Tuesday, 30 April 2013

April snippets.

Three Bostonians were among the men serving on H.M.S. Victory, Nelson's flagship, at the Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805. They were Ordinary Seaman William Thompson and Able Seamen John Warrundale and John Lewis.

Boston men aboard HMS Victory helped to defeat the French and Spanish navies at Trafalgar.
Boston may well once have had an electric tram-car system. The British Electric Traction Company Ltd. of London came forward in 1889 with a proposal to run electric trams from the junction of Brothertoft Road and Sleaford Road to the end of Spilsby Road, and between the Dock and the Railway Station
but the Corporation raised certain objections, and nothing came of the plan. The cars planned for use in Boston were similar to those used at Blackpool but probably without the roof accommodation.
What good old pictures of the town they would have provided!!
A train leaves Boston.
The Boston Gazette of August 14th. 1821 reported that a Friskney labourer was sentenced to death for stealing a sheep. Also sentenced to death, but reprieved, were a Timberland labourer, for stealing a sheep and a Spilsby saddler and another man, each for stealing a horse. For breaking into a house at Wyberton Roads and stealing articles worth 39 shillings, William Warner was given seven years transportation.
Above: The Market Place in days gone by.
Below: Mason's shoe shop and Hoppers.

Boston's Trawler Fleet in the First World War.

Boston's deep sea trawler fleet suffered a terrible toll during World War One. No less than 16 steam trawlers were sunk, at least 51 trawlermen lost their lives and 53 more were held as prisoners of war.
Ten of the 16 trawlers concerned were lost in August 1914, the first month of the war, nine of these belonging to the Boston Deep Sea Fishing Company. The Admiralty had ordered no more sailings, and the recall of those trawlers at sea - which was no easy matter in view of the scarcity of radio communications.
In a night sweep of the North Sea fishing grounds, carried out by the German Navy before the Admiralty instructions could be implemented, 15 trawlers were sunk, including the 10 from Boston. Their 73 crew members were all taken prisoner.
The Boston Deep Sea Fishing Company suspended all activities the following month, 80 fishermen being laid off work. Fishing was resumed in 1915, and that June the "Arctic", owned by the Stringer Steam Fishing Company, became the first of a new crop of casualties. Four of her crew were killed when she was shelled and sunk by a German submarine 75 miles off Spurn Head, the other five crew members were picked up by another trawler the following day after taking off from their stricken ship in a rowing boat.
Lost without trace between November 1915 and the following April were the "Fijian" (also owned by the Stringers) and two Deep Sea Fisheries trawlers, the "Holland" and the "Carrington" and their 26 crew members.

The Holland, lost without trace.
Another Stringer boat had a remarkable escape, the "Cetus" was abandoned when she came under shellfire from a submarine, but was towed into Aberdeen by another Boston trawler - and her crew was picked up after 23 hours in an open boat.
The "Dalmation" and the "Brothertoft" were the final casualties, lost in the spring of 1917.
Coincidentally, later in the war, Boston was chosen to be the port for the exchange of prisoners. My Grandfather who lived in London was involved in this task and got a liking for Boston during his time here and in 1919 moved, along with my Grandmother and their 9 children (including my Father)from London to make their home in Boston.

Monday, 29 April 2013

The Stump in miniature.

Almost all Bostonians must have visited our beautiful church in their lives along with thousands of visitors and tourists over the years. One of the interesting things to see there is a large model of the church built from nothing more than matchsticks.

It was built by Mr. John Johnson in 1963 when he was off work with a broken leg as he wanted something to occupy the nine months that he was expected to be unable to work. It took him about six months and 37,000 matches to complete the model. Certainly an ambitious project, this was only Mr. Johnson's second attempt at model making, his first being of Laceby Church.
Using a brochure of the Stump, Mr. Johnson set about building the 40 inch high and 36 inch long model. Whenever the brochure didn't show the precise detail that he wanted, he "hobbled across to the Stump to have a look" from his home in Mitre Lane, Boston. He would often spend up to 12 hours a day working on the model but when it was finished he had nowhere to store it so he took it to the Noel Craft garage on Frithbank where he was working at the time and left it there.
When Coupland's bought the garage the model was still there and they offered to return it to Mr. Johnson, however, Mr. Johnson still didn't have space for it, so it stayed at the garage.
Over the years Mr. Coupland forgot that it was Mr. Johnson who had made the model and in 1980 he gave the model to the church and it was put into the custody of the warden, Mr. Fox, who intended to make minor repairs to it. Luckily for us he did, and it is now in full view inside the church.

Sunday, 28 April 2013


In the early part of the 1900's the Fire Brigade had its headquarters in the Municipal Buildings in West Street, it was formed of men from all walks of life who elected their own officers from its 20 or so members. Looking back over the 20th. century it is thankful that a town the size of Boston had relatively few disastrous fires, there was the blaze at Cooke's Chemist Shop (below) when one young girl lost her life,

the fire at the Wesleyan Chapel in Red Lion Street,

Scrimshaw's Furniture Store in Dolphin Lane, Rank's Flour Mill in High Street, Fountain's Furniture Store in West Street, the tragic blaze at Launchbury's in Dolphin Lane where I believe four people lost their lives, a fire at the Assembly Rooms, one at the Gliderdrome and one which destroyed the Cosy Cinema in High Street.

Most of the above fires occurred in the days of the Volunteer Brigade and were dealt with in a manner that earned them great praise. Their equipment was by no means lavish - a hand cart carrying several lengths of hoses and nozzles, a hand pump which was used for fires in the rural district, a Merryweather steamer kept exclusively for use in the Borough and two long laddered fire escapes.
When the fire bell rang, all volunteers who heard it dropped any task they were engaged in and reported to the Fire Station.

In the case of a fire in the rural district the first six men to report, together with an officer, formed the team and they were the only men officially allowed to go to the fire. Then would begin a time of anxiety and frustration as they waited for the two horses to pull the fire engine to the fire. In the early days the horses used were owned by one or the other of the two leading hotels in the town, the Red Lion or the Peacock and Royal and had to be located as they were usually out with the hotel cabs on hire!!  However, in later years things were speeded up by the use of motor lorries and the Fire Station moved to near the Duke of York pub and finally to new premises in Robin Hood's Walk.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Around Boston. The Sibsey Murder.

Thanks to the "New Boston Eye" for providing me with this story. Sibsey is a village best remembered as the birthplace of Old Mother Riley but it is also remembered for things not quite so pleasant.
On 18 March 1859, Henry Carey (aged 24) and William Pickett (aged 20) were drinking with William Stevenson in the Ship Inn at Sibsey Northlands, a small village 4 or 5 miles from Boston. When William Stevenson left the Inn to walk home, Carey and Pickett followed him. They Killed him and robbed him. The song says that they hit him so hard that his skull caved in.
Carey and Pickett were both arrested the following day. Their trial, at Lincoln Castle, lasted just over a day and they were soon found guilty and sentenced to death. On 5 August 1859, Carey and Pickett were hung by the executioner William Marwood. These were the last two public hangings in Lincoln Castle.
The song below, although not what you would call poetic, is included for the purpose of providing an example of the content of Lincolnshire's Broadside ballads.

UPDATE. I have since received an e-mail from Richard Brothwell (whose 2x Great Uncle was Henry Carey) who has researched this subject a lot and he says that The hangman was Thomas Askern not William Marwood. Thank you for that.

Friday, 5 April 2013

The Bath Gardens.

The Bath Gardens, also known as The Peoples Park was originally seven acres in extent, the site was converted into a park (infinitely superior to the present day Central Park) in 1871. This was done under the direction of the then Borough Surveyor Mr. W. Wheeler, the man later responsible for the design of Boston Dock.

Apart from the well laid out and planted gardens, the leafy dells and shady walks, the park at that time made provision for cricket, skittles, quoits, bowls, croquet and football, as well as children's amusements.

The General Hospital also designed by Wheeler, was built near the Park entrance in 1874 and the nearby former Corporation Swimming Baths five years after that.

The old swimming baths building is still here (2013) but the Park and the General Hospital are no more.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Prostitution in Boston.

Let me say from the outset that I went in the New Park Inn many times in the 1960's and 70's and it was no different from other pubs in the town except that it was full of Merchant seamen, German, Dutch, Norwegian etc. and of course the girls, but not once did I see anything happen in there that doesn't happen every night of the week in any pub or club in "modern" Boston but in those days the pub and the girls who went in there had a bad name. All I remember is having a good laugh and joke in there.

The New Park Inn, centre left with the balcony.

In the 1970's a report said "Prostitution is alive and well in some parts of the town though not often glimpsed by local people because the handful of women who are well known by the police confine their activities to the dock area."
Gordon Eady, Boston's senior probation officer said, " Prostitution in Boston is one of those things that no-one will admit, although everybody knows it happens. If you asked anyone in the town which public house you should go into to find prostitution I don't think there's one who would have any doubt at all."
He said he felt prostitution was probably made easier on the docks in Boston because they were open, unlike some private docks in other towns and cities, and he knew of groups of girls from other towns arriving at Boston dock because they knew they would not be prosecuted for trespassing as they were in other places.

When the dock was "open" and families visited.
He went on, "Prostitution is generally seen as an easy way of life and there are second generation prostitutes in the town, daughters having followed mothers way of life."
He said he did not feel there was any big time organisation behind the prostitution and as probation officers he and his colleagues had contact with a number of the girls who had appeared before the courts for brawls and assaults at public houses, thefts and other allied offences.
A Boston taxi driver at the time said, "There are at least 10 of these girls, who are well known in the town, and they often operate from council houses and flats in several parts of Boston. I sometimes take girls and their clients from the boats to the girls homes, and then I get early morning calls to go and pick these chaps up to take them back to the dock. Their clients were always foreign seamen, and very few local men would go with these girls."
He added, "I think it's a fact that certain girls work certain boats, they have their own territory, and get a bit nasty if they find another girl has gone on their particular boat. It's a funny way to live," he said, "but the way I look at it is that at least while there is this type of girl in Boston, the decent girls are safe to go out."
The chief executive of Boston at the time said, "turning the council owned dock into a closed dock will not cut down prostitution. Sailors being sailors want women, and some women, being what they are, are prepared to provide a service. Over the ages, wherever there is a seaport, there has been this demand for prostitution."

Chief Supt. George Bulman, head of the Boston Police division said, "They are nicely contained in the dock area, there is no soliciting on Boston's streets, ordinary people don't see anything of it and I don't think it is a problem. It is just a small handful of women that are known to us, probably not more than about eight. As for the dock being open, if anyone thinks having a closed dock would make any difference to what goes on they must be living in cloud cuckoo land."

The girls of course hit back at the condemnation of their profession. Mrs X, a middle aged divorcee said, "I don't know why anyone should complain about us - we don't upset the ordinary people of Boston." She added, "Nobody sees anything they shouldn't, and we don't bother anybody. It's not as if we walk round the Market Place accosting men.
Boston Dock.
Plenty of people know what I do for a living, and they don't shun me. We're perfectly normal, it's just work to us, it's not the easiest way to make a living but it's the only way we know."
It had been said that there were concerns for the safety of the children of the prostitutes and some of the girls were incensed when they heard about this.
Mrs X continued, "Most of the girls' children are in care, and the ones with small babies look after them well. They are always prepared to pay for a good babysitter while they're out."
The remarks about mothers and daughters "on the game" was also incorrect said Mrs X, and she herself was the only one she knew of with a daughter working as a prostitute. Although she agreed that most of the prostitution was confined to the dock area she also said that there was also a lot going on in other parts of the town. The girls did not have territories on the dock as had been suggested by a Boston taxi driver although many of them had regular seamen. "I have known many girls who have met and married seamen," said Mrs X, "and they have a good and happy life together. Prostitutes make the best wives because they've had a wide experience of men, and they know how to choose the right man for themselves. Once they have chosen a man they are loyal, and stand by him."
There was anger too at the remarks made by the taxi driver, and the girls said it's not fair to slag them when the driver has been making good money out of them. The driver also claimed that local men had nothing to do with the prostitutes but Mrs X said, "Of course they do, I have been with plenty of them but I wouldn't mention any names because it would break up marriages."
Mrs X said she first went "on the game" after she and her husband parted and she was unable to get a job. She added that now she was getting older she had begun to "ease off a bit" and was hoping to settle down within the next couple of years. She thought it a pity that prostitution was not as it was on the Continent, "We could do with a Union, too," she said. "You'll never stop prostitution, not while men are prepared to pay for sex," she added.
The New Park Inn, one of Boston's old pubs.