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World War 2 In Peterborough

1939 – 1945

Information

The Town played a vital role with industry, airfields and a major railway centre. The flat landscape meant there were many airfields including RAF Peterborough, Westwood, which was a major RAF training centre. Local people volunteered for Military Service but those in ‘reserved occupations’, (jobs important to the war effort) were not conscripted but often spent their spare time in Civil Defence e.g. Home Guard and Auxiliary Fire Service. Businesses set up their own firewatchers while first-aiders and plane spotters were essential. National Service became compulsory for unmarried women aged between 20 and 30, then up to 50 in 1943, unless they had children under 14. Many joined the various women’s forces and nurses were attached to all the Services. Women worked in factories making war machines, ammunition, clothing or parachutes. Engineering industries such as Perkins Engines and Baker Perkins switched to wartime production supplying engines, guns, torpedoes and manufacturing machinery. Amidst this, dancing at local hotels and cinema-going were popular and there were several cinemas, showing films three times a day.  Foreign servicemen became familiar sights on the street. They included including Americans, French and Poles, many of the latter remaining in the city at the end of the war. Peterborough was not a prime target for bombs, so the city received 1496 London evacuees. Brick air raid shelters were built in the city centre. There were 644 Air Raid Alert warnings and bombs were hitting Bridge Street and the Lido. Raids of high explosive and incendiary bombs continued to 1942. Peterborough Cathedral was hit by incendiary bombs but damage was limited by the quick reaction of the fire-watchers.





Prosecution of a French Strumpet

1844

Information

In December 1843 Nathalie Miard was charged with demanding money with menace from the Rev. Herbert Charles Marsh, vicar of Barnack and prebend of Peterborough Cathedral. He had been in a relationship with Nathalie Miard in 1839 in London, and she had become pregnant. Over the next few years he paid her large sums of money, even after the child had died, and she threatened to destroy his reputation if he did not continue to pay her. The extent of their interactions and those of two other French prostitutes, were revealed in scandalous detail in local and national press, revealing every sum of money paid, every hotel they visited, and letters written by her. The news story was in all of the British newspapers and was a national discussion point. Rev Marsh first visited Nathalie Miard in London where she was said to have been an actress. He gave her money to allow her to return to Paris and visited her there shortly afterwards. Their interactions continued over the next few years, meeting together in London and Paris, each time Ms Miard demanding increasingly large sums of money.  In April 1843 she arrived in Stamford, attempting to extract more money from him, with the threat that she would go door to door to expose him to all of his parishioners and then work her way through the local and national clergy until she had informed the Archbishop of Canterbury. She stayed for some time in Barnack, appearing at church services to cause as much disruption as possible, attempting to extort 10,000 francs (£400 at the time) from his brother to start a gambling house. She also talked to his mother, wife of the late Bishop of Peterborough, George Davys, the resident Bishop, and also the Dean. In December of 1843 a prosecution was made against Ms Miard on three different charges of sending a letter demanding money, another similar offence and conspiracy to extort money with another woman. Witnesses gave examples of how Ms Miard had lied about a second pregnancy and about Rev Marsh giving her drugs to induce a miscarriage in an attempt to increase the scandal, and she had previously extorted money from a Spanish man using the same technique she was using on Rev Marsh. Yet despite the evidence, the jury of 12 men found her not guilty, possibly as a result of nine of the jurors being Dissenters. She was freed from jail on the understanding she would not harass Mr Marsh any further and would return to Paris. In 1848 Rev. Marsh married a Belgian woman named Elise Sidonie Pouceau and was shortly after admitted to a mental institute in Belgium, then Paris and eventually England. His brother George Marsh was successfully able to get him declared insane on 12th June 1850.





‘Welcome’ to the Suffragettes!

1912

Information

The Great Pilgrimage was a march in Britain by suffragists campaigning non-violently for women's suffrage, organised by the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS).  The march finished at Hyde Park in London and women (50 000 of them) came from all around England and Wales. When the Great Pilgrimage reached Peterborough in November 1912 their welcome was not very warm! The suffragettes had planned a meeting in the Stanley Recreation Ground, even though the Chief Constable of the City had advised them to hire a hall; his advice proved wise as the meeting was stormed by young men who threw eggs and did not allow anyone to speak. The suffragettes were chased back to their headquarters at the Bedford Hotel. Mrs Fordham of Fletton Avenue, the honorary secretary of the Peterborough Branch of the Women's Social and Political Union was quoted in the Peterborough Advertiser of 16 November 2012 saying, " I am thoroughly ashamed of Peterborough boys. It was not full grown and sensible citizens who rushed our meeting, threw rotten eggs and endangered life; it was not the college boys either, but two or three hundred schoolboys of about fourteen years of age. And these are the young hopefuls who are to be given a voice in the government of their imperial motherland, so soon as they reach the mature age of twenty one, while women, however educated, sensible, wise, sedate, however wealthy in property, however hard they have to work for their living in factory, shop and home, are denied that elemental right of citizenship".





Resources

The First Auction at the Bull Hotel

1775

Information

Situated on Westgate, the Bull Hotel is the oldest existing inn or hotel in the city centre and is grade II listed. It is believed to have been built in the late 18th century and was known as the Bull Inn. There is, however, a chance that an older structure exists within the present building. The main entrance to the building was originally an entrance for coaches and carts. The entrance led into a courtyard where there was also stabling for horses. The building has been enlarged and improved over the years, so the courtyard is no longer there. A story exists of a dog who was run over in the courtyard and whose spirit never left the hotel. The earliest reference found relating to the Bull Inn in the Stamford Mercury is from 1775. There was an advert relating to the sale of land and buildings by Simon Hubbard by auctions. Auctions were common at the Bull and items included property, furniture and animals. They also held meals and meetings for the aristocracy and other events. Many celebrities have stayed at the hotel, including The Beatles. The most infamous was possibly Archdeacon Wakeford who visited in 1920. He was at the centre of a court case claiming he had stayed at the Bull Inn on two separate occasions with a woman who wasn't his wife and therefore leading an immoral life. He was found guilty, later failing in an appeal.
Reference
Stamford Mercury, 3rd August 1775, p3





Founding of Peterborough United

1934

Information

Peterborough United football club was formed on 17th May 1934 at a meeting at the Angel hotel. The new club filled the void left for a senior club by the demise of Peterborough & Fletton United football club in October 1932. They were known as the 'Brickies'. The meeting was played out in the local press where it claimed there was standing room only. It was an 'enthusiastic' meeting where they 'unanimously agreed to form a fresh club'. They were intending to apply to join the Midland League, but if unsuccessful, their second option was the Central Combination. Thankfully, they were accepted into the Midland League with a £20 deposit, which was returned to them with they left the league in 1960. Shares in the company, it was agreed, would be sold for 5 shillings each. 50 or 60 shares were sold that evening, but an unlimited number would be available.
References
Friday 25th May 1934, Market Harborough and Midland Mail, p3, Col 2 https://www.theposh.com/club/club-history/