dress as they do now. "When I was young man," said Mr.
Wright, "the girls wore hoods which quite covered the face, and when you wanted
to kiss a girl," he added with a laugh, "you had to turn the hood back or you
couldn't manage it." He was also of the opinion that young men and women marry
to early nowadays, he was 27 before he got married. Owing to the long war,
however, young men were scarce in the country districts, and many girls were
unable in consequence to get sweethearts.
"There were no traps or spring conveyances then," continued Mr Wright, "and the
farmers went to market on horseback with their wife's behind them. There were
stocks in every village in those days, but I can only remember once seeing any
of them occupied." The changes I've seen are so great that sometimes, as I sit
by the fire, I wonder if it is the same world I was born in."

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Bab's photo's.

Thank you to Babs Nicholls for sending me the following photo's. Enjoy.

Bab's Uncle, Rex Potter asked for this photo to be put on. It shows workmen replacing the Sluice gates in the1920's. Rex's Grandad Edward (Ted) Harrison is stood on the far right.

The celebrations in Main Ridge, Boston, for the coronation of King George and Queen Elizabeth.

Pupils at the Blue Coat School in about 1900. James Harrison, Teds brother, is on the far left of the second row from top.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Child Cruelty.

After reading this story I wondered what The Mayor, the NSPCC officer, the magistrates, the police and all the other relatively well off people in the story would have been like in the same circumstances. Most of them were born with silver spoons in their mouths and nothing has changed much today, the people in charge still have no idea of living in the real world. Remember, poor Alfred Knight had no Union to fight for his pathetic wages, no dole money if he didn't work and no decent housing. Like most working class people of the time the odds were against him from the moment he was born and all society could do was send people to prison with hard labour when, in fact, all they needed was help.

A case of cruelty to children was heard at the Boston Borough Police Court in
March 1903. Alfred Knight, labourer, was charged with wilfully neglecting two
children on March 4th. Inspector Campion of the NS PCC stated on the date named
he visited the defendant's house in Seward's Passage,  Norfolk Place. He found
the lower part of the house very dirty and foul smelling. There was an old
bad-smelling mattress in the back room downstairs. The stairs and  bedroom were
dirty. In one of the bedrooms there was an old dirty, soiled mattress on the
bedstead, the covering for which consisted of two thin sheets, a counterpane and
some old sacking.
There was no other article of furniture in the room. In the other bedroom there
was an old verminous mattress. On examining the defendants two children, he
found that Alfred, aged 2years, had a ring worm on his body, and a number of
pimples and small scars. The child was dirty, and was clothed with two thin
dirty garments and a pair of old boots. The baby Arthur, aged 3 months was
poorly nourished and had very little clothing. Mrs. Knight, the wife, made a
statement to him, and he afterwards provided her and the children with food, and
sent for Dr Reckitt. He subsequently saw Mr. Knight working on a threshing
machine at Fishtoft, and  said to him, "You still neglect your children."
Defendant said, "No I don't,  I only had four days work last week. I get Two
shillings and ninepence per day. I have only had one day this week." Inspector
Campion said, "There is not a particle of food in the house." and he replied, "I
have no money, I borrowed fourpence yesterday to buy coke with, and had to go
away this morning without food. I can't help it." The inspector added that he
had visited the defendant previously when they lived in Crapley's Court. At that
time the children were slightly better cared for, as the woman was then able to
earn money by picking peas. Since her last confinement she had been ill, and
unable to look after the children properly.
Dr Reckitt also gave an account of a visit to the defendant's house on the day
in question. After corroborating the evidence of Inspector Campion in regard to
the extremely filthy condition of the house, he said that the child Alfred was
suffering from itch and ringworm, was badly nourished and insufficiently
clothed. The baby, Arthur,  was also badly nourished, and the woman herself was
in a very weak state.
In answer to the Mayor, the doctor said he did not think the woman was strong
enough to look after the children and the house properly. PC foster, who also
went to the house, gave corroborative evidence, and Sgt Barton deposed that he
had frequently cautioned the defendant, who was often the worst for drink. The
defendant's wife also gave evidence in reference to her husband's drunken
habits. He gave her sixpence per night and sometimes one shilling on Saturdays.
She had been unable to provide proper food for herself and the children. A
letter was read from the defendant's employer stating that the defendant had for
sometime been employed about four days a week. He earned 3 shillings per day.
Mr. Knight said he had given his wife all the money that he had earned. The
Mayor said to him that the magistrates had decided to convict him of the offence
with which he was charged. They considered the case a very bad one indeed and
that he had absolutely no excuse to offer. He went on, "Apparently you are both
a drunken and worthless man. You have had two previous terms of three months
imprisonment for similar offences, and now, with the  hope of reforming you and
inducing you to take proper care of your children. You will have to go to prison
for six months, with hard labour, which is the maximum penalty we can inflict on

Friday, 2 August 2013

Buffalo Bill comes to Boston.

Buffalo Bill and his wild west show visited Boston on Thursday, 24th September 1903. Large crowds greeted him at Mr. Ryan's field on Sleaford Road and excursions came from all parts of the district.
Writing of the afternoon performance a representative of the Boston Guardian said there was,
".................... a blare of an unusual kind of music, the cowboy band was playing 'The Star-spangled Banner,' the very name of which, apart from the music, marked the Americanism of the show. Then came the Grand Review in which Buffalo Bill introduced his Rough Riders of the World. To a lively fanfare and a roll of the drums there galloped in, dashed round and filed up between 150 and 200 riders, each mounted on a splendid steed. First and foremost came the Indians and then followed in turn the wild looking Russian Cossacks, the South American Gauchos, the Mexicans, the Cowboys, United States Cavalrymen and British Cavalrymen.

All this to the accompaniment of guttural cries from the Indians, shrill calls from the Mexicans, ooo-ees from the cowboys and yells from the whole company varied with cheers from the public around the arena. What a medley of sounds there was. And then, when the company had assembled in the square along three sides of which the sightseers sat, came the renowned Buffalo hunter, scout, guide and showman Buffalo Bill, on a magnificent charger, bowing, hat in hand, and smiling with stately courtesy, acknowledging the enthusiastic plaudits of the thousands of spectators, mingled as they were with the wild cries of his wonderful company."
Other features of the show included a demonstration of muzzle loading methods, a prairie emigrant train crossing the plains and then came an attack by marauding Indians who were repulsed by cowboys.
Colonel Cody himself now became the centre of attention. Riding in, he was accompanied by an attendant who through up glass balls, which were nearly all brought down by the veteran with unerring aim, while his steed went full speed around the enclosure.
There then followed The Pony Express, the rescuing of the shipwrecked by a U.S. Life Saving Corps., Cossack horsemanship, Johnny Baker giving a display of firearms skills, a group of Mexicans on the use of the lasso, the mounting and riding of the bucking broncos, Indian tribal war dancing, Arab horsemanship, attacks on a mail coach and a settlers cabin by Indians, military exercises by English and U.S. cavalry and a mock-up of the Battle of San Juan Hill. They closed with a salute by the entire cast and in a few minutes the immense crowd of spectators were on the roadway for home, only to meet the fringe of another crowd en route for the evening performance.
There were crowds in the vicinity of the showground, along the roadway to the station, and in the vicinity of the goods station to see the departure of the big show. In an incredibly short space of time the "tents" were struck and the showground deserted. Heavy rumbling waggons and a long line of riders were seen passing through the streets, and soon four trains passed out into the dark, and Buffalo Bill continued his great tour.