Pages from the past...pet guinea fowl, chicken lorry spill, Christmas trade slump and Santa on a speedboat

Laura Short with her pet guinea fowl Oliver, who had been known to cheekily steal sausages from plates.
Laura Short with her pet guinea fowl Oliver, who had been known to cheekily steal sausages from plates.

45 years ago... ‘Oliver’, the guinea fowl who asked for more, was the proud pet of Laura Short of the Pet Shop in Donington.

Mrs Short hand-reared the bird after its parent birds failed to incubate their eggs, and attempts at using a chicken as a surrogate ‘mother’ failed.

Of the six survivors, five refused food, but ‘Oliver’ always asked for more.

The bird became a beloved pet but developed some unusual habits, including stealing whole sausages off plates when their owners were distracted, drinking water from running taps and perching on a chair as soon as the TV was put on so he could watch it.

l There was a bizarre scene in Swineshead when a lorry overturned and spilled its load of 3,500 frozen chickens across the road.

The lorry was transporting the four-ton cargo to Sheffield when it hit the parapet of Beck Bridge. Police had to keep guard while the food was loaded onto a replacement lorry. The driver was not seriously hurt.

35 years ago... Trade was said to have dramatically slumped in the Bargate End area of town and for some shop keepers there the build-up to Christmas was a flop.

Business owners were blaming the work taking place on the inner relief road, taking away parking places and making access difficult, even for pedestrians. Several reported a drop in the number of customers – up to 60 per cent fewer in some cases.

l Father Christmas had an unfortunate start to his festive campaign in Boston.

Before the first gift could be delivered his transport came ‘off the rails’ and was demolished. It was being towed by a Ford Transit van instead of the traditional reindeer when it broke free on London Road level crossing and hit a lamp post. The impact of the crash flattened the flimsy grotto like a pack of cards.

Boston Fenland Road Table had to quickly find alternative transport for him. One member offered a speedboat, so Santa used that to distribute his gifts.