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Cycling Club Formed

1874

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The Peterborough Cycling Club was formed by amalgamating the Amateur Cycling Club and the Tricycle Club in 1874,  it is the oldest continuously active cycling club in the country. Mr Robert (Bob) Julyan and his father George Langham Julyan being two of the founder members. The first meeting was held at George’s outfitter’s shop in Bridge Street. By 1878 they adopted a dark blue uniform, and helmets. In 1879 the captain, Mr Gardner, spoke of the report of ‘Their noisy behaviour while passing through villages causing the club to be ridiculed and looked down upon’. Mr C Buckle added the great desideratum of the club was a racing track which would pay for itself in two years and enable the club to hold the finest matches and race meetings for miles around. Councillor Taylor spoke of the outcry against bicycle riding, ‘It is said cycles are dangerous to the men that ride them and dangerous to the general-public.’ Mr Gardner believed the risk of accidents over-rated as he had that year ridden 900 miles without mishap. The cyclists would ride various distances from a 100-yards slow race to fifty plus miles. In 1888 they rode a fifty-mile handicap which was open to the members on any machine including tandems. Mr G Neale and R Julyan were allowed twenty-minutes start on Safety bicycles.   References: 1.Peterborough Standard, 25/01/1935 2.Peterborough Advertiser, 08/03/1955 3. Peterborough Standard, 30/03/1878 4. Peterborough Standard, 21/01/1888    





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Edward Thurlow Leeds and the Ashmolean Museum

1877

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Edward Thurlow Leeds was born in 1877 at Eyebury Grange near Peterborough. His father was the geologist Alfred Nicholson Leeds who had also been born at Eyebury. Born in Peterborough, he was educated at Uppingham School before heading to Cambridge. He had started his career in China, but returned to England following ill health. Whilst recovering he returned to Eyebury where his interest in archaeology was ignited by digging in the archaeologically rich area. He accepted a position at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford in 1908 and quickly found himself progressing to the role of Assistant Keeper of the Department of Antiquities. There he remained until his retirement, becoming head Keeper in 1928. Edward Thurlow Leeds left a legacy of not only papers but also artefacts at the museum. His work on the Anglo Saxon period is one of his best known achievements. He was honoured with a gold medal by the Society of Antiquaries in 1946. During his life he published many works including The Archaeology of the Anglo Saxon Settlements in 1913. He died in 1955 at the age of 78. His works can be viewed at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Photo credit: © N Chadwick (cc-by-sa/2.0)





The London Brick Company

1877

Information

Peterborough benefitted from a type of clay that provided an ideal raw material for brick making – first exploited by the Romans, abandoned after they left and again revived in the 1400’s by local craftspeople who created the material for building locally. In 1877 James McCallum Craig bought a property at auction near Peterborough, known as Fletton Lodge. He decided that the site was ideal for local brick making and started a small company. When excavation of the surface clay at Fletton began, a much harder clay was found deeper down, the unique Lower Oxford Clay. It was locally known as the ‘Fletton’ because of its original place of manufacture, but its main market was in London, transported there on the Peterborough to London rail line, so giving the name London Brick. The end of the First World War in 1918 brought a huge demand for London Bricks to fulfil the massive increase in house building and in the late 1920s there was an amalgamation of several small companies into a larger, more efficient company, London Brick. By 1931, 1,000 million bricks a year were being produced. After World War II there was another building boom and this increased the success of the company; demand for bricks far outstripped supply and by the early 1950s many workers were being recruited from as far afield as Italy to satisfy the need for London Bricks.





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Werrington Gets its Own Vicar

1877

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Werrington was to have its own vicar upon the death of Rev J Pratt who kept the village waiting as he lived to the grand old age of 95 years. Finally in 1877, Rev C W Holdich became the first vicar. After his death his family donated a stained glass window in his memory. Werrington Church was originally a chapel of ease to Paston. Some Norman ( 11th century) parts of the church survive, notably the Chancel Arch. The rest “was in bad repair” when Rev Holdich came and most of what we see today is a result of a Victorian rebuild. There are only two other stained glass windows in the church, both are small. One depicts Elijah, the other John the Baptist to whom the church is dedicated.





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Education Becomes Compulsory for All

1880

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In 1880 an Education Act made school attendance compulsory between the ages of five and ten, though by the early 1890s attendance within this age group was falling well short at 82 per cent. Many children worked outside school hours and truancy was a major problem due to the fact that parents could not afford to give up income earned by their children. Compulsory education was also extended to blind and deaf children under the Elementary Education (Blind and Deaf Children) Act of 1893, which established special schools. Similar provision was made for physically-impaired children in the Elementary Education (Defective and Epileptic Children) Act of 1899.





Railway Subway Opened

1881

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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.





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Rebuilding the Central Tower

1883

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The central tower of Peterborough Cathedral was rebuilt for a second time in 1883. After this the whole central and eastern area of the church required refurbishment. This provided an opportunity for the creation of the fine, hand carved choir stalls, cathedra (bishop's throne) and choir pulpit. The marble pavement and high altar which are at the centre of worship today, were also created. The works led to the discovery of some of the Saxon church foundations and Roman stonework under the central tower and south transept. A tunnel was left so that these could be accessed.  





Who Helped Pay for the Cathedral Repairs?

1883

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On the first of January 1883, the cathedral tower was said to be in such a terrible state it was in danger of collapsing and taking the entire Cathedral down with it. The total cost of pulling down and rebuilding the tower and fixing other parts of the building was estimated at £55,000. A request went out in local newspapers for people to collect small amounts in boxes to help raise the money needed. There was also a subscription list, the head of the subscription list being none other than Queen Victoria.    





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Priestgate Explosion

1883

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On 4th May a large explosion occurred in Priestgate between the Phoenix Brewery and Angel Inn. Reports claimed that fumes from the Phoenix Brewery had mixed with sewer and coal gases. It's then thought these were accidentally ignited by a discarded cigarette.
The Explosion
The explosion was dramatic and affected both Priestgate and Narrow Bridge Street, but the effects were worse in Priestgate. Paving stones were thrown high up into the air and all of the windows were smashed in Priestgate, with more in Narrow Bridge Street. To make things worse the contents of the sewers, including thousands of dead rats, were thrown up against the buildings. People were particularly alarmed because there had been a recent threat to blow up the Cathedral. There were no records of any deaths, other than the rats, and no record of how long it took to get rid of the smell!





Award Winning Violin Maker

1884

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Mr Jeffrey James Gilbert was the son of Jeffrey and Eliza Gilbert from New Romney in Kent. Jeffrey senior was a watchmaker who played the Cello and was an amateur Cello maker. By 1871 Jeffrey junior was an assistant for Whatley Paviour, a watchmaker, along Narrow Street in Peterborough. As a young man Jeffrey studied the fiddle and decided that if his father could make a Cello, he should be able to make a fiddle. Jeffrey’s father did not encourage him, as being an amateur Cello maker he knew the pitfalls. Jeffrey, however, persevered; he located the finest sycamore from Czechoslovakia and began to make his first instrument. Jeffrey continued creating violins and gradually improved until, in 1884, at the International Exhibition at Crystal Palace he was awarded a silver medal for his first exhibit. Five years later he was awarded a gold medal at the International Exhibition in Edinburgh. Jeffrey Gilbert believed that to produce a beautiful violin, firstly, you required handsome wood; secondly artistic carving of the plates and scroll; thirdly a beautiful varnish and lastly, the tone of the instrument had to be good. He became a maker of national importance, many well-known musicians owned one of his instruments and praised the fine workmanship and beauty of the tone. Jeffrey was particularly proud of the beautiful varnish and continually experimented on improving it. Mr Gilbert is described in the Directory of Beds, Hunts and Northants, 1890, as a ‘Violin maker & repairer, unequalled for brilliancy of tone & artistic finish of Bridge-street Peterborough’. By 1901 he and his family were living at 2 New Priestgate where Jeffrey had his own business, this was nationally known as the ‘Gilbert Violin Studio’.

References: -

Peterborough Standard 24 August 1928. Posh Folk: Notable Personalities (and a Donkey) Associated with Peterborough by Mary Liquorice, 1991.





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Peterborough Shaken by an Earthquake

1884

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There was a large earthquake in Colchester, Essex, on 22nd April, which was felt in Peterborough and Crowland. It caused the chandeliers in houses on Lincoln Road to jingle.





Laying of the Corner Stone

1884

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In the Peterborough Advertiser of 17th March 1933 was an article about the retirement of Mr Samuel Bird. He had worked for nearly 60 years for the Peterborough Building Contractor John Thompson. Mr Bird was interviewed by the newspaper at the age of 77. He was interviewed in his office situated in the extensive yards at the Thompson business premises in Cromwell Road. On 1st January 1883, Mr Bird took charge of the rebuilding of the Central Tower of Peterborough Minster. The work was so complex it took a total of ten years to complete. Mr Bird had vivid memories of the laying of the corner stone of the north east pier of the tower on 7th May 1884. He recalled that the chief stone was laid by the Earl of Carnarvon in the name  of H.R.H Prince Albert Edward of Wales. Mr Bird remarked ‘copies of the Advertiser and The Times together with current coins of the realm, from £1 to a silver penny, new from the mint, were placed beneath the stone. Mr James T. Irvine was the clever Architects clerk of the Works at the time’. This time capsule, presumably the first Peterborough time capsule, is still in place. After the ceremony a tea was arranged for people associated with the works. The image associated with this story is an admittance slip for the tea party.  





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Peterborough Infirmary Fire

1884

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At midday on 9th May 1884 there was a disastrous fire at Peterborough Infirmary in Priestgate. The infirmary contained 100 patients who were hauled outside onto the grass to safety, along with as much medical equipment as could be saved. Some of the first newspaper reports suggested that patients were still inside the building when the roof collapsed, but these rumours were unfounded and everybody was accounted for; the patients were driven away in cabs or moved to a building supplied by the Dean and Chapter.  The fire was caused by an overheated flue and caused £5,000 worth of damage. The lack of accessible water to extinguish the fire and deficiencies of the Fire Brigade led to the formation of the Peterborough Volunteer Fire Brigade.





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Excessive Heat

1884

Information

The weather in the second week of August 1884 was described at the time as excessive. The heat in Peterborough was recorded at 140 degrees Farenheit (60 degrees Celsius) in the sun and 90 degrees Farenheit (32 degrees Celsius) in the shade. It reached 150 degrees Farenheit in Greenwich!





Fancy Rabbit Show

1888

Information

On boxing day 1888 the Peterborough and District Fancy Rabbit Show was held at the Corn Exchange on Church Street. The event proved very popular and had 122 entries. A large list of classes included Dutch, Belgians and Lops. In 1889 the show included cats too.





Notes and Queries About the Fenlands

1889

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The journal 'Fenland Notes and Queries' was first published in April 1889 and printed in Peterborough by George Caster. The journal, published quarterly, was created to bring together facts and stories relating to the fens. The information was provided by a large group of contributors, many of them clergy, some women and some anonymous. The fenland area covered by the journal included the counties of 'Huntingdon, Cambridge, Lincoln, Northampton, Norfolk and Suffolk.' (1) Intended to be of interest to antiquarians, the journal also proved popular with 'others interested in the history and folklore of the district.' (2) The journal, or magazine as it was termed, was compiled into volumes, the first covering the years 1889 to 1891. In total seven volumes were created, the last completed in 1909. The first issues were edited by W. H. B. Saunders, who was succeeded by Rev. W. D. Sweeting of Maxey. Thankfully all of the volumes are available to read online and can be searched easily for places and people. There are many references to Peterborough and surrounding villages which can tell us more about life in the past. In Volume Seven the lyrics and notes are written relating to a May Day Garland Song which it was claimed was 'sung by the children when carrying the garlands round the city'. (3) The recording of songs is an often forgotten element of recording and one of the many features that makes the volumes so valuable.
References
(1) Fenland Notes and Queries, Vol I, Ed W. H. Bernard Saunders, Publisher G. Caster, 1991, preface (2) Fenland Notes and Queries, Vol I, Ed W. H. Bernard Saunders, Publisher G. Caster, 1991, p2 (3) Fenland Notes and Queries, Vol VII Ed. Rev. W. D. Sweeting, Publisher G. Caster, 1909, p24-25





Tea in Werrington Tea Gardens

1891

Information

A pleasant Sunday afternoon could be spent by catching the tram to Walton, which was the end of the line, and walking up Lincoln Road to Rivendale in Werrington. In 1891 Richard William Parr and his wife Ann owned Alexandra House which had uninterrupted views down to the brook. In the gardens tea could be ordered.

The original house still  stands today in a road called Rivendale, on it’s side is a shop facing onto Lincoln Rd. Houses have been built along Lincoln Road on what were once the tea gardens.







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Flying Ace of World War I

1891

Information

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.

References: 

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





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Peterborough Free Library Opens

1893

Information

Dr. Thomas J Walker, a prominent local member of the medical profession, was instrumental in persuading the City Council to establish a Public Library. As a consequence, the Peterborough Free Library opened on April 10th 1893 in the Fitzwilliam Hall, Park Road. The Hall began life in 1872 as a venue for entertainment, and later became known as “The Empire”. It was sited just north of the present Central Library. Applications for membership could be made on the opening day, but the first books were not actually issued until the following Thursday. Membership application was slow to begin with – apparently the opening of the library was not very well advertised in the local press. The first librarian was Mr. L Stanley Jastrzebski, who later became President of the Library Association. The library contained two sections; one for adults and one for children. The Dewey system of classification was adopted from the onset for cataloguing the books. (Mr. Melvill Dewey was Director of New York State Library.) This library was replaced in 1906 by a purpose-built library funded by the Scots-American philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie. References:
  1. Peterborough Standard, April 1893.
2. Peterborough Standard, August 1903. 3. Peterborough Standard, June 1906 4. Peterborough Advertiser, April 1893. 5. Peterborough Advertiser, June 1906.  





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

1896

Information

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.

Radiography

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.  





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Victorian Operating Theatre

1897

Information

The first purpose-built operating theatre was opened in 1897. It was built as an extension to Peterborough Infirmary. It provided state of the art care for the people of Peterborough, incorporating the most up to date medical ideas. These ideas included the use of anaesthesia and keeping the theatre meticulously clean.  So many things we take for granted in the twenty-first century were new ideas to the Victorians. However, these new ideas still save lives now. It was originally lit by gas lighting and had a glass roof to maximise light. The funds to build the operating theatre came from two Peterborough women who chose to remain anonymous, they went by the name 'Heliotrope'. The Victorian operating theatre is open to visitors to Peterborough Museum. It still contains many of its original features including the glazed white tiles. Replicas of the tools used in the past are also on show. A small case details some of the people who worked in the operating theatre.





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Death of John Thompson, Builder and Renovator

1897

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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)  





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A Holiday From Hell

1900

Information

During the summer of 1900 two Peterborough women took a holiday to the east coast. They stayed in a local lodging-house, but didn't find the landlord too friendly. He wouldn't let the women go to their room when they arrived, telling them it wasn't ready. They headed off for a walk instead and returned to their room later. However they could tell there was something wrong with the room. There was an unpleasant smell in the air that started to worry the women. They searched the room and quickly discovered the source of the smell and an explanation for the landlord's behaviour. Under the bed they found the remains of the previous occupant! He had died in the room and the landlord was unable to get a coffin before the women had arrived. The women swiftly departed and holidayed elsewhere.
Reference
A Peterborough Scandal, Cardiff Times, Saturday 1st September 1900, Column 6





Image of The Entrance to Thorpe Park.

1902-1910

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This image shows a horse and carriage near the entrance to Thorpe Park.  What this space was and what it part of now is unknown. This image has been produced from an original postcard of the time. Publisher Unknown. From the Jacqui Catling Collection





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Image of a Boy by a Pond, Thorpe Village

1902-1910

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A view of a young boy sitting on the edge of the pond in Thorpe Village near Peterborough. Now known as Longthorpe. This image has been produced from an original postcard of the time. Publisher Wrench, from the Keith Gill Collection.      





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Image of The Fox and Hounds Public House

1902-1910

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This is a picture of the Fox and Hounds Public House, Thorpe Village near Peterborough. Shown here is a tranquil rural scene recorded outside the Fox and Hounds between 1902-1910. The building is believed to originate from the 16th century and was destroyed by fire in the 1920’s and replaced by the current two story building. This village is now known as Longthorpe and is an integral part of Peterborough City. This image has been produced from an original postcard of the time. Publisher unknown, from the Jacqui Catling Collection.





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Image of Thorpe Village

1902-1910

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This is an enchanting rural scene of Thorpe Village, showing a young girl watching the Postman on his rounds. Thorpe Village is now known as Longthorpe. This image has been produced from an original postcard of the time. Publisher Unknown. From the Jacqui Catling Collection  





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Image of people using the Bishops Gardens

1902-1910

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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.





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Image of Long Causeway

1902-1910

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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.  





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Image of the Old Market Square

1902-1910

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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.  





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Image of Narrow Street

1902-1910

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Narrow street led from Cathedral Square past the current Town Hall to Broad Street which started near the current road crossing near TK Max. Narrow street was deemed to be far too narrow to cope with the increased traffic levels and the continuing expansion of Peterborough as an industrial city. All of the buildings on the left hand side were demolished to widen the street. As a result many old and historic buildings were lost. This image has been produced from an original postcard of the time. Publisher unknown, from the Jacqui Catling Collection.    





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Image of the River Nene & Broad Street

1902-1910

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This is a view of the River Nene looking north along Broad Street which led to Narrow Street. At this time Peterborough was an inland port receiving barges from the coast via Wisbech and Kings Lynn. The old iron bridge is clearly visible and the Customs House, which is out of view is still on the right hand side. On the left hand side today are flats and The Rivergate Centre. This image has been produced from an original postcard of the time. Publisher unknown, from the Jacqui Catling Collection.  





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Food Machinery Company Moves to Peterborough

1904

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In 1904 Werner Pfleiderer and Perkins established a new factory close to the railway on Westwood Bridge Road (now Westfield Road). The factory was built to manufacture bakery and chemical machinery. They relocated from London to make use of the excellent transport links, which still draw companies to Peterborough today. A further tranche of employees relocated from the Willesden factory in 1933. This was a strong move and the company grew to be one of the most respected suppliers of specialist process equipment worldwide. The company went on to become Baker Perkins and later Perkins Engines. Throughout the 20th century Baker Perkins was a major Peterborough employer. Anyone who can recall the 'Perkins Fortnight' will remember how quiet the city was whilst Perkins employees were on holiday! The business moved to its current state of the art facility beside Paston Parkway in 1991. The previous site in Westwood was demolished and Peterborough Prison now occupies the site, although some listed buildings remain. It has the capacity to produce 500,000 engines per year and around 2,500 people are employed there. The Peterborough factory is part of a network of factories, which are located as far away as America and Singapore.





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Mystery of the Girl in the Glass Panelled Coffin.

1906

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On Monday 21 May 1906 the body of a young lady was found in the Sheep Wash in Werrington. The day before had been cold & miserable but the girl had no coat or cloak. A hankie in her pocket had “F Arnold” inked on. Her attire would suggest she was a domestic servant. Suggested age 25 years. No one of this name was missing in Peterborough. The body was placed in a coffin at the Blue Bell, with a glass panel over her face.

As nobody knew who the girl was, her photograph was put in the national papers in the hopes someone would recognise her. At the last minute, just before the funeral service, her parents arrived and identified her as Miss Florence Arnold, she had been engaged as a maid in Nottingham. She had a sweet & even temper, but in March had slipped in the snow and hit her head on a mangle. This led to her feeling “queer” at times and displaying fits of bad temper. She decided to discharge herself. Her clothes had arrived home but not Florrie. The father wrote to her employer who confirmed Florrie’s departure. Mr Arnold went up to Nottingham and evidence convinced him, that of only two women booking onto the London train, one of these was his daughter. In which case she would have got off the train at Walton and walked up through Werrington village. Had she done so she would certainly have drawn attention. She was a tall girl with very dark hair and pale skin, but nobody saw her.

The police theory is of suicide during temporary insanity to which her father agreed.

However, the story doesn’t quite end there. Villagers reported hearing a motor car that night drive up the road in the direction of the sheep wash and returned a short while later. Several accounts were given about a car or cars. The police made strict investigations into the matter but attached little significance to the rumours.

Her parents removed her body for burial at Lakenheath. (McKenzie, R.,Werrington Local History Group Newsletter no.15)







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Opening of Peterborough’s Library

1906

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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.





Peter Brotherhood Comes to Peterborough

1907

Information

The firm was founded in London in 1867 by Peter Brotherhood, an engineer. In the early days it mainly produced equipment for the brewery industry but in 1872, Peter Brotherhood invented a three cylinder, radial engine. This led to them making turbines, pumps and steering gear for ships, and even torpedoes and so massively diversifying the business. They were originally based in London but in 1907 the company was brought to Peterborough by Peter’s brother Stanley and occupied a 20 acre site on Lincoln Road, which now houses the Brotherhood Retail Park. The company played a large part in the war efforts in the twentieth century.





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Opening of the Hippodrome Music Hall

1907

Information

The Hippodrome music hall opened on Broadway. In 1908 it was taken over by Fred Kelso and under his management leading stars of the time including Marie Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin and Vernon Watson (Nosmo King) trod the boards there. With the coming of motion pictures music hall became less popular and in 1922 the theatre was modified to show films and renamed the Palladium then later the Palace. The building was demolished in 1937 following the building of the Embassy Cinema next door. References: Peterborough Evening Telegraph, 27 July 1955; The Peterborough Book of Days, Brian Jones, The History Press 2014





Olympic Gold Medal

1908

Information

Arthur James (Archie) Robertson won a gold medal at the 1908 London Olympic Games. Archie was born on 19 April 1879, in Harthill, Yorkshire, the son of a  Scottish doctor. The family moved to Peterborough when Archie was fourteen and he attended The King's School. He was a brilliant all round sportsman, though his original love was cycling. At the age of 25, following a cycling accident, he took up serious athletics and in 1906 he joined the Birchfield Harriers of Birmingham. In March 1908 he won the English and International Cross-Country titles and in July 1908 he came second in the 4 mile race at the AAA championship, these performances winning him a place on the Olympic team. At the 1908 Summer Olympics held in London he won a gold medal in the 3 man 3 mile team race, silver in the 3200 metres steeplechase and came fifth in the five miles event. His brother David was a member of the British cycling team at the same Olympics. Archie set the seal on his triumphant year by setting a world record for the 5000 metres in September in Stockholm. Archie retired from athletics after the 1909 season and returned to his first love, cycling. He opened a cycling and sports shop in Peterborough, which he later passed on to his son, Duncan. He died in Peterborough on 18 April 1957. Though he spent most of his life in Peterborough, his Scottish father meant he could be posthumously inducted into the Scottish Sporting Hall of Fame in 2004. References: Golden Scots: Arthur Robertson, the accidental athlete. BBC. 3 July 2012. The Peterborough Book of Days, Jones, Brian, The History Press, 2014.  





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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





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Image of Cumbergate

1909

Information

Cumbergate, is still easily recognisable today, take away the horse and cart and little has changed. With Queensgate to the rear and St Johns Church at the top of the picture. The shops on the right hand side are still there as are Miss Pears Almshouses on the left (now Carlucci’s Italian Restaurant). The postcard is dated September 1909. The address indicates that Werrington would have been a very small village than as there are no street details in the address. From an original postcard of the time. Publisher Valentines, from the Keith Gill Collection.  





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Frederick Sage & Co Come to Peterborough

1910

Information

It was in 1910 that Frederick Sage & Co. Ltd,  an expanding company of shopfitters and woodworkers, opened a large factory in Walton. The position of the factory, close to the Great Northern railway ensured easy transport of its finished products. In the First World War the company branched out into the making of aeroplanes, initially under sub-contract, making a sea plane, the Short 184, but later designing and building their own aircraft. After the end of the First World War the company closed down its aircraft design department and returned to cabinet making and shop fitting, having prestigious commissions from, amongst others, Harrods, Selfridges and Peterborough Town Hall!  During the Second World War they again turned to aircraft production, building forward fuselages for Airspeed Horsa gliders, and after the war again returned to their original products. The Walton factory left the ownership of Sage & Co. in 1936. During the Second World War it became the Royal Ordnance Factory, making air launch torpedoes. Perkins Engines used the factory from 1957 for twenty two years. The site later lay unused for many years until it was demolished in 2010, except for its Grade II listed water tower. References: www.frederecksage.co.uk/history Secret Peterborough, Bull, June & Vernon, Amberley Publishing, 2018  





Russell Family Sell Thorney

1910

Information

The Russell family, Earls and Dukes of Bedford, had control of the village and parish of Thorney from 1550 until 1910, when an ongoing agricultural depression made it a financial drain on their finances. The Crown offered to buy the land from the current Duke, but he felt they had severely undervalued the lot. The land, totalling approximately 20,000 acres with 220 holdings, was sold between 1909-1910, mostly to local tenant farmers. The Duke went on to sell much of his other lands and properties over the next few years.





Mrs Pankhurst Visits Peterborough

1911

Information

Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst the leader of the Women's Social and Political Union visited Peterborough in February 1911. She was chief speaker at an 'at home' at the Fitzwilliam Assembly Rooms preceding an evening meeting at the Corn Exchange.





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Werrington Windmill: Sails Lost in a Storm

1912

Information

A mill on this site was possibly mentioned in the Doomsday book and later there is a mention of Werrington Mill in 1291. A new mill was erected about 1835 replacing a previous mill which burnt down. The original mill and its successors were wind driven; steam power was installed later. In 1912 a serious misfortune befell the mill when a pair of sails was blown off in a storm, the sails crashed through the stone boundary wall of the mill property. In 1920 the sail-less cupola was removed as it was considered dangerous. Today the mill survives as part of a private house, just off Lincoln Road, in a cul-de-sac called Sharma Leas. The cupola, on the top, was replaced in 1991 but there are no sails.

There is an interesting aside about Werrington Mill; in 1958 it was reported in The Peterborough Citizen and Advertiser that, "Post Office officials are reported to be searching for 'a village called Werrington which has a windmill'. The search began when a letter from Iowa, USA was delivered at the offices of Broadwoodwidger Urban Council, Devon. Inside was a drawing of an old mill with the caption 'The old windmill of Werrington, England, was leased in 1664 for 1094 years, It must be preserved at least until 2758'. The accompanying letter, from a Mr Wayne Harbour asked if this was correct. The Chairman of the Urban Council, Mr F Stanbury, has told the GPO that no such building has ever existed in his district, so the search is to be extended to Peterborough and Stoke-on-Trent. We can save the GPO further trouble. The Werrington is 'our' Werrington, where a mill appears to have been in existence since the reign of Richard 1; records tell of a mill and a court there in 1291, a matter of 667 years ago." Just why this letter was sent from America with a copy of the lease & photo of the mill seems a mystery. ( Rita McKenzie)

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A ‘Titanic’ Loss of Life

1912

Information

In April 1912 the eleven members of the Sage family set off to start a new life in Florida as pecan farmers. Unfortunately, the boat they sailed on was the Titanic.

The Peterborough Connection

John and Annie Sage were originally from Hackney in London. They moved to Norfolk where they ran a pub, the Bentinck Arms in West Lynn. In 1902 they moved to Peterborough, and lived at 237 Gladstone Street, where they kept a small bakery and shop. In 1910 John decided on another change; he and his eldest son George went off to Canada to scout out the possibility of the family emigrating there. They worked as waiters in the dining cars of the Canadian Pacific Railway, but also found time to visit Florida. So impressed was he, that John bought a fruit farm in Jacksonville, Florida.

Preparing to Leave

On his return to Peterborough in the  autumn of 1911, the family prepared to leave England. However, not all family members were enthusiastic about the move. The Sage's eldest daughter, Stella, was loathed to leave her many friends behind, and John's wife, Annie, didn't welcome the move as she felt settled in Peterborough. She was also concerned that her daughter Dolly had narrowly escaped drowning a couple of years before and she superstitiously feared that meant she was doomed to eventually meet her end in water. John insisted on the move however, and the family finally agreed.

The Ship

The Sage family originally planned to sail on the Philadelphia, an American Line ship operating out of Liverpool. These plans had to change as the ship was laid up in dock due to a coal strike. They booked onto the RMS Titanic out of Southampton on her maiden voyage instead, as third class passengers on a family ticket, number 2343.

Disaster

On the night of 14/15 April 1912 the ship struck an iceberg, and the entire family died in the sinking. Some witnesses reported that one daughter was offered a place in the life boats but refused to go without the rest of the family. Only one body was recovered, that of Anthony William Sage. This was the single biggest loss of life from one family in the disaster. Family members: John George Sage, Annie Elizabeth Sage, Stella (born 1891), George John (born 1892), Douglas (born 1894), Frederick (born 1895), Dorothy Florence (born 1897), Anthony William (born 1899), Elizabeth Ada (born 1901), Constance Gladys (born 1904) and Thomas Henry (born 1911)      





Birth of Alex Henshaw, Spitfire Test Pilot

1912

Information

Before World War II: 

The son of a wealthy businessman, Alexander Adolphus Dumfries Henshaw (Alex) was born at Peterborough on November 7 1912. He was educated at Lincoln Grammar School. As a boy he was fascinated by flying and by motorcycles. With financial support from his father, who thought aircraft safer than motorcycles, he learned to fly. He began lessons in 1932, at the Skegness and East Lincolnshire Aero Club. A skilled pilot, in 1937 he won the inaugural London-to-Isle of Man air race in atrocious weather. In 1938, flying a Percival Mew Gull, he won the King's Cup Air Race. He flew at an average speed of 236.25 mph, a record that still stands. Early in 1939 Henshaw made a record-breaking solo flight from England to Cape Town and back. However this triumph, overshadowed by the imminence of war, received no public recognition. In the census of that year his occupation was given as a fertiliser manufacturer. Alex was living with his family and his bride-to-be Barbara.

World War II:

When war broke out Alex volunteered for service with the RAF but, while waiting for his application to be processed, was invited instead to join Vickers as a test pilot. Though initially testing Wellington Bombers, he soon moved on to Spitfires and was appointed chief production test pilot for Spitfires and Lancasters. Alex oversaw a team of 25 pilots, and flew more than 2,300 Spitfires, plus other planes, testing up to 20 aircraft a day. It could be dangerous work; Henshaw suffered a number of engine failures, and on one occasion, while flying over a built-up area, crash-landed between two rows of houses. The wings of his aircraft sheared off, and the engine and propeller finished up on someone's kitchen table. Henshaw was left sitting in the small cockpit section with only minor injuries.

Successes:

Once he was asked to put on a show for the Lord Mayor of Birmingham's Spitfire Fund by flying at high speed above the city's main street. The civic dignitaries were furious when he inverted the aircraft, flying upside down over the town hall. On another occasion he barrel-rolled a four-engined Lancaster bomber, the only pilot ever to pull off this feat.
For his services during the war Henshaw was appointed MBE, though there were many who thought he deserved far more. After World War II: After the war Henshaw went to South Africa as a director of Miles Aircraft, but returned to England in 1948 and joined his family's farming and holiday business. He remained in great demand at aviation functions to the end of his life. To mark the 70th anniversary of the first flight of the Spitfire, in March 2006, the 93-year-old Henshaw flew over Southampton in a two-seater Spitfire. In 2005 he donated his papers, art collection, photographs and trophies to the RAF Museum. He wrote three books about his experiences: The Flight of the Mew Gull; Sigh for a Merlin; and Wings over the Great Divide. Alex Henshaw died on February 24 2007, his wife, Barbara (widow of Count de Chateaubrun) whom he married in 1940, predeceased him. He was survived by their son, Alexander Jr.






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‘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".





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Suffragettes Plant a ‘Bomb’

1913

Information

On Monday 21 April 1913 Mr William Cowling of New Fletton discovered a brown paper parcel under the Oundle Road Railway Bridge. On the parcel was a pasted label saying, 'Votes for Women. Handle With Care. Votes For Women', there was also a Sufferage Society badge pinned on it. Mr Cowling, unsurprisingly, handed it into the police! When it was opened it was found to contain a square tin box with a hole in the lid with a wick protruding. Inside the box were partially burned bits of brown paper and pieces of brick, sugar and sawdust. This was harmless (unlike some suffragette acts in other areas) but it did alarm the authorities that such an item could be placed under an important railway bridge with such ease and without exciting suspicion. The perpetrator was never caught.





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Albert Place Tragedy

1914

Information

John Francis Eayrs aged fifty six years, a tinsmith, was charged before the magistrates with the murder of his wife, and attempted suicide. John Francis Eayrs had married his housekeeper, Sarah Ann Weldon, a widow with a ten year old son in 1907. By 1911 they were living at the School House in Albert Place, but the marriage appears to have been a tempestuous one, with the couple both drinking and quarrelling; their next door neighbour stated, “Both appeared to drink and at such times they quarrelled. She had often heard the prisoner say to his wife “I will do you in”. During his trial  on the 20th of October at the Northamptonshire Assizes witnesses gave their accounts of the family and the events of 22nd August. A neighbour living opposite said, “During the past two years he often heard them quarrelling. On 22ndAugust he saw them quarrelling in the street and they were struggling on the pavement”. Another neighbour also added she was bathing her children when, “Mrs Eayrs came in and played with the children then returned to her own house. She seemed to have had a little drink”. Another witness had seen Eayrs in the Bull & Dolphin, “he was complaining about his wife’s drinking habits, and that if she did not alter he would have to do something desperate.” The witness said, “I told him not to talk like that, I had heard it before so didn’t take much notice of it.” A further witness stated, “He heard moaning in the prisoner’s backyard and found the prisoner lying under the living-room window. He was without a coat, had a wound in the throat, and was covered with blood. He spoke to the prisoner who did not reply so he sent for P.C. Powley. He later saw the dead body of Mrs Eayrs.”. P.C. Powley reported Eayrs was semi-conscious and that he had a wound two-inches long in the left side of his throat and was taken to the Infirmary. The constable found the body of Mrs Eayrs at the bottom of the yard. There was a large gash on the right side of the face. In the scullery, he found blood in the sink, on the floor and in a tub. On the window-ledge was a blood-stained razor, closed. Dr R. Jolley, Police Surgeon at Peterborough stated the wound in Mrs Eayrs neck commenced under the left ear and extended down to the left side of the breast bone. It was an inch deep in the upper part and gradually became shallower. All the arteries and veins on that side had been severed, and Mrs Eayrs dress and jacket had been cut through. Considerable force must have been used to produce such injuries, which might have been caused by the razor. John Francis Eayrs was reported as saying “They had quarrelled over a halfpenny.” He was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging and was executed at Northampton Gaol. In a situation of dramatic intensity, there was one fleeting moment of poignant pathos. As the little procession was reaching the doors of the execution shed, Eayrs saw a warder standing upright at the entrance, he nodded slightly and said very quietly, “Good morning.” Another three steps, and he was in full view of the gallows. Then he halted, half turned to the same warder, and in a low voice, which could be heard with perfect distinctness, said, “I am going to die for a bad woman, you know.” And without further word, and evidently expecting no reply, he walked on to the fatal trap-door. Ten seconds more and only a white-shrouded head, hanging listlessly to one side, was visible above the open pit. (Execution details taken from Northampton Mercury 13 November 1914. Page 6, Column 2.                                                          Quote’s taken from Peterborough Citizen 8 September 1914. Page 3 Column 3 and Northampton Mercury 23 October 1914. Page 6, Column 2)





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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.  





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Birth of John Kippax

1915

Information

John Kippax was the pen name of science fiction writer John Charles Hynam, the author of many short stories and the Venturer Twelve series of novels, which tell the story of space going humans threatened by mysterious aliens.  Much of his work was done in collaboration with Dan Morgan. John Hynam was born on the 10th of June 1915 in Alwalton, Huntingdonshire the son of Percy and Jane Hynam. His first short story was published in the early 1950s whilst working as a master at The Deacon's school. Papers relating to John Hynam’s published works are held in the Peterborough Archives, all of which were completed on a typewriter. As well as his science fiction writing these include many radio and television plays one of which is ‘The Daffodil Man’ which he wrote for Morecambe & Wise.  A story, ‘Ali Barber’s Thieves’ was sold to the Daily Mail to be used in a children’s annual. Many of his short stories were either published in the Daily Mail Children’s Annual or Odham’s Children’s annual. ‘Galleon’s Key’ was his first piece of work to be televised in December 1956. The play originally began as a novel but was adapted into a children’s television play lasting just over thirty minutes. John was unfortunately killed on 17th of July 1974 when a lorry hit his car in Werrington. His death left his series of science fiction novels unfinished. In the postscript to "Where No Stars Guide" (Pan Books, London, 1975), published posthumously, Hynam's literary collaborator Dan Morgan wrote, "John had a larger-than-life physical and psychic presence. Likeable, eccentric, egocentric, kind, brusque, take your pick from the thesaurus to describe him, he was all of these and more. A man of enormous enthusiasms, he died as lived, at full speed".





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Execution of Edith Cavell

1915

Information

Edith Cavell is the World War I British nurse who is celebrated for saving the lives of soldiers in Brussels from all sides without distinction. Along with Belgian and French colleagues she helped over 200 Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium. She was arrested and tried with 33 others by a German military court. She was found guilty of ‘assisting men to the enemy’ and shot by a German firing squad on October 12, 1915. Edith had attended the Laurel Court girl’s school in the Cathedral Precincts 1885-6 as a ‘Pupil Teacher’. In modern terms she was a cross between a teaching assistant and a sixth former. She learnt to speak French fluently whilst at Laurel Court, which equiped her for working in Belgium. Initially she worked as a governess and later as nurse. There is a memorial to Edith Cavell in the south aisle of the Cathedral.





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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.





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.





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(Some) Women Get the Vote!

1918

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In 1918 the Representation of the People Act was passed which allowed women over the age of 30 who met a property qualification to vote. Although 8.5 million women met this criteria, it only represented 40 per cent of the total population of women in the UK. The same act abolished property and other restrictions for men, and extended the vote to all men over the age of 21. Additionally, men in the armed forces could vote from the age of 19. The electorate increased from eight to 21 million, but there was still huge inequality between women and men.





Railway Engine Crashes into House

1922

Information

A family had a narrow escape when a locomotive drove into their house. The engine was being driven by two men when they lost control of it. The men jumped out of the cab in time to see it hit a break-van, which had been at the buffers. It then went through the buffers, off the rails, and ran into a house. It landed in the kitchen of the Cole family at around 10 am. Earnest Cole, a railway controller, was unhurt. His wife, who was ill in bed, fell through the floor of the bedroom, but didn't suffer any serious injuries. Their 10-year-old daughter was pulled from the wreckage unharmed. His 75-year-old mother-in-law was trapped in the pantry and was suffering from severe shock when she was found. Amazingly no one was killed.
Reference
Extraordinary Accident at Peterborough, Lichfield Mercury, Friday 18th August 1922, p7, column 7





Peterborough’s Bird Man: Walter Cornelius

1923

Information

Looking up at the wind vane above the Lido, you might be confused by the shape. The weather vane commemorates the life of Walter Cornelius. He is possibly best known in the city for his comical attempts to fly over the rive Nene and for his amazing strength. The reason his likeness sits above the Lido is because he was a swimming instructor there in the 60's and 70's. He taught thousands of children to swim and as a lifeguard kept them safe. The weather vane was created after calls to commemorate the life of such a well-known man. Born in Latvia in 1923, Walter was quite the entertainer and successfully broke many world records. He was a strongman and daredevil too. He won the world sausage eating championship in 1966 and pushed a pea along the ground with his nose for three miles. Thankfully Walter was recorded on television. Videos of him showing his amazing strength can be found on youtube and at the East Anglian Film Archive.
Picture Credit: cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Paul Bryan - geograph.org.uk/p/4950166






Reredos for Newfoundland

1923

Information

In the 11th May 1923 edition of the Peterborough Advertiser was an article entitled ‘Peterborough Reredos for Newfoundland’. Referring to a photograph, it said, ‘This is little more than half of a very beautiful Stone Reredos for the Cathedral of St John’s Newfoundland, executed at Peterborough by Messrs John Thompson and Co. The article continued ‘The reredos is 26ft in length and 14ft 6in high combining the Gothic and Byzantine styles. It is of Auchinheath white Scottish stone and the Sculptured figures in Peasonhurst stone and depict left to right Theodore (Archbishop of Canterbury 668 to 690), St David, St Michael, Our Lord St George, St Andrew and St Patrick’. The design was that of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott who later designed the red telephone box and the Battersea Power Station (of Pink Floyd L.P. cover fame). Note: A reredos is an ornamental screen covering the wall at the back of an altar.





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Peterborough Memorial Hospital Opens

1928

Information

The Memorial Hospital was opened by Field Marshal Sir William Robertson in 1928, as a memorial to those of the city and the 6th Northamptonshire Regiment who died in the First World War, it replaced the Peterborough Infirmary; the building that had housed the infirmary becoming  Peterborough Museum. When the Memorial Hospital opened it had six wards in three blocks: separate male and female surgical and medical wards, an accident ward and a children's ward. It had 150 beds, two operating theatres, a radiology department, a small casualty department, and outpatients, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy departments. A separate hospital at Fengate was used to treat infectious diseases. The Memorial hospital was transferred to the newly formed National Health Service in 1948.





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Women Achieve the Same Voting Rights as Men

1928

Information

It was with the Equal Franchise Act of 1928 that women over 21 were able to vote and women finally achieved the same voting rights as men. This act increased the number of women eligible to vote to 15 million.





A Museum for Peterborough

1931

Information

When the infirmary moved to the newly completed Memorial Hospital in 1928 the Infirmary building was acquired by Percy Malcolm Stewart. He was Chair of the London Brick Company, who donated it to the Museum Society to house their collection. At that time it was known as the Natural History, Scientific and Archaeological Society. It was opened in 1931, with the art gallery added in 1939. Everything has been owned by the Council since 1968, when the Museum Society gave them to the city. In May 2010, management of the building and its collections was taken over by Vivacity.





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The Peterborough Rat

1931

Information

In 1931 a small church museum was established by Canon Peel of the Cathedral of St John, Newfoundland, who wrote to 56 English Cathedrals requesting contributions for the collection in recognition of the ties between Newfoundland and the English Church. Among the objects donated was a copy of the 1699 deed establishing the parish, historic bibles, stonework, grave rubbings and a petrified rat. The rather unusual donation of the rat came from Peterborough Cathedral where the creature was found in the church rafters! The rat may have been found during John Thompson’s roof works in 1925 where timbers were replaced due to an infestation of deathwatch beetles.





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Founding of Perkins Engines

1932

Information

Perkins engineering was founded in a small office in Peterborough, UK, in 1932. It was founded by two men, Frank Perkins and Charles Chapman; Frank a superlative salesman and Charles an engineering genius. Their focus was on the diesel engine and their belief that it could revolutionise the motor industry with high performance and low running costs. Peterborough was the perfect place to start the business as it had excellent transport links and so could ensure rapid delivery of products. Its first high-speed diesel engine was the 4 cylinder Vixen followed by the  more powerful version, the Wolf. With its success in the motor industry it expanded into the agricultural industry. During the Second World War Perkins was instrumental n its production of diesel engines for the war effort. In 1947, production was moved to the Eastfield site in Peterborough.  





Resources

Quakers Move to Peterborough to Join Baker Perkins

1933

Information

In 1933 Joseph Baker Engineering of Willesden moved to be Baker Perkins in Peterborough and a significant number of Friends (Quakers) moved with them. As the time for the move from Willesden to Peterborough approached, many weekend trips were organised to enable the Willesden employees to find accommodation. Some of these were undertaken by bicycle. Satisfactory arrangements were made for the necessary housing at no cost to the Company. Between March and September 1933, most of the Friends (Quakers) who had agreed to make the transfer were re-housed in a new development in Willesden Avenue. On 18th June 1933 meetings for worship started in an upstairs room of a warehouse in King Street.





Resources

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/





Referee Smuggled from Ground

1935

Information

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

1935

Information

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.





Opening of the Lido

1936

Information

The Lido open air swimming pool first opened in 1936. A striking building with Art-Deco elements, it was designated a Grade II listed building in 1992. It was instantly popular when it opened and remained so throughout the 1950s and 1960s. However it hasn't always been plain sailing for the Lido, on the 8th of June 1940 it was hit by a bomb during an air raid and one corner was destroyed, though showing true wartime spirit it reopened on the same day! In 1989 it was threatened with closure to save money, but it survived and still opens from May to September.  





Peterborough Quaker Meeting House Openned

1936

Information

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.
   





Resources

Second Time in the FA Cup

1936

Information

Posh had a better F A Cup run getting to the first round for the first time in only their second season in the competition. Dartford put the run to an end win 3-0 at home.





Change of Strip

1937

Information

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.





Record-Breaking Mallard Steams into Town

1938

Information

The growth of Peterborough in the nineteenth century was thanks to the arrival of the railways. It is only fitting then, that Peterborough was part of a record-breaking railway achievement. The East Coast Main Line that runs North to South through the city was the destination of the fastest speed achieved by a steam engine. The Mallard, an A4 class of steam locomotive, regularly travelled the route from London to Edinburgh. On July 3rd 1938 whilst heading south from Grantham towards Peterborough, it travelled faster than anyone could have hoped. It was being driven by the experienced driver Joe Duddington and Tommy Bray the fireman. Amazingly it achieved a top speed of 126mph (203kph). No other steam train has been able to achieve that speed. Tommy Bray was said to be 'grinning from ear to ear' when he arrived in Peterborough. (1) The London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) had planned the event and knew that pushing The Mallard to achieve such high speeds was risky. They had a back up engine waiting in Peterborough North station, which was swapped with The Mallard. The train continued its journey on to London and The Mallard turned back towards Doncaster for some TLC. The Mallard is now part of the collection at the National Railway Museum in York.
Reference
(1) http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/features/10520647.The_day_Mallard_steamed_into_the_record_books/





12-0!

1938

Information

December saw Posh record their biggest competitive win when Boston United were beaten 12-0 on the last day of the year. This was sweet revenge as only the week before Boston United had beaten Posh 5-2.





Outbreak of the Second World War

1939-1945

Information

The Second World War (WWII) was a war that lasted from 1st September 1939 to 2nd September 1945 ( though there were related conflicts which began earlier and some that went on later). The vast majority of the world's countries were involved and eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities. It included the genocide of the Holocaust, bombing that destroyed towns and cities, massacres of soldiers and civilians, starvation and disease for millions and ultimately the first use of nuclear weapons. The Allies:                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In 1939 the Allies consisted of Poland, France, the United Kingdom and dependent states, for example British India, and the independent Dominions of the British Commonwealth: Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. In 1940 they were joined by the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece and Yugoslavia (after the German invasion of North Europe). In June 1941 the Soviet Union joined after being invaded and in December 1941 the United States joined after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour (though they had been providing materials before this). The Chinese had been in a prolonged war with Japan since 1937 but officially joined the allies in 1941. In 1945, the Allied nations became the basis of the United Nations. The Axis:                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The Axis consisted of Germany, Italy and Japan. The Axis members agreed on their opposition to the Allies but cooperation and coordination of their activity was not great.





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.





Airbases in World War 2

1940s

Information

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

Start of the Battle of Britain

1940

Information

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.





Air Raid Causes Loss of Life

1941

Information

On the night of the 10th of May 1941 Britain experienced the heaviest night of bombing of the entire Blitz. Peterborough got off lightly compared to other cities, but bombs did fall. Some hit close to the Museum in Cross Street causing severe damage to buildings, though the museum escaped with just shattered windows. After the 'All Clear' two fire officers entered a severely damaged building to see if anyone was trapped but unfortunately an unexploded incendiary device went off while they were inside killing them both. They were killed trying to help others.





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

The Cathedral is Bombed!

1942

Information

At the outbreak of World War II Peterborough Cathedral published its procedures for when an air raid siren went off during a service. The service would pause, the organist would play a hymn whilst those who needed to leave to attend to their duties could do so. Then after a few minutes, the service would resume. The Cathedral escaped major damage thanks to the vigilance of its firewatchers. For instance, on 10th August 1942 at 12 a.m, two aircraft came over the city, one dropping flares and the other about 250 incendiary bombs. Six fell on the Cathedral roof and thirty on the Town Hall. The incendiaries were all extinguished before they did any significant damage.





Jimmy the Donkey: War hero or Super Hoax?

1943

Information

Jimmy the Donkey was born in the early Twentieth Century and used to raise money for the RSPCA. He is commemorated in Central park, where he was laid to rest in 1943. His journey to Peterborough, however, is either one of heroic endeavours or a great hoax. Jimmy was supposedly born in the trenches of World War I in 1916. He was rescued from No-Man's Land and adopted by the Cameronian Scottish Rifles who cared for him with their rations. He supported the soldiers by pulling and carrying what he could. So valuable was he to the regiment, that they made him a Sergeant and gave him three stripes. After the war the donkey was bought by local RSPCA inspector, Mrs Heath, who took pity on him. The Cameronians were based in Peterborough for a short while in 1920 and that was when she bought him. She wanted to give him a good life and use the war hero to raise money for the charity. They offered rides in a small carriage pulled behind Jimmy and raised a huge amount for the RSPCA until his death in 1943. However, George Wilding the son of a horse dealer, revealed that Jimmy's story had been a hoax. His father had bought the donkey and was having difficulty selling it, so he created its back story in the hope of a sale. This called into question whether Jimmy was the celebrated hero, or just an average donkey. But the donkey raised so much money for charity over the years, that he should be remembered, regardless of his birth. The memorial is accessible in Central Park every day





Milton Hall and the Jedburghs

1943

Information

Built towards the end of the 16th century, Milton Hall is the largest private house in Peterborough.  Once home to the Fitzwilliam family, it is now resided in by the Naylor Leyland family who inherited it from the 10th Earl. The Hall was used by the military during both world wars, a hospital being established in World War I and initially in World War II, the Czech army occupied part of the house and stable block. In December 1943, 300 volunteers from the Special Operations Executive (SOE) were brought together and trained at Milton Hall.  From there they were sent to join small teams to arm, train and co-ordinate foreign resistance fighters in preparation for the D-Day landings in Normandy in May and June 1944.  Codenamed the Jedburghs, the volunteers came from army forces based in Britain, France and America with small contingents coming from Holland, Belgium and Canada.  Between D-Day and VE Day they carried out 101 operations in Europe. In May 1996 surviving members attended a special service at Peterborough Cathedral where a memorial plaque was unveiled to commemorate the 37 men who lost their lives during operations in Europe and the Far East.





Resources

Conington Level Crossing Tragedy

1945

Information

On 30 April 1945 a lorry taking German prisoners of war from Glatton camp to work on nearby farms crossed Conington Level Crossing in thick fog; in the very poor visibility it was hit side on by a railway engine. Six of the prisoners were killed and five more injured. To add to the tragedy a lorry carrying the injured away from the scene hit a bus in the fog badly injuring two more people. This level crossing was notorious as an accident black spot, combining a narrow road, limited view of the line and gates operated by the public.





The National Health Service is Born

1948

Information

On the 5th of July 1948, Health Secretary Aneurin Bevan launched the National Health Service (NHS) at Park Hospital in Manchester. Its ethos was to provide health services for all, free at the point of delivery.  For the first time, hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists  were brought together, nationally,  in one organisation.





Resources

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 Variety Star Nosmo King

1949

Information

Mr Vernon Watson was born in Thorney in 1885, in his youth, a clerk  at Barclays Bank in Peterborough. His interest in the stage began with performances at smoking concerts and when, in 1911, he appeared at the old Empire, Leicester Square, he became an overnight success. He took part in many subsequent productions there and as a single turn on the music halls. At first he relied entirely on his voice in his imitations of the popular comedians of the day. His imitation of Wilkie Bard - exact in every way - was as remarkable a piece of virtuosity as the variety stage has produced. Among his favourite subjects were Harry Champion, Fred Emney and Frank Tunney.  His stage name Nosmo King was inspired by seeing two open doors at a music hall which had split the notice 'No Smoking' into Nosmo King.  He was later assisted by 'Hubert' - his son (Petty Officer Jack Watson) He appeared at the Embassy in Peterborough in April 1947 as Colonel Blimp in a G.I. Bride farce 'For the Fun of it' Though it was 39 years since he had been a clerk at Barclays, he still remembered his old friends in and around Peterborough. Mr Watson died at his home in Chelsea on January 13th 1949. His funeral was held at Thorney Abbey and he is buried at Thorney cemetery, with 'Nosmo King' on his headstone.    





Resources

Edmund Hockridge Peaks at the West End

1950

Information

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: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/mar/18/edmund-hockridge  





Peakirk Wildlife Park Opens

1957

Information

Peakirk Wildfowl Park was situated to the north of Peakirk. It owes its existence in part to a natural spring on the site and the building of the adjacent railway line. The spring had provided a wetland perfect for osier beds. In the 1840s the Lincolnshire Loop railway line was constructed next to the site. Gravel was extracted from the land in Peakirk for its construction. As the gravel was extracted, small islands were left behind in the main lake. This allowed the land to be used again as osier beds. In 1957 the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust opened a wildfowl park on the site, utilising the unique landscape features of the site. It was home to around 700 water birds, some of which were exceedingly rare or endangered. At its peak visitor numbers were around 64,000 per year. By the late 1980s visitor numbers tailed off and the business was sold in 1990. In 1991 it was renamed the Peakirk Waterfowl Gardens whilst run by the East of England Agricultural Society, but it was not a successful business. It eventually closed in 2001, the birds being transferred to other parks. It is now a private home.





Peterborough United Win the Division!

1960-61

Information

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.





Internationally Famous Bell Born

1964

Information

Andy Bell is known around the world as one half of the pop group Erasure. He was born in Peterborough on 25th April 1964 in Thorpe Hall. He lived in Dogsthorpe and attended both Dogsthorpe Infant and Junior Schools, where he was a choir boy. His name features in the registration book for Dogsthorpe Junior School, which is held in Peterborough Archives. He moved to Kings School for his secondary education. In 1985 Bell met his Erasure partner Vince Clark and they had huge success as a pop duo. Together they sold millions of records around the world with hits which included 'Sometimes' and 'A Little respect'. He currently calls Miami home, but is still working and touring around the world. His has given mixed feelings of his time in Peterborough, claiming that he felt 'secure and safe' whilst at Dogsthorpe Junior School, but also complaining that Peterborough was one of 'the most scary places on the planet'. He is known as a gay icon for openly embracing his sexuality and discussing topics important to the gay community.
References
https://www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk/news/environment/claim-anger-over-scary-city-jibe-by-star-1-144774 www.erasureinfo.com Picture By Andrew Hurley (Flickr: Andy Bell, Erasure) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons





Peterborough Leaves Northamptonshire

1965

Information

The Soke of Peterborough stops being ceremonially and traditionally part of  Northamptonshire, where it had been since  the Domesday Book and merges with the County of Huntingdonshire to form the County of Huntingdon and Peterborough, an administrative and geographical county. This lasts only until 1974 when Peterborough became part of Cambridgeshire.





Resources

The Smallest Waist in the World

1967

Information

Ethel Granger holds the record for having the smallest waist in the world. Her waist was recorded as 13 inches/33 cm in 1967, a feat that was achieved by wearing a specially designed corset to gradually decrease her waist. Ethel became an icon for tight-lacing and her story and images continue to be popular today due to the extreme lengths she went to in order to shape and style her body with her specially-made corsets, flamboyant piercings and excessively high shoes. She even inspired a Vogue Italia fashion shoot in 2011 using Stella McCartney's clothing. Ethel lived in Priory Road Peterborough with her husband William, a local teacher, and their daughter Wilhelmina. The family were well-known astronomers and Ethel was a keen beekeeper, becoming president of the Peterborough, Oundle and District Beekeepers Society. She died in 1982.





Opening of Peterborough District Hospital.

1968

Information

After the Second World war the Memorial Hospital was no longer big enough to deal with Peterborough's health needs and in 1968 it closed and Peterborough District Hospital opened, incorporating the Memorial Hospital as the Memorial Wing. Peterborough District Hospital had 357 beds, five operating theatres, an accident and emergency department, outpatients clinics, as well as radiology and pathology services, an  intensive care unit  and surgical and medical specialist units. In 1988 Edith Cavell Hospital in Bretton was opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, it was built to complement the services provided by Peterborough District Hospital. Peterborough District Hospital closed in 2010.





Resources

Peterborough Development Corporation

1968

Information

Peterborough was designated as a third-wave New Town in July 1967. In February 1968 the Peterborough Development Corporation was set up. The corporation's task was to provide homes, work and the full range of facilities and services for an additional 70,000 people, drawn mainly from the Greater London area. Many new housing areas were developed, including Bretton and Ravensthorpe. Based in Peterscourt in the city, it worked in close collaboration with Peterborough City Council, the Huntingdon and Peterborough County Council and, from 1974, Cambridgeshire County Council. The Development Corporation was officially wound-up in September 1988.





Start of the Nene Park Story

1968

Information

Prior to the creation of Nene Park, there were very few recreational green spaces in Peterborough. In 1968, a year after the New Towns Act, the Peterborough Development Corporation was established and land from the Embankment in the city centre to Wansford, seven miles west, was purchased from landowners including Earl Fitzwilliam. Gravel extractors Amey Roadstone approached the Corporation and negotiations began to ensure that the resulting lakes were planned and landscaped carefully for the best possible visitor experience. Plans also included space for car parking, a water sports centre, a lake specifically for water sports and facilities including a café and shop.





Resources

Eccentric Astronomer Dies

1974

Information

Astronomer William Granger was best known by locals as the man who walked around with a cat on his shoulder,  however, he should be better known for his astronomical work. A member of the British Astronomical Association from the 1940s, he took such a great interest in astronomy that he built his own observatory in his back garden in Priory Road. He also ran an astronomy club at Orchard Street School, where he was a teacher, and turned his bathroom into a darkroom to develop astrological photographs. William's wife Ethel was famous for her record-breaking 13 inch waist, which many people have attributed to William's fetish for wasp-waisted women. They appeared as quite an eccentric couple, William walking around with a ginger cat named Treacle Pudding on his shoulder, next to Ethel with her miniscule waist, piercings and extreme high-heels, however they were spoken of fondly by the people who knew them. William died in 1974 aged 72.





Peterborough Becomes Part of Cambridgeshire

1974

Information

After being in existence for less than 10 years the County of Huntingdon and Peterborough merged with Cambridgeshire under the Local Government Act of 1974.





A Snapshot of Thorney Wildlife Park

1975

Information

Thorney Wildlife Park existed in the 1970s and 80s. Run by the Roberts brothers, the park contained a wide mix of exotic animals. The animals ranged from lions and tigers to elephants, birds and kangaroos. Unlike modern zoos and parks, Thorney Wildlife Park closed during the winter season. It was during this closed season that video cameras visited the site. The park was situated in the grounds of Thorney Manor, originally home to the Dukes of Bedford. The house, featured in the film, was used as a cafe and as shelter during the winter. In 1971 a large fire in the house killed three monkeys valued at £150 each. Thankfully it was brought under control before the house or other animals were destroyed. The video attached is part of a 'Portrait of a Place' series, which was produced by Anglian Television and is now part of the East Anglian Film Archive. It shows several local people, some of the most note-worthy buildings and the wildlife park.





Thomas Cook Moves to the City

1977

Information

In 1977 Thomas Cook, the travel agent opened its administrative headquarters at Thorpe Wood in Peterborough. This was part of the move from engineering and the brick industry being the major employers in Peterborough to the service industry being the major employer. The company has been based at the Lynch Wood Business Park since 2016.





A Spy in Our Midst

1982

Information

Peterborough has hosted several production companies for a variety of film and television productions, two of which were for James Bond films. The first, filmed in 1982, was Octopussy with Roger Moore, where Nene Valley Railway transformed into Karl-Marx-Stadt and formed the backdrop to a thrilling carriage-top fight through the local countryside. The second, in 1995, was Goldeneye with Pierce Brosnan. The film crew utilised the old British Sugar sugar beet factory in Woodston and again the Nene Valley Railway near Castor.





Opening of Ferry Meadows

1978

Information

Nene Park’s centrepiece, Ferry Meadows, was opened on 1 July 1978 by the broadcaster and environmentalist David Bellamy. In its first year of opening, the Park received 90,000 visits and is now one of the most visited country parks in the UK.





Resources

The Building of the Queensgate Centre

1978

Information

The Queensgate Centre was designed by Keith Maplestone the Development Corporation Architect and the main contractor was John Laing Construction Ltd. Initially there were two problems. For the project to proceed five major space users were needed and the contractor had to overcome the technical difficulties of constructing a basement with approximately 1 km of walling in an area of many old buildings. Eventually all the major space users were signed up: John Lewis Partnership, British Home Stores, C and A, Littlewoods and Boots, so the project could proceed. A special method was devised to provide the basement; it was called a diaphragm wall and consisted of piling 950mm diameter bores into the ground in panels approximately 10m long and going down 13m. On the completion the soil within the wall was removed and a concrete floor, service cores and a ramp was constructed. In the spring of 1978 the project started. The site which had been partly open car parks, old factory and shop buildings was now clear and flat. The site offices were constructed against the newly moved Bourges Boulevard roundabout. Dark green hoardings with a yellow band at the top were erected around the site. The excavators and cart-away lorries arrived and began to dig the site to level, and cart away thousands of M3 of spoil from excavations which were deposited on the south side of the Longthorpe Parkway adjacent to the rowing lake. This area is now wooded and is approximately 7m higher than its natural level. Queensgate consists of four buildings. John Lewis is a reinforced concrete building constructed separately from the rest of the centre. The Malls, central area and east end (Boots) structure is all founded on bored piles and pile caps. The car parks are reinforced concrete structures. The bus station is made of structural steel and glass. The Westgate elevation (John Lewis) is clad in Williamson Cliff hand made yellow bricks including many of special shape. Long Causeway Elevation is made of white Portland limestone cladding i.e. stone sheets fixed to the structure using metal ties. The basement was excavated and a temporary scaffold bridge was provided to allow pedestrians to pass from the Westgate Arcade to Cumbergate. Reinforced concrete columns rose and stair and lift towers appeared. The concrete upper floor slabs were poured onto moulds called waffles. Brickwork began to be built and gradually Queensgate took shape and became watertight, it was time for the fitting out to take place. The malls received a marble floor, ceilings went in and glass balustrades were erected around the balconies and escalators and lifts were installed. Queensgate was opened in 1982.





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The Queensgate Centre Opens

1982

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The Queensgate shopping centre was opened by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands on 9 March 1982. It has the capacity for over  90 stores and parking for 2,300 cars. At the time of opening the 'big name'  shops were John Lewis, Boots, British Home Stores, Littlewoods and C & A.





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Trust in the Park

1988

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Ten years after the park’s opening, Nene Park Trust was formed to take stewardship of the park itself. The Trust remains a charitable company, using its income to manage and develop the park through nature conservation, education and events and managing its facilities.





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An Olympic Gymnast (and Dancer!) Born

1989

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Louis Smith was born in Peterborough on 22 April 1989 and was educated at Arthur Mellows Village College. He is an artistic gymnast and won a bronze medal on the pommel horse at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It was the first time a British gymnast had placed in an Olympic event since 1928.  There was disappointment at the London Olympics in 2012 where he fell just short of gold. He tied with Kristian Berki, but took silver for a lower execution score. At the 2016 Rio Olympics he again won a silver medal, this time finishing behind his teammate, Max Whitlock. Smith was also part of the Great Britain team that took the bronze in the men's artistic team all-around at the 2012 London Olympics. He is the only British gymnast to win Olympic medals in three separate Games, and only the second gymnast to win three successive Olympic pommel horse medals. As well as his talents in the gym he showed his versatility by winning the 2012 series of  Strictly Come Dancing.





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Royal Mail Centre Opens

1995

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The Royal Mail Centre at Papyrus Road, Werrington opened on 2 October 1995. Papyrus road runs parallel to the main railway line into and out of Peterborough. When looking for a name for the road it seems likely that the name of a steam engine was chosen. Steam engine no. 2750 Papyrus ran between Kings Cross and Newcastle on 5th March 1935, in a trial testing the potential of running a high speed passenger service on the east coast main line. Other roads in Peterborough, particularly near the line in Bretton, have railway links. It is also very apt because papyrus is a material for writing on as used by the ancient Egyptians. Today the road ends inside the main Peterborough sorting office. (Townsin, R.,Werrington Local History Group Newsletter 23 p13)  available in Werrington Library.







John Clare Mural Unveiled

1997

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Hundreds of motorists each day drive along Werrington Parkway between the roundabouts at Papyrus Road/Davids Lane and A15/Glinton Road B1443 (McDonalds). How many realise they travel over this mural to John Clare, unveiled on 11 September 1997. Walk along the Hurn Road heading west and before passing under the Werrington Parkway bridge you can view this artwork. Before the parkway was built, you would have been looking towards Helpston and John Clare’s open fields.







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Quaker Meeting House Extended

1998

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The Meeting House was extended on the eastern end to enable the addition of disabled toilets and insertion of a staircase to create two rooms in the extensive loft space. This additional space enabled four rooms to be hired for meetings, etc. a facility that has become very valuable to many small groups from the Peterborough Community.





Peterborough Becomes a Unitary Authority

1998

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In 1998 Peterborough gained autonomy from Cambridgeshire County Council control as a unitary authority area. It continues to form part of Cambridgeshire for ceremonial purposes.





Ernie Wise Took His Final Bow

1999

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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.





Cathedral’s Lucky Escape

2001

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On the 22nd November 2001, a fire started that could have destroyed Peterborough Cathedral. A small votive candle, usually used as a symbol of hope and peace, was left nestled in a stack of chairs in the North Choir Aisle. Soon the plastic seats began to turn to flames and a fire raged, while the near-900-year-old building filled with smoke. Due to the vigilance of verger Nigel Long, emergency services arrived soon and extinguished the fire, averting a major disaster. And in the aftermath the next morning it was discovered that there was some damage to the physical structure of the church at the east end of the north aisle, where the window had lost most of its glass. Some carving was destroyed and the screen behind the organ was charred. Much of the Cathedral was coated in soot, forcing a clean-up operation that would take two years to complete. About 200 tonnes of scaffolding was moved in and out and artwork was uncovered for the first time in centuries, such as a number of patterns and a shield on the ceiling near the West Entrance, while all 5,000 pipes of the organ were also disassembled and cleaned.





Opening of Peterborough Prison

2005

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HMP Peterborough was opened in March 2005 on the former site of the Baker Perkins engineering works. It is a local category B prison and is the country's only dual purpose-built prison for men and women. The prison also has a 12 place Mother and Baby Unit. The prison is operated by Sodexo Justice Services.  





Faizan-e-Madinah Mosque

2006

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The Faizan-e-Madinah Mosque was opened in Gladstone Street in 2006. It has a prayer area which accommodates over 2000 people. It has been partitioned to provide a separate dedicated women’s prayer area. There is also a Wudu area on each floor (including shower facilities). As well as prayers and community events the Mosque host Nikah (wedding) services, which are an important element of the Islamic faith. The building contains a library room with English, Arabic and Urdu texts and other meeting rooms. These rooms are used for Islamic and Urdu lessons for children who attend the Mosque. Its 30-metre green dome is thought to be one of the largest in the UK. It was six years in the planning and cost over £2.5m to build, which was raised entirely through donations from the local community. The building regularly welcomes visits from local schools and opens its doors during Heritage Open Day weekends.





Quaker Garden Redeveloped

2010

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Redevelopment of the large garden in which the Meeting House was situated was started to provide an attractive and peaceful facility for members, users and the community of Peterborough to enjoy. Planting is designed to reflect what Quakers refer to as testimonies to their key beliefs which are Truth and Integrity, Equality and Community, Peace and Earth and the Environment.  A labyrinth is a well used addition.  





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Opening of Peterborough City Hospital

2010

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Peterborough City Hospital was opened to patients in November 2010. It replaced the Peterborough District Hospital and the Edith Cavell Hospital, being built on the Edith Cavell site in Bretton.  The hospital was built under the Private Finance Initiative. The Hospital has 612 beds and, as well as the usual facilities, it also houses a Cancer Centre, a Cardiology Centre, a Women’s and Children’s Unit and Adult and Paediatric Emergency Centres. The official opening was carried out by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in November 2012.





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Peterborough’s 2011 Census

2011

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The census taken in 2011 shows the diversity of people to be found in the city. Peterborough’s population rose by 27,570 to 183,631 between 2001 and 2011. The population included people born in Italy, Portugal, Poland, Lithuania, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, India, Australia, USA, and the Caribbean. The vast majority of new arrivals were of the most economically active age range, between 20 and 44 years. Peterborough continues to be a growing, thriving and diverse city.





Quaker Meeting House Modernised

2017

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Solar panels were installed few years earlier and in 2017 the internal walls of the Meeting Room were removed and thoroughly insulated, loft insulation improved, windows & doors replaced with current standard double-glazed units. The kitchen was refurbished to contemporary standards. The Meeting House continues to be used not only for the benefit of its worshipping members but for many groups large and small from the Peterborough community. Many feel the Meeting Room’s simple design and plain decoration is particularly peaceable and conducive to good meetings. This is a tribute to the architect, Leonard Brown. The garden and labyrinth contribute in no small measure to the overall feeling of calm and restoration. Peterborough Quakers continue a long tradition of involvement in the community serving as hospital, hospice, prison and university chaplains and applying their dearly held testimonies to peace, sustainability, equality and simplicity.        





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‘Our Journey’ Launched

2018

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'Our Journey', the digital timeline for Peterborough was launched on 8th June 2018, during the year of 'Peterborough Celebrates', commemorating 900 years since the building of Peterborough Cathedral. It aims to tell the story of Peterborough and its people and is designed to grow over time, as more and more of the people of Peterborough; individuals, groups and communities add their stories, so that it truly represents the dynamic, diverse city that is PETERBOROUGH!