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Ruth's Blog 2019

Welcome to Ruth's 2019 Blog, where I'll tell you about what we have in Louth Museum. You can also read and discover more from last year's blog.

15th November 2019

'1953 East Coast Flood'

1953 East Coast FloodWe are thinking a lot about flooding at the moment as homes and farmland remain flooded in the East Midlands, and as we prepare for the centenary of the 1920 Louth Flood.

The museum has recently been given newspapers relating to the 1953 North Sea flood when a high spring tide together with a severe windstorm led to a water level in some locations of more than 5.6 metres above mean sea level. The Netherlands was worst affected country, recording 1,836 deaths and widespread property damage. In England and Scotland 326 people were killed. I had known that there were great problems in Mablethorpe and Sutton-on-Sea, but I had not realised that four elderly residents died in Saltfleet: Herbert Horton, Emma Clayton, Annie Millward and John Frost.

The photo shows the school at Mablethorpe, surrounded by water. Many people from the coastal areas were evacuated to Louth where they were housed in schools and other public buildings, and some lodged in the houses of Louth families. Also cattle from coastal farms were temporarily stalled at Louth Cattle Market.

18th October 2019

'Old Bible'

Written by Sophie Pritchard

Old BibleThis leather bound Holy Bible, in two volumes, was published in 1827 by J. McGowan and Son in London. The first name in the Bible was Alexander James Furnish in 1829. There are 36 names across both of the volumes. Certain pages of the Bibles have reused paper as the first and last page. The first Volume goes from Genesis through to Songs of Solomon, in the second volume it starts with Isiah and finishes with Revelation.

The reason I chose the Bible, is the fact that during the Victorian era many people started to turn away from religion and focus more on science, this was mainly due to the industrial revolution. So to be able to find a Bible with such a religious ownership is quite interesting, it also gives you an insight to the life and deaths within the furnish family. There however, is one abnormality with in the fact that the furnish's had a daughter called Louisa Ann, she unfortunately died at age three but there was no records of her life in the bibles.

Another reason I chose the Bibles was; the Bible and Christianity has a big effect on how we live our lives and we don't even realize it. For example the fact that we even have weekends is based on the creation story in genesis, the fact that God rested on the last two days. Christmas is another one since the whole holiday is based on Jesus. however Christianity isn't as openly practiced in our modern society but we still use a lot of the christian belief and practices almost subconsciously. Its also rather interesting to think about how the religion has changed over the years and the different denominations that use the Bible: Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Reformed, Methodist, and Anglican. The denominations belief and ideals can differ majorly.

I personally believe that we should pay more interest in the Bibles owned by our families (if there are any) because it can give clarity about at least a portion of your family.

13th October 2019

'Reminiscing about Old Photographs'

Written by Ian Wardell

Men with dogs and bottles of drinkIt is a sobering thought to reflect that in 200 years’ time, in 2219, we will all have been long dead. No-one alive at this future time will remember us. For the vast majority of us nothing we write is likely to have survived. It'll be as if we had never existed. Indeed, time eventually renders us all anonymous.

But, what if a photograph of us still existed? Even if people 200 years hence don’t know our name or who we were, they might wonder what we were thinking when the photograph was taken, what our life was like, what it was like to live in the early 21st Century.

Likewise, when we look at old photographs, we too may connect to the past. It may initiate an emotional response in us, a whimsical reflection in what it was like to live in those times, how they viewed the world, their preoccupations, what their day to day lives were like.

Perhaps they were worried about their jobs and how to get promoted; perhaps they worried about making ends meet; perhaps they worried about their relationships with spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, or work colleagues. All the everyday concerns that people have, which, when viewed from our perspective 100 years hence, seem no longer important. We are looking at a world that has now disappeared, we are looking at people together with all their preoccupations and everyday concerns, which no longer exist.

What were they feeling when their photograph was taken? Photographs taken back then will have been very few and far between, so they will have been aware their photographs might attract some attention. Perhaps it is even possible for one or two of them to have speculated that people in the future are viewing them “now” just as the photograph were taken. A moment gone just as the shutter clicks, but yet a moment also captured that might last for hundreds of years.

Without photographs we would, to a large measure, be emotionally shut off from the past. Viewing old photographs, that frozen moment in time, allows us that emotional identification.

The photo shows men with dogs and bottles of drink, probably in the Tetney area in the 1890s. We don’t know who they were.

9th September 2019

'Wallis Carvings'

Click the image for a larger version

Wallis Carvings

In November 2018 two young men came to the museum and skilfully took photos of some of our sculptures. This was because we had become part of the Art UK Sculpture project, which is creating a record of the UK’s publicly-owned sculptures, making images and information available on the Art UK website.

In Louth Museum we have the nationally-acclaimed collection of wood carvings by Louth sculptor T W Wallis. These are in protective glass cabinets and we amateurs had found that taking decent photos was almost impossible because of reflections from the glass. We now have top quality images of all Wallis’ carvings so we can see the sculptures in superb detail, and appreciate their intricacy. See for example, the small bird approaching its nest of chicks, in Wallis’ carving ‘Trophy of Spring’. Several of Wallis’ carvings depict dead game birds, but I much prefer this carving of live birds!

Born in 1821 in the family of an impoverished cabinetmaker in Hull, Thomas Wilkinson Wallis came to Louth to work for gilder John Brown of Upgate. When John Brown died in 1844, T W Wallis took over his shop and continued to live and work in Louth. ‘Trophy of Spring’ was Wallis’ most intricate carving; it took him 8 months to complete, it was awarded a medal at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, and it is considered to surpass the work of celebrity sculptor Grinling Gibbons (1648–1721). ‘Trophy of Spring’, which had been purchased by a US resident was bequeathed to the museum and returned to us from California in 2015.

Wood carvings by Louth sculptor T W Wallis

Wood carvings by Louth sculptor T W Wallis
16th August 2019

'Council Housing in Louth'

Council Housing in LouthRecently, John Barker presented a copy of his memoirs to the museum. The recollections of this 90-year-old Louth resident, who was the Director of Housing and Estates for ELDC, are fascinating. Here are some excerpts.

Council Housing in Louth was initiated shortly after the First World War. Lacey Gardens Housing Estate was laid out in the very early 1920s, and Louth Borough Council then built further estates, notably Tennyson Road on Newmarket, and Jubilee and Keddington Crescents on Brackenborough Road. These were mainly for re-housing tenants from the many rows of small cottages in the town centre that were the subject of Slum Clearance Orders.

Immediately after the Second World War the Council took over a number of disused Nissen huts on a site on High Holme Road and used them as temporary housing. The families in them urgently needed permanent homes, so work started laying roads on a large area of land on the east side of the town off Eastfield Road, and in 1945 fifty prefabricated bungalows were speedily erected on Park Avenue. They were well-designed but small, with all the kitchens and bathroom fittings coming in complete kit-form units. I think they were designed for a 30-year life span but with regular maintenance and some improvement, they provided popular homes for nearly sixty years before being replaced with brick bungalows in the 2000s.

Post-war development continued apace with the building of the St Bernards Avenue estate with traditionally-constructed brick houses, mostly semi-detached or in small terraces, and a few bungalows. In those days no one thought that so many people would have cars, and there was no provision for car parking. The main road through the estate eventually connected Eastfield Road with Wood Lane, Stewton Lane and Newmarket, with a side road joining Monks Dyke Road. One problem was the level crossing on the main Grimsby to Kings Cross railway with gates which often needed to be closed to road traffic. This problem of course was overcome when the main railway line was closed by Beeching in 1970.

In the early 1960s the Council decided to provide sheltered housing for the elderly, with self-contained units for each tenant and a common room for social activities, with a flat for a resident Warden. The first to be built was Elizabeth Court in Maiden Row, on the site of about 40 tiny cottages. The area had had rather a bad reputation, although most of the cottages had been occupied by good hard-working families. The name of the road was changed to Church Street.

Similarly Maxey Court in James Street was built in the late 1960s, and later enlarged. It too was built on slum clearance land where some houses owned by the Council had been located. These houses, I believe, had been built to house soldiers after the Napoleonic Wars.

Elizabeth Court served the town well for over forty years but became outdated and in 2005 was pulled down and the new much larger high dependency unit (illustrated here) was built. The 32 flats each have a living room and bedroom, and there are common rooms, catering facilities for the tenants, together with the support staff of a manger and wardens. Quite frail people can now be accommodated.

Work began in 1964 on the North Holme Road Council Housing estate. In the first phase, each house had its own back and front gardens, with a road in front of it. The second phase which went right up to North Holme Road was designed on a system which aimed to separate cars from housing, with walkways to the houses and green communal areas in front and service roads to the rear. The remainder of the site to the east was then laid out in a traditional style, and was much more acceptable to the tenants.

Welbeck Way, off Mill Lane on High Holme Road, was constructed on a site which had been a nursery garden. Another estate called Beech Grove was developed off Keddington Road. In the late 1960s and early 1970s the Council began to upgrade its older houses by installing new bathrooms and kitchens, electrical rewiring and in some cases re-roofing.

The successor authority of Louth Borough Council, namely East Lindsey District Council (ELDC) was formed in 1974. ELDC built a limited amount of new social housing but could not obtain the funding needed to provide all the new affordable houses required and to upgrade its existing stock of about 5,000 properties. The Council began working with the De Montford Housing Society at Leicester, and a subsidiary company was formed in Louth called The Wolds Housing Trust. Social housing in Louth is now managed by Waterloo Housing.

24th July 2019

'Chris Wright CBE: from Grimoldby to Chrysalis'

DDM transfer to Walter WrightDo you recognise the name “Chrysalis Records”? And did you know that Chris Wright, co-founder of Chrysalis Records and Music in 1968, is from Grimoldby? Chris Wright was born towards the end of World War II. His parents were farmers Walter and Edna Wright, and they lived at Grove Farm, Grimoldby – that’s the farm on the B1200, just opposite the entrance to Manby Airfield. In Louth Museum we have the notebook of estate agents DDM that records the transfer of the farm to Walter Wright when he moved to Grove Farm in 1923.

By all accounts Chris had little interest in farming, and was particularly unenthusiastic about getting out of bed for early morning milking at 5 o’clock. This must have been disappointing for his parents, as Chris was their only son.

Chris had ambitions to become a sports or political journalist, and went to Manchester University to study politics and modern history. The music industry was booming in the 1960s and after graduation, Chris became an agent who could organise entertainment anywhere in the north of England. He moved to London and together with Terry Ellis founded the record label Chrysalis (Chris Wright + Terry Ellis = Chrys-alis), which developed into one of the world’s leading record and music publishing companies, becoming a PLC in 1985. The company was sold to EMI in 1990, but in 2016, Blue Raincoat Music purchased Chrysalis Records Ltd and Chris Wright is now non-executive chairman.

In 1980 Chris Wright became Chairman of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and in 1982 he re-launched the British Record Industry Awards as an annual event, the forerunner of the BRITS. He is a former owner of both Queens Park Rangers FC and Wasps Rugby, and he regularly appears in the national press as a commentator on current affairs.

27th June 2019

'Gate at Thorpe Hall'

Gate at Thorpe HallThis small painting is currently on display in Louth Museum in the Special Exhibition of Local Paintings. It is a 19th Century view of a gate at Thorpe Hall, the large house set in 20 acres of grounds on the western side of Louth. The house was built in the 16th Century for John Bolle who together with Sir Walter Raleigh went on an English expedition to Spain, and afterwards Captain John Bolle was knighted for his valiant services at the Siege of Cadiz.

At the time when this picture was painted, the Fytche family lived in Thorpe Hall. First was John Disney Fytche who was the son of Stephen Fytche, Rector of Louth and uncle of Alfred Lord Tennyson. J D Fytche’s son, John Lewis Fytche then lived in the Hall from 1855 to 1885 when he went bankrupt. Later the grounds were laid out by Gertrude Jekyll.

The artist of our painting is unknown, but the reverse of the frame bears the stamp of William Fieldhouse, “Gilder and framemaker, artist colourman and fancy stationer”, whose business was in Mercer Row.

If you haven’t already done so, do come and see this little painting and many more in the exhibition which runs until the end of August. There are lots of unusual quirky ones – don’t miss the opportunity!

1st June 2019

'Passive Resistance Campaign'

Passive Resistance CampaignThe Education Act of 1902 was a controversial Act of Parliament that reorganised the administration of education at local level. It overturned Gladstone’s 1870 Education Act that had enabled nonconformists to obtain control over local schools, and it placed all elementary schools in the hands of newly-created Local Education Authorities or LEAs; in Louth the LEA was the Lindsey Education Authority. For the first time Anglican Church schools were to receive public funds.

Throughout Britain, nonconformists joined a ‘passive resistance’ campaign as they resented the idea of contributing to the upkeep of Anglican schools. In September 1903 a group of Methodists and Baptists gathered in Louth to hold an auction of their belongings, in order to pay their contribution to the education tax. Those pictured here include draper James Lill, chemist J W Dennis, draper and stationer William Lacey, draper William Faulds and clothier William Pridmore. In fact, this was a symbolic auction – the goods of the protestors were sold, and then handed back to the original owners. Contemporary newspaper reports tell us that the auction was held in the exercise yard behind Louth Police Station (now the Sessions House) and attracted a large collection of sympathisers.

7th May 2019

'Girl Guides at Rimac'

Girl Guides at RimacIn about 1924 the 1st Louth Girl Guides went to Rimac, where they put up a tent and created see-saws with planks over barrels. Those were the early days of the Girl Guides, an organisation which had been started only in 1909. The lady standing towards the left of the picture was Guide leader Mrs Ellen Smith, wife of Louth shoe dealer Joseph Smith; it is thanks to her future daughter-in-law Mrs Rowena Smith that we have this photo in Louth Museum.

The name Rimac (pronounced rye-mak) isn’t a typical Lincolnshire name, but was given to this coastal area after the sailing ship ‘Rimac’ bound for Hull docks, ran aground here in stormy weather in December 1874. The Rimac was one of many ships transporting guano (bird droppings) from South America to the UK, where it was used as a nitrogenous fertilizer. The ship Rimac had been built in Whitehaven in 1834 and was named after the River Rimac which runs through Lima in Peru.

2nd April 2019

'Coney Sign'

Coney SignWhen you go along Broadbank take a moment to glance at the southern wall of the museum beyond the porch, to see the sign “R Coney, Hatter and Hosier”.

This newly-restored sign, almost 4 metres in length and very heavy, was fixed on the wall by Rodden & Cooper. It originally came from Coney’s shop in Eastgate, and had been created by a process known as the “Brilliant Process” which originated in Victorian times to replace the earlier and more expensive carving and gilding process. The Brilliant Signs factory, based in Uxbridge, became very successful, and continued unto the 1970s. Each letter was cut from a thin metal sheet and pressed onto the inner side of the glass to give the illusion of carved letters behind the glass.

Donated to Louth Museum by Brocklebank Reclaims, our Coney sign had previously been on display outside the museum, but rather hidden on the lower wall, and then it went for a face-lift at Eskdale Restoration in Lincoln.

Where was the shop and who was R Coney? It was in Eastgate near the Fish Shambles; today the premises are occupied by Card Factory. The shop was set up by Alford draper Richard Coney (1844-1932), and subsequently run by his son John Richard Coney (1874-1952). In the museum we have some photos of the exterior and interior of Coney’s shop, an invoice, and a few bits of equipment such as rulers and shears. Those were the days when garments were crafted exactly to your measurements rather than being made for the mass-market.

1st March 2019

'Sampler made at Kidgate School'

Sampler made at Kidgate SchoolThis early Victorian sampler was created in 1847 by a 12-year-old pupil in the British School, now Kidgate Primary Academy. We know this because Eliza Gelsthorp embroidered her name and other details. Worked in the traditional style with the alphabet in four different scripts, and the numerals, the sampler is bright and cheerful.

The British School had opened in 1840, only a few years before Eliza worked her sampler. Initially there were 310 pupils, but only two classrooms – one for the 150 girls and the other for the boys. In the decade after Eliza was at school numbers had risen to 450 pupils, and the buildings were extended. Conditions must have been extremely cramped. Sewing was an important part of the curriculum for girls. We have a number of Victorian samplers in Louth Museum, but this one stands out because it is so vibrant in colour indicating that it has been carefully stored out of direct sunlight. We may tend to think of the early Victorian period as being monochrome, but this sampler clearly shows that bright colours were around.

Eliza was the daughter of John and Frances Gelsthorp who lived in Walkergate, now Queen Street; John was a farmer and leather manufacturer. Eliza did not marry, but later in life she kept house for her brother Thomas Gelsthorp who continued the family business. Thomas was three times mayor of Louth, chairman of the British School Managers, President of Louth Mechanics Institute, and a prominent member of the Ants & Nats. Eliza died in 1907.

6th February 2019

'Brown Cow'

Brown CowThis photo, kindly donated to Louth Museum by the late Mrs Rowena Smith, shows Louth’s Brown Cow pub many years ago. Today the Brown Cow at the junction of Newmarket and Church Street is a thriving popular pub. The first mention of the Brown Cow I have seen was in 1834 – in the early days it was described as a “Beer House”, which meant that it had a lower social standing than the larger, more up-market inns. In the 1970s its name changed to the Newmarket Inn, but reverted to the Brown Cow in 2007.

In the photo the name visible above the door of the pub is Arthur Wright, and this greatly helps in dating the photo. Arthur Wright was the landlord of the Brown Cow before the First World War. Born in Fotherby in 1878, as a young man Arthur worked with his father who was the Ostler and looked after horses at the King’s Head Inn (which was an up-market establishment).

Arthur was listed as landlord of the Brown Cow in 1909. He married his wife Alice in 1908, and it is likely that this was the time that they took on the Brown Cow Beer House. But by 1913 the landlord was John Trevor; Arthur Wright served in the Army Veterinary Corps during the First World War – his experience looking after horses at the King’s Head must have been invaluable. After the war Arthur and Alice moved to Leicester.

So my guess is that the photo was taken some time between 1908 and 1912, and that the woman standing by the gate is Mrs Alice Wright.

16th January 2019

'Mrs Speed's new costume from Maltby's'

Mrs Speed's new costume from Maltby'sDo you sometimes wonder what people were doing a hundred years ago? In 1919, Mrs Speed treated herself to a new outfit from the draper in Louth. We know this because she kept the receipt, and it is now in Louth Museum.

Mrs Florence Speed was a 41-year-old farmer's wife who lived in Carlton. The price of her costume was £5 14s 0d, a considerable sum in those days - in today's money it would be about £300. She made the purchase in the drapers 'R Maltby & Sons' which was located on the eastern side of Louth Cornmarket, and is now the health food shop 'Holland & Barrett'.

The 1919 receipt was handwritten on a printed form. It has a ragged hole in the middle indicating that it was filed on a metal spike. When the invoice was paid, a penny postage stamp (bearing the head of King George V) was added, and payment acknowledged with a signature. A much more laborious system than the speedy computerised tills and card payments in use today!

The requirement to put a postage stamp on receipts was a form of sales tax, which continued until abolished by the 1964 Finance Act; the modern equivalent is VAT. Stamp Duty still exists in the form of a levy on property sales.

Ruth's blog 2018
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Ruth's blog 2016
Ruth's blog 2015
Ruth's blog 2014


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