Categories for 2022
SLHA News ...
News 2022
Lectures and Conferences

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Lincolnshire Smallholdings
A Twentieth Century Development in the Fens

The Society’s first face to face lecture at St Hugh’s Hall. Lincoln for over two years was given by Dr Shirley Brook on 16 March. Her topic was smallholdings in Lincolnshire in the early twentieth century.
After the First World War there was a national drive to create smallholdings and the Lincolnshire councils were prominent in this movement, especially in fenland areas where intensive farming on a small scale was likely to be sustainable.
Dr Brook gave details of smallholdings in the far south-east of the county close to the outfall of the Nene into the Wash, and also mentioned a holding close to the Witham in Blankney Dales. In many instances new farmhouses and farm buildings were built to a standard design, with associated landholdings of about 50 acres.
It was intended that tenants of the new holdings would be the most disadvantaged in society but in reality it was the more resourceful - and perhaps well-resourced - men and women who seized the opportunity.

Smallholding on Blankney Fen

March 2022

Old Houses in the Witham Valley
Re-use of material from Medieval Monasteries

At the Sunday Special held at Nettleham on 13 March Naomi Field spoke about recent visits made by the SLHA Building Recording Group (RUBL) to two houses built near medieval monasteries in the Witham valley.
When religious houses were demolished at the time of the Reformation the materials were commonly re-used in the construction of domestic buildings close by. RUBL visited and surveyed Abbey Farmhouse in Stixwould and Kirkstead Old Hall with this in mind.
The stone-built house at Stixwould has elements – a grave cover, a carved face - built into its walls which very likely originate from the nearby Priory. However, tree-ring analysis of roof timbers in the main range gives a date in the 1740s.
Kirkstead Old Hall, built in more than one phase, has both brick and stone in its construction. The roof of one wing of the building has timber dating around 1500; another range is about 150 years later. More detailed study of both buildings is planned.
Photo awaited

March 2022

Airfield Archaeology
The life of USAAF airmen in WW2

Derwin Gregory* has recently led an investigation of the site of the former RAF Thorpe Abbey near Diss, Norfolk, occupied by the USAAF from 1942. More than 3000 American servicemen were based at the station, which was designed and staffed to meet all their needs.
Dr Gregory, speaking at the Sunday Special at Nettleham on 13 March, explained how his project, led on behalf of UEA, had focussed on the communal and accommodation areas of the site with the aim of understanding better the pattern of life led by the US men.
Despite the site having been thoroughly cleared at the end of WW2, cans and bottles were found which gave clues to the sources of soft drinks and other everyday consumables.
Of special interest was the collection of ‘dog tags’ (metal tokens bearing servicemen’s ID details), buried in a common location. The tags related to men who had lost their lives and the presence of the collection suggested a ritual of remembrance.
Dr Gregory plans to undertake similar fieldwork at a number of former airfields in Lincolnshire.
* Dr Derwin Gregory is Programme Leader, Archaeology and Heritage, Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln

USAAF 'dog tag'

March 2022

Gainsborough Town Centre
Re-creation and improvement

Gainsborough is currently the focus of a Townscape Heritage Initiative project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Over a 4-year period this will bring an investment of over 2 million pounds to improve town centre buildings and engage community support and interest.
Details of the project were described by Jonathan Lee and Teresa Workman at an on-line meeting on 2 March. Grants of up to 90% will enable shop and business owners in Market Place and Lord Street to restore buildings, especially at first and second floor levels.
A range of activities are introducing the local community to the history and significance of the familiar streetscape and are aiming to increase appreciation and value.

Gainsborough Market Place, c.1910

March 2022

Ruston in Blue Lagoon
The rescue and restoration of an historic excavator

The oldest surviving navvy excavator made by Ruston Proctor & Co was the subject of an on-line talk by Andy Blow on 16 February.
The 48-ton navvy was made in Lincoln in 1909 and worked in a chalk quarry at Arlesey, Bedfordshire for almost 40 years. When quarrying ceased in 1977, the excavator was left where it stood and became submerged when the pit was flooded to create the ‘blue lagoon’.
Andy described the difficult and expensive process of recovering the navvy and bringing it to the Museum of Lincolnshire Life for restoration and display under the direction of Ray Hooley.
Continued maintenance and care of the machine in its static position at MLL was a problem and in 2008 the excavator was taken to the Vintage Excavator Trust’s site at Threlkeld in Cumbria where, after further restoration, it now shifts huge loads of material as it did in its heyday.
Andy illustrated his talk with a superb range of still images and video clips.
Illustrations: The Ruston Proctor navvy at work at Arlesey (above) and at Thelkeld (below) 



February 2022

Revolutionary Lincoln
A City on Turmoil, August 1911

The theme of Andrew Walker’s on-line talk to SLHA members on 26 January was the riot that took place near the city centre in Lincoln in 1911.
Over this unprecedented weekend – in scorching weather – two individuals lost their lives: Police Constable Alfred Clay and Thomas Starmer, a picture frame dealer.
The lives of many more Lincoln citizens were also significantly affected, including several prominent civic figures, whose actions, or perceived lack of them, were much criticised by an Assizes Judge, Mr Justice Ridley. Nine rioters received prison sentences of between three and six months.
Andrew also examined the event’s origins and aftermath at a time of particular economic, social and political turbulence at both local and national levels.

January 2022

Early Farm Railways
The work of Hayes of Stamford

Members and friends meeting at Nettleham’s Old School on 23 January for a Sunday Special heard Stewart Squires talk on a subject which is one of his particular areas of interest: farm railways in Lincolnshire,
A catalogue from Hayes & Son of Stamford printed in French, possibly for the 1867 Paris Exposition, includes details of a simple farm railway supplied by the firm. Both timber and iron were used in the construction of wagons and rails.
Hayes & Son was a very successful company making a wide range of wheeled vehicles from the 1830s to 1924. They appear to have been linked to the Beverley firm of Crosskill and their award-winning farm railway of the 1850s and 60s.
The widespread use of these light, portable railways in the UK stalled until the early 1900s, though there were early examples in France and elsewhere on the continent supplied by French or German firms.

The audience in Nettleham Old School

January 2022

Twelfth-Century Timber
Investigation using X-ray fluorescence

Richard Croft of the SLHA Building Recording Group gave one of three talks at a Sunday Special held at the Old School Nettleham on 23 January.
He reported on a sophisticated investigation of wooden beams and joists at Lincoln Road Farmhouse (aka The Nunnery), Sixhills. Dendrochronology on this timber, which lies above the first floor in one wing of the building, has given a date of mid-twelfth century.
The timber, of high quality, almost certainly came from the nearby Sixhills Priory, where the absence of joints and carpentry marks suggests it was in use as sarking boards immediately below a lead roof covering.
However, investigation of the timber by X-Ray fluorescence has not shown abnormal levels of lead on the face of the samples, as would have been expected. The mystery remains.

Lincoln Road Farmhouse, Sixhills

January 2022

Roman Remains at Riseholme
… and a link to Peru

The third of the talks given at the Sunday Special on 23 January in Nettleham was by Adam Daubney, Finds Liaison Officer at Lincolnshire County Council.
A range of Roman artefacts have been discovered by metal detectorists close to the rare square Roman barrow in the tiny settlement of Riseholme. These include a box of coins and the remains of a building, all of interest and significance.
Riseholme Hall was the birthplace of the writer and traveller Rosita Forbes who, having visited Pachacamac in Peru, donated a number of ancient pots to the Lincoln’s City and County Museum in the 1940s. It seems likely that she was familiar with the Roman barrow in her youth.

Riseholme Hall

January 2022