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A Highwayman in Dogsthorpe



A highwayman stopped a farmer on Lincoln Road near Dogsthorpe and threatened to murder him if he didn’t pay up. Another traveller happened to be passing on horseback and together with the farmer gave the highwayman ‘a thorough thumping’. The farmer beat him with his own bludgeon and the traveller whipped the clothes off the highway man's back before letting him go, so badly beaten they hoped it would mend his ways.

Railway Subway Opened



Marion Ann Lloyd Dunn was knocked down and killed whilst crossing the railway on Thorpe Road on 7th January 1881. There was a huge outcry at how dangerous the crossing was and a decision was made to create a subway to pass under the railway lines instead. It was finished in 1885 and was 284ft long and 10ft wide. It was lit by several ‘Steven’s patent burner lamps’, decorated inside with white glazed bricks (the same type of tiles used in the London Underground) and the floor was paved with Wilke's patent metallic flooring laid on Eureka concrete.


Liberty Gaol Opened



A call was made by the Justices of the Peace for Peterborough for plans and specifications to build a new gaol for Peterborough in 1839. The Cambridge Independent Press claimed that the plans of Mr Douthorn of Hanover Street, Hanover Square, London, were chosen and the site for the new Liberty gaol was proposed to be 'at the Upper end of Westgate (known as Gravel Close)', but this was not to be the case. 1 An alternate site was suggested on Thorpe Road, but a complicated legal battle ensued over the cost of proposed new land, with the Dean and Chapter fighting the Magistrates of the Liberty of Peterborough to claim fair remuneration for the land they needed to sell them for the gaol. 2 Although the first stone was laid for the gaol in 1840, the first group of prisoners didn't move in until 1844. The first petty sessions held in the new Liberty gaol were on Saturday 23rd February 1844, but it was unpopular with the judges who complained at having to walk such a distance to the court rooms! 3         1,Cambridge Independent Press, Saturday 14th December 1839, p3, 2, Lincolnshire Chronicle Friday 17th April 1840 p4, 3, Cambridge Independent Press, Saturday 2nd March 1844, p 3,  


Peterborough Quaker Meeting House Openned



Peterborough Quaker Meeting House was opened. Designed by Quaker architect, Leonard Brown, from Welwyn Garden City hence some resemblance to architecture there. Built on the paddock/orchard/kitchen garden of Orchard House. Legend has it that Mrs Scott, of Orchard House, said she would much prefer Quakers at the bottom of her garden. Features:  A large Meeting Room, a smaller ground floor room which could be divided into two ‘class rooms’ by an oak surfaced folding door, a large kitchen and toilets. The all electric heating system was very advanced for 1936. The Meeting Room was heated by electric convector heaters built into the ceiling and electric skirting board heaters round the perimeter. A large car park was ambitious yet now inadequate. The front of the building faces south to the terrace and garden whilst the back is to the north and the entrance off Thorpe Road. This arrangement has been expressed cryptically as “The front faces the back and the back faces the front.”  The land cost £650 and the building (John Cracknell Ltd) £1900.


Farmhouse to Beerhouse



The Bluebell Inn in Dogsthorpe is a grade II listed building on Welland Road. The reason for the listing is because of the dating stone which reads 'ITH  1665'. Originally built as a farmhouse, it became a public house early in the 19th century and has continued to be so for the last 200 years. The building has been extended and improved over the years and during one of the improvements a wooden panel was found with initials and the date 1594, suggesting that the building is older than the date stone, or that the panel had been salvaged from elsewhere and reused in the building. Picture credit: The Blue Bell, Dogsthorpe cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Paul Bryan -

When Cow Dung Fuelled the City



When Celia Fiennes travelled through the city in 1698 she noted that local people near 'Mrs St John's house' (Thorpe Hall) were using cow dung for fuel: 'as I passed the Road I saw upon the walls of the ordinary peoples houses and walls of their out houses, the Cow dung plaister'd up to drie in Cakes which they use for fireing, its a very offensive fewell (fuel), but the Country people use Little Else in these parts.'  Cow dung was a free and effective fuel for the people of rural Peterborough, but the smell would not have been popular! There had been a shortage of wood since the 1550's, so burning cow dung was a sensible alternative for the very poor who were unable to afford expensive wood supplies, or cut down their own wood. Other alternatives for fuel would have included peat, charcoal and coal, none of which were particularly pleasant on the eyes or lungs. Animal dung has been used as a fuel since prehistoric times, with evidence from the Ancient Egyptians using dung as fuel and even references to it being used in the bible. Many areas of the world use animal dung as fuel.

Flying Ace of World War I



Noel Keeble was born in Thorpe Road on 6 April 1891. He  was a flying ace of the First World War and is credited with six aerial victories. Keeble joined the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and in 1915 was assigned to a squadron in No. 1 Wing. They were based at Saint-Pol-sur-Mer, Dunkirk, France. In January 1916 he gained his first victory while flying a Nieuport single-seat plane. He managed to force down a German seaplane.  In October 1916, flying a Sopwith Pup, he destroyed another seaplane. For this he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. His citation read: Distinguished Service Cross. Flt.-Lieut. Noel Keeble, R.N.A.S. For conspicuous gallantry on the 23rd October, 1916, when he attacked four German seaplanes and brought one of them down in a vertical nose-dive into the sea.

Service in the RAF

On 1 April 1918, the Royal Naval Air Service was merged with the Army's Royal Flying Corps to form the Royal Air Force. Keeble became part of No. 202 Squadron RAF and flew a two-seat plane. His observer/gunner was Captain Eric Betts who went on to become an Air Vice Marshal in World War 2. He went on to bring down four more planes. His other great achievement, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, was to obtain 1000 valuable photographs of enemy positions behind enemy lines. His citation read: Distinguished Flying Cross.Lieut. (T./Capt.) Noel Keeble, D.S.C. (Sea Patrol). This officer (with an observer) has obtained 1,000 invaluable photographs of enemy positions miles behind the lines, and has brought home extremely important new information during this period. He has destroyed eight enemy machines, including one biplane during the past month. Captain Keeble is a most capable and gallant Flight Commander. Keeble remained in the RAF with the rank of flight lieutenant until August 1934, when he was placed on the retired list. He returned to RAF service during the Second World War and finally returned to the retired list with the rank of Wing Commander on 31 October 1945. Sadly two of his three sons, who had followed him into the RAF died in combat missions during the Second World War. Noel Keeble died in 1963.


The London Gazette, 11 May 1917 The London Gazette, 20 September 1918 Peterborough & The Great  War project  


Ernie Wise Took His Final Bow



Comedian Ernie Wise OBE, one half of the legendary double-act Morecambe and Wise, died on 21st March 1999. He lived on Thorpe Road in Peterborough for many years with his wife Doreen, next door to singer Edmund Hockridge. Proud of his home, he often made references to Peterborough in sketches on the Morecambe and Wise Show. The show ran from 1968 to 1983 on BBC then Thames Television and featured some of the biggest celebrities of the day. Comedic sketches were interjected with dance and musical numbers, for which the pair are best known. The two outstanding sketches are Singin' In The Rain and The Breakfast Sketch. Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise were honoured with OBE's in 1976 for their many years of service on television, radio and films. They won many awards during their careers, including 8 BAFTAs and Freedom of the City of London. During one of their Christmas episodes in 1977 the pair broke all previous viewing figures with over 20 million viewers. Both are remembered with statutes in Morecambe and Morley respectively.

Edmund Hockridge Peaks at the West End



Edmund Hockridge was born in Vancouver, Canada. He moved to England after the Second World War and became a huge West End star. He was a baritone singer best known for performing in the musical Carousel. He performed as Billy Bigelow for well over 1,000 performances, both in London and on the road. Hockridge's connection to Peterborough came with his second wife. He met Jackie Jefferson, a dancer, whilst both were performing in Carousel. After they had married they moved to Peterborough, next door to Ernie Wise, on Thorpe Road. Although his name is rather obscure at present, Hockridge was possibly the best known male lead in the 1950s. As well as performing in Carousel, he featured in Guys and Dolls, The Pajama Game and many others. He released 11 albums and sang with many other celebrities, including Cliff Richard and Suzi Quatro. His songs are still played on the BBC to this day. He died on 15th March 2009 in Peterborough and left behind his wife Jackie and several children. Reference:  

Lynch Farm Fort



The area known as Lynch Farm has mainly been incorporated into Ferry Meadows. Three separate archaeological digs have looked at the features hidden under the ground under Coney Meadow. They have revealed extensive prehistoric activity which suggest a small oppidum (fortified town). Furthermore there is evidence to suggest that a small Roman fort was built there. Lynch Farm Fort was built within the boundary of the possible oppidum and was in use at about the same time as Longthorpe Fort. Longthorpe Fort sits on higher ground to the east, whereas Lynch Farm Fort sits lower in the valley. It is also a short distance from the fort at Waternewton, which was a key crossing point over the River Nene. The close proximity of the forts may have been a tactical response to conquer the area from local tribes. This is because the River Nene and its valley was a rich resource and important for travel purposes. It is also believed that a road crossed north to south past the fort. It forded the river close to where Ferry Bridge is nowadays, linking with another road by Longthorpe Fort. The area is scheduled, but can be enjoyed whilst visiting Ferry Meadows.