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Take a look back at the history of Rutland, Stamford and Bourne through the pages of the Mercury

Britain's oldest continuously published newspaper has an amazing archive managed by the Stamford Mercury Archive Trust.

Here you can read just some of the articles which were printed in the Mercury this week in March during years gone by.

25 years ago: March 16, 1996 – The cast of the Golden Masque of Agamenon at Casterton Community College
25 years ago: March 16, 1996 – The cast of the Golden Masque of Agamenon at Casterton Community College

10 years ago

Drivers face even longer delays at a notorious level crossing when new passenger train services are introduced in May.

Barriers at the Tallington crossing on the A16 between Stamford and the Deepings are often down for more than 40 minutes in the hour, causing long tailbacks for commuters and buses. It also holds up emergency services.

Train operator East Coast will introduce 19 new services on May 22. This is an addition to the 152 it operates along the route, all of which will pass through the crossing.

A survey conducted by Lincolnshire County Council’s highways department this month found that between 7am and 7pm on two separate days the barriers were down for an average of 31 minutes every hour, with 90 closures over the period.

The worst hour, between 2pm and 3pm, over the two days saw the barriers closed for 40 minutes out of 60.

Stamford MP Nick Boles said: “It’s a worry that because of the increased number of trains going through the crossing, the barrier will be open for shorter periods and the delays and tailbacks will be greater.

“It’s a thorny problem to which there is no immediate solution.”

50 years ago: March 19, 1971 – Two Stamford women received long service medals for their work with the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service, on Thursday. Mrs W. Michelsen of 35 King’s Road, and Mrs E. Rouse, of 44 Radcliffe Road, were awarded their medals for 15 years’ service. The medals were presented by Mrs C. Clode, vice-chairman of he WRVS.
50 years ago: March 19, 1971 – Two Stamford women received long service medals for their work with the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service, on Thursday. Mrs W. Michelsen of 35 King’s Road, and Mrs E. Rouse, of 44 Radcliffe Road, were awarded their medals for 15 years’ service. The medals were presented by Mrs C. Clode, vice-chairman of he WRVS.

Campaigners against a 500-home development have called for an open consultation on the plans.

Commercial Estates Group wants to develop the 70-acre site between Tinwell Road and Empingham Road in Stamford, and has been phoning nearby residents to gather opinions.

But at Stamford’s annual town meeting on Monday a number of people complained that the survey’s origin was unclear, saying they thought the phone call was from South Kesteven District Council.

Robert Conboy, of protest committee South West Approaches Protection Group said: “They (the developers) say the development is for the benefit of the town, but I can’t see how that is the case. I am very concerned that the proposed development would take shoppers out of the town centre, at a time when we need all the customers we can get.

“We will maintain our strong opposition, and are looking to arrange a public meeting on the issue soon.”

A principal has hit out at a “perfect storm” of policy changes which could put students off attending New College Stamford.

Lincolnshire County Council is planning to scrap bus services which bring some students from outside the Stamford and Bourne area.

It also wants to double the transport fees paid by all further education students, from £202 a year to £390. The changes would come into effect in September.

The county council wants students to attend their nearest further education college to save on transport costs.

It comes as the Government-funded Education Maintenance Allowance, which gives financial support to students from low-wage families, is to be withdrawn at the end of this academic year.

New College Stamford principal Andrew Patience is concerned the changes could seriously affect his college’s intake, and may put many students off further education completely.

The college currently has about 300 students who travel from the South Holland area, including Spalding, Holbeach and Pinchbeck.

25 years ago

One hundred and fifty six jobs have gone at RAF Wittering as part of sweeping cuts imposed on the Ministry of Defence by Whitehall on Wednesday.

But most of the airbase redundancies have been voluntary, according to spokesman Flight Lieutenant Bob Chalmers.

The huge cuts in manpower are the largest since the Second World War and are aimed at reducing spending in the long term but the cost of the redundancies is estimated to be in the region of £100 million.

RAF Cottesmore has lost 109 personnel and North Luffenham has shed 58 jobs.

Flt Lt Chalmers of RAF Wittering said: “Most of the redundancies have been voluntary and have some within support services like technicians, chefs, stewards and the maintenance and repairs on the flight simulator.”

He added that the flight simulator maintenance contract has gone to a civilian company and the firm would take over in June.

Householders’ council tax bills are going up an average of just under five per cent amid warnings of further increases in the next few years.

The Citizens’ Advice Bureau is seeking to reassure residents worried about their bills, particularly those in part-time work or without regular pay increases.

Comparison of Band D charges throughout the region shows Stamford residents will pay the highest charge of £616.65 over the next 10 months, while Dowsby, Haconby, Horbling, Kirkby Underwood, Tallington, Toft, Lound and Manthorpe residents will pay the least - £595.14.

The average charge in Bourne will be £606.30 and in Market Deeping £604.86.

Council tax bills are going up 4.7 per cent.

South Kesteven District Council’s spending budget is £9.1 million which because of cuts in the amount the Government believes the authority needs to provide services, was called a “standstill budget” by finance and land committee vice chairman Coun John Kirkman.

Bourne Town Council wants a new township to be created for all the extra houses planned in the area.

Under the Lincolnshire structure plan for the next 15 years, 25 per cent of all residential development in the county will be in South Kesteven.

Around 16,000 homes are being planned with a quarter of the development aimed at Bourne.

At a special meeting of the town council on Tuesday, members voiced their concerns about the impact a large number of houses would have on the town.

Coun Peter Garner said: “We have some 2,500 houses outstanding in this plan at the moment. From the meeting at Stamford there may be another 1,500 to come. My answer to the county council is that enough is enough for the moment. We have not got any of the facilities. What is needed is a new settlement in South Kesteven.

“Lincolnshire has acres of land and some of the new settlements are delightful. The county council won’t do this as it means having to produce lots of facilities, but why should we spoil what we have got?”

Coun Don Fisher said: “This town could be lumbered with hundreds of houses and this council should fight it tooth and nail as should the organisations in the town along with the public. I hope everyone can fight it with the same vigour that they fought the car parking charges and then maybe we will win.”

50 years ago

Stamford ratepayers face their biggest ever rate demand in the next financial year, with a borough rate of 28p (5s 7d) and a county levy of 50½p (10s 1d).

The Borough Council on Tuesday approved a record increase of 4p in the town rate. With a county increase of 4½p, this gives a general rate for the town of £78½p.

The full rise on the general rate is 8½p (1s 8d) in the £.

Because of rate support grants householders will pay 69p in the £. People with mixed properties, such as shops with flats, will pay 74p and all other properties will pay the full rate.

Finance committee chairman Ald George Swanson said: “This is the steepest rate we have ever been faced with.

“I don’t suppose there is much consolation to say that we are in the same boat as everyone else in the country.

“We were over £5,000 over spent on supplementary estimates. An increase in salaries and a 15 per cent increase for manual workers caused a heavy increase in spending without any improvement in our service to the community.”

Coun Ted Steele fulfilled his third ambition when he was invited to become the next Mayor of Stamford at the Borough Council meeting on Tuesday.

His other two ambitions – to become a councillor and to own a Rolls-Royce – had already been realised.

Coun Steele, of 3 St. Leonard’s Street, Stamford, has accepted the council’s invitation but says he will not be choosing a Mayoress.

He has been an Independent member of the council since 1962, the first three years as a representative of St George’s Ward, and since for All Saints’ Ward.

Coun Steele is a member of the markets and general amenities, the library and general purposes and the road safety committees.

He is the eldest of seven children born to the late Mr and Mrs Bert Steele, of Empingham Road, Stamford. Coun Steele (61) ran away from home when he was 16 to join a travelling fair There he met his wife, the former Miss Edith Westwood, of Bradford, the daughter of a well-known showman.

He returned to the town in 1947 and as well as having his own business, he is well-known locally for collecting money for charity. Coun Steele was formerly a member of the Friends of Stamford Hospital.

In his spare time, Coun Steele enjoys golf and is a member of the Burghley Park club. He is also captain of the cribbage team at the Hit and Miss public house, Foundry Road.

Stamford Amateur Operatic Society have chosen “Rose Marie” as their production for this spring, and it will be performed at the Exchange Hall, Stamford, from May 18 to 22.

The libretto is a product of the famous team of Oscar Hammerstein and Otto Harbach.

Taking the leading roles in the Stamford production will be the well established partnership of Tony Walton, as Jim Kenyon and Cynthia Eames, as Rose Marie.

Mr Walton needs no introduction to Stamford audiences, as he has performed a number of parts for the Society, and for the Stamford Gilbert and Sullivan Society, over the last few years.

100 years ago

At their meeting on Monday the Stamford Board of Guardians acknowledged with many thanks the gift of £2 4s. from the Endowed School, St. Peter’s-hill, as “a fairing” for the inmates of the Children’s Home.

Accident – A boy’s scamperings after a ball resulted in his mother sustaining a broken rib and shock in St. Paul’s-street Stamford on Thursday week. Mrs. Catherine Cobb, of 24, St. Paul’s-street, noticed that her little boy had placed himself in a dangerous position in the middle of the road, owing to a too fervid desire to recapture a ball with which he was amusing himself. She rushed on to the road from behind a brewer’s dray, which was unloading at the O’Brien Arms, and failed to notice in time the near approach of a motor car belonging to the firm of Motors and Tractors, Ltd. She was knocked down as a result stated, after which she was taken home, where she is progressing favourably.

Wesleyan Quarterly Meeting – the Rev. J. Westcombe presided on March 10, when there was a fair attendance. The financial report was considered satisfactory, and the secretary reported that £127 13s. 11d. had been forwarded to the headquarters of Foreign Missions, an increase of £41 14s. 5d. Arrangements were made for the circuit rally, and Mr. M. Riddington, with the circuit stewards (Mr. E. Clark and Mr. H. Green) were appointed representatives to the Synod. Both ministers were invited to stay another year, and they were thanked for their services. After the business was concluded the members were entertained by Mrs. E. Clark.

Stamford Infirmary Management – Discussion ensued on a report drawn up by Mr. H. V. Cobbold with regard to the water supply, and a scheme whereby it is claimed that a considerable economy might be effected was laid before the meeting, but it was decided to defer the matter on account of the initial outlay.

Magisterial Warning to Delinquents – The Chairman of the Bourne Magistrates on the 10th inst. announced that defendents who did not appear unless prevented by illness, would be fined

Butterfield Cottage Hospital, Bourne – A meeting of the Geeral Committee was held on Friday, Canon Grinter presiding. The work of the matron, especially during the period of alterations, was spoken of in the highest terms, and a letter of appreciation was decided upon, together with an increase of £10 per annum for her. The hon. Secretary, Mr, Ingoldby, presented a statement of the cost of the extension and how it had been met. The total cost was £2533, towards which sum £1100 had been received from the Red Cros, £650 had been paid over from the Town Peace Memorial Fund, and a further £50 was anticipated. From the deposit account £400 had been taken, and £200 on the building fund had also been used, and a legacy of £100 from the late Mr. Arthur Saul. There was a further legacy from the late Mr. T. M. Baxter, which, it was stated, should be used for furnishing. This, Mr. Ingoldby said, would not all be required, and he had asked for the consent of the Trustees to use the money for

150 years ago

A meeting of the Stamford Assessment Committee was held on Tuesday, at which a few parochial lists were produced for verification. There was one appeal from St. John’s parish, which was allowed. The stipend of the clerk for the past year was fixed at £30.

Stamford Midlent horse fair on Monday last was very thinly attended both by buyers and sellers. Very few good animals were shown.

A new and powerful steam fire-engine, purchased by the Marquis of Exeter for Burghley House, was tested on Tuesday last in the presence of a large party of the principal inhabitants of Stamford, whom his Lordship had invited to witness the experiments. The engine was placed near the lake, opposite the south front of the mansion, and the water was conveyed through hose of the length of 500 feet. The suction pipe appeared double the diameter of the hose. The fuel in the stove was lighted by Lord Exeter shortly after 3 o’clock; in four minutes steam was generated, and in 11 minutes, the pressure being then 100lbs to the inch, water was played on the south front of the house, and reached nearly to the parapet. Subsequently, when more pressure had been put on, water was forced over the north-west cupola of the mansion, the height of which was said to be 170 feet. The power was next tried with two jets, and finally with four; and it was satisfactorily show that in the event of fire, and the engine playing at close quarters, more water would be thrown into a burning mass than could be effected by four ordinary engines. At one period, when the engine was at its higest speed, 420 gallons a minute were pumped out of the lake and forced over the roof of Burghley House. The testing was performed under the superintendence of Mr. Merryweather, jun., a member of the firm which manufactures the engines. The cylinders and pumps are horizontal, and we were informed that at each stroke of the piston 4¼ gallons of water were ejected. The experiments were considered highly satisfactory. The cost of the engine without the hose is £540.

An informal meeting of the Town Council of Stamford was held on Tuesday morning, to consider an intimation from the Marquis of Exeter to the Mayor that his Lordship was desirous of presenting to the town a fire-escape in the event of its being deemed acceptable by the governing body. It appeared that with the steam fire engine purchased for Burghley, Messrs. Merryweather , under a misapprehension, sent a fire-escape, which was not wanted, and Lord Exeter, learning that Stamford was without a safety instrument of the kind, liberally offered to present this one. The Council warmly accepted the gift, and promptly adopted a resolution of thanks to his Lordship. The fire-escape was conveyed to the Town-hall and put into operation; and one of Mr. Merryweather’s engineers descended by it with great ease from one of the top windows of the building. The fire brigade and the police are to be instructed in its

Stamford Union – The number of paupers in the workhouse was last week 175, being 39 less than in the corrsponding period of last year.

200 years ago

On Wednesday se’nnight, Thos. Lee, of Nassington, in returning home from changing at Stamford 12 pound notes lost his notes by the wood-side between Wansford and Nassington. Next day he resorted to the Wise Woman of Market Deeping: she informed him that the notes had not then been found – had they been, she could have shown him the person who held them. We hope this power of the Wise Woman will prove a preservative of the honesty of whomsoever has found the notes.

E. Peers, Milliner and Dress-maker, is in immediate want of Three

Morton Poor

Any person wishing to Contract for the maintenance of the Poor of the Parish of Morton, for 3 Years, may apply at the Vestry-Room on Monday the 26th day of March instant, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

By order of the Churchwarden and Overseer.


To be Let, and entered upon at Lady-day,

A Handsome Freestone House, in St. George’s-place, opposite to the Assembly-room, consisting of a large and elegant drawing-room, middle-sized dining parlour, and a small breakfast-room, with good kitchen and cellars, three bed-chambers on the first floor and good attics. For a view of the premises, and further particulars, apply to Mr. Pollard, house-carpenter, in Stamford.

To be Sold by Auction,

By C. E. Mills and Co.,

At the George and Angel Inn in Stamford, on Friday the 23d day of March instant at Six o’clock in the afternoon, in 1 or more Lot or Lots, as may be agreed upon at the time of sale, subject to such conditions as shall be then and there produced:

All those Four Freehold newly-erected Stone and Slated Messuages or Tenements, adjoining each other, situate in Stamford aforesaid, in a place there called the Back-side, now in the occupation of John Meeas, Judith Snary, Thomas Atterton, and William Bates, at rents amounting together to the yearly sum of £26.

The above messuages are all in good repair, each of them will constitute a Vote for the County, the land-tax is redeemed, and the whole will pay very good interest for the purchase-money. For particulars apply to Mr. Thompson, solicitor, Stamford.

Morton, near Bourn.

To be Let, and entered upon Lady-day next,

A Neat and convenient Dwelling-House in excellent repair, suitable for a genteel family, pleasantly situate at Morton, in the county of Lincoln; consisting of 3 parlours, kitchen, pantry, dairy, and 6 bed-rooms, with Brewhouse, Granary capable of holding 100 quarters of grain, Stables, Cow-houses, Pigsties, Dovecot, well stocked, a large soft-water Cistern, three leaden Pumps, a large paved Yard, and every other convenience; also a Garden in front, beautifully laid out, brick walled round, and planted with choice fruit trees, a Paddock also well planted with fruit trees, and excellent large Kitchen Garden, with Right of Common for two Cows.

40 Acres of land will be Let with the above, if

For particulars apply to Mr. Lincoln, Carlby; or to Mr. T Lincoln, Stamford; if by letter, post paid.

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