Mercury Memories: A destructive fire broke out in Empingham in 1863

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Here’s the Mercury Memories feature from August 2, 2013

10 Years Ago

Stamford Hospital is set to receive £12 million in improvements.

Another operating theatre, more beds and modernisation of the older parts of the hospital are on the cards.

The plan is in its early stages, but a team from the hospital and primary care trusts are working on proposals.

Derek Bray, chief executive of Lincolnshire South West Teaching Primary Care Trust, said he was keen to get the project started.

He said: “our first step is to make sure our original plans are still what we want and need.

“We are reviewing our clinical services, facilities and staffing. Our final plans, which we hope to have completed by next July, will improve services and facilities for patients in all areas of the hospital.”

Meanwhile, the Peterborough Hospitals Trust, which covers Stamford, is pressing ahead with its bid to become one of the first NHS foundation trusts.

It was recently confirmed as one of the country’s top performing trusts on key issues including waiting times, quality of care and staffing.

The trust was given the maximum three-star rating for the third year running which should help its bid for foundation status. Success could speed up the improvements to Stamford Hospital.

Chief executive Chris Banks said: “Foundation status will give us the freedom from Whitehall bureaucracy and easier access to money to develop services based on local need.

“We hope the introduction of local ownership and control will give our community a real say in what they want and make us much more flexible and responsive to local needs.”

In Stamford the average wait for an operation is three-and-a-half months, but people can wait up to nine months for a hip replacement. It is hoped the improvements will help reduce these waiting times.

25 Years Ago

Prompt action by a Stamford traffic warden proved to be just the ticket during a dramatic fight for life at the Meadows on Tuesday.

The victim – a young Mallard duck – was spotted hanging by the neck from a branch, mid-stream in the River Welland by warden Dennis Daly. The bird had become caught in a fishing line and hook.

Despite frantic efforts by the duck’s mother it was apparent that it was only a matter of time before the youngster would give up its struggle.

With the assistance of Godfrey’s DIY employee Doug Nicholls and a piece of timber, the intrepid rescue team made the precarious crossing to the centre of the river, freed the duck and brought it to safety.

But the fishing hook, still lodged in the youngster’s throat was firmly embedded and needed RSPCA expertise.

And just to prove that the “no waiting” rule is not always applicable, warden Daly stayed with the little fellow for half an hour until help arrived.

Under the expert hands of RSPCA chief inspector Michael Goodenough, it was just minutes before the hook had been located and eased from the duck’s throat.

Chief Inspector Goodenough said: “We are sick and tired at this time of year of taking hooks and lines from wildlife.”

Meanwhile the little duck was looking right as rain after its ordeal. It was taken back to RSPCA headquarters in Peterborough for observation just to make sure its recovery was complete before it was returned to its mother.

50 Years Ago

Gallant little Rutland has won its fight for independence. The Local Government Commission recommended that the county should be amalgamated with Leicestershire, and the county’s fight to retain its independence culminated in a Government inquiry at Oakham a year ago, at which the little county marshalled all its forces to justify its claim to continued existence. Yesterday, in the House of Commons, the Minister of Housing and Local Government announced that Rutland was not to be amalgamated with any other county.

The information was given in reply to a question by Mr Kenneth Lewis, Member for Rutland and Stamford, who has lost no opportunity of pressing Rutland’s claims both in and out of Parliament.

Mr Lewis told the Mercury yesterday afternoon that the Government had made an exception of Rutland because it was an exceptional county.

The Minister had said that Rutland might have got a better service if it joined with Leicestershire and Rutland would have to improve its services.

As Rutland had expressed a desire to be free and as Leicestershire would not be improved by being joined with Rutland, however, he had decided to allow the small county to remain free.

Rutland had relied on outside help and would have to continue to do so as regards services.

Mr Lewis had reminded the Minister of Rutland’s motto, “Multum in Parvo,” and said it was good to know that the small could still survive and play its part in an expanding world. The biggest was not always best.

He told the House that this decision was proof of a Conservative policy which said that they could still find a place for the best of the old.

As soon as the announcement was made at 4 pm the Rutland County Council flag which is normally only flown when the council is sitting, was hoisted at Catmose, the county office.

100 Years Ago

The tramp problem – Mr MJ Tryon presided at the Board of Guardians meeting on Monday.

A letter was read from a committee of the Northampton Union, urging the advisability of initiating the way-ticket system, whereby the workers would be distinguished from the shirkers.

There would be less sleeping out and consequent frequent damage to property, there would be no excuse for begging, and even if the attendance in the casual wards was increased, owing to better food being supplied, the advantage to the public would be more than equivalent.

The chairman said that nearly ten per cent of the casuals in this Union were bona-fide workmen.

He had long felt that they were not justified in turning a tramp out upon bread and water and then prosecuting him for begging. It gave the man no chance. (Hear, hear.)

In referring to the difficulties arising out of Stamford Union being situated in five counties and also that of establishing food stations at distances of six miles in this district, he remarked that nothing really would be accomplished until a scheme was made compulsory throughout the country.

The Rev H Irod Rogers thought that if the tramps were given food it would nearly all be wasted, whilst Mr Higgs thought that this would not reach the root of the trouble.

A man whom he saw lying under a hedge smoking, when asked if he required work, said “I have had all I wanted, and I don’t want work.”

At Bourne, where they gave the tramps food tickets, the waste of the bread and cheese was disgraceful. The public must be educated up to the necessity of not giving to vagrants.

It was decided to inform the Northampton Guardians that the Board had discussed the matter, and were heartily in sympathy with the scheme, but wanted to ascertain whether some scheme could not be made universal.

150 Years Ago

On Monday evening last, about half past 5 o’clock, a destructive fire broke out on the premises of Mrs Ann Bloodworth, of the Wheat Sheaf public house, Empingham,which did considerable damage to that and the neighbouring property.

It is supposed to have originated in an out-house adjoining a bakehouse belonging to Mr Pateman.

The fire extended to the stack-yard of Mr Chas Bloodworth and to a building occupied by Mr Pateman before the Uppingham fire engine arrived.

The engine was soon got into working order, and there being a good supply of water and plenty of assistance the flames were checked, but the fire was not completely extinguished until nearly midnight.

Mr Bloodworth sustained the loss of a stack of straw, part of a hay stack, and a waggon; and Mr Pateman a hay stack, a quantity of flour, and beans.

It was supposed at first to have been caused by some children playing with lucifer matches, but is said the flames burst forth simultaneously in two or three places. Consequently some persons entertain a suspicion that the fire was an act of incendiary.

200 Years Ago

A circumstance of some interest to amateurs in the fine arts occurred at Holbeach.

Among a parcel of old goods exposed for sale, was a painting to which so little value was attached at the time, that it was disposed of to a poor man for ten-pence, and afterwards sold by him to Mr Camack, of the same place, who seems to have been better able to appreciate the value of his acquisition, for 5s.

It turns out, we are informed, that this picture is the likeness in good style of George the First, who it was not before known had sat for his portrait, as this would indicate he had.

But who the painter was, who was so highly honoured, we are not told. Mr Camack has since parted with this rare production to Mr Burkett, of Fleet, who has been offered £100 for it.