Take a step back into Boston’s history with our weekly nostalgia column

Lollipop lady Margaret Beck with Swineshead Primary School pupils preparing the cross the road on their own after Christmas.
Lollipop lady Margaret Beck with Swineshead Primary School pupils preparing the cross the road on their own after Christmas.

EACH week reporter Gemma Gadd delves into our archives to find out what was happening in years gone by.

Send us your nostalgia photos! Got an old school picture and can’t identif your classmates? Or maybe you have an old view of Boston or the surrounding area which has not been seen before? Share it with our readers! Email your pictures to gemma.gadd@jpress.co.uk

70 years ago...1940

RATS were the most destructive force in the country, destroying more food during the war than was sunk in the four years of the German U-boats.

So said the Ministers of Agriculture and Food who were determined to destroy what they called ‘public pest number one’.

They launched a campaign and called on housewives not to leave food laying around, and for farmers to use dogs, cats, ferrets, traps, gases and poisons to kill them.

THE Standard’s weekly opinion column gave assurance that the country would rebuild itself after the aftermath of the war.

The column read: “Many noble buildings and many humble homes have been destroyed by enemy action.

“But that is not the end of the story – we shall rebuild. A new London will rise from the ashes of the old.

“A new Coventry Cathedral will enshrine the deathless spirit of our people and call them again to worship. All that was good shall be again.”

BOSTON Rural District Council unanimously passed a resolution to be sent to the Ministry of Home Security urging the ‘vital necessity’ of air raid shelters being provided for rural schools.

FUTURE housewives demonstrated their cooking and housekeeping skills at a special exhibition held in Laughton’s building, Witham Place, Boston.

The girls were all scholars attending the Domestic Science Centre and learning the ways of being a good housewife – cooking a variety of dishes, cleaning the home and polishing brass utensils ‘in the proper manner’.

The exhibition included more than 100 different articles – all of ‘a very high standard’.

40 years ago...1970

THERE were fears Boston could face Christmas Day by candlelight.

Two days previously the town was hit by a power cut with people enduring dark homes, cold breakfasts and blank television screens.

Schoolchildren and workers were sent home and shops were closed, but it was forecast worse was to come.

The blackouts were a result of strike action by electricity company staff who were turning the power off on Wednesdays and Fridays for a few hours at a time. Christmas Day was to fall on a Friday.

It seemed the electricity cut was aimed directly at Kitwood Girls’ School, for the blackout came just as the stage lights were about to be switched on for the school’s annual nativity play and carol service.

Parents and friends filled the school hall and the girls taking part in the play were all ready in costumes and elaborate stage makeup.

The play had to be cancelled but the school still held the carol service – by torchlight.

MOTORISTS came under fire from police for travelling ‘too fast and too close’ along Swineshead Rampart Road at Wyberton Fen.

The criticism came from Pc Gordon Smith following concertina-style crashes involving nine cars along the fog-enshrouded stretch of road.

Miraculously, no-one was seriously hurt. Pc Smith was one of the police who attended the scene of the pile-up where one car caught on fire.

“They were driving too fast for the visibility and too close to the driver in front,” said Pc Smith. “And quite a number were not using their headlights.”

A BOSTON poultry farmer turned ‘day into night’ in a bid to beat the electricity crisis.

N. M. Middlebrook Ltd had three poultry farms in the district and the power cuts resulted in a drop in egg production.

The birds were kept in controlled environment houses and the power cuts left them in the dark and ‘upset’.

Company director Martin Middlebrook said he would turn ‘our night into the chickens’ day’ by setting the lights to come on during the night when there was little chance of power cuts due to there being less demand for electricity then.

30 years ago...1980

SWINESHEAD Primary School was hoping for a stay of execution for its lollipop lady, who was told she would be out of a job at the end of term.

Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) said Margaret Beck’s crossing patrol would be cut as not enough children used it.

But the school’s head teacher Roy Sales said he was worried about pupils crossing alone on what he described as ‘a dangerous corner’ of the A17. He asked LCC to do a recount, claiming there were 20 who used it, with the minimum needed to keep the lollipop lady being 15.

A FLEET Street gossip columnist spoke to The Standard about the ‘topic on everyone’s mind’ – the forthcoming wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

London journalist Lady Olga Maltland said: “Everyone has been asking me what the real truth is. I think the odds are very high that their marriage will come off, provided the relationship is not jeopardised by the publicity it’s getting.”

Lady Maltland said she felt very sorry for Lady Diana who ‘had endured a trial worse than Anne Boleyn’.

THERE were fears 400 factory jobs would be lost in Boston.

Concerns came after announcements the Boston factory of Lockwoods Foods Ltd was to close in the spring.

A BOSTON couple returned after an evening out with friends to their London Road home to find intruders inside.

Mr and Mrs Rylott and friends heard voices inside as they were turning the key in the door and ran around the back to confront them.

But the raiders managed to get away with £1,000 cash and jewellery worth £2,500.

20 years ago...1990

SANTA got Boston’s late night shopping ‘extravaganza’ off to a swinging start as crowds gathered outside the Assembly Rooms for the traditional lights switch-on. Father Christmas gave a warm welcome as he appeared on the Assembly Rooms balcony to perform the traditional ceremony. Streets were crowded and the air was filled with music as bands played and children sang.

Visitors soaked up the atmosphere and hunted for presents in the shops, being served by staff who got into the spirit of the occasion by wearing fancy dress.

THIEVES smashed their way into Dixons store on the High Street, Boston, and got away with 14 video camcorders and a CD player – worth £10,650.

The shop’s alarms sounded at 7.30am as one of the doors was smashed, along with a glass cabinet inside.

Boston detectives were hunting the thieves who made off in a black transit-type van.

A VISION of Boston as the ‘premier town in south Lincolnshire’ was aired at a meeting of borough councillors and members of the town’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Dudley Byrant said although the town had declined over the last 15 to 20 years, he had a vision of it reasserting itself as the capital of the area.

However, Coun Ken Ward warned private money would have to be found if Boston was to return to its former glory.

A BOSTON couple’s four-month ordeal ended amid waves of emotion at Gatwick Airport when their son returned home.

Jim and Sheila Hopkins were reunited with their son David who was taken hostage in Kuwait during the Gulf Crisis.

“It was joyous. There were few words, we just clung to one another,” said Jim.

Ex-Grammar School pupil David, 29, was working in electrical engineering and was contracted by an American company in August to do some trouble-shooting work in Kuwait.

His trip was only meant to be 48 hours long, but while in his hotel he got word that war had broken out.

His telephone lines were cut and he was subsequently taken hostage by Saddam Hussein’s people.

After four agonising months’ wait, his parents and girlfriend Elizabeth got word the hostages had been released and David was on his way home.