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A lookback through the Rutland & Stamford Mercury's long archive with Mercury Memories

Every week, as Britain's oldest continuously published newspaper, the Rutland & Stamford Mercury publishes articles from our archive as part of Mercury Memories.

This is thanks to the support of the Stamford Mercury Archive Trust, which looks after the archive.

10 years ago

A young counsellor has described the night a bear attacked his camp site as “the most terrifying experience of my life”.

25 years ago: August 23, 1996 – A new summertime club for youngsters from in and around Oundle has been heralded a “tremendous success” by organisers. Pictured: Some of the around 100 children aged four to 12 with Richard Morrison
25 years ago: August 23, 1996 – A new summertime club for youngsters from in and around Oundle has been heralded a “tremendous success” by organisers. Pictured: Some of the around 100 children aged four to 12 with Richard Morrison

Nick Meeks, 21, from Spalding Road, Deeping St James, was working in the USA as a counsellor for the New Jersey-based Trail Blazers, a non-profit outdoor adventure programme for inner-city youngsters.

The former Deepings School pupil and a fellow counsellor had taken a group of nine boys, aged 11 to 13, on a two-week camping trip on the famous Appalachian Trail.

The campers were sleeping in Stokes State Forest on the morning of August 3 when a hungry black bear attacked.

The bear was trying to get into the tent and drag two children outside. Nick and his colleague charged at the animal, following their training and trying to appear as large as possible and making plenty of noise.

The bear eventually moved away, allowing the two children to run to safety.

The campers gathered together and continued to make as much nose as possible but the bear would not give up and kept charging at the group until they managed to scare it away.

A couple are calling for improvements on a busy road to stop speeding motorists.

Martin Williams, 29, and his wife Frances, 28, are fed up with cars speeding past their home in Little Casterton Road, Stamford.

Mr and Mrs Williams, who have a one-year-old son, Oliver, say the road is well used by walkers, school children heading to Casterton Business and Enterprise Collage and traffic heading into the

The couple fear someone will be injured and say part of the problem is down to the changing speed limit near their home.

Drivers coming from Little Casterton go from 60mph speed limit into a 30mph limit.

Mrs Williams said: “We feel that it is going to take someone dying before they do something.”

50 years ago: August 27, 1971 – Ready for the off are some of the members of a 50-strong party from Stamford's Christ Church, who spent last week camping at Wetton Mill in Derbyshire
50 years ago: August 27, 1971 – Ready for the off are some of the members of a 50-strong party from Stamford's Christ Church, who spent last week camping at Wetton Mill in Derbyshire

A council will meet with organisers of the Riverside Festival following a closed session.

Stamford Town Council discussed the festival at a closed meeting on Thursday last week.

The Riverside Association of Music and Arts has applied to use The Meadows for next year’s event.

A press release said: “The council resolved to meet informally a small group from the company in an effort to settle outstanding matters before things moved to a more serious level.

“It was resolved to keep this under review with the help of the association, who had experienced similar problems elsewhere, and if it continued appropriate action would be considered.”

An environmental group wants to install drinking fountains in a town.

Stamford Transition Town has suggested putting fountains on The Meadows, the Recreation Ground and in St Michael’s Churchyard in High Street.

The group, which formed in 2009 to prepare the town for the transition towards a low carbon economy, needs Stamford Town Council’s support before it can draw up more detailed plans.

25 years ago

Rare and valuable artefacts belonging to Stamford’s wartime mayor have been returned to the town hall.

A scroll bestowing the freedom of the town on Henry Deer has been left to the town by his daughter, Ida Deer, who died of a stroke in June.

Also given was a commemorative casket, photograph and engraved key.

Denis Seward, mayor’s officer, said: “These items are wonderful. They have been added to our archive collection and will be on public display from September 3. But for now we’re keeping them in a safe place.”

The freedom of the borough was awarded to Mr Deer in 1945 “in recognition of the eminent service rendered by him to the borough as councillor and alderman since the year 1919, and particularly as Mayor of the Borough (1929 and 1939-45)”,

The photograph and key both date from 1928 when Mr Deer became mayor for the first time.

A local boot and shoe dealer, Mr Deer was a long-standing councillor and prominent local Methodist. He continued as mayor during the Second World War when local elections were not held.

The freedom of the town has only been awarded five times this century. The only other scroll Mr Seward has seen is that of Sir Malcolm Sargent.

Town hall staff have never before seen the casket and key.

But other keys and scrolls probably do exist, or existed, as well as three other twentieth century scrolls.

Pressure is being put on Tesco to install traffic calming measures in and around Arran Road, Stamford, in advance of any supermarket development at Quarry Farm.

In response to residents’ concerns members of Stamford Town Council’s planning committee on Tuesday decided pedestrian safety should be addressed immediately.

The committee has decided to recommend to the full Stamford Town Council meeting on September 3 that before the store opens, Tesco must have

  • Installed traffic calming measures in Arran Road
  • A roundabout at Arran Road’s junction with the B1081 Old Great North Road
  • A pedestrian crossing on the B1081 by Quarry Farm

Stamford Town Council clerk Tony Wain said: “Such traffic calming is essential because even now children put their life in their hands to get across the B1081 from the Arran Road side to Casterton Community College.”

The world’s largest bird-watching fair attracted thousands of visitors to the Egleton Nature Reserve at Rutland Water at the weekend.

The ninth annual British Birdwatching Fair started on Friday with twitchers finally packing up their binoculars and heading home on Sunday.

This year about 14,000 visitors helped raise money for the proposed Ke Go Nature Reserve in Vietnam – an area of lowland forest currently home to 270 species of birds, 567 species of plants and 47 species of mammals, including the recently discovered giant muntjac deer.

Reserve manager and fair co-organiser Tim Appleton said: “It was a record-breaking event all around. We had visitors from every corner of the world, I should think there were more foreign visitors in Rutland this weekend than ever before.”

A new event at this year’s fair was the British Birdwatching Fair/BBC Natural History Film Festival, starring David Attenborough, who gave a personal account of fulfilling his life-long ambition to film birds of paradise.

50 years ago

Stamford worker Peter Hardie was buried alive for twenty minutes when a 12ft deep trench collapsed on him at the Empingham reservoir site.

Frantic efforts by workmates using a mechanical digger freed 27-year-old Mr Hardie with seconds to spare.

He came out of hospital on Sunday after six days’ treatment for a severely bruised rib cage, a torn muscle in his right arm, and a gash on his left arm.

He is convalescing at his home, 18 Downing Crescent, and on Monday described the horror of his ordeal and his gratitude for the efforts of his rescuers.

He was working at the bottom of the trench laying a sewage pipe when the accident happened.

“I saw the walls beginning to cave in and I started running down the trench to get away,” he said.

“But before I had got any distance at all the earth started coming on top of me.

“I had dropped on to one knee when the first soil came in and I was in that position until they got me out.”

The Mayor of Stamford, Mr Ted Steele, and the Mayoress, Mrs Joan Steele, were among 400 guests at the first ever open night at Stamford’s Newage Lyon Ltd on Friday.

The guests toured the firm’s factory and saw “Stamford” range alternators and “Alcon” pumps in various stages of production.

The firm’s training and welfare officer, Mr Don Brabyn, said “The company feels that it should encourage a closer involvement of families with the business which gives them their livelihood.

“The event was an informal get-together to allow employees to bring their families and friends on a tour of the works.”

“If on examination it I considered to have been successful it is hoped to make it an annual event,” added Mr Brabyn.

Ketton villagers gave the thumbs down this week to a campaign aimed at re-opening their railway station.

But they welcomed a suggestion that the picturesque station should be tidied up.

And a British Rail spokesman said on Tuesday that plans are going ahead to clean up the station.

He said: “Arrangements are in hand for the work to be done as soon as it is practicable.”

Residents are against the station being re-opened to passenger trains as they do not think people will make use of it.

Support was given to the campaign by Ketton Rural Council after they received a letter from Ketton Village Trust.

In the letter they said they had written to British Rail asking for a morning and evening train to stop there.

Princess Anne faces the toughest test in her horse riding career at Burghley next week.

She will be watched by Prince Philip, and it is possible that the Queen will also be there to see her daughter compete as an individual in the gruelling four-day European Horse Trial Championships.

Trials director, Brigadier J. Grose said on Tuesday: “We are not sure yet whether the Queen is coming, but Prince Philip will definitely be here.”

Princess Anne – not a member of the British team – was invited to compete with “Doublet” after coming an impressive fifth in the Badminton Horse Trials.

100 years ago

Lord Exeter in Motor Mishap – On Sunday afternoon the Marquess of Exeter was driving his car through Retford when, on arriving at the North crossroads, he was met by a five-seater car belonging to Mr. F. J. Norton, of Durban-road, Grimsby, who, with his wife and child, were in the car, and driven by Mr. F. Hurton, of the same address. The front part of this car caught the rear of his lordship’s car, the wheels interlocked, and both cars skidded. The occupants of the cars escaped injury, but both vehicles were badly damaged.

Workhouse Children Return Thanks – the Master of the Poor Law institution (Mr. F. W. Everdell) told the members of the Board of Guardians on Monday (Mr. J. W. Coulson, vice-chairman, presiding) that, having thoroughly enjoyed their recent trip to Skegness, the children wished to thank all who had made possible the happy day. Thanks were expressed to Mr. Farrow, who had allowed the use of a motor at a reduced charge.

A Great Oriental Film - “Kismet,” the famous Oriental play written by Edward Knoblock and staged in London by Oscar Asche, has been filmed, and the picture-play has produced almost as great a sensation as the original presentation did. Cinema patrons in Stamford and district will on Monday and the two succeeding evenings be afforded an opportunity of witnessing this remarkable and thrilling screen story, the management of the Electric Cinema, Broad-street, having succeeded in booking the production for that period. For spectacular and artistic effect it would be impossible to exceed the unique presentation of the eastern scene depicted in “Kismet,” and this is an opportunity no local cinema lover should allow to pass

A Predilection for Prison? - “From the number of times that you have been in prison, I think that you must like it,” said the Mayor in reply to a vow to turn over a new leaf made by Robert Toon, labourer, of no fixed address, when he appeared for the seventieth time before the magistrates on Saturday charged with being drunk on the Wothorpe-road on the 19th inst., his second such offence in a week. Defendant pleaded guilty. P.c. Beaton stated that he found defendant lying on the side of the road in a helpless condition. He assisted him to his feet, and as he was incapable of taking care of himself, witness escorted him to the Police Station. Defendant denied that he was in a recumbent position, and appealed to the Bench to give him this chance and he would be a teetotaller. As he had £3 17s. 10d. to draw on Wednesday he did not want to go to prison. Turning to the constable, Toon asked “Was I kicking up a row?” - P.c. Beaton admitted defendant was not disorderly. Toon was fined 20s. (or 14 days in default) and he was given time to pay.

Tennis Tournament – An enjoyable tennis tournament, promoted by the Rock Tennis Club, took place on Thursday week, when there were twenty-six entries. The winners of the tournament were Mrs. Greaves and Mr. A. E. Hartshorn.

150 years ago

It appears by a notice posted on the church doors that the general annual licensing day for granting ale and beer house licences is to be held in Stamford on the 2d of September next.

Yesterday the first general meeting of shareholders in the newly-formed Stamford Club was held at the Assembly-rooms (Ald. Johnson in the chair); at which 12 directors and an hon. Secretary were appointed; and it was determined that the conversion of the theatre into suitable rooms and offices should be commenced immediately. There are to be three billiards tables in one room, a chess room, a news room, and a refreshment room.

The workmen employed at the Stamford establishment of Messrs. Hayes and Son, coach and waggon builders, had their annual picnic on Saturday. Inclusive of the wives and children, there was a company of upwards of 200; and they were conveyed to the race-course in vehicles. One splendid waggon, drawn by four horses, and containing about 70 persons, attracted special notice. Croquet, cricket, football, and other amusements, together with a quadrille band for dancing, were provided; and after enjoying a most delightful day the whole company returned safely to town.

The Dean of Stamford was prevented preaching at Lincoln cathedral on Sunday last, in his turn at Prebendary, by a severe attack of bronchitis.

The sum collected at Castle Bytham in aid of the funds of the Stamford and Rutland Infirmary was £2 14s. 3d., and not 12s. 3d., as stated in last week’s paper. Two guineas were paid in as a subscription from the parish, and the balance (12s. 3d.) was entered at the Bank as a donation.

Stamford Union – At the meeting of the Guardians on Wednesday last an official letter was read announcing that the Poor Law Board had ceased to exist, and that all the powers of the department had been transferred to the Local Government Board. The change is more in name than in fact, for the establishment will be conducted much as it has hitherto been; but in addition to dealing with poor-law matters, the sanitary powers previously exercised by the Committee of Privy Council and the Home Office will be under the control of the authorities who administer the poor-law. In consequence of certain alterations and better provision for drainage being required at the Union-house, as pointed out by Mr. Peel, one of the inspectors, a suggestion was made by a member of the Board that it would probably be cheaper to sell the present house and build a new one. In the course of a brief discussion which followed, it was mentioned that the present site would be a good one for the North-Western Railway Company, who have no station of their own at Stamford, but pay a rent to the Midland Company for the use of their station. Other options were advanced that if not appropriated to a railway station the Union-house might be converted into an extensive manufactory. The subject is to be further discussed when the surveyor appointed to consider the alterations required sends in his report. The statistics of the week showed the number of inmates to be 119, or 57 less than the corresponding week of last year. Out-door relief was given to 835 persons, at a cost of £94 10s. 4d., or £4 14s. 5d. more than was expended in out-relief in the corresponding week of last year.

200 years ago

Stamford Millers’ Statute will be held on the Market-Hill, on Friday the 6th September, at the usual hour.

An Ordinary will be provided at the George Inn, St. Martin’s, at 3 o’clock; and all intend honoring the Meeting with their company, are requested to leave their names at the bar of the above inn, previous to 12 o’clock of the same.

Dinner and Wine 8s. 6d. each.

Aug. 21, 1821.

The two regiments of Lincolnshire Militia are ordered to assemble at Lincoln and Stamford on the 3d of October next, for 21 days’ duty.

On the Humby side of the boundary line next Sapperton lordship, in a valley about eight miles South east of Ancaster, have lately been discovered, in removing the earth for the purposes of agriculture, a considerable number of Roman coins, urns, trinkets, and human bones, with foundations of houses, evidently the remains of an ancient town, destroyed ages ago, and apparently by fire.

About midnight on Saturday last some abandoned person set fire to a large new beast hovel, which was covered with about a thousand faggots and several loads of straw, in the farm-yard of Mr. Wm. Gilbert, of Threekingham, near Sleaford. But that the fire was observed by an elderly female servant who happened not to be gone to bed at the time, and who providentially looked out of a window of the house just as the flames were breaking out on the hovel, the whole of Mr Gilbert’s premises and stock in the yard must have been consumed.

On Saturday last Wm. Knight and Joseph Stimson, of Morton, laborers, were committed to Falkingham gaol, charged with stealing five geese, the property of Mr. John Cole, farmer, of Hanthorpe. Charges are also laid against them for sheep-stealing.

On Tuesday afternoon Mr. Singleton, a young gentleman of highly respectable connexions, was drowned in a deep pool in the river Welland in Stamford meadows. In the heat of the day he had entered the water to refresh himself, and unfortunately without any companion, although he could not swim. At the same time another solitary bather was enjoying the water, and accidentally saw Mr. Singleton plunge in; but this person was considerably distant from the fatal spot, and not suspecting that any one but an experienced swimmer would use a place so dangerous, his attention was not further excited. It is supposed that the deceased sank instantly. A little boy afterwards finding the clothes, the alarm was given, and every exertion made to find the body; but from the unfavourable situation, it was nearly five hours before the search was effectual. As soon as the melancholy accident was known in the town, an extraordinary number of people assembled in the meadows to render assistance, deeply interested for, and greatly lamenting, the fate of a young man, who generous disposition and respectability of conduct had gained the goodwill and regard of all who knew him.

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