Categories for 2022
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News 2022
Lectures and Conferences

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Lincolnshire Railway Conference
'off the rail' topics presented at Grantham

The annual conference arranged by SLHA’s Industrial Archaeology team was held in Grantham on 19 November on the theme of Lincolnshire Railways. Stephen Betteridge, leader of the IA Team, took the chair for the day. A wide range of topics were covered.

Charles Parker gave a personal view of the North Lincolnshire Light Railway which ran a passenger service from Scunthorpe via Winterton and Winteringham to Whitton and its ferry on the banks of the Humber from 1910. There was also a freight link to Flixbrorough wharf on the Trent. The northernmost 3-mile stetch to Whitton closed in the 1950s and the truncated line ending at Winteringham Station closed in 1964. Charles showed photographs from his personal collection of the line in operation and the ironstone mines through which it ran.

Steve Stubbins spent all his working life at Scunthorpe’s steelworks and over the years amassed a huge collection of photographs of the 85-mile rail network around the site, some taken by himself, and some historic. The conference was treated to a selection of these photographs, with his knowledgeable commentary. These included locomotives (both steam and diesel), freight wagons of every description and views of steelmaking plant not normally seen by visitors and rarely captured on film.

Peter Balderston presented a talk on the Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway, with which he has been closely involved for 40 years. This two-foot gauge railway was originally located in Cleethorpes and then, after a period of forced closure, re-opened in 2009 on a ¾ mile long track at the Water Leisure Park at Ingoldmells. Much of the line’s ‘hardware’ and rolling stock originated from World War One battlefield tracks via the Nocton farm railway of the inter-war years. The LCLR’s most celebrated locomotive, ‘Jurassic’, is a Peckett steam loco built in 1903 and rescued from a cement works near Rugby.

Peter Worsley grew up in Grimsby and was very familiar with the Grimsby and Immingham Electric Railway which carried passengers - principally workmen - between the two ports from 1912 to 1961. He gave a detailed history of this single-track line of standard gauge which ran from Corporation Bridge in Grimsby to the landward end of the eastern jetty at Immingham. Electricity (500 volts, DC) was supplied by the small power station situated at Immingham Docks with a primary function to run cranes and lock gates. One railcar, originally from Gateshead and no longer in the G&IER livery, has been preserved in the Crich tramway collection.

'Making tracks through Grantham' was the title of a talk given by John Clayson and Mel Smith. This wide-ranging talk presented a history of the main line and lesser lines linked to the town since the mid-nineteenth century. For many years the station was an important stopping point on the East Coast Main Line where steam locomotives were serviced, topped up and re-fuelled. Famous trains from each era stopped or raced through; freight trains (fish, iron ore, for example) were also in evidence. Like other busy main-line stations there was a large body of railway workers performing a variety of tasks to keep the railway running smoothly and attending to the needs of passengers and commercial customers.

Photographs: At Scunthorpe Steelworks (top), Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway (centre), Grimsby & Immingham Electric Railway (bottom) 

November 2022

A Fresh Look at Wroxeter
A Roman City's Social and Cultural History

Dr Roger White of the University of Birmingham, who has 40 years’ experience of Wroxeter in Shropshire, was the speaker at a meeting of Society members at St Hugh’s Hall on 14 September.

Wroxeter, site of the Roman town of Viriconium, has a rich tradition of responses to its archaeology from poets, artists, writers and even musicians.

This is unusual, especially for Roman sites, and Dr White’s lecture explored both the diversity of material, and why the site has been so engaging over the centuries.

September 2022

Tennyson in Cornwall
Idylls of the King

The annual Brackenbury Lecture, organised jointly with the Tennyson Society, the Wolds Methodist Church and SLHA, was held in Raithby’s historic Methodist Chapel on Saturday 9 July. The speaker was Dr Jim Cheshire of the University of Lincoln; his topic: Tennyson's Cornwall and Idylls of the King: Poetic Research and the Diffusion of Celtic Culture.

The lecture discussed Tennyson’s tours of Cornwall in 1848 and 1860 and how this informed the genesis of Idylls of the King. Dr Cheshire argued that Tennyson simultaneously popularised and diluted the Celtic roots of Arthurian literature and that the way Victorian culture co-opted Tennyson’s poem, merged the myth with the growing admiration for the Anglo-Saxons.

Dr Jim Cheshire

July 2022

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