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Delve into the past of Stamford, Bourne and The Deepings with Mercury Memories




10 years ago

The future of RAF Wittering has been secured.

The Ministry of Defence says members of the RAF will continue to be at the base – and from 2015, soldiers could be working alongside them.

The base is home to about 1,600 servicemen and women who provide logistics for RAF operations around the world, including the current conflicts in Libya and Afghanistan.

25 years ago: July 19, 1996 – Brian Branch (left), past president of Langtoft Players, hands over a cheque to Rev Michael Howes in Langtoft church. Looking on are (back, from left), Sarah Castley (Players), John Simms (president of appeals committee), Joanne Clingo (Players), Tim Grief (Players) and Sonia Knipe (appeals committee)
25 years ago: July 19, 1996 – Brian Branch (left), past president of Langtoft Players, hands over a cheque to Rev Michael Howes in Langtoft church. Looking on are (back, from left), Sarah Castley (Players), John Simms (president of appeals committee), Joanne Clingo (Players), Tim Grief (Players) and Sonia Knipe (appeals committee)

There had been question marks about its future since the scrapping of the Harrier jump jet fleet. RAF Cottesmore is being closed and is currently being run as a satellite of Wittering.

As well as securing the jobs of personnel based at Wittering, the move will have a positive effect on the local economy.

RAF Wittering spokesman Tony Walsh said the base was delighted.

50 years ago: July 23, 1971 – Collyweston slates off to America, Mr David Fisher (left) and Mr David Bradshaw preparing some Collyweston “slates” at the South Luffenham premises of J. W. Stapleton and Sons. The slates were mined from a quarry at The Drift, Collyweston
50 years ago: July 23, 1971 – Collyweston slates off to America, Mr David Fisher (left) and Mr David Bradshaw preparing some Collyweston “slates” at the South Luffenham premises of J. W. Stapleton and Sons. The slates were mined from a quarry at The Drift, Collyweston

“We have always felt that we are vital to the Ministry of Defence,” he said.

“It makes sense to leave the base here. We hope that the Government has confirmed the future of the base, even if it is just in the short term, by moving the Army in. The local community, and especially that in Wittering, depend on this being a reliable defence base.”

Time has been called on a struggling town centre pub which is due to be converted into offices.

The Scotgate, in Scotgate, Stamford, shut its doors for the final time on Tuesday last week after struggling over the last five years.

Owners Punch taverns is selling off 2,500 pubs, including The Scotgate, over the next five years and the chain says it is holding talks with interested parties.

Design and marketing company D Squared is hoping to buy the pub and has submitted a change of use planning application to South Kesteven District Council to turn the site into offices.

Former landlord Johann Goree said: “We had no trade in the last week as everyone thought we had closed down already.

“We had to call time before it got too expensive. You can’t run a pub with no trade in there.

Campaigners hoping to save Stamford Museum from closure have been given three weeks to re-submit their business plan – but are not hopeful of success.

The museum in Broad Street closed on June 29 as part of Lincolnshire County Council’s cost cutting plans.

Stamford Heritage Trust learned in June that its first business plan had been rejected and that the county council was spending £170,000 in creating a heritage hub in Stamford Library, in High Street.

But the trust met with executive councillor for cultural services Coun Eddy Poll (Con) at Stamford Town Hall on Friday last week and Coun Poll agreed to give the trust three weeks to submit a viable business plan.

But trust chairman, Stamford town and South Kesteven district councillor Harrish Bisnauthsing (Lib Dem) said he is not hopeful.

He said: “I will work as hard as I possibly can.”

The trust is improving its business plan by getting a written assurance that it can use the museum building from the site owners South Kesteven District Council.

The trust estimates that it would cost £30,000 a year to run the museum.

25 years ago

Roll up, roll up all those who appreciate a trip down memory lane – entry to Stamford Museum is now free.

The 50 pence charge has now been dropped until the end of the year following a highly successful three-month trial at Grantham Museum.

If the public respond with their feet, it will continue.

John Smith, curator of both establishments, called the move a landmark in Stamford Museum’s history.

“We are a community museum, providing a service to its members. They have given their time and possessions to us and it seems only fair that they should be able to see them for free.”

Mr Smith is proud of the fact that free entry “bucks the trend”.

“I’m proud that we’re flying in the face of market forces, which inevitably sees the public paying.”

The move towards free entry has taken a year of discussions and planning inspired by the understanding that admission charges discourage people from going in.

The big cat is back. In a little over 24 hours three employees of Castle Cement, Ketton, believe they saw what they describe as a lynx-like cat close to the quarry.

The first sighting was by Roy Shalliker and Jeff Haddon at around 10.30pm on Saturday when the animal was caught in the headlights of a lorry they were in.

Kiln crew member Roy, of Lyndon Road, North Luffenham, said: “I was taking a lorry up to the quarry when it leapt straight across the road about 10-15 feet away. The headlights startled it. I would never have believed it had there not been someone with me.”

He described the cat as a “dirty brown colour”, around four feet long, with a one-and-a-half-foot-long tail. Fur hanging off its limbs and chest area led the men to believe it is likely to be a lynx.

The second, longer, sighting was on Sunday at 2.30am by Alan Hare.

He was able to watch the cat for a few minutes as it sat in a field by the works. Again when vehicle headlights were pointed at it, the cat ran off.

Crime and vandalism in Bourne could significantly fall if Closed Circuit Television is introduced in the town.

At a Bourne Chamber of Trade and Commerce meeting members spoke of research which showed there had been a reduction in crime following the introduction of CCTV in the town.

The chamber is now looking at the possibility of linking up to the CCTV operation in Grantham as suggested by South Kesteven District Council which last month was awarded a government grant of £195,000 for the scheme.

It was also revealed this week that Peterborough is to start installing CCTV in the city next month.

News that Bourne could be linked to the Grantham system has been cautiously welcomed by the town’s Chamber of Trade and Commerce.

At a meeting on Monday night Mike Dunn, who has a business in Grantham, said: “We would save on insurance costs and cut down on vandalism in the town. The potential saving for traders is going to be phenomenal.”

Treasurer Geoff Simpson said: “In places like Ilkeston where CCTV has been introduced, crime has gone down but it has moved somewhere else. If Market Deeping and Stamford both bolt on to the Grantham scheme then the crime could come to Bourne.”

Chairman Ken McCormack said: “I think it is certainly worth pursuing, but we need to investigate all aspects.”

50 years ago

Stamford may lose its only cinema now that a bingo application for the building has been turned down, said the owner, Mr Leslie Jaffa, this week.

He appealed to Kesteven Quarter Sessions last week against Stamford Magistrates’ refusal to grant a gaming licence for the cinema, but the appeal was dismissed.

Sessions chairman Mr J. G. Le Quesne QC said he was satisfied that there was not sufficient demand for another bingo club in the town.

Mr Jaffa told the Mercury on Wednesday: “I think there is a real threat to the existence of the cinema now that my appeal has failed.

“Cinema attendances are dropping all over the country and it is the same here. I have managed to improve the situation slightly since I took over last year.”

Mr Jaffa’s plan was to use the cinema for films and bingo. The top floor could be used for a cinema with bingo on the ground floor.

Urgent repair work on Stamford’s 19th-century railway tunnel is now well under way and should be completed in May next year.

The 121-year-old cast iron structure on the Barnack Road tunnel is being replaced by pre-cast concrete blocks.

Cracks and weaknesses were first discovered over three years ago and heavy vehicles were banned from using the stretch of road between Burghley Park gates and the junction with High Street St Martin’s.

Now that the repairs are under way, the road is closed to all traffic and vehicles are being diverted through Water Street.

British Rail Eastern Region chief bridges engineer Mr A. H. Jenkins explained that the work was part of a massive programme to upgrade all bridges.

Under the code name “Bridgeguard”, over 900 railway bridges are brought up to modern standards to cope with heavier traffic.

Complete local co-operation and effort had made possible the heating of Bourne Abbey Lawn swimming pool, said Coun Terry Bates at the official re-opening of the pool on Monday.

“Everybody has been invited here this evening not so much to witness the re-opening as to be given thanks for their help,” continued Mr Bates, chairman of the Urban Council estates committee who are responsible for the pool.

“We thank, particularly, the swimmers and sponsors, who made it possible for the pool to be heated.

“The decision for the council to take over the pool was made on February 1 and the pool was opened for swimmers on June 29. This reflects credit on the Surveyor (Mr Michael Silverwood), Mr Jack Bloodworth, and the council’s direct labour force.

“We are grateful to Bourne United Charities for its foresight in providing a pool for the town.”

Since the work was finished the pool had been kept tremendously busy and was becoming well-known over a 20-30 miles area, pointed out Mr Bates.

He asked the chairman of Bourne Urban Council, Coun Mrs Marjorie Clark, to officially open the pool.

Mrs Clark said: “Now, we have a marvellous pool. There may be better pools, but there is none with a better setting.

“I would like to thank John Lord, who did so much to start a heat-the-swimming pool fund, and his Round Table colleagues.”

100 years ago

Sunday School Treat - The annual treat in connection with St. John’s Sunday school, Stamford, was held on Thursday week, when about 100 scholars spent an enjoyable time on the lawn of Mr. H. Blackstone’s residence.

Women’s Outing – At the invitation of Sir Richard Winfrey the members of the Stamford Congregational Church Women’s Guild participated in the annual outing in the delightful grounds of his residence at Castor on Wednesday under ideal conditions. The party, which was accompanied by Mrs. H. Allen, who as principal of the Guild had made the arrangements, journeyed by motor char-a-banc, and an excellent tea was served in the new hut by Mr.T. W. Smith, of the Fitzwilliam Arms. After a most enjoyable time the party commenced the homeward journey shortly before nine o’clock, and proceeded via Wansford, King’s Cliffe and Easton, the longer ride being much appreciated.

Water Polo Match – In a water polo match between teams representing the Stamford Swimming Club and the Rutland Engineering Works, played in the swimming bath on Friday evening, the former proved the winners by six goals to two. Mr. F. Carter was referee.

Choir Outings – On Saturday the senior members of Stamford St.Mary’s choir, with the sidesmen and servers, under the guidance of the Rector, had their annual summer outing, visiting Belvoir Castle by motor char-a-banc. The visit was admirably arranged and proved most enjoyable, the party numbering about a score. The boys’ excursion follows next week. The members of the Stamford Wesleyan Church choir journeyed to Skegness on Thursday week, the party, to the number of 81, travelling by motor cars. After an enjoyable day by the sea the return journey was commenced shortly after seven o’clock.

Sewage Expense – Opposing the scheme for the improvement of the river Welland, formulated by the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, at Spalding on Wednesday, Mr. Charles Atter, Town Clerk, intimated that a sum of between £10,000 and £15,000 would shortly have to be expended on the improvement of the filter beds at Hudd’s Mills.

Sale of Property – At the Crown Hotel, Stamford, on Wednesday afternoon, Messrs. Reedman, Son and Mason offered by auction a freehold villa, 12, Ryhall-road, which, at £335, was knocked down to Mr. Walter Moore. The solicitors concerned in the transaction were Messrs. English and Son.

Saturday’s Fete – A miscellany of attractions rarely witnesses in Stamford will take place in the beautifully shaded grounds of Burghley House on Saturday, on the occasion of the Unionist demonstration and fete. The programme includes aquatic sports and carnival in the lake, an American tennis tournament,and numberless side shows and competitions. Those desiring more sedentary amusement are well catered for, several excellent concerts having been arranged to take place in the banqueting hall. In the evening a promenade concert will be given in the rose garden by Peterborough City Military Band, who will also play for dancing later. A full afternoon and evening’s entertainment is ensured, and the promoters anticipate a large crowd.

150 years ago

A meeting under the Stamford Inclosure Commission was held on Tuesday at the Town-hall, at which it was agreed that the valuer (Mr. Bidwell) should be paid at the rate of 10s. an acre, such payment to include an actual survey and plan of the land to be enclosed, and the valuer to give to every allottee a plan of his allotment. It was also agreed that the expenses of the enclosure be defrayed by a rate upon the land enclosed; and that the valuer may sell any small parcels of land suitable for sanitary arrangements near to any house built upon the waste, the money arising from such sale to go towards the reduction of the general expenses. The cost of enfranchising property built upon the waste is to be borne by the claimants and the lord of the manor. Application was made by Mr. Laxton on the part of the freemen for an immediate award of the meadows, so that the management of them may forthwith pass into the hands of the trustees of the freemen. It was explained that the herbage of the meadows would be let for £4 or £5 an acre, and by at once putting to an end to indiscriminate stocking funds would accrue by which some necessary improvements could be speedily effected.

Only six guardians were present at the Stamford Union Board on Wednesday, and the business was light. The number in the house was stated to be 60 less than in the corresponding week of last year, and the recipients of out-relief 27 more. A letter from the medical officer was read suggesting alterations in the drainage, to which he partly attributed a disease now prevalent in the house, and objecting to consult another medical gentleman, as had been recommended last week. The resignation of the schoolmistress was received, Miss Ward having obtained a similar office at Oundle.

The fifth annual festival of the Stamford Band of Hope, conducted by Mr. F. Pinney, was celebrated on the 11th. A large company went by the Midland line to Ketton, and enjoyed the usual festivities.

About 20 members of the Nottingham Architectural Association, accompanied by several ladies, visited Stamford yesterday (Thursday). After breakfasting at the Stamford Hotel they inspected some of the objects of interest in the town, and then proceeded to Burghley House to examine the fine collection of works of art there. Returning to Stamford, the party sat down to an excellent dinner provided by Mr. Caswell.

While returning from the dinner given in celebration of Lord Burghley’s majority, on the 19th inst., Mr. W. Maxey, of St. Peter’s-hill, Stamford, was seized with paralysis, which resulted in his death on Friday morning last. Mr. Maxey, we understand, had had previous attacks of the kind

Mr. Thomas Percival, farmer, of Duddington, informs us that he gathered on Tuesday morning, on his farm, a perfect mushroom, of fine quality, which measured 46in. round and 16in. across, and weighed 2¾lbs.

During the thunderstorm which visited this neighbourhood on Sunday a horse grazing in a field at Great Casterton was instantaneously killed by lightning. It belonged to Mr. Wilders, and was worth £40. The loss will be borne by an insurance company.

200 years ago

The bells of Stamford roused the morning sleepers to a recollection of the appointed jubilee, and throughout the day continued their joyous peals. At six in the evening the most numerous and splendid procession ever known in Stamford took place from the Town-hall through all the principal streets. At the Corn-hill the health of his Majesty King George the Fourth was drank, followed by enthusiastic and long-continued cheers, and by volleys or musketry. “Our glorious Constitution” suceeded, and “Prosperity to the Town of Stamford.” Many hogsheads of ale, the liberal gift of the Marquess of Exeter, were given away at appointed stations to the populace; and the evening concluded with a brilliant and general illumination of the town.

The children of all the charity schools in Stamford and St. Martin’s were at half-past two o’clock entertained with a dinner of roast beef and plum pudding, under an extensive awning erected for the purpose on the Cornhill. At this happy party the Mayor and several gentlemen of the town president and assisted. This evening (Friday) there is to be a ball at the Assembly-rooms.

l On Monday last was committed to Northampton county gaol, (by the Rev. C. E. Isham,) Benj. Garford, of Stoke Doyle, charged with being an accomplice with Wm. Newton, who had been a few days before committed to gaol by the same magistrate, for wilfully and maliciously turning stock into the growing crops of Mr. Bonifield, farmer, of Stoke, and also for sending alarming threatening letters to the said Mr. Bonifield.

l At Stamford quarter sessions on Saturday last, John Jarvis, for stealing a pair of half-boots and other articles from Joseph Boss, was sentenced to be imprisoned for a fortnight. There was no other business before the court.

l At Rutland quarter sessions on the 12th inst. (before Geo. Fludyer, Esq., the Rev. W. Baker, and the Rev. T. K. Bonney, Clerks,) no true bill was found against Wm. Brown, late of Seaton, laborer, indited for feloniously stealing an iron stanchion the property of the parishioners of Seaton; Wm. Mabbott, late of Seaton, schoolmaster, pleaded guilty to an indictment for feloniously stealing a piece of black cloth the property of the same parishioners, and was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment and hard labor; Ann Wilson, (wife of ---- Wilson, of Edmondthorpe, laborer,) was found guilty of stealing a straw bonnet the property of one George Snart, and sentenced to two months’ imprisonment and hard labor; William Taylor was committed to the house of correction for refusing to pay a fine of £2 for an assault upon Wm. Mantle, the constable of Langham, in the execution of his office.

l River Welland – Notice is hereby given,

That this Navigation will be Laid Dry about the First Week in August, for the Repairs of the Locks between James Deeping and Stamford; and due notice given when the same will be open again.

By order of the Executors of the late Mr. Thomas Smith,

Tho. Mercer. Stamford, 11th July, 1821.



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