Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Child cruelty.

It wasn't always a case of  "the good old days" in Boston. There was crime, murder, drunkeness and more, and stories like the following were more common than you'd think. In June 1923 a married woman, Maud -----,  was summoned for neglecting her children. It was said that the husband of the accused was a fireman on a steam trawler and was employed by the Boston Deep Sea Fishing and Ice Company. He had been on a boat that was sailing from Fleetwood and had been away from Boston since the previous March, he had not returned in the interval. The house in which the Mother, Father and children lived was the Almshouses in Skirbeck Quarter (most likely the Middlecott Almshouses, where Middlecott Close stands today) and there were two rooms, one up and one down.
The children were a baby girl aged ten months, Edward aged four, Gwennie aged six and Phyllis aged eight. Dr. Tuxford told the magistrates that the children were well nourished but their general condition caused them unnecessary suffering. Two pawn tickets were found on the woman and these were for the childrens frocks. It was alleged that strange men had been seen leaving the house in the evening and he was afraid she had been drinking and doing things she shouldn't have, and in the meantime the children had been neglected. Dr. Tuxford also described the scanty clothes of the children and said that the house was disgracefully filthy and in a thoroughly unsanitary condition. The surroundings, although the children were well nourished, were likely to injure their health and it was unnecessary cruelty to keep the children in a filthy state.
P.c. Dickinson said that at 11.p.m. one evening he saw a man leave the house and when he visited the house one time it was in a most filthy condition.
Police sergeant Needham said he went to the house accompanied by P.c. Chappel and they found the door locked. He found the key in a bush, and went in, where they saw the children. The eldest girl was standing near the fire, nursing the baby, and there was no fireguard to protect them. She was wearing an old filthy coat and a vest in a dirty condition. The baby had a filthy old vest on and was wrapped in an old mackintosh.
Gwennie was standing in her bare feet near the fire, and was wearing a dirty vest, with an old coat. Edward had a dirty shirt and overall, and had no boots or stockings. The house was in a dirty and filthy condition, and the stench was almost intolerable, as the windows were closed. Upstairs there were two beds, and the remains of two flock mattresses were scattered on the floor. there were also some dirty old rags and it looked as though the sanitary arrangements, as affecting the children, had not been attended to for weeks. In the pantry there were bread, eggs, tea, sugar and a tin of condensed milk. At 4 p.m. he returned to the house and the woan was still not there, he gave some milk to the baby and it drank ravenously, he gave the other children some cake and tea, which had been given by neighbours. At 4.30 p.m. she returned and was arrested.
An inspector from the N.S.P.C.C. described the condition of the house as "most horrible" and a basket of clothing in a most filthy condition, was beyond description. When she returned she had a bottle of beer and some buns and she denied she had neglected her children but when he asked if she had been visiting public houses she made no reply.

The defendant said she was very sorry and hoped that the magistrates would be lenient with her. The Chairman said it was perhaps the worst case they had had in that court concerning the neglect of children and she ought to be thoroughly ashamed of herself as a mother. They said they would give her a prison sentence simply for the sake of giving her an opportunity of pulling herself together and it was hoped that when she came out she would be a better mother. She was sentenced to six months in prison.

Before we judge the lady we should think that it was fine for the relatively well off magistrates and police to preach but how many of them, in the same circumstances would fare any better than her? It doesn't bear to think about how we, as a modern generation, would have lasted in those dark days.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Richard Leafe.

Richard (Dick) Leafe was born in Boston in 1891. He joined Boston Town but showed enough promise to be signed by Grimsby Town in the Second Division of the Football League. However, after only one appearance he returned to Boston.
In November 1910 Leafe signed for Sheffield United in the First Division. Although only 20 years old he managed to score 15 goals in 28 games in the 1911-12 season.


Syd King, the manager of West Ham United, was impressed by Leafe's performances and bought him as a replacement for the prolific Danny Shea who he had just sold to Blackburn Rovers for a British record transfer fee of £2,000.
Richard Leafe was an immediate success and scored in his first four matches. At the end of the the 1913-14 season he was the club's top scorer with 20 goals in 33 league games. He developed a great partnership with West Ham's young centre-forward, Syd Puddefoot. The following season West Ham finished in 4th place in the Southern League. Puddefoot was top scorer with 18 goals and Leafe managed 13 in 30 games.

Leafe's career was interrupted by the outbreak of the First World War. By the time competitive football returned Leafe was past his best. West Ham had been elected to the Second Division and in the 1919-20 season finished in 15th place. However, Leafe had been unable to score in his 15 games for the club. The following season Leafe scored 7 in 13 games but it was Syd Puddefoot who was now the star of the team with 29 goals.
With the arrival of Vic Watson Leafe only played in 3 games in the 1921-22 season. He decided to retire from playing but was given the job as assistant secretary of the club. He held the post until the management was forced to reduce the staff at the outbreak of the Second World War.

Richard Leafe died in 1964.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Bombing and civilian deaths in World War Two.

Many Boston folk were killed in action either in the Army, Navy or the R.A.F. This small article deals only with the civilian deaths of Boston during World War Two,  if there are any I have not mentioned and you can tell me about them I will update it immediately.

Most of Boston's bombings in World War Two occured between August 1940 and June 1942. On nine nights during this period bombs actually fell in the town but there were a few false alarms where people had to sit up, in their air raid shelters or under the stairs, sometimes for hours, because the siren had gone off. On the days after any bombs had fallen the boys of the town turned up to look for fragments of the bombs or the fins of the incendiary bombs. There was rarely more than one enemy bomber involved in each raid and often the bombs were delayed action or duds and the bomb disposal squads had to be called in. One such bomb, outside Cammack's shop in Wide Bargate, took several days to get out and two more, in open fields, are still there to this day.

The unexploded bomb outside Cammack's shop in Wide Bargate.
On the night of 12th. June 1941, a single heavy bomb burst behind West Street, near James Street. The Royal George pub, several houses and Lovely's Commercial Hotel were destroyed and when the ruins were cleared the next day it was found that there was a tragic death toll. Mr. John Faulkner, an old man in his seventies, Mrs. Nancy Harris and her three little children and two well known teenage girls, Kathleen and Audrey Loveley had all been killed. In all nine people died in what was Boston's worst air-raid incident of the war.
There was a lull of more than a year without any serious air-raids on Boston, but the town had two more serious raids to come, one in July and one in August of 1942.

Above : A Dornier 217, one of which flew across Boston in July 1942,  machine-gunning and dropping four bombs on the town.
The first of these was in broad daylight when a Dornier 217 dived out of thick cloud, flew across the town machine-gunning as it went, and then dropped four bombs aimed at the railway goods yard in High Street. Three of the bombs hit the railway yard and caused some damage but one bomb fell short and burst near houses in the Liquorpond Street - High Street - Bedford Place area. One old lady, Mrs. Harriet Gee was killed, several people were injured, and over 100 were bombed out of their homes.
One month later on a Saturday evening, a German bomber dropped a line of white flares near the dock and a few minutes later four bombs exploded between Main Ridge, Silver Street and Threadneedle Street. Many of the surrounding houses were destroyed and four people were killed, five injured and 150 bombed out. Among the dead were an 18 year old young man William Taylor, and his girlfriend, 15 year old Gertrude Creasey. He and his young lady were the last civilians to be buried in the war plot in Boston Cemetery. May they all rest in peace.
Fifty seven high explosive bombs, and also four oil bombs, fell between the town's boundaries, and around 500 incendiaries were also dropped. Sixty four homes were either destroyed or so badly damaged that they had to be demolished.