Saturday 3rd December 2011
Charles Worth is to feature in a new musical
due to be staged in the United States next year. The subject of the production
is one of his models, Cora Pearl, the Parisian courtesan who became the talk of
The story of Charles Frederick
Worth is well known, son of a Bourne solicitor who left home as a boy during the
early 19th century to seek his fortune and after working in London for a spell,
left for France and later established his fashion house in Paris where he also
founded haute couture.
It was here that he met Emma,
daughter of Frederick Crouch, an English musician who emigrated to the New World
and later served as a trumpeter with the Confederate Army during the American
Civil War before settling down as a singing teacher in Baltimore where he also
worked in a furniture factory. Crouch died in 1896 at the age of 88 having been
married four times and fathered 17 children, although various accounts have
claimed that the total was nearer 27. A talented musician, he is best remembered
for writing the Irish ballad Kathleen Mavourneen which became a particular
favourite during the conflict when it was sung around camp fires, a reminder of
the girl waiting for the returning soldier and the welcoming hearth of home and
Emma preferred to use the name of
Cora Pearl and she soon became one of Worth's greatest advertisements, wearing
the underwear that he designed. Numerous photographs exist of her dressed in the
fullest, widest and most fussy of his crinolines imaginable and when he launched
the bustle, his classic innovation that was to dominate ladies fashion into the
next century, Cora was the obvious choice as the first to wear it at important
functions and to show it off to the wealthy clientele that frequented his salon.
Cora had a magnificent figure and
the capacity to charm wealthy and titled men to the extent that they fell at her
feet and spent vast sums on her that she squandered shamelessly. But it was not
to last. The years were not kind to her and after a shooting incident involving
a rejected lover, she was deported to England, looking old, painted, wrinkled
and worn out. She returned to France using clumsily forged documents but the
glamorous life she knew had gone forever and she died of cancer while living in
distressed circumstances in Paris in 1886 at the age of 51 and is buried in the
The fact that she and Worth were
friends is not surprising because both came from more austere circumstances in
England and made their mark in Parisian high society. He dressed her in the
height of fashion and she gave his creations tremendous publicity by her
outrageous behaviour. Cora is also probably the only person in the world to have
a biography named after her toilet, The Lady with the Swan's Down Seat. She was
also the originator of the popular party piece of a naked lady bursting out of a
cake and an Australian brothel even had a suite named after her.
Her colourful career is to be
celebrated in words and music by Jill Craddock, a teacher in the arts, of
Orlando, Florida, who has been studying Cora's life for some years. "She was a
really fascinating woman and trend setter", she said, "and the musical will
reflect her character and spirit."
Charles Worth is featured
prominently. "He is referred to throughout", she said, "and when Cora arrives in
Paris she says that the Worth gowns are her particular favourites. Other
references to him include her wardrobe budget, her philosophy of fashion, word
play with his surname and the jealousy of other women over her clothes which he
She added: "Right now, the
musical is limited in scope due to budget so I have not written a character for
Charles Worth although he would make a perfect addition to the show. I have been
studying the gowns and a family member has volunteered to sew. It is a very
exciting process to bring this time period to life on the stage."
The production has been entered
in the 21st Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival in May 2012 and will
run for seven performances. "Because of our limited budget, resources are being
directed mainly towards costumes and jewellery", said Jill. "Nevertheless, we
are all very excited about the production which has already been well received
by the music and theatre community. Cora, the characters in her life and the
time period itself, all make for a very good story and we feel confident for the
future of the show and that it will be seen on as many stages as possible."
A magazine recently reported
that a couple
had christened their new baby Clynton and the husband suggested that it would
raise a few guffaws among their friends. But perhaps not these days when Chelsea
and Paris are among the favoured names for the newly born along with Cosmo,
Jayden and Madison not to mention Mia, Angel, Brayden, Caleb and Payton.
There are many others that are a
far cry from the good old standards of my boyhood when everyone was a Frederick,
Reginald, William, Thomas or George while the girls answered to Margaret,
Dorothy, Elizabeth, Daphne and Gladys.
First names were once traditional
with the bible and family as the most likely sources but when the cinema came
into our lives the influence of film stars became evident and as the years
passed television provided rich pickings for parents anxious to find something
suitable for their new offspring while the worlds of celebrity and soccer are
now the inspiration for many. But Kevin and Jason now appear to have become
pass� and parents without an obvious choice are looking around for something
special with the result that inventive ideas have never been so prevalent at the
font and the register office although no one appears to give a thought to the
unhappy child in the playground when saddled with a name like Peaches, Pixie or
Names are as old as human speech
itself and, like school or pub nicknames today, began as purely descriptive
terms to prevent one person from being confused with another. But as the years
passed they began to take on a greater significance and naming a child became a
serious undertaking. At one time, they were chosen for their meaning, often
religious or charitable, sometimes even magical or echoing a venerated person
from the past, while each period of our history threw up its own contributions,
and although this habit continues with some families, the majority of names
today are chosen from the fashionable trend while some parents even make up
their own after being influenced by its pretty sound.
Each year therefore produces a
new crop and variants proliferate at all levels of society with the result that
there has never been such an assorted collection available to confer on the new
arrival but whether old or new, they are chosen with love and care, so
epitomising the hopes of parents for the future of their child and if they do
pick something quite awful, then they do it blindly and in good faith.
First names are very much a
reflection of their times and as they are changing with each decade, we cannot
imagine what will be popular a hundred years from now but there will be many
that would seem to be incongruous today. It is also evident that the inventive
nature of names that we have now is relatively new and that in past centuries
parents relied heavily on those that had been popular for a thousand years.
We know this by checking the
parish registers for Bourne in which all of the births, marriages and deaths
which took place over the past 500 years were recorded and these show that the
majority of first names listed have a long and illustrious history, many dating
back to Norman times and beyond. There was little intellectual stimulus in those
days and so the people had far less imagination and whenever a new baby arrived
the parents simply latched on to something that was readily available, usually
within the family. The majority of the entries are therefore repetitive with
well used examples such as John, William, Robert, Richard and Thomas as well as
Margaret, Anne, Katherine, Elizabeth and Sarah, all of which survive today.
There are oddities but these are
often because names were wrongly entered in the registers. In past centuries,
few people could read and write and parish clerks were not always the most
literate of people and although some of the names are quite ordinary, they were
often misheard and therefore wrongly interpreted at the time of writing, entered
phonetically or simply misspelled. One such instance occurred with the baptisms
at the Abbey Church during the 16th century because a baby boy was registered on
22nd March 1575 as Ewstis Carter although this most probably should have been
There are many such anomalies and
William frequently appears as Willyam or Wyllyame, Henry as Henrye, Philip as
Philippe, Judith as Judythe and Eleanor as Elliner. But despite these
misspellings, there are a few rarities although they appear infrequently. In
July 1562, for instance, the christenings included a Betteris, Robarde, Alse and
Gerrat while in 1566 we find a Sycilye and a Tomasen in 1574. Other unusual
names abound such as Saintes (1577), Effam, Elyn and Elyas (1579), Luce and
Octavian (1581) and Edye (1586). More examples from the 17th century include
Yorke and Theophilus (1600), Adlarde (1603), Cassander (1604), Friddes (1615),
Frideyswed (1622) Armesbye (1622), Audryan (1637), Zacre (1642) and Barbarye
(1646), while the misspellings include Anthonye, Issabell and Margerit (1600),
Ralfe (1603), Frauncis and Winefryde (1606), Humfrye (1607), Sarai (1620) and
Throughout these years, there are
barely two dozen names from which they have all been chosen, although with
variations because of the clerical errors I have described, and all are still in
use today. The old standards remained well into the 19th century although
because the Victorian era was a period of intense religious belief and frequent
churchgoing, many more biblical names appeared and so we have Ebenezer, Rebecca,
Joshua and even Ezekiel among them.
A major breakaway came during the
late 20th century when some babies began to be called by the most unfortunate
names and I well remember one being christened Marlon Brando while another was
saddled with all eleven names of the Chelsea football squad, much to the chagrin
of the vicar who had to be persuaded to officiate at the baptism. Since then,
parents have been given free rein and a glance through the births columns in any
local or national newspaper will produce a few gasps of surprise at the
ingenuity, some may think stupidity, of those listed.
Today, parents are stuck with
their surname but first names remain a matter of personal expression although
never before in our history has the range been quite so comprehensive, even
exotic, and it is because the field is so wide open that they should pause
before making their choice for although it may sound eminently suitable now,
they should ponder for a moment over whether their child will be happy with it
twenty years hence.
Thought for the week: I shall write a
book some day about the appropriateness of names. Geoffrey Chaucer has a ribald
ring, as is proper and correct, and Alexander Pope was inevitably Alexander
Pope. Colley Cibber was a silly little man without much elegance and Shelley was
very Percy and very Bysshe. - James Joyce (1882-1941), Irish novelist and
poet considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant
garde of the early 20th century.
Saturday 10th December 2011
There are still no signs
of activity in Wherry's Lane, one of the town's run down areas where
construction was expected to begin this autumn. Instead, two major properties
bought by South Kesteven District Council at great expense remain empty and work
on the much vaunted scheme to include them in a �5 million flats and shops
rejuvenation of the area is now unlikely to start before next year.
It has been suggested around town that the authority has finally realised that
the last thing Bourne needs is new shops at a time when it is unable to sustain
those it has. But The Local newspaper reports that the project is going
ahead because the required planning permission is now in the pipeline although
the delayed start date is not given (December 8th).
New shops are an integral part of the project despite the fact that several
commercial properties are currently awaiting new tenants in all of the main
streets while those that remain in business are finding it difficult to make
ends meet, a situation brought on by a combination of factors, not least the
economic crisis and the burgeoning appeal of the Internet.
There is little point of trekking
from shop to shop in a fruitless hunt for what you need only to return home and
find it through a few clicks on Google and then have it delivered to your door
next day at a much lower price. The Christmas shopping event staged in Bourne on
Saturday was a worthy effort and although the stalls and festive atmosphere may
have been one of public enjoyment and a bonus for traders, this was a purely
seasonal event which does not reflect the level of business at other times
during the year. In fact, the writing appears to be on the wall for the
traditional High Street which is slowly becoming a thing of the past, an
idealised, postcard view of a vanishing England.
Many of the country's major names
in the retail trade have already departed and others are likely to follow.
No matter how much we wish to keep things the way things were, there is no room
for sentiment because the march of progress is inevitable and those who do not
keep in step will fall by the wayside.
This country has already become
Europe's leading e-retail economy with 37 million people shopping online.
retailing is increasing six times faster than High Street sales and is expected
to reach �69 billion by the end of this year and despite the recession,
this is growing at the rate of 16% per annum while providing employment for over
All of this comes at the expense
of the High Street shops which are already facing stiff competition from the
American style malls, those huge stone and glass palaces based in the larger
towns and cities, lined with glittering emporiums crammed with the very goods
customers want to buy, all in one place with easy access and effortless car
parking. The main streets with their crowded pavements and choking traffic fumes
have lost their appeal.
Soon, the High Street as we have
known it will have disappeared altogether. The cafes and bars, estate agents and
building societies that have for many years been taking over traditional retail
properties will survive but the shops will have been replaced by display windows
where you can check out what you want to buy then go home and place an order
online. It will no longer be a place to shop but a business and service centre
and those towns that have already embraced the shape of things to come will have
introduced landscaped pedestrianised precincts with the accent on leisure and
pleasure rather than the arduous round of weekly shopping while those
properties, and certainly the floors above the existing units, can return to
their original role of living accommodation.
Neil Saunders, of Verdict
Research, experts on the UK and European retail markets, says in their Christmas
forecast for 2011 that shoppers need to prepare for a radical change on their
local High Street. "By 2014", he said, "we predict that it will become less
about shopping and more about the experience, where the stores have become a
destination rather than just a shop. You can look, touch and test the products,
speak to experts and make your decision then buy online."
Shoppers are beginning to find it
increasingly difficult to find their favourite CD, film or book on the High
Street, he said, with the result that many such shops have closed during the
year, having become �nothing more than costly overheads.� More of those who keep
their stores will move out of town where rents are cheaper, forcing shoppers to
follow them to retail parks or shop online but the retail space that does remain
will become more efficient.
It is no coincidence that all new
supermarkets are now built out of town. One stop shopping has its appeal, the
opportunity to fill a trolley and then the car boot rather than face the
drudgery of calling in at the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker which
are slowly being consigned to history.
Local authorities should know
this. They employ town planners or consultants who are supposed to keep up with
the national trend. For this reason, the dozen or so new shops likely to be
built in Wherry's Lane will almost certainly become a white elephant along with
the town centre redevelopment scheme for Bourne which failed so abysmally in
June 2010 after ten years of planning and an exorbitant amount of public money.
A north-south by pass for the
main A 15 trunk road would have been a cheaper proposition for Bourne, a scheme
that would not only have been beneficial for the health of the community and the
well being of the businesses we already have but also an acknowledgment of what
the future holds when the High Street will no longer be the centre of our
commercial life. Instead, in the years to come, this will be seen as an
opportunity lost by our local authorities.
The skateboard project for Bourne has been
revived, as this column reported last month (November 26th), and a contributor to the Bourne
Forum has suggested that the Abbey Lawn is being considered as a possible venue.
This must be a wild rumour because nothing could be more ludicrous than siting
such a facility in these austere surroundings that have been used for sporting
and social activities for decades and venerated by this and past generations.
Fortunately, this open space is
administered by Bourne United Charities and the trustees will no doubt provide
wiser counsel. Their decision to fence off the Abbey Lawn in 2009 to put an end
to the habitual vandalism that had plagued the various sports organisations that
use the grounds appears to have paid off and so it is doubtful that they would
approve a project that has attracted an unruly element elsewhere in the county
where skateboard parks have been forced to close because of rowdyism and
There is also the question of
upsetting the neighbours. The Forum contributor quite rightly suggests that the
noise will infuriate residents of Victoria Place and Coggles Causeway which are
close to the only vacant area suitable for such a venture and suggests that if
somewhere needs to be found then the land adjacent to the play area in the
Wellhead field would be far more suitable and well out of the way of anyone who
may be inconvenienced. Yet serious consideration must be given before even that
is allocated for such a purpose.
In the meantime, the rumour that
the Abbey Lawn might be used as the venue for a skateboard park persists and so
perhaps the time has come for the trustees of Bourne United Charities to issue a
statement on their web site that they would never countenance such a project, a
denial that would provide a reassurance for those who see this as being
detrimental to our traditional sporting and recreational amenities.
A rare photograph of North Street
taken during a royal celebration 100 years ago has been handed over to Bourne
Civic Society for display at the Heritage Centre. The picture measuring 5 ft. x
3 ft 2 in. is an enlargement from the original taken by William Redshaw
(1856-1943), one of the early pioneers of photography who took countless views
of the town although compared with his massive output, comparatively few have
survived the years.
It was taken on Friday 30th June
1911 when Bourne was decorated to celebrate the coronation of King George V and
shows the street bedecked with flags and bunting and thronging with people in
their Sunday best.
Until recently, the picture hung
in the counter area of the Nationwide Building Society at No 17 North Street but
when the premises were redecorated during a refurbishment earlier this year, it
was decided that the photograph no longer fitted in with the surroundings and it
was consigned to the attic. Staff member Mrs Maria Sears mentioned it one day
when I was at the counter and when I suggested that the picture should be
preserved, the manager, John Borrill, agreed that it should go to the Heritage
Centre and it has now been handed over and given pride of place for visitors to
enjoy in the future.
The photograph was one of a
series taken by William Redshaw on that day, all showing the town gaily
decorated with flags, streamers and floral displays. It was one of the biggest
celebrations ever held in the town with a parade and public tea, sports, a
torchlight procession, fireworks and bonfire, and at night, most of the business
premises and private houses were illuminated. Only one or two other pictures of
the event are known to exist and so this one is extremely important, especially
in view of its size, and therefore makes a most valuable addition to the
Heritage Centre's collection.
From the archives: A farewell service
was held at the Abbey Church in Bourne for the closure of the town's hospital
which was shut at the end of September despite a campaign to keep it open for
Lincolnshire Health Authority
took the closure decision in conjunction with North West Anglia Healthcare Trust
and South Lincolnshire Community and Mental Health Trust, following trials in
the Stamford area which indicated that patients preferred to be treated in their
own homes rather than in hospital where they are separated from family and
The church was packed for a
poignant service which observed the closure of the hospital that started life in
1914 as an isolation unit for patients with infectious diseases and was later
converted for use as a chest hospital and in recent years has been used for
general medical care. The congregation sang hymns and said prayers for the
remembrance of the hospital.
The Save Bourne Hospital Action
Group has been fighting for the past two years to keep the hospital open. Their
campaign included a twelve-hour vigil at the hospital and 8,000 people signed a
petition to Westminster. Local residents and civic leaders are angry at the
closure and claim that it has been taken purely on financial grounds. "They need
to cut costs but many people will be very distressed by the loss of this
valuable community medical facility", said a spokesman. - news item from the
Bourne web site, Sunday 18th October 1998.
Thought for the week:
The new 612-bed
four-storey Peterborough City Hospital which opened a year ago at a cost of �289
million is too large for the city, according to Derek Harris who resigned as
chairman of NHS Peterborough in October. He said that the government�s aim to
provide more health care in the community rather than in hospitals spelled
trouble for the Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (which
also covers Bourne). �At some point or other, the government is going to have to
face up to the fact we have too many hospital beds�, he added. � news report
from the Peterborough Evening Telegraph, Thursday 8th December 2011.
Saturday 17th December 2011
The Abbey Church is our only Grade I
listed building, a marvel of mediaeval construction before the days of modern
technology, tools and equipment, and so relied on manpower alone. It was built
over a period spanning several centuries yet still stands as a monument to those
early artisans who worked not for the glory of God but to sustain their families
and stay alive.
The building of our church is
therefore a parable that has a resonance today that is reflected in a myriad
familiar expressions that we use without thought such as "the labourer is worthy
of his hire" or "labour brings its own reward". Each stone was fashioned and
laid with perfection through hardship and sweat, a task that took some workmen a
lifetime yet they never saw the completion of their toil.
The abbey was conceived by the
Lord of the Manor, Baldwin Fitzgilbert (1095-1154), who began work in the early
12th century during the great revival in religious thought and action in
England. Anxious to demonstrate his devotion to the faith, he decided to erect a
new church on the site of the old Saxon building which was then showing signs of
decay and began the task in 1138 but owing to many setbacks and adversities, he
never completed the work as he intended.
Baldwin had imagined a building
of cathedral like proportions with twin towers but this did not come to fruition
and it has been suggested that the ambitious plans were thwarted by the Black
Death which resulted in a shortage of stonemasons. He was also wounded and taken
prisoner at the Battle of Lincoln in 1141 and, according to the custom of the
time, had to pay a large ransom for his release and this seriously depleted his
It was inevitable that a building
of such proportions would take a considerable time to complete and apart from
the expense, a significant labour force was required, but there was also the
problem of finding the materials. Timber was no doubt provided by Bourne Wood,
then part of the ancient Brunswald Forest which was full of oaks, but the stone
itself had to be hauled from some distance away, there being no local source
available in the immediate area, and this must have been transported block by
block by ox-cart from somewhere such as the quarry at Barnack, near Stamford,
where the limestone known as Barnack rag was first exploited by the Romans, on
roads that were little more than footpaths and rough tracks.
Stone may also have been transported on
sleds from the quarry to the River Glen and loaded on to barges or rafts on
which it travelled down the waterway and thence to the Bourne Eau which ran past
the church. Once here, it was fashioned on site by a team of stonemasons,
usually travelling craftsmen from all parts of the country who moved to where
the work was available and stayed until the job was finished.
The role of these mediaeval
masons has been studied by Carol Davidson Cragoe, Assistant Architectural Editor
of the Victoria County History, who tells us that most of the actual
construction work on our churches and cathedrals was done during the spring and
summer months, allowing the mortar to set and the laid stones to settle over the
winter, also giving the masons a chance to carve more stones for the following
year (BBC Online, British History Series).
The masons had no magical
formula, she writes, merely an understanding of basic geometry and a few tools
such as a set of compasses, a set square and a staff or rope marked off in
halves, thirds and fifths, while designs were worked out at full scale on
tracing floors covered with soft plaster or sometimes on parchment. Yet they
were able to construct these most amazing buildings. Scaffolding was used to
reach the loftier parts and cranes and pulleys helped lift materials but it was
a hard and often dangerous occupation and many lost their balance while working
at extreme heights and plunged to their death.
Work on the Abbey Church took
several centuries. The original building programme was cut back by Baldwin
because of the various problems he encountered and the church was not finished
as originally intended, only the nave, with a low roof, and the bottom portion
of the tower being completed. The west front, the upper part of the tower and
the clerestory were not added until the 14th century and it would be another 200
years before the building that we see today was finally completed.
It was therefore a monumental
task at an inestimable cost and despite the progress that has been made in
almost 900 years that have since passed, it is one that would face
insurmountable problems if tackled today. Imagine the bureaucracy that would
pursue such a scheme, from the original idea to the final conception, not to
mention finance because the money for such an ambitious project would be hard to
find when even in these affluent times, the church is having difficulties in
raising the �100,000 required for the latest essential maintenance and repairs.
First a site would have to be
purchased and approved and no matter which was chosen, there would be some
developer around complaining that it was eating up land that would be far better
used for new houses while the planning process would produce a welter of
bureaucratic pitfalls, enough to delay the process for several years. Then there
would have to be agreement on the final appearance of the building and the
proposed materials which would provide sufficient scope for the church itself to
object on principal if merely to assert its authority, as it would undoubtedly
do, and so there would be enough interference to throw the entire project into a
state of confusion.
If after all of the official
procedures had been ironed out, permissions sought and given and work was about
to start, there would then have to be the securing of materials and the
recruiting of a workforce and their trade unions to contend with whose officials
would undoubtedly regulate working to an eight hour day, five days a week with
suitable holiday entitlements, not to mention the Health and Safety Executive
who would create a nightmare of rules and regulations, not least for working at
the heights required to complete the tower.
It is unlikely, therefore, that
such a building could be repeated in Bourne in the present climate, a thought
worth pondering on when we are asked to dig into our pockets and support the
upkeep of the present one.
There is nothing quite so evocative as memories
of Christmas past for this is a time of remembering old friends and happy
occasions. It was of particular enjoyment during the Victorian era and few have
not read the vivid descriptions of Charles Dickens whose scenes of conviviality
and goodwill to all men seem to epitomise the festive season.
Here is Bourne, the celebrations
were equally enthusiastic although the anticipation did not start quite so early
and lasted no more than a few days and as this was the age of temperance and the
tendency to sign the pledge promising to abstain from alcohol, there was always
someone ready to warn against the perils of drink. Here is a sample of the way
it was from the pages of the Stamford Mercury more than 100 years ago.
The newspaper reported on Friday 23rd December 1887:
is abundant energy being manifested in the seasonable decorations of the various
business establishments at Bourne. The grocers' windows are tastefully adorned
with appetising wares; and the milliners' and drapers' establishments also
present an artistic appearance.
the National Schoolroom in North Street, the vicar and churchwardens and members
of various local charities made their annual distribution among the deserving
poor, the gifts including 700 yards of flannel, 50 blankets, 700 yards of calico
and 170 tons of coal.
Monday and Tuesday, Mr Thomas Rosbottom, the celebrated Lancashire lecturer,
addressed crowded meetings in the Victoria Hall, Bourne, in advocacy of
temperance. The lectures were a great success, the audience being apparently
entirely in sympathy with the lecturer, who interspersed anecdotes, humorous and
pathetic, with his moving exhortations, in a manner quite irresistible. He
claims that during his career as a lecturer he has induced thousands to sign the
Bourne Abbey was throughout adorned with seasonable decorations for Christmas.
Though not so elaborately ornamental as in some previous years, the general
effect was exceedingly pleasing. Over the communion table in white letters on a
scarlet ground was the text "Emmanuel, God with us". The centre was occupied
with a beautiful white cross. The miniature arches were filled with a pretty
arrangement of evergreens interspersed with flowers. The reading desk was
decorated with ivy and holly, the panels in front being ornamented with
chrysanthemum crosses, the centre one of the St Cuthbert type. The pedestal of
the lectern was gay with a choice selection of flowers and evergreens, a fine
bunch of pampas grass being especially noticeable.
berries and ivy embellished the handsome pulpit. The sills of the windows in the
north and south aisles were beatified with texts worked in white on a scarlet
ground, and encircled with wreaths and evergreens. The font was decorated with
exquisite taste; the cover was surmounted with a fine cross and chrysanthemums;
the pedestal was encircled with ivy and a variety of evergreens prettily
frosted. Great praise is due to the ladies who so admirably executed the
Christmas was ushered in at Bourne with merry peals of the bells of the old
abbey church and the musical strains of the Bourne brass band who played carols
and other appropriate pieces in an exceedingly creditable manner.
grand fancy fair [similar to our modern pantomimes] was held in the Corn
Exchange on December 27th and 28th in aid of the funds of the Congregational
Church. The room was fitted up as a street of nations or grand international
bazaar. The scene was laid in Canton. The peculiar conglomeration of Oriental
and European architecture was depicted with realistic effect. Proceeding down
the left side of the street, the enterprising traveller passed in succession a
Persian residence, an Indian cottage, a Chinese house, a delightful Japanese
village, a Tyrolese chalet, a snug mountain home covered with snow and having
icicles pendent from the roof, a magnificent Buddhist temple having its
elaborate exterior embellished with representatives of the Oriental deity and
dragons; the Japanese villa, "the Golden Lily"; a pretty view on the Yang-tse-Kiang.
The last abode in the curious street was an Australian log hut.
entire series of buildings presented a charming appearance, and attested the
well-known skill of Mr Alfred Stubley [painter, paperhanger, sign-writer and art
decorator of 28 West Street]. The articles exhibited on the various stalls were
both useful and ornamental. Various entertainments were given in the evenings.
Vocal and instrumental music was performed at intervals. Amongst the amusements
were The House that Jack Built and �sop's fables personified, which were very
popular. The promoters of the enterprise are to be congratulated on the success
which has deservedly crowned their efforts.
Thought for the week: I have always
thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind,
forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the
year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts
freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow
passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other
journeys. - Charles Dickens, foremost novelist of the Victorian era and
vigorous social campaigner, considered to be one of the greatest writers in the
English language (1812-1870).
We are taking
a break although the web site will continue to appear over the holiday and if
you have something to say, the Bourne Forum remains open for contributions. The
Diary will be back on December 31st and in the meantime we wish you all a happy
Christmas and good health and prosperity in the coming year when we hope you
find it worthwhile to keep logging on.
Saturday 31st December 2011
The wisdom of building flats and shops in
Wherry's Lane which has been an eyesore for well over a decade is now being
closely questioned. They are part of a scheme by South Kesteven District Council
to clean up the alleyway and refurbish the Burghley Street warehouse and the old
masonic lodge building but it is not meeting with the universal approval that
the authority expected.
This column has already pointed
out that it would be rash, even foolhardy, to build more shops when the town
cannot sustain those it already has and now The Local newspaper reports
that the scheme has been rejected by Bourne Town Council on the grounds that new
flats would not be in keeping with the conservation area or the town centre
The criticism came from the
council's highways and planning committee which met on Tuesday 13th December to
consider plans for the �2.2 million revamp of the area and the creation of seven
shops and fourteen apartments. But the chairman, Councillor Trevor Holmes
(Bourne West), said that the scheme would simply provide more residential
properties without adding to the local infrastructure which is what Bourne needs
at the present time. "This plan does not serve the town", he said, and he called
on the district council and the nominated developers, Trent Valley Construction,
to meet them for further discussion. "We want some genuine local input", he went
on. "We want them to go back to the drawing board and prepare something that
better serves the needs of Bourne."
This is criticism at first hand,
from the very heart of our community, because the town council has a much
greater grasp of the needs of this town than any other authority and it is hoped
that SKDC will take notice. We are always being told that projects such as this
are subjected to a detailed public consultation and the views of our town
council must not therefore be ignored.
But the prospect does not look
good because Councillor Linda Neal, leader of SKDC, told the newspaper that the
developers were ready to begin as soon as the plans are approved and that she
was �surprised� at hearing the views of the town council. Advice had been taken
from English Heritage and the housing element incorporated into the scheme to
avoid Bourne from becoming �a ghost town� in the evenings when the shops were
shut. She added: �It is exciting that at long last, after all the hard work over
the years, we are getting to the final hurdle.�
Unfortunately, the town council
has limited powers and only a token input on planning matters but it would be a
travesty of democracy if we suddenly woke up one morning to find work underway
without the discussions that have been requested.
There is one other point worth
mentioning and that is the continued insistence of the local newspapers in
describing this scheme as the town centre redevelopment which it most certainly
is not. That would have cost �27 million or more and involved the entire
rebuilding of a much larger area, that triangle of land between North Street,
West Street and Burghley Street, but that scheme died a death in June 2010 after
ten years of planning and the expenditure of an exorbitant amount of public
This was a grand idea as outlined
in December 2004 by the original chosen developer who planned to complete work
within 12-18 months: "It will extend and diversify the town centre with
retail-led development, emphasising existing routes across the site; promoting
links to existing retail areas and linking to public transport; providing public
spaces; enhancing pedestrian and cyclist access; retaining existing buildings of
architectural quality; enhancing community safety; new buildings will reflect
qualities and features of existing buildings; materials used will complement
those found in the Bourne town centre locality and the scale of buildings to be
in keeping with Bourne town centre and progressive town centre development."
Such a major change would have
transformed the town centre but this scheme is little more than the
refurbishment of Wherry's Lane, a narrow thoroughfare between North Street and
the Burghley Street car park which has been in need of a clean-up for many
years. But SKDC just happens to have a few old buildings standing empty which
were originally purchased at exorbitant prices for inclusion in the original
scheme and this seems to be a convenient way of disposing of them. Town
councillors are right to raise issues over the consequences and it is to be
hoped that their concerns will be taken into account but we will have to wait
and see whether we still have a voice in our own affairs.
The inadequate service for the supply of
petrol to local motorists in Bourne was highlighted shortly before the Christmas
holiday when the Tesco/Esso Express service station in North Street, the town's
only outlet, was shut while a tanker replenished the underground tanks. The
entire forecourt was closed for almost an hour while this operation was underway
with many cars being turned away and I am reliably informed that this happens at
least once a week, more often during periods of higher demand.
The nearest alternative filling
stations are some distance away, at Kate's Bridge, Market Deeping and even
Stamford, which merely piles on the miles for someone wanting to fill up. The
quality of this service in an age when the entire population depends on the
motor car is a bad reflection on those who run our affairs and as the buck stops
with the local authorities, many will blame them for the inadequacy of their
There has been talk for many
years about Bourne getting another petrol filling station but despite the
optimism, it has failed to materialise. Instead, we have to be content with
Tesco/Express which was given planning permission in 2002 at a badly sited and
inconvenient location and whose cut-throat pricing policy put our other outlets
out of business, notably the Raymond Mays garage in Spalding Road which was
forced to close in 2005 after half a century in business. Now help may finally
be at hand because there are indications that we might get another petrol
filling station on the east side of South Road, not far from the new Tesco
supermarket, a site that has been the subject of speculation for the past seven
The land was originally part of
the 10-acre Southfields Business Park originally announced in December 1998 amid
much euphoria about the expectation that it would create hundreds of new jobs,
but the proposed developers pulled out in May 2001 and since then there have
been reports and rumours about various uses while much of the original land in
the vicinity has been chipped away for housing.
The remaining 4.2 acre site just
south of Elsea Park was subsequently offered for sale for commercial development
and in August 2008 it was announced by South Kesteven District Council that they
were in negotiation with the Wolverhampton-based Marston�s plc, one of the
country�s leading companies which owns four breweries and controls some 2,272
pubs, to build a petrol filling station for the town together with a family pub
and restaurant on the land. The council said that there had not yet been a
formal agreement with the company and in October the following year, it was
announced that Marston's plc had withdrawn from the scheme.
Now, according to The Local
newspaper (December 23rd), the site has been bought for �500,000 by the Lindum
Group and Castle Square Developments of Lincoln who hope to submit a planning
application for a new petrol station in the coming year. The newspaper also
reports that a public house and restaurant is likely to be built next door by
Marston's plc who are back in the reckoning but in view of the on-off saga
relating to this site in recent years, we will have to wait and see whether
these proposed projects do materialise.
The present situation with just
one petrol outlet, leaving motorists nowhere else to go locally, is an absurd
situation for a town with a population of 15,000 but, hopefully, this monopoly
may now soon be coming to an end. Certainly, the Lindum Group recognises the
need because their development surveyor, Peter Harvey, told the newspaper: "We
want to show our commitment to delivering that facility. We have already had a
meeting with the town council and a second petrol station is something that
everyone in Bourne is keen to see."
Another project likely to come to fruition in
the coming months is the creation of a one-stop community access point for
council services due to be located at the Corn Exchange while the Town Hall
which has been their traditional home for almost two centuries will become
redundant. No valid reason has been given for the move and there has already
been a complaint about the inadequate public consultation yet South Kesteven
District Council has told The Local newspaper (December 30th) that it
will become operational by March 2013 although the council had told the
newspaper two weeks earlier that it would be December 2012.
We may therefore assume that from
that date Bourne will lose its public library in South Street as well as the Town Hall while other amenities
such as the police station are likely to follow suit. What next?
The Corn Exchange will be unable
to contain all of these services despite the proposed alterations yet it is
already being suggested that the register office, the public toilets and the ambulance station may also move there and it
may not be long before we may also need somewhere for the fire brigade. There is
nothing wrong with centralisation. Indeed, it can be a good thing and in an
ideal world we would have somewhere purpose built at a more convenient location
and with adequate car parking but to cram everything into a small town centre
space such as this does seem a trifle ill advised.
New logo designs for the Bourne in
Bloom campaign have been added to the many planters containing flowers and
shrubs that can be seen around the town centre. They are part of the campaign to
promote awareness for the scheme to keep the town clean and smart which has been
an annual event since 2006 although the actual competition organised by the East
Midlands in Bloom organisation has been running for well over 40 years. In
recent years, Bourne has won silver and silver gilt awards for six successive
years and is always striving for the coveted gold.
The idea for a distinctive logo
for letters, postage and public signage came from the Bourne committee and was
launched in April 2011when members of the public were asked to submit designs.
Mrs Nelly Jacobs, clerk to the town council and an active committee member, said
that it was not a formal competition but more an invitation for people to send
in their ideas although the chosen logo and its designer would receive public
Community groups, businesses and
individuals, were also invited to join the scheme by adopting planters as well
as submitting a suitable design to go on the fifteen that are placed at
prominent positions around the town centre. "It will not cost anything but we
would expect the planters to be properly planted and maintained each year", she
In the event, the winning design
came from a teenage schoolgirl, Annabel Snape, then in Year 8 at Bourne Academy
and has been reproduced on the planters together with an acknowledgment of those
who sponsored them. The judges for the competition were Councillor Judy Smith,
local artist Chris Moxley and Lorraine Cunningham from a local company, Set in
Stone Memorials., who were all impressed by the high standard of entries.
Thought for the week: People from a planet
without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such
things about us. - Dame Iris Murdoch (1919-99), British author and
philosopher, best known for her novels about political and social questions of
good and evil, morality and the power of the unconscious.