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Bridging the Gap

1716

Information

Milton Hall was built in the 1590s to the west of Peterborough and periodic phases of work to the house and surrounding parkland continued until the 1790s. The bridge that straddles the Nene nearby was built in 1716 from Barnack stone and is a Grade II listed structure. It sits on the site of an old ferry crossing point (Gunnerswade Ferry) needed for the Barnack stone when local cathedrals were being built 900 years ago. The more modern bridge we see today, Milton Ferry Bridge, was an important transport link for those travelling onto the Great North Road from the south bank of the river, although there was a toll, with which Daniel Defoe was not pleased: “Near this little village of Castor lives the Lord FitzWilliams. His Lordship has lately built a very fine stone bridge over the River Nyne, near Gunworth, where formerly was the ferry. I was very much applauding this generous action of my lord’s, knowing the inconvenience of the passage there before, especially if the waters of the Nyne were but a little swell’d, and I though it a piece of publick charity; but my applause was much abated, when coming to pass the bridge (being in a coach) we could not be allow’d to go over it, without paying 2s. 6d. of which I shall only say this, That I think ‘tis the only half crown toll that is in Britain, at least that I ever met with.”





Resources

WUTAC at Peterborough East Railway Station

1915

Information

The Great Eastern Soldier’s and Sailor’s Rest Room opened on Christmas Eve 1915 at Peterborough East Railway Station.  The rooms were managed by the Women’s United Total Abstinence Council (WUTAC), supporters of the temperance movement popular at that time. During the first nine days alone, 321 servicemen called at the tea room. They were given food, drink and an opportunity to rest in comfort whilst waiting for their trains to and from the front.  The ladies who managed the tea room encouraged the men to write in the visitors’ books, only two of which have survived from 1916 and 1917. There are over 590 signatures in the books that reveal the servicemen came from across the United Kingdom and as far away as Australia.  They wrote messages of gratitude, poetry and drew pictures expressing their appreciation for the service that the ladies were providing. These two slim volumes provide a brief insight into the thoughts and feelings of the men transiting through the city during the Great War. The books have been digitised and transcribed and the servicemen’s personal histories researched in an effort to tell their story and trace their families.





Building Bridges Across Boundaries

1308

Information

The first bridge over the River Nene in Peterborough is attributed to the Abbot of Peterborough, Godfrey of Crowland/Croyland, in 1308. The bridge spans the boundary between Peterborough (Lincoln) diocese and Ely and is possibly built over a previous ford. The bridge lasted for around 600 years until it was replaced by a metal bridge in 1872.  





Peterborough East Station Opens

1845

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Opening on the 2nd of June 1845, Peterborough East was the first railway station in Peterborough, built by the Eastern Counties Railway (ECR). It linked Peterborough with the London and Birmingham Railway. It was located on Station Road just off the Town Bridge south of the River Nene. A section of the now defunct railway line to Northampton still survives as the Nene Valley Railway. It was closed to passenger traffic in June 1966. With the arrival of the railway a new age began for Peterborough, it was the catalyst for turning a small market town into the city we know today.





Peterborough North Station Opens

1850

Information

In 1850 the Great Northern Railway opened Peterborough North Station to service the line it was building between London and York. It was built on the site of the present mainline station. From the 1850s to the 1960s Peterborough was a nationally important railway centre with a locomotive depot and engineering works, plus 80 miles of sidings, creating many new jobs and bringing huge growth and prosperity to the city. By 1901 the railway industry employed 25% of the city's adult male population.





Airbases in World War 2

1940s

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As the East of England is very flat and because of its relative closeness to mainland Europe, many airfields were established or enlarged during the Second World War, roughly one every seven miles. Several of these were around Peterborough, amongst them were: RAF Peterborough (now the Westwood area of the city) was used as a training base for pilots. American servicemen were stationed there during the war and post-war French airmen were also trained there. It was not used for operational missions but was bombed several times. RAF Wittering, established in 1916 as a fighter station for the Royal Flying Corps. In 1938 it became a fighter base, with Spitfires and Hurricanes based there taking part in the Battle of Britain. It was bombed at least 5 times, one attack in March 1941 resulting in the deaths of 17 servicemen. Post war it was a home for the British nuclear deterrent and a base for Harrier jump jets. The American Air Force also had bases in this area, including at the villages of King's Cliffe, Polebrook and Glatton from which they launched daylight bombing raids over Germany in their B-17 Flying Fortress bombers. Clark Gable, the Hollywood star did his military service from Polebrook in 1943, flying combat missions as Major Clark Gable. In his time off duty he was very popular with the female population of Peterborough!  Peterscourt in Midgate was the base for the American servicemen when off duty, being known as, 'The American Red Cross Club'.  





Resources

Cubbit’s Iron Railway Bridge Built

1850

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Cubbit's iron bridge (The Nene Viaduct), is a railway bridge immediately south of Peterborough railway station that carries trains across the River Nene. It was built in 1850 by father and son Sir William Cubitt and Joseph Cubitt for the Great Northern Railway (GNR) and was constructed using cast iron. It spans the River Nene in three arches. It's design and construction is of such note that it is a Grade II listed building    





Waldram Hall Recorded on a Map

1543

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Situated on a turn in the River Welland to the east of Peakirk and Northborough, Waldrum or Waldram Hall has long disappeared. It was once an important hall and was owned by William Cecil and the Fitwilliams. There is believed to have been a building on the site since the twelfth century. There are several references to the hall over the centuries, in parish records and poll books. It is also located on a map of 1543 which is stored in the National Archives. The hall's position on the Welland was at a good crossing point. A ferry service was provided by the hall across the river and up to Crowland too. This would have been the only crossing point in this vicinity on the Welland before the bridge was built in Deeping St. James. The route was said to have been used by pilgrims heading to Walsingham as this document from Northamptonshire Archives states: 'the ferme of Waldranhall above mencioned is an Inne somtime greatly frequented by pilgrymes passing to Walsingham.' (1) The hall was still in use in the first half of the Twentieth Century, when pictures and personal accounts exist. By this time the hall was an unprepossessing stone house, regarded as no more than a farm house. After the building of two bridges in the Deepings in the Seventeenth and Nineteenth Centuries, the ferry at Waldram Hall fell out of use and the building was no longer a decent source of income. The construction of the railway loop line to Lincoln effectively cut off the building rendering it useless.
References
  1. Northamptonshire Records Office F (M) Charter/2287
D. Price, River Welland, Amberley Publishing, 2012





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Lolham Bridges Rebuilt

1642

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Lolham is a tiny hamlet close to Maxey and West Deeping. The few houses that exist sit close to King Street, a Roman road, which runs North to South through Lolham. King Street passes over Maxey Cut, The Welland and a few ditches at this point, which has meant several bridges were needed. Lolham Bridges are grade II* listed structures. There are five bridges in the listing, the earliest of which has the date 1642 on the Western side. An inscription reads: 'These several bridges were built at the general charge of the whole County of Northampton in the year 1652.' (1) However, the inscription might be slightly misleading because a record in Northamptonshire Archives references 'a trial about the responsibility to repair Lolham Bridge in 16668/9' (2). They were later restored in 1712 and 1916 (1), suggesting either flood damage or poor workmanship. Given that people would have been using that route for nearly 2,000 years it is not surprising that there are earlier references to bridges at Lolham. Indeed, one of the earliest references is in 1408 in a writ in which 'a meadow to the west of Lolham Bridge' was valued at 11s 8d (11 shillings and 8 pence) (3). Lolham Bridges are accessible from the north on a one-way road. However, there are no parking places close-by, or footpaths, so accessibility is challenging.
References
(1) Listing number 1365654, https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1365654 (2) Northamptonshire Records Office QSR 1/52 http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/378e675e-7c49-4751-8f3c-3cf992aba85b (3) J. L. Kirby, 'Inquisitions Post Mortem, Henry IV, Entries 603-654', in Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem: Volume 19, Henry IV (London, 1992), pp. 215-234. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/inquis-post-mortem/vol19/pp215-234 [accessed 26 November 2018]. Photo credit: Stone bridge at Lolham, near Bourne, Lincolnshire cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Rex Needle - geograph.org.uk/p/4436905