The SLHA Industrial Archaeology team held their annual day conference in Gainsborough at the town's Methodist Church on Saturday 4 November. The theme of the day was Wheels, Rails and Sails - Aspects of Trade and Transport in Lincolnshire. The audience of over 50 enjoyed an excellent day provided by the following presentations:
Trade through the Port of Gainsborough - Philip Riden
Gainsborough's location on the navigable Trent and close to the entries to the Chesterfield and Fossdyke (Lincoln) canals made it an important transhipment port, especially before the railway era.From a study of port books and shipping lists, available for Gainsborough for the period 1775 to 1835, it is possible not only to follow the overall level of trade and hence general economic fluctuations but also identify the products that were imported and exported.
Detailed analyses of commodities indicate growth and decline of industries and also changes in agricultural practices.
Peat Railways: Workhorses on the Moors - Bob Evens
Peat extraction on Thorne and Hatfield Moors on the Isle of Axholme was a long-established industry which expanded rapidly in the late nineteenth century when peat was used extensively for horse bedding, as a packing material and in horticulture.
Narrow gauge railway track was laid down to link excavation sites to the five processing and distribution plants and a series of locomotives were brought in to haul the peat wagons. The early steam locos (made in Goole) were replaced by petrol powered engines by Howard. Then followed a sequence of diesel locos: Ruston & Hornsby (1959-1994), Lister (1964-87), Hunslet (1974), Diema (1974-86), Simplex (1978), Schoma (1990).
Environmental concerns led to the closure of the industry in the 1970s. A few locomotives have been rescued and restored.
The Railways and Tramways of the Claxby and Nettleton Mines - Stewart Squires
Ironstone was taken away to Yorkshire steel-making plants from Claxby Mine (1868-1885) via a branch line linked to the LMSR main line at Holton le Moor station. A rope-hauled incline from the mine entrance took the calcined stone down to the head of this branch line. Inside the mine itself rail wagons or tubs were horse drawn.
The later mines at Nettleton (1934-1969) were served by diesel locomotives which worked underground and also linked the two main mine areas. For a number of years an aerial ropeway carrying buckets ran down the hillside to Holton le Moor. From here the ironstone was carried by rail to Scunthorpe via Barnetby.
Coachwork from Lincolnshire - Adam Cartwright
There were a small number of firms in the County who built bus and coach bodies from the 1920s. These included Bracebridge Motor Works, Lincoln (1920-1950) founded by William Crack, employing 70 men and building buses for customers as far afield as Scotland, Devon and Surrey.
William Rainforth, Lincoln (1920s-1954), built on their earlier production of agricultural implements, wagons and carts, and made, for example, 26 vehicles for Lincolnshire Road Car. Allen of Brigg had a garage business and built vehicles with interchangeable bodies, i.e. small buses or trucks. Applewhite, Lincoln (1920-1932) made cars and lorries as well as buses.
Lincs Trailer Co, Scunthorpe (1940s-1951) built innovative two-level coaches, including some for airport use. F M Thompson, Louth (1922-1925) made double-deck buses for Birmingham. Ruston & Hornsby are known to have made one bus in the early 1920s.
Dunham Bridge : Up to Date - Stephen Betteridge
The first bridge on the Trent downstream of Newark was at Gainsborough (1790/1) to be followed by the Dunham Bridge in 1832, a cast iron construction designed by George Leather and built by Messrs Hamer, Pratt and Booth for £14,219. Additional funding was required to complete the bridge and no dividends were paid to shareholders until 1886. Tolls were farmed out 1834-1918.
With much increased traffic loads, the bridge became over-stressed in the mid-twentieth century. It was demolished in 1977 and replaced two years later by the present steel bridge which was built on the original piers and abutments. Current traffic volume is about 300,000 crossings per month.
Stagecoach Services in Lincolnshire before the Railways - Barry Barton
White's Directory of Lincolnshire and Hull of 1826 contains details of stagecoach movements in and out of Lincolnshire towns in the period immediately before passenger trains were introduced. Many coaches travelled regularly to London; all towns in the county and region were part of an extensive network of coach travel.
Timetables for routes can be worked out from Directory entries, showing that the mail coaches, as expected, were the fastest. It is also apparent that timetables of services on road and water (ferries, for example) were usually coordinated for the traveller's benefit.