Thursday, 28 March 2013

Hildred Brothers.

Mr. David Foreman sent me these pictures of his old Hildred Brothers (Boston) piano which is still in good condition but he is giving to a friend and replacing it with a new one.

Hildred Brothers shop was at No. 6, Market Place, Boston and was the middle property of three that once stood on the site of the present Marks and Spencers store.

Below: The makers name on Mr. Foreman's piano.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Boston Tank.

The First World War tank that once stood at the end of Bargate Green opposite the main Post Office was formally handed over to the town in August 1919. The tank drove through the town on its own power to the spot where it stood and thousands of people watched its uncanny and noisy journey through the streets. It was handed over by Captain Farrar, the tank Commander, because Boston and District had subscribed thousands of pounds to the various war loans.

The gift to Boston in 1919.
In the course of his remarks Captain Farrar revealed that Boston's tank was a female!! There were two distinct types of tanks, he said. The male carrying two six pound Hotchkiss guns and the female carrying six Lewis guns and about 24,000 rounds of ammunition - and the female of the species was deadlier than the male! He went on to say that there had been a lot of criticism about the distribution of war-torn tanks as war relics, people said they did not wish to be reminded of the killing and ruthlessness of the greatest war the world had ever known, in the form of an old tank. He respected their view but wanted to point out the other side.
The tanks, he said, stood as an emblem of British ingenuity, British resourcefulness and British brains. The tank, some people thought, was made as a life taker. It was not. It was made primarily as a life saver. The Boston Corporation hoped that it would be a memorial, not only for the present generation, but for generations to come too, but in 1937 Thos. W. Ward, Ltd., of Sheffield, bought the tank and a German field gun from the council as scrap metal at the price of £56.
Search for "tank" to see Goodbye to the tank on a previous story.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


Yesterday (Monday 25th March 2013) an articulated lorry driver took a wrong turn into Powell Street Boston, a narrow street  which is also a dead end. As he tried to reverse out he got caught up in overhead wires, which were attached to a chimney on one of houses, this pulled the stack off the roof and on to the residents caravan causing damage. No-one was hurt in the incident and the driver can take comfort to know that he is not the first to suffer in Boston's streets.
I remember in the 1980's when C.B. radios were popular, one driver was asking for directions and someone just for a laugh (Boston sense of humour?) sent him completely out of his way and he ended up in the narrow road that is at the side of the Stump.
Another two incidents were caught on film, the first happened round about 1978 when the lorry below got stuck in Mitre Lane off Strait Bargate. This in itself would be bad enough but remember this is now a pedestrian area and in those days had two way traffic running through it!!

The picture below was taken in 1993, what a place to have a crash!! Right on the West Street railway crossing!!


Monday, 25 March 2013

The Pop Shop.

In 1978 the owners of the Pop Shop snack bar in West Street, Les Harris and his wife Alice, retired after 30 years in the catering business. Mr. Harris attended Park School as a boy and for ten years before World War Two he had worked for Fisher Clark's. During the war he joined the Royal Marines and served on H.M.S. Victorious. The couple took over the premises, which had previously been a pawn shop, in 1948. It was a very popular cafe not only for snacks, meals and tea and coffee but as a meeting place too.

The building before it was the Pop Shop, the pawnbrokers three balled sign clearly visible centre right.
The new owner was Mr. Shelton Goonewardena (a Sri Lankan who married a Boston girl) who had previously worked for Boston Corporation as a clerical officer and said at the time that he planned to run it on the same lines as the previous owners.

The building which was nearly opposite the Regal Cinema, along with many others, was demolished (above) and replaced (below) with a beautiful piece of architecture that is Wickes D.I.Y. store (sarcasm)!!!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

March Oddments.

Eight-day longcase clock with rolling moon c.1800 by Thomas Dickinson of Boston, in oak.

An advert for Willer and Riley's peas.
Roller and Harrow made by C & C Wright of Boston.
Strait Bargate.
The London warehouse stood near the Sam Newsom Music centre.
The Sluice Bridge signal box.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Some old street names,

Thanks to Harry Fountain, a lover of local history, for the following.

When Swineshead Abbey (5 miles from Boston) was in its palmy days the Abbot is said to have been "rowed in his barge to the ford at the entrance to Boston, where the Abbey owned a house and garden near the mill." This street became Ford End Lane, then Forthe End Lane, Farthing Lane, Fir Dale Lane and ultimately West Street as it is still known today.
Carlton Road was an old road formerly known as Butt Lane. Towards the close of the 15th century King Edward IV issued an order that archery butts should be provided on the borders of each township. The Boston butts were situated on the west bank of the river, Butt Lane leading to them. The butts on the east side of town were situated near Bargate Bridge on the town side of the stream known as the Scyre Beck, now the Maud Foster Drain.
George Street, King Street, Queen Street and Innocent Street (top of King Street) are said to have been named as a result of the trial of Queen Caroline, the wife of George IV, who was tried for adultery and found to be innocent.
Liquorpond Street was once called Walnut Tree Pastures, a road called Water Lane connected it with High Street (once called Gowt Street} via what is now Victoria Place.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Some old industries in Boston.

Boston was a hive of industrial activity throughout the 1800's. It made, among other things, hats and caps, mattresses, chairs, rope, boots and shoes, pipes and cigars. It also grew woad and tanned leather. Around the 1850's there were at least three makers of clay pipes, and the industry thrived for many years, their little factories were sited in Pinfold Lane, West Street and Pipe Office Lane.

Pipe Office Lane, off West Street.

It wasn't surprising therefore that it attracted people bent on the idea of filling them at a profit. The first possibly (in 1842) was a George Hartley of Silver Street who was described as a tobacco manufacturer and cigar maker. By the 1890's there were at least two or three cigar makers. There was Thorns cigar factory which ran to a staff of about 200, Whittle and Cope's in Norfolk Street and another was in Bond Street whose premises were later to become the Boston Steam Laundry.

Inside Whittle and Cope's cigar factory, Norfolk Street.

Hat and cap making was also a flourishing trade, and it appears to have been highly competitive too, for records reveal that a certain Mr. Waterfield used to make them while his wife and daughter sold them on the local markets. It is said that they walked as far as Spalding every week to take up their pitch. One of the last local survivors in the trade was a Mr. Jay of Wormgate.
One of the oldest crafts, rope-making and twine-spinning, was carried on in several parts of the town and there were at least eight still in existence as late as the 1890's, one of them was sited opposite the Central Park where Tawney Street and Hartley Street now are. Rope of all thicknesses were produced, mainly for agriculture and fishing.
We also had a "whiting" industry, this was ground chalk that could be purchased at any grocer's or chandler's shop and was much in demand for hearths, outside steps, silver cleaning and other domestic purposes. Mr. Walter Whyers, a local historian, said in 1934, "As a boy I would go to watch the old horse going round and round as he turned the mill that ground great lumps of chalk to powder, It made me feel giddy to watch the movements of the horse, and I thought it cruelty to the poor animal until they showed me the blinkers that it wore which, they said, prevented the horse from realising that its journey was limited to the ambit of the mill shaft." Among those who made this commodity were Matthew Booker of Wide Bargate, Isaac Trolley, and Mr. Bentley.
Woad growing, for dyeing cloth, once a profitable crop, was an important agricultural sideline and was discontinued only because it was superseded by synthetic dyes.
Boston also made some furniture and in the 1870's there were six chairmakers  and 18 cabinet makers, of whom one was described as a bed pole turner.
The leather producing trade was centred in White Horse Lane, where the washing and tanning was carried out. Curing and dressing also took place at a tannery in Bargate End.
The very old craft of boot and shoe making which was once widely practised in the town was slow to die because even as late as 1850 there were no fewer than 50 manufacturers.
Boston in those days was virtually self sufficient and the men of Boston produced almost all the goods required.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Farming to football.

If you had walked down Tattershall Road in August 1973 you would have seen in the front garden of number 104 (the bungalow home of Mr. and Mrs. Gosling) an old horse drawn potato plough. For Mr. and Mrs. Gosling this plough was the only remains of a farming business covering three generations the site of which was only a few hundred yards from their home.
Sold in 1962 on their retirement, the land which is now Boston Football Club's ground was first farmed by Mr. and Mrs. Gosling in 1925. Mr. Gosling had previously been working with his Father in Broadfield Lane on arable land that had been bought by his Grandfather. Specialising in market gardening Mr. Gosling once took a bet that he could not grow five Brussels to the pound, but his sprouts became so big that three made up the weight.
Mr. and Mrs. Gosling became childhood sweethearts when Mr. Gosling transferred at the age of 12 from Staniland school to Shodfriars school where Mrs. Gosling was a pupil. Six years later the First World War began and Mr. Gosling was stationed in France with the East Lancashire Regiment. Later on in the war he was taken prisoner on the Somme and Mrs. Gosling lost hope of him ever returning alive, but after nine months as a prisoner the war ended and he eventually arrived back home.
The couple, who were both 77 in 1973 had lived in Tattershall Road since they had retired.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Two clocks.

The Haven Bridge clock.

The Haven Bridge clock was fitted by Managing Director Mr. J.V. Aaron in 1975, on the then premises of Boston Divers Ltd.

Originally buying and planning to put up the old Willer and Riley clock he found out it would take up too much space so in the end settled for the electric one pictured above. Mr. Aaron, said at the time that four clocks had been taken down or stopped working in recent years and as his office was in a busy area he thought a clock would be useful to motorists going over the bridge.

Willer and Riley's clock.

At the West Street end of Queen Street, where Aldi's supermarket now stands, stood the old Willer and Riley factory and in the apex of the gable facing toward the street was a circular opening that graced a clock. The clock was removed by Boston Corporation in about 1974 and placed into their Broadfield Street depot for storage and was purchased by Mr. Aaron as stated above. Since he could not use the clock it was sold to Bert Fleet (then Chairman of Directors at Fogarty's) whose stated intention was to erect a small tower within the entrance of Fogarty's Havenside works and install the clock therein. Unfortunately Mr. Fleet died before this was accomplished and Mr. Aaron had no idea what happened to the clock.    Does anyone know where it went?..............

Saturday, 9 March 2013

The Chimney Sweep.

For a hundred years a metal cast of a little man carrying brushes hung above the door of the Hull family in Boston. In August 1970 it went, along with four generations of chimney sweeps.
For the previous 25 years the little man had hung over the door of 4 Spain Place Boston, the home of Mr. Harry Hull but in that August of 1970 Harry brought the little man indoors, for he himself decided to retire and there was no-one to continue the family tradition.
Edgar Hull, Harry's Great Grandfather, started the family business at the time of the Franco-Prussian war and then Harry's Grandfather, his Father and then Harry himself carried it on but Harry's children would have nothing to do with it.
"Tradition is all very well,"  said Harry, "but we encouraged the boys to do well at school so they could have a better job than me."
Harry was 67 at that time and he swept his first chimney when he was 15. He had his own round when he was 20 and for the next few years he was averaging 80 chimneys a week. He started off in the country while his Father concentrated on the town chimneys but as his Father grew older Harry began to take over his town round. His father, Mr. William Hull, had retired 25 years previously and since then Harry had concentrated on sweeping chimneys within Boston Borough. He used to do his round with a horse and trap but in the late 1920's he bought his first car, a Model T Ford, and since that time had always had motorised transport.
He recalled making a few pounds out of Lady Beryl Groves who owned Revesby Abbey (about 10 or 12 miles from Boston) after the Second World War. "Her estate agent instructed me to sweep the chimneys there, when the Americans who were billeted there went home. There were 60 chimneys and it took me over a week to clean them all."
One of the reasons Harry retired in 1970 was " all this gas and electric coming in " but even Harry went over to electricity two years previously.......................................

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Paradise Row.

Church Close, the quaint row of old houses opposite the Stump, was once called Paradise Row. The first building on the extreme left is Lloyd's Bank, built in 1864 by the bankers Garfit, Claypon and Co. Ltd. It was taken over by Lloyd's and has remained in their possession ever since.

The row is basically late 18th. century, probably built around George III's time, the buildings to the right were slightly remodelled in the 19th. century and again in 1964.
Isaac Reckitt once lived in the row, then known as " Part of Church Yard ", his family owned the Maud Foster Windmill at the time and were later taken over by Reckitt and Colman, a rival firm who are now much better known in Britain for their famous mustard.
There are recordings down for 1817 and 1828 which state that two private schools were set up at those times in one of the houses. The first run by Mr. and Mrs. Staniland and the other by Miss Hannah Tuxford.
One man who lived in the row went by the name of John Field Smyth, he owned a tobacco and cigar making factory at the bottom of Wide Bargate. The story goes that the Customs and Excise asked him to expose some tobacco smuggling that was going on around the docks at that time, he did - but suffered the consequences. An angry mob hurled bricks through his shop window in a riot, then repeated the procedure on his house. Other occupiers have included attorneys, auctioneers and millinery and dress establishments.
Apparently the houses in the row replaced mediaeval buildings as they got woodrot.
Lloyd's Bank with the date above it.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Shodfriars Hall interior.

The outside of Shodfriar’s Hall is one of Boston's most photographed sites, but what of the inside? Here are a few pictures to give an idea of its interior.

The building comprises two conjoined buildings of different dates and styles, a fifteenth century L-shaped structure and a substantial red brick extension of 1874.

 The older of the two (described by Pevsner as ‘the ghost’ of a timber framed building) was heavily restored or, more correctly, reconstructed and much altered by J Oldrid Scott in 1874.

The hall was employed for much the same mix of uses as an old circuit theatre, that is, dances, public meetings and concerts, with occasional theatricals, the main difference being that touring theatre companies usually played for only a few nights on each visit.

There were big open fireplaces. A proscenium was inserted in 1905 and replaced by a presumably more permanent one in 1915 when the hall was also reseated and the public entrances improved, making regular theatrical presentations possible.

 It finally closed as a performance centre in 1929 and became a billiards hall.

 Since then, it has had continuing uses as snooker hall, night club, restaurant and shops.

The balcony, now disused, still has turned and twisted wooden balusters. A proposal to convert Shodfriars into an arts centre in 1944 proved abortive.