Monday, 28 February 2011

The head in the wall

In November 1951 the sudden appearance of a King’s head on the front of the newly constructed frontage of Stanwell’s Garage, near Vauxhall Bridge, in Main Ridge was causing a good deal of speculation.
It was reported at the time that “the head looks new but is of great antiquity and in a marvellous state of preservation and has the peculiarity of having eyes of marble, or some such substance, and strangely enough, the eyes are different in colour”.

Above: The head in 2011.
Below: The old garage in 2011, showing the position of the head.
The builders who placed the head as a front piece to the building said they searched the pages of history books to try to find out who the King was and at last they found a picture of Edward I bearing the same expression, a similar beard and an identical crown.
Mr. G.A. Boyes, who lived near to the new premises said that originally the wide area around the new garage was a nursery carried on by him for 42 years, he also said that over 100 years previous to 1951 the rear of the land was occupied by a Mr. Gurner, who was a dyer. The kings head he said was fixed in the wall of one of the dye houses which were later transformed into greenhouses. Interest centred on the walls around the property too for Mr. Boyes said that they came from the Prison that once stood in the Market Place and it was assumed that the kings head came from the old Gaol as well.
Another story is that the head is from an old fairground ride.
Below: The garage and the row of houses next to it named "Sea on Land Terrace".
George Aspland of Boston had a ride called “Sea-on-Land” which consisted of eight fully rigged boats, which pitched and tossed about as they revolved and reputedly caused the patrons to suffer real sea sickness! From the profits from the Sea on Land he built a row of houses in Main Ridge in Boston (which happen to stand next to the old garage with the head) and what better name for them to be called than 'Sea on Land Terrace', his workshops were behind this row of houses so there could be some truth in this story.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Gysor's Hall

This is the 13th. Century Gysor’s Hall that once stood in South Square.

In about 1372 John of Gaunt made it the collecting point for the payments due to his manor at Boston. It was pulled down in 1810 and some of the stones from it were used in the building of a warehouse that was built on its site.

That same warehouse has now been converted into modern flats.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

The London Warehouse

This picture shows the London Warehouse which was built on Packhouse Quay in 1817.

It was situated between the present Waterfront pub and the Sam Newsom Centre. After the dock was opened in the 1880’s the river trade fell off and the warehouse was demolished (pictured below) in about 1950.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

The Odeon comes of age

In 1958 The Odeon Cinema celebrated its coming of age. It was estimated that in its twenty one years of being 11 million people had visited and 132 million feet of film had been seen!!

The Odeon in 1937.

The opening night (ground floor prices from 6d. and circle from 1s. 6d.) saw the Mayor of the day and the band of the 1st. Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment and patrons saw Vivien Leigh in “Dark Journey” together with a Technicolor film called “On ice”. The manager, when those first 1,592 patrons filled the cinema, was Mr. D. Wood.

The upper floor of The Odeon, 1937.

In the early days of the 1939-1945 war came Sunday opening and the cinema had a Children’s Club started well before the war which had a membership in 1958 of 900.
When the site was excavated in 1936 nine wells were found there together with three clay pipes of the type used three hundred years previously. The manager celebrated the 21st. by splitting a birthday cake among his staff and a number of the town’s old age pensioners who attended the afternoon performance as his guests.
The projector room of The Odeon, 1937.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Old Market Place Theatre

According to old records there was a theatre in the Market Place which had the benefits of considerable patronage and where some of the most famous actors and actresses of the day performed. Just where the theatre stood remains something of a mystery, but in all probability was on the premises once occupied by W.W. Johnson’s shop.

Some years ago (pre 1955) a Mr. Fred Kime of Boston said he had a vivid recollection of being shown the building by his father, who explained to him that that was the theatre. Mr. Kime also said that he recalled the words “Boston Theatre” being inscribed on a circular plaque high on the building, this circle still remains.

The back of the premises were rather curiously constructed, towering aloft in a most unusual manner and makes one wonder whether it was not here that the drop curtains and all the mysteries of back-stage were housed. In all events it sounds very much like it and there is some verification in a biography of a famous theatrical family. It was mentioned there that on one occasion they played at Boston and found that the back of the premises were used for grain storage, a circumstance that very much puzzled the actress. In 2011 the building is now the Waterfront pub and remains virtually unchanged, it still has the circular plaque.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

The Neglected Stump

In 1851 the exterior of the Stump (St. Botolph's Church) was much as it is today except, perhaps, that it had a rather neglected look.

If you arrived on a week-day, you would find the church locked and would have to apply to Mr. Hackford, the verger, who lived nearby for the key.

Mr. Hackford's house near the Stump.

The church-yard contained many upright tombstones, fewer trees, no hedges and no wall to separate it from the river and people were still being buried there.
The first thing to strike you as you entered would be the intense cold as in 1851 the church had not been heated since the day it was built. Bare arches opened into what is now the Cotton Chapel which was used as a vestry and there may have been an empty bookcase left behind by the Laughton School which was long housed there.
Under the tower there was nothing on the walls except the tablet about the fire in 1803. To picture the nave of the church as it was then you must mentally remove all the stained glass, the pictures on the walls, the coats of arms, the banners, everything in fact that now adds colour to the building. The nave was separated from the chancel by a mahogany screen and gallery which was later removed to the Roman Catholic Church on Horncastle Road.
On March 20th, 1851, Mr. Blenkin who had been vicar for less than two months held a meeting to consider re-pewing the church and out of this meeting developed the restoration and began the slow but continuing changes that leave us with the beautiful church that we know today.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

The Royal George

In 1951 an old green wooden structure in West Street that for a number of years had represented the Royal George, was pulled down. It had never looked Royal but it served its purpose until better days came along.
Its predecessor was a fine well-conceived inn, the destruction of which, with nearby property and the lives of those unfortunate people dwelling therein, made one of the grimmest of many evil nights when Boston was the target of the Luftwaffe.
West Street altered that night and we lost a part of Boston now forgotten and one never to exist again. Loveley’s Temperance Hotel on the corner of James Street was swept away and the Royal George, Mr. Lingard’s music shop, Mr. John Goodacre’s baker’s shop, and much other property in the neighbourhood was turned into so much rubble. So a great square of waste land was created, then came back Mr. Loveley’s temporary premises and the green wooden structure that was representative of the Royal George.
The Royal George that was bombed was one of the old-world inns, there was the popular old bar on the left of the door that faced West Street, and on the right the cosy old “snug”, the Landlord and Landlady were Mr. and Mrs. W. Dennis. The illumination was never very bright, but after shops had closed in the evenings dominoes, darts and all the other things you associate with a pub went on inside.
William looked after his house well, he was a smart little man, with mutton chop whiskers and his wife commanded such respect that never was anything said out of place. It was a hostelry of the old school with its wide open doors and ample stabling accommodation for Mr. Dennis’s horses and four wheeled cabs (called growlers) which would take people to the ball at the Assembly Rooms or the station to catch the early train to London.
So we come back to the 1950’s when it was decided to build some permanent buildings on the bombed site, a new Royal George included. It continued as The Royal George until well into the 1990’s and then changed its name to “Spatz” for a while.
Finally, it ceased to be a public house and is now an Indian Restaurant.

The site of the bombings and the new buildings erected in the 1950's.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

State of Boston Gaol


Saturday, 12 February 2011


In January 1916, during the First World War, German Zeppelins appeared in the skies over Boston. The first raids went over without incident but on the night of September 2nd 1916 Zeppelin L23 dropped bombs on Boston for the first time.

Zeppelin L23.
Four bombs hit the town, with the one striking the Grand Sluice causing the most damage. One member of the lock-keepers family was killed and several more people injured. Boston was only bombed because the Zeppelin involved in the raid had intended to bomb London but was unable to find its target because of bad weather. In January 1917 four anti-aircraft guns were stationed in Boston for defence but although Zeppelins continued to pass over the town it was never bombed again.

Friday, 11 February 2011

J. Carr and Son

J Carr and Son is an old business in Boston. It was founded in 1909 by Joseph Carr and started life at 70 Bargate End as a small ironmongers.

Once established, the shop prospered and neighbouring properties were purchased to enlarge the premises. Joseph was a cabinet maker and joiner by profession and was able to use his skills to diversify into undertaking, picture framing, glazing (including motor vehicles) and coach building. The 1960’s saw the acquisition of new properties round the corner at 10 and 11 Horncastle Road, Boston.

Carr's in the 1970's.
Lawnmower sales took off and was soon backed up servicing ,spares and sharpening being offered. Growth in this area lead to the re-development of the Horncastle Road site.
Increased competition from D.I.Y. superstores began to effect the tool and ironmongery shop and business became much harder. The mower shop faired much better, going from strength to strength and Carr's continues trading in Boston to this day.
The Horncastle Road site.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

White Hart burglary

In the “London Chronicle” dated December 18th. 1812 was the following report about Boston.

“Several daring burglaries have been committed in this town, within these few days back, which call for the most vigilant activity to discover the perpetrators, and arrest the progress of this increasing enormity.
On Sunday night the mail-coach office and warehouse at the White Hart were broken into, and a box belonging to Mr. Oates, upholsterer, despoiled of 120 yards of bombazeen, worth about £25. The robbers, after extracting the contents, filled the box with rubbish, ice, etc. and nailed it up leaving it where it was. They served a box of Mr. Jackson, silversmith, in the same way, after extracting the contents, value £32. Three crimson shawls, and other articles were also taken from a parcel belonging to Mr. Fuller, silk mercer, in Bargate, and Mr. Smith of Spilsby had a valuable parcel robbed at the same time.

On the same evening, or early yesterday morning, the counting house of Mr. Samuel Burnard, High Street, was broken into by some infamous villains, who fortunately were disappointed of their object, and forced to make a precipitated retreat, leaving part of a pick-lock key in the desk, which they were attempting to break open”.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Two Signs

The man stood in front of St. Botolph's Church in this picture is Mr. G.E. Hackford’s (a Boston photographer) Uncle. There are two signs above the doorway he is standing in, one warned people where the key to the fire station was obtainable, while the other draws attention to the fact that shaking rugs in the churchyard is not permitted!!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Old shop in Market Place

This Shop stood in the Market Place where the present Lloyd’s TSB bank is now.

It was once Nunnelly’s China Tea Stores and when it was built the staircase was left out by mistake which was considered to be a great joke at the time.

Later it became a high class drapers (known in the old days as a silk mercer’s) occupied by Messrs. Pack, Palethorpe and Clayton and was looked on as one of the best shops in the town. Mr. Garfit bought the premises and built his bank on the site and Lloyd’s bank eventually became the owners.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Mason's Corner

In July 1933 the shops of Messrs. Mason’s and Mr. S.T. Hopper were set back ten feet from the then building line.

Above and below: The corner before the change.

An empty shop between the two was absorbed and, in consequence, Mason’s increased its floor space by one third and Hopper’s also had an increase, as well as this both were given an extra floor to provide extra accommodation.

After the changes.
Mason’s shoe shop was started in 1884, but prior to that the business was conducted in Church Street.
Mr. Hopper said that he was hoping to make the first floor showrooms and have workrooms above.
It was hoped at the time that it would result in a much improved corner, wider thoroughfare at this point and an impressive new frontage.
When the Red Lion was demolished and a new Woolworths store was built in its place it was also put in line with Mason's and Hoppers as this 1980's picture below shows.