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Alfred Caleb Taylor and the First X Ray Machine...



Alfred Caleb Taylor was born in Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire in 1861 and came to Peterborough aged ten. He worked at the Peterborough Infirmary on Priestgate from 1880 as a dispenser. He also served as Secretary of the Infirmary from 1889 until his retirement in 1926. Mr Taylor had a keen interest in photography and chaired the Peterborough Photographic Society. This carried over into an interest in X-rays being an early advocate of X-ray technology. In 1896 he designed and built his own equipment under the stairs in the infirmary. This device, the first X-ray machine in the United Kingdom outside London, was powered by accumulators. They were recharged at a local flour mill as there was no public electricity supply at that time. When an electricity supply was available in Peterborough, Mr Harry Cox, from London, was consulted regarding a larger installation. Many people made donations towards the new x-ray apparatus; Mr Andrew Carnegie, Peterborough’s first Freeman kindly donated £125 towards the installation.  As with the photography of the time the images produced by the X-ray machines were positives rather than negatives.


As the science of radiography was so new, the danger of exposure to X-rays was unknown.  Taylor worked with the x-rays so often, that it badly affected his health.  He contracted radiation poisoning resulting in the loss of four fingers, three on the left hand and one on the right. Despite this he never expressed any regrets and said, “I have only done my duty, and if I have sacrificed bits of my fingers so that I am not able to tie up my shoes laces, I feel I have been compensated, for I have loved the x-ray work and its excitements. For all the trouble I had at the beginning I have been more than compensated by your appreciation, and although I have lost bits of fingers, I would still do the same if I had my life to come again.” Alfred Caleb Taylor died on the 6th of July 1927, a pioneer and martyr.  


WUTAC at Peterborough East Railway Station



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.

Peterborough United Win the Division!



Peterborough United football Club were elected to the Fourth Division of the Football League on 28 May 1960 for the start of the 1960/61 season. They won the Division title at their first attempt. Their centre forward, Terry Bly, scored 52 league and 2 cup goals during that season. This remains the post war Football League goal scoring record for a single season.

Birth of Alfred Leeds, Fossil Dealer



Alfred Nicholson Leeds was the first person that found Leedsichthys fossil fish bones. He was a pioneer in methods of collecting and preserving fossil skeletons in the latter half of the 19th Century. For nearly half a century he devoted his leisure to recovering the remains of fossil reptiles and fishes. He collected the specimens from the brick pits in the Oxford Clay near Peterborough. By his death in 1917, Alfred Leeds had excavated and sold literally thousands of Oxford Clay vertebrate fossils. He sent his finds to museum collections in countries around the world including Germany, Sweden and the United States. His name is now in the fossil he first discovered - he is the Leeds in 'Leeds'-icthys.

Start of the Battle of Britain



The Battle of Britain was a major air campaign fought over southern England in the summer and autumn of 1940.  Germany aimed to invade Britain but in order to do so they had to secure control of the skies over Southern Britain and remove the treat of the Royal Air Force (RAF). The battle for control lasted from July 1940 until October 1940 and airfields around Peterborough were much involved. The men of the RAF who fought were named 'The Few' by Winston Churchill. They numbered nearly 3,000 and while most of the pilots were British, Fighter Command was an international force, men came from all over the Commonwealth and occupied Europe, from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Belgium, France, Poland and Czechoslovakia. There were even some pilots from the neutral United States and Ireland.

Founding of Peterborough United



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.
Friday 25th May 1934, Market Harborough and Midland Mail, p3, Col 2

Referee Smuggled from Ground



In April, during a game against Lincoln City Reserves, Peterborough United winger W. Rigby was sent off.  The Peterborough crowd were so angered by the decision that police had to be called to the game. At the end of the game, Mr A Clark, the referee, was smuggled out of London road in manager Jock Porter's car for his own safety.

First Time in the FA Cup



It was this year that Peterborough United (Posh) first entered the Football Association (FA) Cup. October saw Posh’s first cup game, unfortunately they had a very short run, losing 3-0 to Rushden Town in this first qualifying round.

Change of Strip



The start of the 1937/38 season saw Peterborough United change their strip, moving to a strip of blue shirt and white shorts after playing in green and white for the three previous seasons.

Wothorpe Priory: Nuns on a Hill



Wothorpe Priory was situated in Wothorpe near to Stamford. It was home to a small group of nuns who lived in what is now, the highest point of the Soke of Peterborough. Records show that the priory existed in the thirteenth and fourteenth century, but the Black Death of 1349 spelt the end of the priory. All of the nuns had either died or moved away, leaving the priory in dire straights. So in 1353-4 the priory, with only one remaining nun named Agnes Bowes, was united with St. Michael's nunnery of Stamford. The land was given to Richard Cecil of Burghley House during the reformation. His grandson Thomas Cecil later built Wothorpe Towers upon the land. Considerable features remain in the surrounding fields which may be buildings from the priory, but the area is scheduled and in private hands. Reference: 'Houses of Benedictine nuns: The priory of Wothorpe', in A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 2, ed. R M Serjeantson and W R D Adkins (London, 1906), p. 101. British History Online [accessed 14 November 2018].