Almost 100 SLHA members and others attended a conference in Boston’s historic Guildhall on Saturday 17 November. It was organised by SLHA’s Industrial Archaeology team; Neil Wright took the chair; administration was led by Kathy Holland. Presentations at the conference were as follows:
Boston and the Hanseatic League – Pamela Cawthorne
For a century from about 1360 Boston was a prominent port in the northern European Hanseatic League of traders. Prior to this period wool had been the principal export, with as many as three million fleeces leaving the port each year. The Hansa gained formal trading privileges in England and under their domination Boston’s chief export became manufactured cloth. These arrangements came to an end and trade declined in the late fifteenth century following the Anglo-Hanseatic War.
Trade of the Port of Boston: 1660-1840 - Philip RidenLinking the Port to its Hinterland: 1700-1850 – Rob Wheeler
In the seventeenth century coal from the north-east, especially from Sunderland, was the principal import and corn the principal export. Other imports to Boston included textiles and manufactured goods but little came in from foreign locations. Exports included peas, beans and barley, much of this trade going through King’s Lynn. Trade in the eighteenth century was broadly similar, though many more vessels now made the direct journey to and from London. When inland canal and river routes were opened up in the early nineteenth century Boston began to import coal from West Yorkshire (via the Witham) as well the North-East. Throughout these 200 years, imports considerably outnumbered exports. Relatively little is known about the distribution of imported material to Lincolnshire markets.
Long distance inland routes by water began to be developed in the eighteenth century and, with improvements to the Foss Dyke, Lincoln’s trade to the west increased considerably. The serious silting of the river hampered the city’s long established route to Boston using the Witham until the new cut was made from Chapel Hill southwards in the 1760s.Buildings of the Old Port of Boston – Neil Wright
Nothing remains of the medieval warehouses which lined the Haven but several buildings of the early nineteenth century survive in this area. Boston Borough Council was responsible for one or two warehouses which were both functional and attractively designed. The Dock, which is now central to the port of Boston, was created in the nineteenth century and equipped with granaries, coal hoists and an ice house. All these structures have been swept away in recent decades.
Tours in Boston
In the afternoon Neil Wright led a guided walk which highlighted the Georgian warehouses and other port structures in the area alongside the Haven between the Market Place and South Square. Visits were also made to Shodfriars Hall on South Street – part late medieval timber-framed, part Victorian - where an extensive restoration development is planned.