In its golden era it was Boston's music-hall mecca. In the fifties, the age of the cinema, a seat in the one-and-nines for a Doris Day / Cary Grant movie, with a choc ice in the interval, was the highlight of the week for scores of local teenagers. In the 1970's it was the white elephant nobody wanted, and finally in July 1981, just five years after it closed its doors to cinemagoers, the Regal opened them again and some of its contents were sold off under the auctioneer's hammer. Time had taken its toll, and inevitably, as the once proud and fashionable theatre had stood empty, decay had set in. The air was musty, the red plush seats had gathered dust, wallpaper in the foyer hung in sad loops from the wall, and windows that the vandals had left unbroken in the big swing doors were covered in graffiti written in the dirt that had gathered over five years. About two hundred people went along, and there were some bargains too, if you happened to be in need of a five year old virtually unused generator, a mahogany grand piano, a 34 foot long portable cinema screen or a six way automatic ticket machine.
The Regal, after its closure as a cinema, became a small shopping centre on the ground floor and "Flames" nightclub in the upper part.
And for collectors of memorabilia wanting a permanent reminder of the Regal's glittering heyday there were plenty of nostalgic souvenirs going cheaply. A collection of old posters from the fifties and sixties leaned against the stucco wall in the stalls, a reminder of the bright, innocent shows and films that used to bring the customers flocking in. Ranged around were old posters for Mother Goose and Babes in the Wood, and for Millican and Nesbit. On the stage amid a great sea of cable and rusty clutter were ancient mirrors, a plywood model commissionaire directing patrons to there seat numbers and nearby a genuine commissionaire's uniform and braided peaked cap, the wine coloured jacket mildewed and cobwebby. Upstairs in the lounge, where, bargain hunters were told, the two large sofas were not for sale, there was more for souvenir hunters. It was a sad afternoon for the Boston Scala Theatre Company, and for the Howden's, who had been involved locally in the theatre and show business for many years. Mr. George Howden, brother of the Regal's managing director Mr. Ralph Howden, was there watching as its heart and soul were knocked down to the highest bidder. He began his theatrical career at the New Theatre in the Market Place in 1926, and at one time worked as a call-boy backstage at the Regal. Brother Ralph, a familiar figure at the Regal for 40 years, was nowhere to be seen. "I think he prefers to keep away. He's had enough," said George. Mr. Dudley Bryant, of Eley's, who conducted the sale said, "It was very successful. There was a lot of interest shown, both locally and from much further afield, and we had buyers who were theatre and museum owners from places like Humberside, Northamptonshire, Shropshire, Norfolk and Warwickshire." After this the Regal struggled on in various forms, a ground floor shopping centre, a smaller cinema and as a nightclub. It was finally demolished in about 2005 and gave Boston yet another beautiful car park. (sarcasm).
This unusual building, erected on part of "Inlay's Garden" in Main Ridge, is a reproduction of the Temple of Dandour (The Divine Abode), one of the smallest Nubian temples.
The Greek motto over the door of the lodge is translated "Know Thyself," and the inscription in Egyptian hieroglyphics on the cornice reads "In the 23rd year of the reign of Her Majesty the Royal Daughter Victoria, Lady Most Gracious, this building was erected."
The main pillars each feature further inscriptions. On the left is, "Zetland was ruler of the Mysteries," and on the right, "St. Albans was ruler of the District when this building was dedicated to the God of Truth, who lives forever; in the year 1863, 5th month, 28th day." Something went sadly wrong with the band on the day the hall was opened. A hymn had been specially written for the occasion by Boston's Coroner, Dr Walter Clegg. The Stamford Mercury reported: "It was intended to have been sung to the well known tune, Martin Luther's Hymn, but it was impossible to say what tune was adopted as the brass instruments indulged in a series of the most dismal discords, apparently having not the slightest reference to a single bar of music." A more tuneful ensemble seems to have been engaged for that evenings masonic ball, for the 150 guests kept dancing "with great spirit until 5 o'clock in the morning."
Boston at one time was a maze of windmills, the one we all know is the Maud Foster Mill (the last one in the town) which has been restored to working order and is a fine sight when its sails are turning on a bright sunny day.
The Maud Foster Mill.
Behind the Maud Foster Mill once stood Mr. C Blade's old five sail mill, and nearby in Spilsby Road was the mill, built in 1780, which continued to be operated by the Thompson family until about 1930. One of the Thompson's, by 1843, had added to the original mill tower a large steam-driven mill, one of the first in this part of the country. The original Thompson Mill lost its top in a gale in 1860, and its five sails were replaced by four sails only. These remained in position until 1883 when they were sold to a waterworks company for pumping.
A second four sail mill which stood in Spilsby Road, near the present Mill Inn, was taken down in 1886. In Wyberton Road was another four sailed mill and there was yet another windmill off George Street. The Sleaford Road Mill lost its sails in 1905, could this have been the "Smock Mill" which stood "near the Turnpike Road to Sleaford?"
The Sleaford Road Mill.
Mr. Bonsor's four sail "Pepperbox Mill" stood near Mount Bridge and also nearby was Tuxford's eight sail mill. When this was taken down its top and sails were taken to Heckington which, as a result, now boasts one of the only eight sail mills in the country.
The Pepperbox and Tuxford's eight sailed Mill.
Another view of Tuxford's eight sailed mill near Mount Bridge.
Finally (or were there any more?) on the site of the present dock basin were the Gallows Mills, they were near the old boundary between Boston and Skirbeck, and stood on or about the spot where there had been a gallows tree - a place of execution in medieval times. These were owned by Robert Bailey.
The Corn Exchange Hall was built in 1855 for the local farmers to carry out various corn transactions. After a time the farmers used it less and less, preferring to be in the Market Place, so the Hall was then used for many purposes, including auctions, concerts and dancing until Harry Fountain became the owner in 1900 when it became a theatre and had variety turns and was known as the Palace Theatre.
The Corn Exchange, built originally for farmers transactions.
In about 1907 Mr. Fountain went into partnership with Mr. Holly Thomas (a chemist and mineral water manufacturer) and they ran it for one year as a roller skating rink which, surprisingly, did not pay and Mr. Thomas drew out.
The Corn Exchange is the building with the large circle on it, behind this row of buildings in the Market Place.
Mr. Fountain then had the floor sloped and seats installed and ran it as a proper theatre. He employed a manager named Maurice Safrini who came from Hull and lodged at the Borough Arms pub in High Street, Boston. This went on until about 1910 or 1912 when George Aspland Howden left his father, Ben Howden, with their travelling Bioscope Show and Gondolas. He wished to open and run Boston's first silent cinema, and its name was then changed to the New Theatre and later to the New Electric Theatre.
The opening on the right led to the Corn Exchange Hall.
Mr. Fountain still held an interest in the place, he dealt with the professional artistes travelling vouchers, weekly from the Corn Exchange Hotel which took its name in 1855 from the Hall.
The Corn Exchange Hotel, two doors away from the opening shown in the above picture.