Sunday, 29 July 2012

Some of Boston's Schools

Matthew Crowden's Holland House School, 69 Wide Bargate. The building is still there near to Bargate Bridge and is now (2012 below) a Dentist's.

The former Grammar School in Wormgate

Boston Grammar School

The interior of Boston Grammar School.

Above and below : Staniland School, corner of George St. and Fydell Crescent, now a Car Park.

Staniland School was established in 1896. In 1987 the school moved to its present location at Peck Avenue, Boston.

Allan House High School, used before the present High School on Spilsby Road was built in 1938.

Boston High School first opened on 19 January 1914 at Allan House on Carlton Road, Boston. There was a headmistress and seven teachers, with 112 girls on the roll. Due to increasing pupil numbers additional classrooms were built in 1922. The school's first headmistress was Miss F.M. Knipe, who served from 1914 until 1927, and there have only been five further headteachers in the history of the school.
The school was relocated to Spilsby Road during the autumn of 1938. However, the official opening ceremony did not take place until 1939, the year that World War II started.

The old Carlton Road School, before the Fenside Estate was built, and taken from a spot which would eventually become Taverner Road.

Conway School in Tunnard Street, about 1910.
Conway school was established in 1851 by Martha and Mary Gee as Boston Middle Girls School at George Street, Boston and was "intended for female children whose parents are in the rank next above the actual poor". It subsequently moved to its current site at Tunnard Street, at a rebuilding cost of £800.
In 1905 the school was renamed as Conway School and established a good local reputation. The school eventually became coeducational, achieving high levels of annual passes in the 11+ examination. In 2000 Conway School had 100% passes in the 11+ for the third year running.

Part of Witham Green School, demolished in about 1969.

The Bluecoat School, not far from the Sluice Bridge.

Plaque on Park Board School, Tunnard Street. Demolished and now another Car Park. The plaque was the only part of the school saved and is cemented into the entrance to the car park.

Shodfriars Lane School, near the Gliderdrome.

An advertisement placed in the 1872 County Directory by Miss Francis Pocklington who after 1868 took part of Ingelow House and in 1871 had 12 resident pupils. The school passed on to Misses Ann and Mary Adams,  and later to Miss Cecily Matthews and then Miss Evelyn Rysdale until after 1919.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Around Boston. Old Mother Riley.

Arthur Lucan, was born Arthur Towle, the third of seven children, on 16th September 1885 in Sibsey, a village 5 miles from Boston. He moved to Boston with his family when he was five years old and attended school in Boston.

Arthur, second from left back row, when he was at Boston National School in Pump Square, Boston.

It was at Shodfriars Hall, which housed a theatre, within sight of his home, where the young Arthur Towle first trod the boards. Initially, his job involved sweeping the stage and selling programs.

Shodfriars Theatre.

However, a serious epidemic of measles resulted in the young Arthur being asked to play a minor part. In 1899 he eventually managed to secure an onstage roll at the nearby Corn Exchange in the Market Place.

Above: The Corn Exchange, Boston.

Below: The Corn Exchange was situated at the rear of the buildings in the Market Place and was reached by an archway (see below) which still exists today at the side of the present (2012) site of Marks and Spencers.

After seeing a Pierrot show in nearby Skegness around 1901, the restless young Arthur joined a traveling troupe, "The Musical Cliftons." His formative years were spent learning his craft around England and Ireland. Whilst he enjoyed his time with them he yearned for the warmth and comfort of the static theatre. To this end, in 1910 he managed to secure a pantomime – Little Red Riding Hood – at the Queen’s Theatre, Dublin, by literally writing the script overnight, with himself playing the role of Granny. The title role in the pantomime had been given to a beautiful thirteen year old raven haired brown eyed local girl, Catherine "Kitty" McShane.

The couple fell in love, and against Kitty’s parents wishes, they were married in Dublin in 1913. Arthur was twenty eight and Kitty, only sixteen. Around this time, Arthur Towle changed his stage name to ‘Arthur Lucan’, after spotting a Dublin horse-drawn milk float with the words "LUCAN DAIRIES" on the side. ‘Lucan and McShane’ went on to develop one of most popular British musical hall, radio and film comedy double acts of all time – "Old Mother Riley and her daughter Kitty", forging a show business career spanning over forty years.

After their marriage, the couple honed their act, playing down the bill in numerous variety theatres across Britain. Arthur wrote the material and Kitty performed the musical numbers. The gangly Old Mother Riley dame character was usually a charwoman or laundress. With the aid of her headstrong daughter, Kitty, the comedy came from Mother Riley’s absurd predicaments, eccentric ways, facial and bodily contortions, and malapropism-filled tirades against all who displeased her, seasoned with "knockabout" slapstick. The character was extremely popular with children.

In the early 1920s Lucan & McShane’s hard work paid off, and in 1923 they undertook a successful overseas tour playing in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. For the next ten years they continued to play the variety halls, now topping the bill. In 1934 an appearance on the Royal Command Performance established their popularity and celebrity status and in 1936, the couple’s famous sketch "Bridget’s Night Out’ was filmed for ‘Stars On Parade’ – a compilation film of British music hall acts of the time, including Gracie Fields and George Formby.

After appearing in minor roles in the film ‘ Kathleen Mavoureen’ (1937), a musical tale set in Ireland, the couple was approached to star in their own film, ‘Old Mother Riley’ (1937). The film, which was cheaply made (it cost £2,000, and took six weeks to shoot) was based around their famous music hall sketch ‘The Matchseller’. The film was a box office success and another quickly followed, ‘Old Mother Riley in Paris’ (1938). This film was based on another sketch; ‘The Stepwasher’ and it repeated the box office success of the first film. Another thirteen ‘Old Mother Riley’ films were to follow between 1939 and 1952. The couple also found time to tour South Africa in pantomime, make numerous radio appearances for the BBC and also record a number of discs for Columbia. They also featured in their own comic strip.

The last film in the ‘Old Mother Riley’ series, ‘Old Mother Riley Meets the Vampire’(1952) is perhaps the most well know, mainly for the bizarre casting of Bela Lugosi in an attempt to appeal to the American market. Whilst the ‘Old Mother Riley’ films were hugely popular in Britain, the Americans found the dame character and British humour not to their taste and this film was no exception. The film was made without Kitty, her part being played by Dora Bryan. The Lucian’s marriage had disintegrated due to Kitty’s infidelity and Arthur’s increasing drink problem. At the time of filming Arthur had serious money problems and was eventually forced into bankruptcy by Kitty’s profligate spending. Lugosi, who had been touring the UK in the play ‘ Dracula’, needed the money (he was paid US$5,000 plus living expenses for four weeks work on the film) in order to return back to the USA.

In the film Lugosi plays a mad scientist (Von Housen) – not a vampire – who is trying to take over the world with army of robots. After a series of comic misadventures Mother Riley saves the day. The film also featured well known British actors Richard Wattis, Graham Moffat, Hattie Jacques, Dandy Nichols and Charles Lloyd Pack, grandfather of ‘Wish You Were Here’ actress Emily Lloyd, and father of Roger Lloyd Pack who played ‘Trigger’ in the TV comedy ‘Only Fools And Horses’. Because the film was considered "too British", the American distributors had planned to edit out all of the footage featuring Arthur Lucan and re-shoot more scenes featuring Lugosi. However, by this time Lugosi was very ill and gaunt looking, so the idea was abandoned. The film was released under various titles in the States, the most well known one being ‘My Son The Vampire’, which featured some re-shot scenes and an introductory song by comedy singer Allan "Camp Granada" Sherman. Despite these changes, the film still remained a commercial failure across the Atlantic.

Arthur continued to make stage appearances across the country to pay off his creditors, chiefly the Inland Revenue. He collapsed and died in the wings of the Tivoli Theatre in Kingston-upon-Hull on 17th May 1954, whilst waiting for his cue to go on stage. In true music hall tradition of "the show must go on", the performance went ahead with an understudy playing the lead part. The audience was totally unaware of developments backstage, and only learned the tragic news after the performance.

Kitty McShane outlived her husband by nearly ten years. She died alone in her Mayfair flat in March 1964.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Football Programmes / old companies.

Andrew Butler kindly sent me these pictures from his large collection of old Boston United Football programmes, it is interesting to see which firms have gone out of business and I have shown a few that are advertised in the Programmes.

The only ones above remaining in 2012 are The Britannia Inn and H.H. Adkins

Loveley's cafe in the Market Place.

Hutson's, 11, Wide Bargate on the left. This building was at one time the Woolpack Inn.

A 1927 Programme.

The Red Lion Hotel.

Cheshire's can just be seen on the extreme right.

King's Cafe.

Hayward and Towell's South Square premises.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Around Boston. Matthew Flinders.

Matthew Flinders (March 16, 1774 - July 19, 1814) was born in Donington, a village about 10 miles from Boston, he was an explorer, naval officer and navigator and he circumnavigated Australia and mapped much of its coastline.
Flinders first sailed to Australia in 1795 for the British Navy aboard a ship called the "Reliance." He and his friend George Bass (the ship's surgeon who had lived in Boston) bought an 8-foot-long boat called the "Tom Thumb" in order to explore the treacherous coastline of southern Australia. They first sailed south of Sydney (to Botany Bay) and rowed up the Georges River. During the years 1795 to 1798, they mapped much of the southeast coast of Australia and sailed completely around the island of Tasmania. Flinders returned to England on the "Reliance" in 1800.

Matthew Flinders.

In 1801, Flinders returned to Australia as captain of the 334-ton ship called the "Investigator." He first sighted land at Cape Leeuwin (the southwest tip of Australia). On this second trip, he mapped Australia's entire southern coast, from Cape Leeuwin to the Spencer Gulf (which he sailed up) to the Bass Strait (named for his friend George Bass, it separates mainland Australia from the southern island of Tasmania). On July 22, 1802, he sailed to the east coast of Australia, mapping the coastline from Port Jackson (where Sydney is located) up to the Gulf of Carpentaria. He continued west and then south, sailing completely around Australia; he returned to Port Jackson on June 9, 1803, even though his boat was leaking badly. This was the first time anyone had sailed around Australia.

On his way back to England in the autumn of 1803 (on a different ship, the "Cumberland"), Flinders had to make a stop for ship repairs at Île de France (now called Mauritius) in the western Indian Ocean. Thinking he was a spy, the French kept him prisoner for six and a half years and stole his charts and papers (he was released when the British took over the island). He didn't arrive home until 1810, and reached home sick and a forgotten man. He wrote an account of his travels, called "Voyage to Terra Australis Undertaken for the Purpose of Completing the Discovery of that Vast Country," and died the day after it was published.

The bronze statue below, erected in Donington Market Place in March 2006, also features Trim, his cat, which travelled on voyages to Australia with him but disappeared on Mauritius.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Odds and Enders.

A mix of pictures that don't fit in any category.

The Cattle Market in 1959.

Hoppers Jewellers (opposite Oldrids) in Strait Bargate.

The Station, looking toward West Street crossing.

Hairdressers advertisement.

A painting of Boston.

A Boston Police Force button.

The Stump on a corkscrew.

A receipt from Bothamley's (was opposite Marks and Spencers site).

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Ron Diggins.

A few years ago Ron Diggins was officially named the world's first disc jockey by specialist music-mixing journal DJ Magazine.

Ron was a professional radio engineer with a business in Boston providing public address systems

"I'd been playing background music and doing voice-overs out the back of my van at school sports days and the like," he told the Boston Standard. "It was nothing to do with dancing – that was the last thing on my mind." But in September 1947, the farm girls from the Swineshead Land Army decided Ron’s gear could be put to better use: "They were passing the office, saw the van and came in to ask if it could be used for dancing. They were having a harvest supper with some of the Italian POWs. Well, I'd never thought of it before, but I didn't want to lose the booking – so I said I'd give it a go."

"Back then there was just the waltz, the quick-step and the Palais glide – and I always ended up with the National Anthem," he explained. "It was unheard of at the time to play records at a dance and it just took off from there – although I had no idea how things would snowball."

Ron’s 78s proved wildly popular, no doubt because his record selections gave audiences slightly grander music than they were used to. "When I started out, the ordinary village halls danced to live piano and drums – that's all. If it was something extra special, they'd have a violin as well."

Three ladies enjoying Ron's music.

In 1949 he built his famous ‘Diggola’ a wonderful art deco mobile DJ booth modelled on the bandstands of the jazz era. The first of six, it came complete with double decks for 78s, a home-made mixer, lights, microphone, amplifier and ten speakers. "It took me about six weeks to build the first Diggola. We couldn't get plywood in those days, so soon after the war. So I had to make it out of coffin boards."

Ron's Hillman Estate Mobile Disco.

In the ’50s Ron Diggin's fame had spread so widely around south Lincolnshire that he had to hire two other DJs to keep up with his bookings. His success angered the Musicians’ Union, who used their clout to prevent him playing larger venues. So sadly, though he’d set his heart on it, Ron never played Boston’s Gliderdrome. He retired in 1995 after playing around 20,000 parties. The most he ever charged was £50.

"I've invented nothing," he insisted on his 90th birthday. "I put the same things to a different use, that's all."

West Street.

The West Street of today (2012) is mainly a mixture of Turkish, Polish, Indian, Chinese and other foreign shops so let's return to a better time when it was a beautiful part of our quaint old town and all the businesses were English, and in a lot of cases owned by local people. The photographs are all of West Street in different years.

First of all the year 1956.
One of Boston's favourite hairdressing salons, "The Cameo" was situated in West Street which also provided manicures, face massage and sold various cosmetics. Stan Cooper had a shop that specialised in the sale of motorcycles, new and second hand and also did repairs and spares, he was also an agent for James pedal cycles. Scotney's sold jewellery and did watch and clock repairs.

One of the grandest shops was Day's, founded in 1884 by Charles Day and was being run in 1956 by his sons Charles and Fred Day. Mr. Charles Day junior's opinion in 1956 was that West Street had "changed a great deal in the past few years". I wonder what his thoughts would be now !

Howes and Davies, a men's outfitting shop, prided themselves on their personal touch and L. F. Vere's "Select Cafe" was popular in the town, not only for a cup of tea but for their wedding and birthday cakes as well.

This building was pulled down and the Regal Cinema built on the site.

H.M.Hames shop supplied all baby requisites and had done so since it was established fifty or sixty years before, in 1956 it was owned by Mrs. D. Parvin whose Father founded it.

Extreme left: The old Boston Guardian newspaper building.

No matter what you wanted in the way of office equipment Eastern Counties were able to supply it from "typewriters, duplicators, dictaphones and adding machines to every type of printing and stationery" and in 1956 the firm celebrated its tenth anniversary, it was founded by Mr F.J. Taylor in the front room of his home in Eastwood Road, Boston.

Best's furniture shop, The Eagle pub is on the extreme right.

The Pop Shop, well patronised by the younger generation, commercial travellers and lorry drivers alike for "a nice cuppa" was very popular. For many years before the building was used as a pawnbroker's shop and in 1956 the Pop Shop had been there for seven years.
Ron Diggins had his Radio, TV and electric supplies shop in West Street in 1956 and was equally well known in Boston for his "Diggola" with which he provided music for many local functions.

Here I will give a few of my own memories of  West Street buildings and businesses that have disappeared in my lifetime.
Scotneys Garage was where P.C.World is now and next to it (on the corner of Trinity Street) was a little model shop with a huge tree outside of it. The Royal George pub, the friendly little Post Office (run by Mr. Kirton I think), The Regal Cinema, The Wimpy Bar, Cheers clothes shop,

Scotneys jewellers, Stanwell's butchers, Jimmy Wards herbal drinks, Arme's,

The Police Station at the side of the Municipal Buildings, Cheshire's furniture shop, Pop shop, Arnold Green's, Dr. Usmar and Dr. Kaleba's surgery, Parkinson's, Boston Guardian building, Don White's cycle shop and the Labour Exchange.