Mercury Memories, May 23, 2014

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The Mercury is proud to be Britain’s oldest continuously published newspaper and has an amazing archive here at our offices in Stamford, managed by volunteers from the Stamford Mercury Archive Trust.

10 Years Ago

Raiders smashed their way into a town post office in the early hours of yesterday (Thursday).

The gang of four men used a brick to break down the door of Ryhall Road Post Office in Stamford as the owners slept upstairs.

Ullas Patel and his family were woken just before 4am by a large bang, followed by the sound of glass smashing.

The shop’s alarm, which is linked to the police station, went off and the intruders f led empty-handed,

Mr Patel praised the efforts of the police who were on the scene within minutes.

He told The Mercury: “We were a little bit shaken up at the time but we are fine now and the shop is open as normal.

“My wife heard the smash and the alarm went off. We looked out of the window and saw the men rushing away.

“It is a silly time to try to break in as our deliveries start around that time.”

The raid happened at about 3.50am.

It is believed two men escaped on foot and the other two drove off in a light blue saloon car.

Police are investigating the possible link with four other raids on petrol stations in south Lincolnshire which took place within a two-hour period early yesterday.

Insp Phil Parkinson of Lincolnshire Police said: “At this stage it is impossible to say for certain if they are linked but there are similarities which might suggest one or two of them might be.”

A police patrol car stopped a vehicle on the A1 near Colsterworth at about 4am yesterday.

Two men were arrested at the scene and another two men escaped. The men, aged 22 and 28 and from Grantham, have been arrested on suspicion of theft of a vehicle and going equipped to steal or burgle.”

25 Years Ago

One of Oakham’s most famous, yet most modest, sons has died at the age of 76.

Those who met Alfie Nicholls in his later years could be forgiven for not realising that this unassuming man was one of t heroes of the 1939-45 war whose exploits in the Battle of Alamein earned him an immediate Military Medal on the personal orders of General Montgomery.

Alfie was a fine shot. An inveterate poacher in pre-war days, his skills found an astonishing expression when he became a tank gunner with the 9th Queens Royal Lancers, serving in the North African and Italian campaigns.

The techniques which has enabled the former farmworker to come home with a bulging sack of pheasants and rabbit were swiftly employed in the business of knocking out German tanks.

He killed 14 of them during the Battle of Alamein alone – nine of them in one day.

Monty was listening in to the action on the tank radio frequency and was so overawed that he promptly recommended that Cpl Nicholls should be awarded the MM.

It is reckoned that Alfie disposed of at least 40 enemy tanks during his wartime career.

And military historians still regard his final exploit in the tank battles which followed the Italian invasion as one of the finest pieces of marksmanship ever recorded.

The 26th Panzer Division was on the run.

Three survivors were spotted driving along the road at high speed.

Alfie’s tank was at least 900 yards away.

He did what any poacher would do when confronted with three pheasant breaking cover in a line.

The right hand tank was blasted first, and then the left.

With range and target now well established Alfie quickly popped the central surviving tank with a direct hit that caused it to disintegrate completely.

It was always hard to get him to admit his extraordinary feats of marksmanship behind a tank gunsights.

“You couldn’t get him to talk about it much. He wasn’t that kind of man,” said widow, Mary, speaking at their council house home in Queens Road.

50 Years Ago

The population of Tallington, numbering less than 200, is planning a great effort for June 13, to raise funds for the remarkable old parish church, which is having £2,500 spent on it.

The work of restoration began six years ago, when about £500 was spent on a copper roof for the south aisle. Since then a further £1,500 has been spent on other work, including the copper roofing of the north transept and north aisle.

Now about another £500 is required, and it is hoped to raise most, if not all of this amount by a gymkhana and gala, which a committee headed by Mr. H. S. Scorer is planning for June 13.

The priest-in-charge (the Rev. E. P. Knight, of Deeping St James) told the “Mercury” that it would be a mammoth event, and would include a display of traction engines, a steam fair organ, a B.R.M. racing car and possibly a Ferrari, and vintage cars.

The opening ceremony will be performed by Sir Alfred Owen, sponsor of the B.R.M. and managing director of Rubery Owen, who make B.R.M. cars.

Mr Knight said it was obvious that so small a village could not raise all the money required by itself, and they were hoping to attract people from a wide area.

A grant has been obtained from the Historic Churches’ Trust and a gift had been made by the Lincolnshire Old Churches’ Trust.

A Stamford School day boy, R. A. B. Brown, was taken to hospital on Wednesday after an accident during school swimming instruction at the town baths. He miscalculated a dive from the spring board and struck his head on the bottom of the pool.

He was given first-aid at the pool and taken by ambulance to hospital, where he had stitches inserted in his head and was treated for a back injury.

100 Years Ago

The many friends of Mr. Joshua North, of the Six Bells inn, heard with deep regret, on Saturday evening, that he had passed away. Deceased had been in failing health for the past two or three years, suffering from an internal complaint, and his death was not unexpected. Mr. North was a native of Bourne, but for the greater part of his life had lived in Rutland, for some years at Oakham, then at the Railway inn, South Luffenham. He was for many years traveller for Molesworth and Springthorpe, and in that capacity was a frequent visitor to Bourne. When he retired from his position under the firm some five years ago, he came to live at Bourne, and for some 18 months resided on the North-road, subsequently becoming the landlord of the Six Bells. Deceased leaves a widow and a grown-up family of two sons and four daughters. The funeral took place on Wednesday afternoon at Bourne cemetery, the service being conducted by the Vicar, Rev. H. C. Smith.

The death has occurred at Aisby of Mr. Philip Selby, a well-known agriculturist in the district where he attended the markets for 60 years. Mr. Selby, who was an octogenarian, had lived all his life at Aisby, and he was the oldest tenant on the Houblon estate. He was the owner of the old wheat stack which stood in his yard for upwards of 33 years. He had never threshed it because he once made a vow not to do so until wheat made a certain price, which it never attained.

150 Years Ago

In a list of stage coaches and carriers’ conveyances that arrived in and departed from London, it appears that in 1707 Stamford was served by only a carrier’s conveyance, which left the Cross Keys, White-cross-street, every Monday.

A design, supplied by Mr. Browning, having been prepared for a pair of handsome new iron gates for the north entrance of Uffington House, the residence of the Earl of Lindsey, parties were invited to send in tenders for the work, and that of Mr. Thos. Gibson, of Stamford, was accepted. The gates have been completed this week, and being open work, an excellent view of the grounds from the road will now be obtained. They are surmounted by the family arms (argent, three battering rams, barways in pale proper headed and garnished azure), crest (a Saracen’s head couped proper ducally crowned or), and motto (“Loyaulte me oblige” - loyalty binds me). It is an excellent example of metal work, and admirable both in design and workmanship.


200 Years Ago

Vaccine inoculation – We have great pleasure in finding that on the Small Pox making its appearance, the inhabitants of many places in this county have humanely directed the Overseers to pay for inoculating the poor with vaccine matter, at the expense of the respective parishes – a practise that, we hope, will be generally adopted throughout the kingdom, by which means that pestilential disease the Small Pox may be entirely eradicated.

On Saturday an inquest was held at Castle Bytham, before George White, Gent. One of the coroners for this county, on the body of a youth about 12 years of age, in the service of Mr. Cragg, of that place, farmer, who got entangled in a rope belonging to a harrow, and was in consequence strangled. Verdict, accidental death.