A lecture presented to the
Society on 2nd October 2019 by local historian Ian Morgan, tracing the 34 miles
of the old Great North Road through Nottinghamshire.
This illustrated talk opened with a look at strip maps of the medieval period and how in 1555 the first law came into being to repair roads – something that had been the responsibility of no-one until then.
The audience heard
how for centuries the dangers of dark and isolated roads led to their
restricted use at night when only the Royal Mail and those on urgent missions
would travel on them. Most highway men were local and very few were well-known.
In the mid-18th
century Retford took a novel approach to its ambitions to enhance business and
income when decided to move the road so that it went through the town and
across the market place.
It seems that
travellers dreaded journeys across Nottinghamshire when the weather was bad and
it was known to have the worst roads, due to the land consisting of clay and
sand which washed away when it rained.
As the lecture
continued, memorable events and places of interest were traced along the route.
For example the importance of Newark during the Civil War; the terror of the
Nevison Gang; the genius of Smeaton who built the road out of town with its
flood-beating arches; the fire that destroyed Tuxford in 1701, and sundry
murders and progressions.
Sophie Clapp, the Archivist at the Boots
Company was due to deliver this lecture on the 10th of April but unfortunately
was unable to attend. More fortunately, she was able to ensure that we had the
power point presentation and accompanying notes in time for our Chairman, Pat
Smedley, to step up to the podium and to deliver a fascinating picture of a man
of great character.
Jesse Boot had little in the way of early
advantages except an exceptional father whom he described as “…without wealth, without money,
without any business experience; his only asset was character”. John
Boot moved his family to Nottingham when his health deteriorated and he had to
give up his work as a farm labourer. There, he established the city’s first
herbalist store, preparing and selling remedies and giving consultations, so
preparing the way for a future retail empire.
Captain Geoff Dyer’s presentation on March
13 drew one of the Society’s largest audiences; perhaps unsurprising given the
local importance of the RAF. In fact, those present included other past crew
Given his 10,000 hours of pilot experience
and his studies in aviation history, Captain Dyer was more than qualified to
give a rounded and fascinating view of life behind the scenes in the RAF during
the Cold War.
In 1946 it was understood that any future war
would be nuclear and that the potential enemy would be Russia. Captain Dyer
highlighted the enormous and rapid development during that crucial period;
there were just seven years between the Lancaster and the Vulcan. The World War
ll Lancaster carried around five tonnes of bombs whilst the Vulcan carried two
million tonnes of TNT; and in the event that just one got through to Russia it
could have wiped out Moscow.
Issues around the Vulcan’s design and its
construction , as well as the responsibility of the captain for the rear crew
who didn’t have the safety of ejection seats were also covered as were the
experiences of being a test pilot and demonstration flying.
But this presentation also had its lighter side;
we heard about how the captain’s biggest responsibility was to stop the crew
from misbehaving during stop-overs and how exercises over Canada provided
opportunities to bring back large quantities of whisky – custom officers’
inspections were thwarted by hiding the bottles up the nose in the scanner bay.
This was the intriguing title of Jeremy’s talk which followed the Society’s AGM. He opened with a reminder of just how many traditions and rural events had disappeared over the last 60 years or so. Some of these could be seen in the way village people ‘sorted out their own’. In other words, dispensing justice to local miscreants. We all know about the humiliation of the stocks, but ‘Ran Tan Tan’? Alice Bealby, recording her memories in 1960, remembered a man being punished for abusing his wife with ‘ran-tanning’ or ‘rough music’. This was when a band of villagers assembled outside a house armed with sticks and old tin cans to make a lot of noise and would sing, for example:
‘Ran Tan Tan with an old tin pan, This man’s been beating a good woman’.
On the 7th of November the Society launched its programme marking the anniversary of the Armistice in 1918, with the story of Lincoln’s role in creating the first military tanks.
A record number of members and visitors came to the Memorial Hall to hear military historian Richard Pullen and filmmaker Andrew Blow recreate the story of the ‘Land ships of Lincoln’ and how the development of these military tanks became a major factor in saving lives in the latter half of the war.
Richard Pullen became interested in the tanks because his grandfather worked at William Foster and Co. of Lincoln from 1916. Fosters (with the help of Major Walter Wilson) were inventors and manufacturers of the world’s first tanks. Andrew Blow’s interest came from the discovery of rare 1918 film of the tanks taken on the Lincoln testing ground.
The Society’s meeting of 3rd October was a double bill, telling two very different stories of travels to theatres of war where local soldiers lost their lives. Pat Pennington had a personal mission to follow in the footsteps of her late husband’s uncle, Private Michael Herbert Edmonds Colton who fell at Gallipoli, whilst Jerome Wright visited the graves and monuments commemorating the local men who were lost on the Western Front.
A Stretcher Bearer at the Doomed Campaign of Gallipoli
The name of Private Michael Herbert Edmonds Colton, stretcher bearer in July/August 1915 with the 1st Sherwood Rangers, can be seen on the Helles Memorial. Pvt. Colton was 21 years old when he fell at Chocolate Hill. He may have been particularly suited to caring for the injured due to his first- aid experience gained through his membership of the Scouting movement.
With his easy style Professor Philip Dixon took us on a relaxed tour of Anglo Saxon and Norman Lincoln and Newark which drew heavily on his personal experience as a leading archaeologist and expert in historic architecture over many decades. Professor Dixon’s use of superimposed maps was extremely useful in aiding our imagination to appreciate the earliest origins of Newark around the Saxon ‘Burgh’ site and later Norman castle and church. The early development of Lincoln cathedral, for whom he currently acts as an archaeological consultant, was also analysed in detail. Professor Dixon told us about a book he is currently writing on this topic which several of us will be queuing up to purchase.
Trade and Tokens in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire
Mary Scrimshaw – Mercer Thomas Ridge – Grocer Mercer
Ben Alsop is the curator of the Citibank Gallery in the British Museum, a fascinating room which tracks the story of ‘money’ around the world. The talk was extremely interesting, showing us many examples of coins from the 17th century with a special focus on the East Midlands. The use of tokens during this period was also discussed. Tokens were used as units of small ‘currency’ produced by individual businesses and bearing their own special marks. Locally of course we have the use of the ‘siege coin’ produced in Newark in the Civil War as a good example of this practice. The talk ended with two example of business tokens from Collingham at this time.
There were many questions following the talk and it was obvious how much everyone had enjoyed the presentation.
Nigel Priestley, Deputy Chair of CDLHS, gave members and visitors an entertaining and enlightening talk on one of Collingham’s oldest buildings and some of the people who have lived there over the centuries. Although there are few records of its origins it is possible that it was the Manor House for North Collingham. Nigel hoped we may be able to determine the age of the existing building by dating of timbers with the assistance of current owner Mark Woods. Mark also told the audience of his research on the building and showed some small items that he had found buried in the garden of The Old Hall.
Nigel then told us some interesting anecdotes of previous owners from the 17th Century to more recent times. The most recent of these awakened memories for many listening members and a lively discussion followed during question time.