Categories for 2019
SLHA News ...
News 2019
Lectures and Conferences

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Arthur Storer - Astronomer
Boyhood friend and colleague of Newton

Arthur Storer (1645-1687) was an astronomer and mathematician, relatively unknown in the UK, but revered to this day in the US state of Maryland.

Ruth Crook traced his life in a talk to SLHA members on the afternoon of the AGM in Grantham. A blue plaque on the original King's School building in Grantham (see right) commemorates his time at the school and his achievements as an adult.

He was two years younger than Isaac Newton his fellow pupil but came to know him well. They remained in contact through their closely allied interests and it is apparent than Newton had a high regard for Storer's work - which included recognising what became known as Halley's comet (originally known as Storer's Comet).

Storer was born in Buckminster (just over the county boundary in Leicestershire) but with the early death of his father (Storer's mother was his second wife) and the subsequent remarrying (twice) of his mother, his relationships among the many offspring were complex. Arthur's mother, with whom he stayed in close contact, eventually settled in Maryland and it was here that some of Storer's significant work was done, and where he died.

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October 2019

Scunthorpe’s Iron & Steel Industry
A conference and a rail tour

The SLHA Industrial Archaeology hosted the twice yearly East Midlands Industrial Archaeology Conference on Saturday 5 October with the theme entitled ‘Melting and Smelting’ based on the iron and steel industry.

The morning meeting was held at the British Steel Conference Centre in Scunthorpe with three talks from local men who had worked at the town’s steelworks or knew the local industry intimately.

Stephen Stubbins described the historical development of the town and the ironstone workings which led to the creation of the huge steelworks of the twentieth century. He showed a large collection of local postcards and photographs from various periods which illustrated the buildings of the town and its iron works and highlighted the environment and working conditions experienced by Scunthorpe men and women.

Bryan Longbone has made a detailed study of the archives which record the Lincolnshire Ironmasters’ Association’s negotiations with railway companies over haulage rates during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Bryan explained the significance of these transactions and how special rebates and discounts on tonnage rates made huge differences to overall profits for the Scunthorpe companies.

John Hill gave a first-hand account of his work on a rotary steel-making furnace at Scunthorpe – one of only three built in the world – in the 1960s and 70s, and also outlined the operation of the LD process and Ajax furnace at other Scunthorpe sites. The rotary furnace enabled good control of the product so that both high grade carbon steels, on which Scunthorpe built its reputation – and more specialist steels could be produced according to demand.

After lunch the conference members were taken on a tour of the Scunthorpe works in a steam-hauled train run by Appleby Frodingham Steam Preservation Society. This two-hour trip, with commentary, took in all the principal work areas of the plant.

Photographs: Speakers (L to R): John Hill, Steve Stubbins, Bryan Longbone; British Steel Conference Centre, Scunthorpe; members disembarking from the AFSPS train on the steelworks site tour.


October 2019

Sleaford’s Industrial History
An illustrated introduction

The Sleaford Group of SLHA was presented with a talk about the town’s industrial past by Chris Page on Thursday 19 September.

As a significant market and trading centre, Sleaford became the hub of a good road network in the eighteenth century, and the Sleaford Navigation, following the course of the River Slea to the Witham, was an important transport route for eighty years from 1794. By the 1880s the town was linked by rail to Lincoln, Grantham, Boston, Spalding and Bourne.

The town had a wide range of industries – many similar in nature and scale to those in other Lincolnshire market towns – but some were prominent across the county and beyond. Kirk and Parry, building contractors, were not only responsible for many of Sleaford principal buildings, but also for railway structures, churches and a wide range of public buildings elsewhere in England.

Other large businesses included Ward and Dales, who ran the largest steam cultivating contractors’ business in the country; Charles Sharpe’s company (1888-1986) which exported seeds across the globe; and the maltings built by Bass Brewery in 1905 which was one of the largest industrial complexes in the country.

Chris Page published a brief account of Sleaford’s industrial history in the 1960s. He is now engaged in writing an extensively revised edition of the book which will be published by SLHA in 2020/21.

Sleaford Station from the east

September 2019

WW1 Home Front
England’s World War One Heritage

Dr Paul Stamper, formerly an officer with English Heritage, presented an illustrated overview of the English Home Front in WW1 to SLHA members at St Hugh’s Hall, Lincoln on 18 September.

Large buildings and other structures were rapidly created for training combatants, for manufacturing weapons and artillery and for dealing with casualties of the conflict. Among the surviving physical remains of this period are: practice trenches, pill boxes, gun factories, airfields, airship hangars, submarine wrecks, hospitals, shrines and war memorials.

Dr Stamper provided a fascinating range of photographs, including several relating to his home area in Northamptonshire and some of his own family members.

September 2019

Tennyson and Landscape
Lecture at Raithby Chapel

The annual lecture in honour of Robert Carr Brackenbury was held in the recently refurbished chapel attached to Brackenbury’s house at Raithby by Spilsby on 13 July. The speaker was Prof Mark Seaward, Emeritus Professor of Environmental Biology, Bradford University; his topic ‘Environmental Interpretation of the English Landscape, with particular reference to Tennyson, John Clare and Peter de Wint’.

Prof Seaward illustrated his talk with extracts from the poems of Tennyson and Clare, the latter being much more au fait with the details of local fauna and flora and also with the upheaval of rural life at the time of Enclosure in early nineteenth-century Lincolnshire.

This year’s lecture was arranged by the Tennyson Society and chaired by Kathleen Jefferson. In line with the unfailing and much valued tradition, a splendid tea was provided by ladies of Spilsby Methodist Church and served in Raithby Village Hall after the lecture.

Professor Mark Seaward

July 2019

The Disappearance of Dunwich
An archaeological investigation

The monthly meeting at St Hugh’s Hall Lincoln on 19 June enjoyed an absorbing talk from Professor Carenza Lewis* on an archaeological excavation at Dunwich on the Suffolk coast in 2015.  This brief but intensive project was led by archaeologists from the Universities of Cambridge and Lincoln working alongside members of the local community.

For a time during the 12th and 13th centuries Dunwich was the fifth largest town in the country but it dwindled in size to today’s mere handful of houses through two factors: the steady erosion of the coastline to the east, where the town’s buildings were situated, and the silting up of the all-important harbour to the north alongside the estuary of the Dunwich River.

The excavation led by Prof Lewis, through trenches and test pits, uncovered a wide range of pottery fragments which confirmed the time span and significance of the settlement as a trading centre. It also became clear that the loss of the harbour, not the coastal erosion, was the primary cause of Dunwich’s decline; there was evidence that the town did not sustain its size by rebuilding on safer ground to the west as the sea encroached.

* Carenza Lewis is Professor for the Public Understanding of Research, College of  Arts, University of Lincoln

Professor Carenza Lewis

June 2019

The Civil War in Lincolnshire
A successful day conference

On Saturday 15 June a conference was held at Christ’s Hospital School, Lincoln, on The Civil War in Lincolnshire 1642-1660. The event was organised jointly by SLHA and the Cromwell Association. The presentations delivered to the audience of over 120 were:

Lincolnshire and the Outbreak of Civil War - Dr Clive Holmes

Cromwell’s First Campaign: Peterborough, Crowland and Gainsborough 1643 - Stuart Orme

Crisis in Command: Conflicting Military Authorities in the East Midlands - Professor Martyn Bennet

Life in a Garrisoned Town: Newark 1642-1644; Bolthole and Bastion for East Midlands Royalists - Dr Stuart Jennings

The City of Lincoln during and after the English Civil Wars - Dr Jonathan Fitzgibbons

The Human Cost of the Civil Wars: Lincolnshire and its Hinterlands - Dr David Appleby

The conference speakers

June 2019

Beside the Seaside
Successful Skegness Conference

Over seventy members, guests and speakers assembled at the Storehouse in Skegness on 18 May for the Local History Conference ‘Beside the Seaside’.

Sue Leese began with her personal reflections of the 1953 flood at Sutton on Sea. Much of her knowledge had come from her father who had been a teacher in the town. Accounts from the children he taught survived and formed the basis of her book on the flood.

Chris Hewis explained the development of Skegness as a resort through maps, images, adverts and postcards dating from the 1870s. Particularly amusing was his story of how the landowning Earl of Scarbrough had named the new streets and squares after members of his extended family.

Dr Susan Barton of De Montfort University described the story of the 1932 Sandhills Act which allowed the then Lindsey County Council to remove the collection of shanty holiday homes which had been built on the sandhills of the east coast. Her research had been helped by the discovery of a remarkable set of photos taken by the council before the Act.

Dr Caitlin Green outlined the evolution of the Lincolnshire coastline from c. 1250-1650 with stories of drowned villages, lost barrier islands and erosion. Caitlin’s in-depth research involved much use of maps including some from the late David Robinson.

Skegness-born Tammy Smalley, Head of Conservation for Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, introduced herself by detailing her extensive Lincolnshire ancestry. She then described various coastal changes and the effect on wildlife and natural habitats in coastal saltwater and freshwater marshes and the various seal colonies and diversity of birds that wintered around our shores.

Jim Snee, the Project Officer of Heritage Lincolnshire’s Layers of History, recounted the decline and fall of Freiston Shore from a popular resort with two hotels and attractions such as horseracing to the peaceful RSPB reserve of today. The extension of the railway to Skegness was largely responsible – later railway plans to Freiston Shore never materialised.

The Local History team is grateful to all the speakers and to the Storehouse for their excellent facilities and buffet.

Conference speakers: Jim Snee; Sue Leese; Caitlin Green; Susan Barton; Mark Acton (LH Chairman); Tammy Smalley; Chris Hewis.

May 2019

Brayford Pool
The industrial past

The monthly meeting at St Hugh’s Hall in May was entertained by a talk from Neil Wright about the development of industries alongside Lincoln’s Brayford Pool in the period 1750 to 1850.

The sylvan nature of the pool changed soon after the Fossdyke, at its western extremity, was made navigable in the 1740s; shortly after, the Witham to Boston was also much improved.

A wide range of factories, mills, maltings and warehouses were erected on the north and east sides; these included the large flour mills of Hovis and Dickinson, maltings owned by Bass, a silk mill and a banana warehouse.

The city’s first gasworks were built on the north-western corner of the pool and several decades later the electricity works were built a short distance away (the office building has only recently been demolished).

Four pubs – the Horse and Groom, the Swan, Royal William IV and the Crown – were handily situated for the many workman employed in the area; two of these are still in business.

Small lifting and swing bridges, built respectively at the west and east ends of Brayford, were demolished in the mid-20th century. The land to the south, which was prone to flooding, became a railway marshalling yard and is now the site of the University of Lincoln.

The north-east corner of Brayford (undated postcard by Frith)

May 2019

Treasures from a Tip
Excavations at Lincoln Castle

During the recent major restoration project at Lincoln Castle ('Lincoln Castle Revealed') an area close to the East Gate was excavated and found to contain a wide range of material from the late twelfth century. Cecily Spall of FAS Heritage, York, gave a fascinating account of the finds on this site to a large audience at St Hugh’s Hall, Lincoln, on 20 March.

Thousands of animal bones and hundreds of pot sherds have been collected and identified. The bones are from a wide range of species: cow, pig, sheep, birds and fish. The area excavated was clearly the midden which received food scraps and other rubbish from the castle kitchen.

There were also several horseshoes and shoe nails; other evidence confirmed the proximity of stables. Some items appeared to have come from ‘sweepings’ in the Great Hall: these included dice, a flute, bone pins and a seal box of Roman origin.

These finds have been tied in with the likely group of buildings in this area, including the Observatory Tower, now thought to have originated as a gaol. A publication is expected in the near future.

Image: The East Gate: the C12 buildings were immediately to the right of the gate.


March 2019

Lincoln Eastern Bypass
Remarkable archaeological finds

Ruben Lopez Catalan is the principal archaeologist working on the site of Lincoln’s new Eastern Bypass, particularly near the crossing over the Witham and the B1190 in Washingborough. He described the range of finds revealed on this large excavated site in a talk to SLHA members on Sunday 17 March.

There have been many interesting – some outstanding and nationally important – finds from every period: axe heads and flints (Palaeolithic); funerary enclosure (Neolithic); barrows and log boat (Bronze Age); timber causeway (Iron Age); villa, coins, Samian ware, leatherware, artefacts (Roman); extensive cemetery, various artefacts (Saxon); Cistercian monastic grange (Medieval); farmstead (Post-Medieval).

Full written accounts of these finds are eagerly awaited.

March 2019

Christopher Wordsworth
A notable Bishop of Lincoln

Elys Varney gave a brief biography of this nineteenth century bishop in a talk to SLHA members as part of a Sunday Special at Jews’ Court on 17 March. Wordsworth (1807-1885), nephew of the poet, was an outstanding student at Winchester and Cambridge before ordination (by Bishop Kaye of Lincoln) and significant travels in Italy and Greece.

As Headmaster of Harrow School he had a school chapel built and transformed religious worship. He then became a Canon (later Archdeacon) of Westminster and held a living in Berkshire. He was appointed to the Bishopric of Lincoln in 1869, a post he held until his death in 1885.

As Bishop he founded the City’s Theological College (latterly in Wordsworth Street, named after the Bishop) and was a key figure in the reorganisation of the Diocese. As a scholar he published commentaries on both New and Old Testaments and was a noted writer of hymns.

March 2019

Lincolnshire Bricks
A wide-ranging collection

The late David Robinson of Louth was an acknowledged authority on Lincolnshire bricks – both their production and use in the County’s buildings. He amassed a large collection of local bricks and also a range of documents about Lincolnshire’s brickmaking industry.

Ken Redmore gave details of David’s brick ‘legacy’ in one of three talks at Jews’ Court on 17 March. Photographs showing kilns, machinery and brickworkers are invaluable but quite rare. These together with brickyard histories and written accounts of local brickmaking practice are highlights of the written and printed material.

Industrial archaeologists from SLHA have selected about 200 bricks from David’s huge collection (fortunately all carefully labelled) and prepared these as a permanent collection to be retained and displayed at the Alford Manor House Museum.  Some bricks are from identified brickyards and brickmakers; some are from demolished or decaying local buildings; others are examples of brick and tile types which David used in his popular courses. (David is seen, right, with students moulding a brick on one of his Horncastle College courses.)

March 2019

Paul Robinson, OBE, retired air vice-marshal, spoke to SLHA members at St Hugh’s Hall, Lincoln on 13 February. There were 27 bases within the Lincolnshire (widely known as ‘Bomber County’) from which bomber aircraft flew in WW2 and it is fitting that the national memorial and archive should be located close to Lincoln.

As the war progressed the design and capabilities of bomber aircraft developed rapidly and the ability to pinpoint enemy targets improved considerably.  Nevertheless huge numbers of aircraft and men were lost; out of nearly 9000 bombers which were shot down or crashed, 3500 were from Lincolnshire airfields. Pilots and aircrew had a very low life expectancy and it is their bravery and fortitude that are commemorated in particular at the new IBCC.

Photo: The principal memorial and record of names at the IBCC

February 2019

Aerial Photography
A tool in the study of archaeology

‘Unlocking the Power of Aerial Photography’ was the title of a short talk given by Kathryn Murphy* at a Sunday Special in Lincoln on 20 January. This useful technique ‘took off’ in the First World War and in a short time its value as a tool for revealing and understanding archaeological sites was recognised. Millions of aerial images, either vertical or oblique, have now been collected and are available for study.

Shadows cast by small undulations in grassland indicate the layout of sites such as deserted medieval villages, and variations in crop growth in cultivated land can indicate the location of long-buried structures. Exceptionally dry periods also give rise to differential growth and maturing rates of grass in sites of buried archaeology.

The more recent technique of LIDAR has added considerably to the benefits of aerial photography.

* Kathryn Murphy is Assistant Officer for the Historic Enviroment Records, Lincoln

January 2019

Twelfth Century Timbers
A remarkable find at Sixhills

Mark Gardiner* was one of three speakers at a well-attended SLHA Sunday Special in Lincoln on 20 January. He gave details of the twelfth century timbers found in Lincoln Lane Farmhouse, Sixhills, where SLHA’s Building Recording Group (RUBL) has been conducting a recording project.

These timbers form the floor joists of a wool store in the early sixteenth-century farmhouse. Dendrochronology gives 1139-64 as the felling date and further analysis (dendroprovenancing) indicates they came from oaks owned by the Crown in Sherwood Forest. The original use of the timber (before Sixhills) is still being considered; deep holes spaced along the edges of the timbers are significant but puzzling.

*Dr Mark Gardiner is Reader in Heritage at the College of Arts, University of Lincoln

Photograph: Lincoln Lane Farmhouse, Sixhills

January 2019

Two Bostons
Lincolnshire men and the US city

The theme of Neil Wright’s talk at the Sunday Special on 20 January was the links between Lincolnshire’s Boston and its namesake in Massachusetts, USA.

In the early seventeenth century Boston in Lincolnshire was deeply influenced by Puritan religion and philosophy. Its Calvinistic vicar John Cotton led the way and developed a strong following in the town and in the wider region.

The groups of settlers who established a colony in what became Boston in America in 1630 took Cotton as a spiritual leader. Over the next forty years, as the new Boston became established, leaders of the new colony mostly originated from Lincolnshire.

Photograph: Boston Guildhall

January 2019

Buildings and Pilgrimage
Medieval buildings in Walsingham, Norfolk

Little Walsingham in north Norfolk has been a place of pilgrimage since the building of the priory in the twelfth century. Several medieval buildings related to hospitality for pilgrims survive in the town and have been the subject of recent study by the Norfolk Historic Buildings Group.

Ian Hinton, a leading member of NHBG, gave an illustrated talk on these buildings to SLHA members in Lincoln on 16 January. Many of the buildings are timber-framed, exhibiting a range of structural styles and decoration. A variety of trusses, dragon posts, staircases and wall paintings were illustrated by Ian in this enjoyable and informative presentation.

Photo: SLHA members on a visit to Walsingham in 2017 


January 2019