Please rotate your device

The Last Reading of the Riot Act

1914

Information

On Thursday the 6th of August 1914, just after the outbreak of World War I, a crowd gathered outside the Westgate butcher shop owned by the German Frederick Frank, shouting insults and singing patriotic songs. The next day, Friday 7th August things turned nastier and stones were thrown, breaking the shop windows. This developed into a riot and the shop was badly damaged and its stock scattered. The Chief Constable rang the mayor, Sir Richard Winfrey, who arrived on his bicycle and read the Riot Act. The police were assisted by the Northampton Yeomanry in restoring order. On Saturday the 8th of August the unrest continued and a public house on Long Causeway, the Salmon and Compass was attacked. Following this trouble 24 men were brought before the magistrates, 3 were jailed, others were fined, bound over to keep the peace or recruited into the armed forces.  





Resources

Image of people using the Bishops Gardens

1902-1910

Information

The Bishops Gardens, just to the South of the Cathedral show a young family walking through them.The buildings which appear to be part of the gardens are now separated from them. This is where the water fountain dedicated to Henry Spencer Gates, Peterborough’s first Mayor was moved to from the Old Market Square. From an original postcard. Publisher Wrench, from the Keith Gill Collection.





Resources

Thomas Hunter, the Lonely ANZAC

1916

Information

Thomas Hunter was born in County Durham in 1880 but emigrated as a young man to Australia where he worked as a coal miner. At the outbreak of the First World War, he, like many young men enlisted, in his case in the 10th battalion of the 10th division, ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) forces. He fought at Gallipoli and then in the trenches of France and Belgium. In 1916 during the Battle of the Somme, Sgt Hunter was badly injured, so severely that he was shipped back to England for surgery. He was put on a train for Halifax with other wounded but on the journey his condition worsened badly so he was taken off the train at Peterborough and brought to the infirmary where, sadly, on the 31st of July 1916, he died. As he died away from home and his comrades he came to be known as the 'Lonely Anzac'. His death touched the hearts of Peterborians, in a way he came to represent their young men away fighting. A public subscription fund paid  for his funeral and a memorial. The mayor and civic dignitaries led the funeral procession to the Broadway Cemetery and the entire town came to a stop to pay their respects. A two metre tall granite cross was placed on his grave, and a brass plaque to his memory mounted in the military chapel in the cathedral. Every year on ANZAC day, April 25th, a civil ceremony is held at his graveside, attended by the mayor, civic dignitaries and a representative from the Australian High Commission.





Resources

Image of Long Causeway

1902-1910

Information

This image shows a view looking north from the Old Market Square, now Cathedral Square. In the foreground you can see the memorial water fountain which is now situated in the Bishop Road Gardens. This fountain was a gift in 1898 to the people of Peterborough from the widow of Peterborough’s first Mayor, Henry Pearson Gates (1813-1893) Peterborough’s tram system began in 1903 and was superseded  by more flexible motor buses in 1930.There were three tram routes, Westgate, via Lincoln Rd to Sages Lane, Westgate via Lincoln Rd to St Pauls Rd and Midgate to Eye Rd. This image has been produced from an original postcard of the time. Publisher unknown, from the Jacqui Catling Collection.  





Resources

Image of the Old Market Square

1902-1910

Information

The memorial fountain to Peterborough’s first Mayor, Henry Pearson Gates is clearly visible with the Cathedral in the background. Many of the buildings on the right hand side were removed in the 1930’s to widen Narrow Street. One of the new trams is also in the scene. This image has been produced from an original postcard of the time. Publisher Unknown, from the Keith Gill Collection.  





Resources

Opening of Peterborough’s Library

1906

Information

Though a free public library had been open in the city since 1893, it was realised that a purpose-built library was required. Negotiations occurred in August, 1903 between the Mayor, George Keeble JP, and Andrew Carnegie, the Scots-American steel magnate, millionaire and philanthropist, which resulted in the latter contributing the “handsome sum” of £6000 towards a new, central library. A newspaper report stated that the new library “will almost certainly be built on the ‘Stanley’ property.” This could be a reference to a piece of land owned by William Proctor Stanley, a local businessman. The new building on Broadway was opened on May 29th.1906 by Andrew Carnegie, who was later entertained to lunch by the Mayor, Thomas C Lamplugh JP in “the spacious upper room” of the library. Carnegie was also given the Freedom of the City of Peterborough; the first person to receive that particular honour. In turn, the 1906 library was superseded by the current premises which opened on July 2nd. 1990. References: Peterborough Standard, August 1903; Peterborough Standard, June 1906; Peterborough Advertiser, June 1906.





Death of Arthur Mellows

1948

Information

Arthur Mellows was a Mayor of Peterborough. Born in 1896 he worked as a solicitor, but he was also an officer of the local Home Guard during the war. He was keen on improving education in the city and helped to make changes to the education system in Peterborough.
Tragedy
He was returning home from a day's shooting in October 1948 with his dog and a friend. As they reached the Conington Level Crossing his friend got out of the car to open the crossing gates. Mellows noticed a stationary train to the south, obviously waiting for a signal change.  He started to drive across the crossing, keeping a keen watch on the train to the south. Unfortunately, in watching that train he completely failed to notice an oncoming train from the north. The train from the north hit his car killing both him and his dog. Conington Crossing was well known as an accident blackspot, and this was the second fatal accident in this year.
Arthur Mellows' Legacy
Arthur Mellows is commemorated by the secondary school in Glinton named after him, Arthur Mellows Village College. His dog is buried by the crossing.





Death of John Thompson, Builder and Renovator

1897

Information

The John Thompson saga starts in about 1820 when his father (also called John Thompson) came to Peterborough to carry our restorations to Peterborough Cathedral. With his stonework skill and his associate, Francis Ruddle’s woodworking skills the firm gradually took off.  He died in 1853 and John Thompson (Jr) took over and by 1860 he was constructing major buildings and restoring Cathedrals. At its peak the firm employed over a 1000 men. His success was such that he was Mayor of Peterborough four times! After his death the firm was carried on by his sons, so the John Thompson story involves more than just one man. In later years the firm of John Thompson (and associated companies) specialised in the provision of Church artefacts and furniture such as: altars, pews, lecterns, screens, war memorials, grave goods, organ cases, pulpits, clergy seats, desks, stools and alter rails, many fine examples of this work can be found in St Johns Church in Peterborough. The firm also built private houses and continued to build major projects but to a smaller scale (from about 1914) until in 1931 the firm went into voluntary liquidation and finally ceased trading in 1938. A quote from The Architect and Contract Reporter for 10th February 1888 says of the firm's work: ‘It is not only the structural work which is undertaken, but sculpture in wood and stone. Everything is done to ensure purity of style. Casts, photographs and drawings of the finest models are obtained, and the workshops at Peterborough are undoubtedly a most excellent art school’. The Peterborough archive houses the John Thompson archive, consisting of over 1400 photographs plus other documents. These clearly demonstrate the very special work of John Thompson and his associates. Projects include: Restorations of Cathedrals
  • Peterborough (Central Tower and West Front)
  • Lincoln
  • Rochester
  • Chester
  • Winchester (carried out major restorations including working with a diver to underpin the main walls which were about to collapse).
  • Hereford
  • Ripon
  • Litchfield
  • Bangor
  • Coventry (before it became a Cathedral)
Restoration of Churches
  • St Johns Peterborough
  • Paris: construction of the tower and spire to the American Cathedral
  • Orton Longville Church
  • Cromer Church: extending the Nave.
Plus many others New Build Churches
  • St Marks Peterborough
  • Tower of St Mary’s Church Peterborough
  • St Barnibus church Peterborough
  • St Pauls Church Peterborough
These are just the Peterborough churches, there are at least 50 others spread throughout the country Secular Projects
  • Glasgow University (two phases)
  • Selwyn College Cambridge
  • St Peters Training College Peterborough 1863
  • Extensions to the Infirmary (now Peterborough Museum)
  • Royal College of Music Kensington
  • Kings School Peterborough
  • Lonely Anzac Memorial
  (Research work done by Andrew Cole)  





Resources

First Distress Signal Sent at Sea

1909

Information

The first ever distress signal at sea was sent by John (Jack) Robinson Binns. Early Life: Jack was born in Brigg Union Workhouse, Lincolnshire, in 1884, but moved to Peterborough in 1885 to live with his uncle, William. He left school when he was aged 14 and gained employment as a Telegraph Clerk with the Great Eastern Railway. Unfortunately for Jack, not long after he started work he sustained serious injuries to his legs in a railway accident and spent six months recuperating in Peterborough Infirmary. He continued working for the GER but eventually left to attend the Marconi Radio Company Training School and ‘graduated’ as a ‘Marconi Man’ in the merchant marine. Heroism at Sea: After serving on board various German ships and doing a spell of shore duty in Ireland Jack joined the White Star Line as a Telegraphist (Wireless Operator). Jack was on duty on the RMS Republic in January 1909 when the liner was in collision with the Italian liner Florida in the North Atlantic. The Republic sustained serious damage but John was able to transmit a Morse code distress signal, 'CQD' (CQ being a call for any ships or land-based radio operators, and the 'D' being the all-important signal for distress), which was picked up by the Marconi Radio shore station on Nantucket Island. This signal is acknowledged to be the first ever distress signal sent at sea. The signal was re-transmitted to the SS Baltic which, together with other vessels, was able to steam to the assistance of the stricken ships, guided by the radio signals sent out by Jack who stayed at his post for nineteen hours, in the biting cold (part of the radio cabin had been ripped away in the collision leaving it open to the elements) working with crude equipment running on emergency back-up batteries. Six people died in the accident; all surviving passengers and crew from the Republic were transferred to the Florida which made it safely into port. The RMS Republic, however, was too badly damaged and sank in 40 fathoms south of Nantucket. Life After the Sinking: Jack was welcomed as a hero when he returned to New York where he was subjected to much unwanted publicity and inducements to profit financially from his experiences but these were rejected and Jack returned to England. He arrived back in Peterborough, which he considered to be his home, on Feb. 9th, where he was greeted by the Mayor and presented with a scroll of honour. Marconi presented Jack with a gold watch in recognition of his heroism.  He had suggested after the 1909 collision that every merchant ship should carry two wireless operators and this principle was incorporated into the US 1912 Radio Act. In 1939 he received a medal from the ‘Veteran Wireless Operators Association'. Jack continued his employment with the White Star Line and, in 1912, was offered a job on the company's newest liner, the Titanic. By this time, however, the young 'Marconiman' was engaged, and his American fiancee didn't want him to return to sea.  He resigned his position and went to work as a journalist in New York. Ironically, his first journalistic assignment was to report on the loss of the Titanic! Jack died of a stroke in New York in 1959. He bequeathed his gold watch, medals and scroll to the citizens of Peterborough and they are now in the possession of Peterborough Museum. References: Peterborough Archives





Resources

Sinking of Peterborough’s Submarine

1942

Information

During Warship Week at the end of 1941, Peterborough citizens “subscribed pounds & pennies" to buy the submarine HMS Olympus (at a cost of £425,000). Unfortunately, as reported in the Peterborough Advertiser she was sunk in June 1942. She had hit a mine field whist slipping out of Malta under cover of darkness. Of the 98 men on board only 9 survived. Peterborough’s War Savings Committee reported that a commemorative plaque had been received from the Admiralty. It was to be displayed on the staircase hall of the Town Hall where it was to be “hung and forever honoured in memory of the men who died.” Peterborough’s War Saving Committee was collecting £20,000 a week. Following the sinking the call was to “double this and hit back at the enemy at once.” A week later the paper was advertising that the Admiralty had allocated submarine P512 for adoption by the City in place of HMS Olympus.  A letter from the Commander Lieut. J C Ogle had been received thanking the city for the books which were sent for the comfort of the crew. The exact location of the wreck of the HMS Olympus was not known until late 2011. In May 2017 The Peterborough Telegraph reported that “a plaque was placed at the bottom of the sea where Olympus still rests, and the shore near where it sank.” Mayor David Sanders is encouraging Peterborough residents to get involved in raising money for a memorial.  





Resources