Saturday 2nd July 2011
There is widespread speculation over the
future of Bourne Youth Centre, a prestige building in Queen's Road opened in May
2004 at a cost of more than £400,000, and Lincolnshire County Council has done
little to allay fears that its present role may be coming to an end.
The centre is a valued community
facility for young people in the town but now likely to become a victim of the
latest spending cuts because children's services throughout the county are under
review and that includes the future of youth clubs such as this.
Unfortunately, councillors and
officials are either reluctant or unable to explain the situation in simple
terms and appear to lack the required skills to communicate. An example of this
comes from Patricia Bradwell, the executive councillor for children's services,
who gave this statement to The Local newspaper when asked about the
future of the youth club (June 24th): "We have met with the Bourne management
committee and will be arranging an event to take things forward with voluntary
groups and the committee. This builds on the concept of the Big Society where we
work collaboratively with communities, partners and other agencies on the use of
facilities and the development of high quality youth provision in Bourne and
The youth club employs two
members of staff whose future is dealt with in another confusing explanation
from "a county council spokesman" who told the newspaper: "There is a selection
process taking place which could see some redundancies. Staff will be working in
a different way and not solely linked to specific centres. Youth community
development workers will be working with voluntary groups and communities to
continue quality provision at the centres. Targeted youth support workers will
also be working and supporting children with complex needs."
What these two statements
actually mean in relation to Bourne Youth Centre is anyone's guess. They are
part of the tendency of government, and indeed official bodies, at all levels,
to cloak unpalatable truths in ambiguous words and phrases that require semantic
analysis to understand. In this case, all that the youngsters want to know is
whether their youth club is to be closed or not but after reading them they will
be none the wiser. My own interpretation is that its present role is to end and
the premises used for other purposes while staff will lose their jobs or be
asked to take on extra work and volunteers will be needed to replace them if
youth services are to continue, albeit at a reduced level. If that explanation
is incorrect, then it is the fault of those who made these tortuous
pronouncements in the first place.
The county council and many other
local authorities really should subscribe to the Plain English Campaign which
has been trying to stamp out gobbledygook, jargon and misleading statements
since 1979 on the premise that everyone should have access to clear and concise
information, which these most certainly are not. Readers of the newspaper are
not alone because even the youth club's management committee remains in the
dark. "We just want to know what is going to happen", said the chairman, Mrs
Dorothy Alexander. "The kids who come here are quite upset because they do not
know what is going on. We just don't know which way to turn."
The result of all this confusion
is that there are many rumours circulating around town and all speculate on
either closure of the centre or a reduction in its activities, one source even
claiming that the building is to be used by young offenders which, if true,
would be a total denial of its original aims.
Buried in all of this official
verbiage is a clue to what is actually happening and what the future holds for
Bourne Youth Centre. Unfortunately, no one knows what it is and we can only
recommend that the county council obtains a few copies of the campaign's free
guides to plain English and crystal clear communication for distribution to its
councillors and staff before they make further pronouncements.
If the centre is left to volunteers to run
then the wheel will have turned full circle since the youth movement began 75
years ago because the clubs we know today stem from the Standing Conference of
National Voluntary Youth Organisations which was held in 1936, a landmark in the
strengthening of the voluntary principle of youth work in Britain.
The programme was interrupted by
the Second World War of 1939-45 but in the years that followed, its influence on
local authorities played a major role in the setting up of youth clubs across
the country. The training of youth leaders, often at universities and university
colleges, was seen to be of paramount importance and the number of young people
who flocked to join the new clubs was evidence of the need that existed for a
formal and organised way of spending their leisure time.
This resulted in the formation of
the Bourne Victory Youth Club which met at the Victoria Hall in Spalding Road
[demolished in April 1967] but surprisingly it foundered after a few years
through lack of support. There was a resurgence of interest, mainly from the
local political organisations, with both the Conservative and Labour parties
starting youth clubs but youngsters wanting something to do rather than a
political ideology often joined both to take advantage of the leisure facilities
they offered. Yet another attempt was made in 1961 with the opening of the Under
21 Club and although it initially attracted 60 members, interest flagged and
that too closed down within a year.
Poor organisation and a lack of
support from outside bodies were blamed for these closures but the need for a
youth club in the town remained and the following year, Bourne Urban District
Council, under the chairmanship of Councillor Dr John Galletly (1899-1993),
decided that a new club should be launched with the official support of both the
urban and county authorities. A public meeting was therefore called at the
Vestry Hall in North Street on Thursday 1st February 1962 to discuss the project
and the large attendance was evidence of the support it would receive.
Nevertheless, it took some time to come to fruition but Bourne Hereward Youth
Club finally opened in November 1965. Membership was available for young people
aged between 14 and 20 and activities included games, talks, a car maintenance
class, judo and outdoor pursuits such as camping, canoeing and rock climbing
with weekend get-togethers for young people from other parts of the county.
The club later moved to the
Congregational [now the United Reformed] Church hall in Eastgate and in 1977 it
was granted a lease of the Vestry Hall in North Street, then owned by Bourne
United Charities, until 1986 when it moved to a row of prefabricated huts that had
been used as temporary classrooms in the grounds of the old secondary school,
now the Robert Manning College,
where it remained for the next eighteen years, changing its name to Bourne Youth
Centre. In 2003, Lincolnshire County Council decided to replace the huts with a
brand new youth centre which opened its doors on Monday 13th September 2004 with
an official opening the following March.
If a new centre was necessary
seven years ago then the same demand must be evident today but the economic
climate has changed dramatically in the intervening years and supply is
regulated by what the budget can afford. The youth club, and many other popular
community amenities such as the library, may therefore become victim of the
public spending cuts now being imposed across the board with far reaching
effects on the benefits the town once enjoyed.
Genealogy continues to be a consuming passion for
people compiling their family tree and the Internet provides a wealth of
information relating to our ancestors through the various web sites devoted to
archives relating to many aspects of life, particularly census returns, military
records and the official UK birth, marriage and death certificates.
Schools have largely been ignored
but now the Bourne Abbey C of E Primary Academy has begun the painstaking task
of transcribing the school admission registers from past times. There are
restrictions on the publication of recent records under the Data Protection Act
of 1998 but this leaves sufficient information now being made available for
anyone trying to trace children who attended the school from its formation in
1877 until the early years of the 20th century.
Christine Rice, the schools ICT
manager, said that work is well advanced on records from 1877 onwards and it was
intended to transcribe the original handwritten information into a readable
computer format and so make the information available online. The most useful of
these to the genealogist are the pupil registers which give the date of
admission and withdrawal from the school, name, and date of birth, name and
address of parent or guardian, last school attended, date and reason for leaving
although teachers sometimes omitted to fill in all the columns.
There is an added advantage to
the project in that the school archives also provide a valuable learning
opportunity for pupils and create a lasting legacy from which they will benefit.
The school's history has a direct connection to their lives and a good example
of this is the Year 5 pupils who have been examining the attendance registers to
enhance a Victorian project while Year 6 have been studying the attendance of
evacuees who came to Bourne for their studies of the Second World War from 1939-45.
Schools produce rich historical
records such as attendance registers, log books, programmes promoting drama
productions, photographs, letters, issues of the school newsletter, and other
items which document not only the life of the school, but also often reflect the
history of the community or nation. "It is now hoped that these exciting and
informative archives will serve many researchers into local and family history
in the years to come", said Mrs Rice. "We have had several emails of interest
already which is very positive and makes the job worthwhile."
The records already available
include the school's admissions from 1877-1975, 1916-1928 (boys) and 1917-1932
(girls) and you may access the information available so far and learn more about
the project though the school's web site which is listed in the genealogy
section in Bourne Links.
After many years of neglect, the footpath
connecting Church Walk with South Road is finally being given a makeover.
Volunteers from the Abbey Church have been busy in recent days weeding and
clearing the rubbish that has collected and giving the area a general tidy up.
The work is being done now at the
prompting of the Bourne in Bloom committee because the judges are due to make
their annual inspection on Monday to find out how clean and tidy the streets are
being kept. This annual competition has been with us since 2006 and Bourne has
been successful in the medium-sized town category each year, winning two silver
followed by three silver-gilt awards but the coveted gold has always been
elusive and there are hopes that it might be achieved this year.
Church Walk is an attractive
pedestrian way, often used but rarely cleaned, a situation that has now been
rectified, although the railings on the west side have still not been replaced,
having been cut down to supply metal for the manufacture of munitions during the
Second World War of 1939-45 leaving unsightly stumps protruding from the
concrete bases. There has been talk of installing elegant black and gold
railings similar to those erected alongside the Bourne Eau outside the Abbey
Church last year as part of the town centre improvement scheme but, of course,
this has never materialised.
Elsewhere, flowers are blooming,
in South Street, North Street and in the town centre, the work of a dedicated
band of volunteers including schoolchildren and scouts while several local firms
are also contributing time and effort. Many trade premises such as the Angel
Hotel and the Nag's Head, are also adorned with hanging baskets, the owners
knowing that success for Bourne will reflect on their custom. Unfortunately,
this enthusiasm is not shared by everyone including some tenants of buildings in
a very prominent position and it is a pity that although they make their living
from this town, they chose not to join in this annual rush of civic pride.
Thought for the week:
Flowers are a proud
assertion that a ray of beauty out values all the utilities of the world. -
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82), American essayist, lecturer, and poet who led the
Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century.
Saturday 9th July 2011
There has been much talk of the Big Society
and the need to encourage towns and villages to join in and although the idea
has been with us for a year or more many still do not understand exactly what it
The most concise definition comes
from Dame Helen Ghosh, Home Office permanent secretary, who told M Ps: “We in
central government need to focus on doing the things that only government can do
and what we need to facilitate is that, at the most local, most individual
level, people both identify and solve problems in the way that they wish to
Even that does not pinpoint it
exactly and Lincolnshire County Council is now trying to put the message across
more explicitly by explaining that it quite simply means more power for
the people at local level where they can run their own affairs but, more
importantly, they will be expected to do it for nothing.
"The county has always had a
thriving Big Society, a huge network of dedicated individuals and local groups
working together to improve life for others", says a front page article in the
latest issue of its free sheet County News (Summer 2011). "Now the county
council, with its public and voluntary sector partners, has launched a drive to
make it even stronger."
Council leader Martin Hill (Folkingham
Rural) said that volunteers who gave their time freely were at the heart of our
communities with more than 500 people currently lending a hand at libraries and
heritage centres while administrative and other assistance was also given across
the county to community car schemes. "They deserve not just our thanks but also
the practical support we can provide", he said.
It is now the aim of the council
to build on this by increasing volunteering and community participation
throughout the county with two major conferences during the summer and greater
consultation with parish councils, faith groups, charities and other
organisations while giving additional support for less active areas, thus
encouraging them to shape their own futures through more participation and
decision making at grassroots level.
"Everything from planning to
health to anti-social behaviour, transferring power to local people whenever we
can", said Councillor Hill. "Most of us know unselfish people who work
tirelessly for others for no personal reward but we must never take that
goodwill for granted. That is why we are looking for new ways to support our Big
Society and make it even bigger in the years ahead."
The Big Society therefore may be
a good idea but appears to be an official ruse to pass paid appointments on to
volunteers, thus reducing public spending, although the job losses will not
affect the centre of administration at County Offices in Lincoln where highly
paid employment with generous pension and holiday entitlements are sacrosanct.
Instead, the weeding out will be done in the purlieus of the shire, in our town
halls, schools, libraries, youth clubs and the like. The sceptical might even
suggest that the policy is not so much an encouragement to recruit more
volunteers, rather a cynical method of exploiting those who are willing to serve
without remuneration and in doing so will help protect the employment of those
at the centre of power.
is the mainstay of any community and without it, society itself would be the
poorer. The government provides only the basic structures for living and the
rest is up to us and so those of altruistic motives who offer their services for
purely humanitarian and charitable causes enhance not only their own
self-esteem but also the organisation with which they become associated. The
work of the volunteer therefore is the difference between a basic and a
sophisticated society, making life more pleasant and amenable for those around
Bourne already has a commendable
record in this sphere and many of the community projects we take for granted are
run by volunteers, men and women who selflessly give their time and often money
running clubs and organisations, helping the sick, the elderly and disabled, or
merely popping in next door in time of need, all tasks motivated by a love of
our fellow man and carried out without thought of reward.
Their work is particularly
valuable in those activities involving our young people, the scouts and the
guides, the youth clubs and junior soccer teams, the parent-teacher committees
and a host of others that have become interwoven into the fabric of our lives
yet we accept them without a second thought. There are many fine examples of
this altruistic work in Bourne with our churches, the Outdoor Swimming Pool, the
Heritage Centre, the Butterfield Day Care Centre and Wake House, all of which
exist purely through the work of volunteers, but there are many other
organisations that would collapse without selfless service.
A head count of all volunteers in
the town at the moment would reveal that they are predominantly older rather
than younger, many of them retired, but few youngsters, especially teenagers,
are among their ranks. Young people are on record as saying that they are bored
and that there is nothing to do in Bourne but an evening or two, and perhaps the
odd weekend, of voluntary work with one of our many projects would provide them
with the challenge they were looking for if only they were prepared to give it a
A continual complaint about Bourne is the
amount of litter in the streets. Much of this is due to the large number of fast
food outlets in the town centre and immediate vicinity and customers, especially
late at night after the public houses have turned out, appear to have an
irresistible urge to drop the wrappings once they have eaten their supper. The
result is that the pavements and gutters in the busier areas are strewn with
fish and chip papers, pizza boxes and soft drink cans and bottles together with
the inevitable cigarette ends although the detritus in some gutters is of a far
more unsavoury nature.
The result is that the streets in
the early morning, particularly on Saturdays and Sundays, are often a mess and
give a bad impression to visitors who immediately condemn the local authorities
for allowing this to happen whereas the blame lies with the people who live
There is no excuse for even one
scrap of litter in the streets because sufficient bins are provided
within the parish by South Kesteven District Council, all located at convenient
points and easily identified by their black and gold livery. It has been said
that there are not enough of these waste receptacles yet no one needs to walk
more than a few yards without finding one.
In fact, a report from the town
council has now revealed that there are currently 60 such bins in use and all
are emptied regularly. Yet the litter persists and so council members have been
walking the area to check that each is in a suitable position and being used as
intended. All that is needed now is the co-operation of the public and Bourne's
litter problem would disappear overnight.
It is only fifty years
ago that the first
litter lout in Bourne appeared before the local magistrates at the Town Hall
accused of dropping a fish and chip paper in North Street, marking the beginning
of a campaign to clean up the nation’s streets following the introduction of the
Litter Act of 1958 which had been made law the previous year.
The culprit was prosecuted on
Thursday 1st October 1959, a 28-year-old man from Morton whose name I will not
give to save him any embarrassment for such a dubious honour if he is still with
us, but suffice it to say that he was truly repentant, so sorry in fact that his
mother wrote to the court on his behalf pleading for leniency because her son
had been ill and was not fully acquainted with the new legislation.
Nevertheless, Bourne Urban
District Council, which was then responsible for maintaining our highways in a
reasonably clean state, pressed for a conviction and the accused was fined 10s.
which is only 50p in today’s money but was then a tidy sum at a time when the
average weekly wage was around £3. The council clerk, Douglas Reeson, who
prosecuted, told the court that bins had been placed in conspicuous
places around the town in the hope that this would make the public more litter
conscious and the authority intended to summons all offenders in the future. His
evidence was corroborated by a police constable who had seen the accused throw
the fish and chip paper down although there was a bin only four yards away and
another within ten yards.
This vigilance was to be
commended at a time when litter was becoming a major problem for local
authorities throughout the country but unfortunately, the honeymoon for the
Litter Act is now well and truly over. The clean streets from the years which
followed its introduction are less frequent and the vigilance which was once the
watchword of the populace has disappeared. The disciplines of personal behaviour
have relaxed with the changing social climate and street litter, once mainly the
province of the careless and thoughtless, is now often a deliberate act.
the Austerby have little hope that the vexing problem of pupils from Bourne
Grammar School jamming the road with parked cars every day during term time will
be resolved in the foreseeable future because the latest report on the progress
of this dispute contains scant encouragement from those empowered to find a
Firstly, the school has made it
quite clear that there is no space on its own site in South Road for additional
car parking which does not bode well for the recent decision to apply for
academy status because this will most certainly attract more pupils from a wider
area who will want to come in by car. Secondly, Lincolnshire County Council, the
highways authority, does not intend to do anything until September, the start of
the new school year, when a period of consultation is due to begin "to ensure
that everyone has the opportunity to respond".
This problem has been an
annoyance to residents of the Austerby for many years but Brian Thompson,
highways spokesman for the county council, told The Local (July 3rd): "We
should not rush this and simply move the problem elsewhere."
Yet that is exactly what will
happen if the most likely remedy is eventually implemented with the imposition
of parking restrictions along the kerbside. Of course the culprits will go
elsewhere, as they did when road works were recently carried out in the street.
Outspoken campaigner John Glen, who lives in the Austerby, told the newspaper
that the problem needed to be sorted out as a matter of urgency. "But", he
added, "those who can effect this process appear to be in no hurry and it will
continue to cause misery for residents until it is resolved."
Consultations by government at
all levels are notorious for the time they take and in this case, the prognosis
indicates delays well into 2012 although that may well prove to be an optimistic
forecast. Indeed, the annoyance might be allowed to fester indefinitely through
lack of an acceptable outcome because if there was one, surely it would have
been implemented a long time ago rather than being kicked into the long grass.
The nub of this particular
predicament is that everyone is avoiding tackling those who are responsible for
causing it while the victims continue to suffer. Schools no longer have
disciplinary control over their pupils as they did in the past. The power of
this guiding hand has been enfeebled by society's liberal attitude towards the
younger generation that has spawned a rebellious attitude towards authority. In
years gone by, conduct such as this which seriously inconvenienced the rest of
the community, if it occurred at all, was immediately stamped out with a simple
edict from the headmaster at morning assembly, but those days have long gone and
now it is the tail that wags the dog.
Thought for the week: Many young people no
longer seem to have any concept of what is acceptable behaviour and what is not.
- Michael Patterson, of Boston, Lincolnshire, in a letter to The Times,
Saturday 2nd July 2011.
Saturday 16th July 2011
The Wellhead Gardens are one of the
town's most attractive amenities, a haven of peace and tranquillity just a short
step from the town centre. The 21 acres of meadow were developed in the years
following the Second World War as parkland open to the public under the terms of
a bequest from Alderman Thomas Whyment Atkinson together with the War Memorial
and surrounding fountains and landscaped lawns.
The entire area is administered
by Bourne United Charities and enjoyed by all, walkers and office workers having
a sandwich lunch or even a secret tryst. Ornamental cherry trees line the main
path, a magnificent sight when they flower in the spring, while another avenue
leading to West Street has horse chestnut trees that bloom with a mass of red
candles during May. Graceful weeping willows line the banks of the river which
runs through the grounds and the southern edge of St Peter's Pool, their long
and slender yellow branches covered with brilliant green leaves cascading over
the water and providing a colourful display in springtime, hanging like silken
drapes gently brushing on the surface.
Now Bourne United Charities has
won a prestigious award for maintaining high environmental standards, notably at
the Wellhead Gardens and the Abbey Lawn where several projects had been
completed with the help of volunteers in recent months to enhance the
opportunities for plants and wildlife and to reduce nuisances such as litter.
The success also means that the institute will now arrange visits to Bourne
every six months to safeguard future standards and ensure that this public open
space remains a pleasurable experience for visitors.
The success is the result of
close co-operation with the consultancy firm Greenhawk Environmental and an
award certificate from the British Standards Institute for its measure of
excellence in environmental management was presented during a ceremony at the
Red Hall last month to the chairman of the trustees, Trevor Hollinshead.
One of those directly involved
with the project is Kevin Day, aged 50, founder of Greenhawk, who specialises in
environmental management systems which coincides with a love of wildlife that
has been with him since an early age. He was born and brought up in the town, a
pupil of the old Abbey Primary and Bourne Secondary Modern schools and now lives
here with his wife, Amanda, and their 15-year-old son, William. He is also a
member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Lincolnshire
Wildlife Trust and is always keen to learn more about our local flora and fauna
and so the project with Bourne United Charities has presented a golden
opportunity to study the Wellhead Gardens which has produced some remarkable
His observations in recent months
have produced sightings of kingfishers and sparrowhawks, snipe, redshank,
fieldfare and waxwing, and on one occasion a little egret spent several days
patrolling the old cress beds. Kevin has also spotted unusual wildlife a little
further afield because he writes: "Another predator in the shape of a grey heron
spent much of the winter skulking around the park’s waterways and was probably
responsible for the loss of goldfish in the memorial garden ponds and some of
the small rudd along the river stretches. There was also evidence to suggest
that an otter had visited the stretch of water near Baldock's Passage at some
point because a carp of 5lb. or more was found half-eaten on the side of the
bank. Otters have been seen further downstream in the Eastgate area and they are
known to travel considerable distances in search of food so it is perfectly
feasible that one has found its way into the park."
Kevin says that more than 65
species of birds have been recorded in the Wellhead Gardens in the last two
years and the list grows month by month but none of this would be possible
without the careful management of the area by the staff at all levels and as the
work continues, there are sure to be more wildlife surprises in the years to
come. Meanwhile, his fascinating articles about the Wellhead Gardens may be read
in full on the Bourne United Charities web site which can be accessed through
One improvement to the Wellhead
Gardens that has been suggested several times in recent years is the
installation of lamplights along the main path between South Road and St Peter's
Road. Cast iron standards in black and gold livery, similar to the other street
furniture around the town, would enhance this excellent amenity, especially on
summer evenings, and extend the usage of the park into the twilight hours.
The ideas was first mooted when
the town council invited suggestions to mark the Golden Jubilee of Queen
Elizabeth II in 2002 and the Civic Society suggested that lighting the path
would be a suitable celebration. The idea surfaced again when the future of The
Croft in North Road was being discussed two years later because the main
driveway of this imposing house in North Road contains three Victorian cast iron
gas lamps rescued by the owner, the late Andrew Cooke, from the railway station
at Bourne when it was demolished in 1964 and converted to electricity to light
the way for visitors on dark evenings and there was some discussion around the
town as to whether they could be salvaged for this purpose.
Nothing came of it on either
occasion and the developers of The Croft have promised to incorporate the lamps
in their plans for the retirement housing scheme which is now underway but there
is no reason why replicas should not be made for the Wellhead Gardens where the
main walk is among the most popular in Bourne, frequented by townspeople and
visitors alike, but they can only enjoy it in the daytime because it is
impossible to find your way through on dark nights.
There are, of course, problems,
because lighted public places attract an undesirable element in our society,
such as drunks and gangs of unruly youngsters, but progress should not be
dictated by such negative drawbacks which can be dealt with by the police and we
should dwell entirely on the benefits that such an innovation might bring to the
The other addition worth
considering is a bandstand for although most towns do have one as a centrepiece
for outdoor concerts, here in Bourne these summer occasions of music in the park
are held on the steps of the War Memorial, and although this can be an
attractive venue on hot, sunny days in July and August, a traditional covered
enclosure similar to those which sprang up around the country in Victorian times
would be a most welcome addition to this very popular open space.
Both of these suggestions would
be expensive undertakings and hardly a priority at this time of public economy
but as the long-term future of the Wellhead Gardens is now under constant
review, perhaps the trustees of Bourne United Charities could add them to their
list of things to do when the financial climate improves.
The prevalence of gobbledegook in
pronouncements from Lincolnshire County Council was highlighted by this column
two weeks ago when obscure statements were made about the future of our youth
centre and now another example has appeared in The Local newspaper
concerning signs relating to Bourne Wood (July 8th).
The short news item on Page 2 runs to only seventeen lines yet manages to
confuse from start to finish and it is doubtful if even the writer had any idea
of what it was all about because readers remain totally baffled.
The report says that the wood is to lose its brown tourism signs after a county
council review and will be replaced with others coloured black and white. Joanne
Johnson, who is described as the council signs manager (yes, indeed), is then
quoted as saying: "By displaying the signs we are effectively recommending the
businesses, so we must do so with up to date knowledge. Some businesses have
chosen not to go ahead with the re-vetting and others have jointly agreed that,
for traffic management reasons, a change to a black and white sign is more
What on earth is all of this about? Apart from the revelation that the county
council employs a signs manager, the rest is totally unintelligible even to
regular visitors to the woods such as ourselves. Perhaps the authority would now
take up my suggestion that it joins the Plain English Campaign which has been
urging local authorities since 1979 to stamp out official jargon and misleading
statements on the premise that everyone should have access to clear and concise
information on subjects of public interest which this clearly is not.
The exhibition of trophies and memorabilia
at the Heritage Centre which marks the life and times of international racing
driver and designer Raymond Mays and the BRM continues to attract attention from
around the world and earlier this month a group of enthusiasts from South
America turned up to pay homage.
They were members of Scuderia
Rodriguez, Mexico's Legion of Honour in motor sports, who were particularly
interested in the success of their countryman, Pedro Rodriguez, who drove the
BRM from 1968-71 in many international events and eight of his magnificent
silver trophies are on show in the Raymond Mays Memorial Room, including the
winner's cup for the 1970 Belgium Grand Prix at Spa.
Rodriguez (1940-71), who was born
in Mexico City, began his career by racing bicycles and then motor cycles,
becoming national champion in 1953-54, but three years later he made his debut
in cars and was soon clocking up successes at the wheel of a Ferrari. By 1967,
he had become a permanent fixture in Formula One, driving for BRM in 1968, 1970
and 1971. He was considered to be one of the bravest drivers on the
international scene, surviving several hair-raising episodes on the track, but
was killed on 11th July 1971 at the age of 31 while driving an Interserie sports
car at the Norisring circuit in Nuremberg, Germany, where a bronze memorial
plaque commemorates his death.
The Mexican party, headed by
organiser Carlos Jalife, had been to the German track to pay their respects
before driving on to Bourne to see the trophies won by their hero which are part
of the collection in the care of the Civic Society at the Heritage Centre based
in Baldock's Mill in South Street. They were entertained throughout the day by
chairman Brenda Jones and other members and they also met local man Ben Casey,
former BRM employee who was chief mechanic to Rodriguez during his spell driving
the company's cars and who was made a brother of the Legion of Honour.
The Raymond Mays Memorial Room
was opened in 1999 and the display includes the racing goggles worn by Raymond
Mays, some of his trophies and an impressive display of old photographs
reflecting his career. But the main attractions are the four large glass cases
crammed with silver trophies which were added in 2005, a collection comprising
63 cups, salvers and rose bowls won by BRM and its drivers, a veritable history
of the company that produced the first all-British car to win the world
championship in 1962 with Graham Hill at the wheel.
The eight trophies won by
Rodriguez include the Spanish Grand Prix Formula 1 at Barcelona in 1971when he
came 4th, the Austrian World Masters Formula 1 at Osterreichring in 1970 (4th),
the Austrian Grand Prix at Graz in 1970 (4th - silver cup and salver), the
Austrian Grand Prix at Spielberg in 1970 (4th), the Austrian World Masters
Championships at Osterreichring in 1970 (4th). the Spanish Grand Prix Formula 1
at Montjuich in 1971(4th), the Belgian Grand Prix in 1970 (1st).
Thought for the week:
He always carried
Tabasco sauce with him in order to enliven his food and liked to wear a
deerstalker in which he became recognizable at racing events. - from the
biography of Pedro Rodriguez (1940-71), Mexican Grand Prix motor racing driver
who was killed on the track at the age of 31.
Saturday 23rd July 2011
An optimistic tale is related by The
Local newspaper on its front page (June 15th) that our ailing town centre is
experiencing "a turnaround" with the opening of new shops in empty retail units
but the story fails to relate that despite the current economic climate, more
are on the way and will need to be filled.
Traders have for some years been
bothered about the large number of empty premises scattered around the streets
and a check by this web site in November 2010 suggested that twenty shop
properties in the town centre area had either closed, were available to let or
their future was uncertain. The newspaper claimed that this alarming figure has
been reduced to a mere six but this week’s issue (July 22nd) adjusted
it to ten although this may still be an under-estimation. Whatever the number,
it is encouraging to know that some new businesses are moving in, even though
one of them is yet another charity, St Barnabas Hospice, which is taking over No
16 North Street that has been vacant since last October.
Any new opening is welcome news
in the midst of the current economic gloom but we must not forget that South
Kesteven District Council, in its wisdom, is about to build more shops in Bourne
at a time when high street trade has been badly hit by competition from
supermarkets and the growing influence of Internet shopping.
The new retail units are planned
under the guise of a town centre redevelopment although in reality it is little
more than the long-awaited refurbishment of the run down and neglected Wherry's
Lane which has been a disgrace for well over a decade. In addition, the new
project will enable the council get rid of two major properties which were
ill-advisedly bought for extravagant sums with the hope of integrating them in
the original scheme and which they still have on their hands and serving no
The number of new shops has not
yet been revealed but as the two sites mentioned are fairly large, the Burghley
Street warehouse and the old Masonic Hall, we can expect at least a dozen and
all of them will be made available at the expense of the old established shops
in North Street, West Street, South Street and Abbey Road which have formed the
nucleus of the town's shopping centre for centuries. Every effort is being made
to ensure that they will be snapped up because a bulletin on the project in the
latest issue of the council's newspaper sktoday (Summer 2011) gives
detailed plans about the marketing strategy that will be employed:
The concept aims to link
the current lanes in the area and to work with partners and landowners to build
on the positive characteristics in the town to try to create areas of interest
for people to visit. It will also ensure that good quality heritage buildings
are preserved whilst at the same time create passageways to explore, provide
quality shop fronts and linkages to the main streets as well as ensuring a good
balance of pedestrian areas and vehicle access.
Bourne Business Chamber, which
represents many of the town's traders, is equally confident on hearing that some
of the empty shops are being taken because the chairman, Karl Hicks, told the
newspaper: "There has been a steady changeover with new people coming in. We are
fortunate that we have a triangle of three large outlets and shops within the
town. We have the ability to attract shoppers."
The chamber must also be aware
that any new businesses moving in are therefore likely to gravitate towards the
new units and at the present sluggardly pace of retail growth, we can expect to
see more empty shops in the traditional town centre once the Wherry's Lane
project is complete.
The work has been estimated at
around £5 million, a drastic reduction on the original £27 million town centre
development which was abandoned in June 2010 after almost ten years of
negotiations with costs running into several millions of pounds, a sum as yet
undisclosed. In February this year, the council declared that work on the
substitute scheme would start this summer for completion in June 2012 but we
have been down this road before and as there is still no sign of activity on
site, no one is holding their breath.
One thing is certain, that this
is no redesign of the town centre, more the grafting on of yet another shopping
precinct which will further isolate the traditional central area that should be
the main focus for visitors yet is now frequently devoid of people. Watch out
then for more empty shops in the future.
Grass verges have been regarded as free
parking spaces for lorries and cars for many years with the result that they are
churned up during prolonged spells of wet weather, turning the street scene into
an unsightly mess. Damage can be seen at many places along the main routes into
the town and North Road in particular has been at constant risk despite attempts
by voluntary organisations such as the Rotary Club of Bourne to enhance their
appearance by planting new trees.
The task is regularly hampered by
vandals intent on wanton destruction, usually after a weekend night out on
strong ale, but the damage caused by vehicles is often
overlooked until verges are ruined by prolonged parking. Hardly a day goes by
without evidence of this and now the town council has been urged to look into
the problem after a resident complained that the practice was spoiling the
appearance of the approach roads into town.
Parking on the pavement or verge,
either wholly or partially, is in breach of the Highway Code (Parking - Section
244) unless signs permit it because vehicles obstruct and seriously
inconvenience pedestrians, people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments and
mothers with prams or pushchairs, yet despite the dangers created, the police
turn a blind eye. The latest complaint might also be construed as causing
criminal damage because several grassed areas have been totally ruined, not just
alongside main roads but also on many of our housing estates where home owners
appear to think that they have a right to use this green space as additional
parking lots when their garage and driveway are full.
This particular problem is likely
to get worse in the coming years as Bourne continues to attract new estates
where the houses are either without garages or there is insufficient parking
space and so the road alongside becomes an easy option and the pavement beckons.
Others who appear to think they
are outside the law are building contractors and those engaged on improving or
carrying out services to properties and in some cases their vans and lorries are
illegally parked on pavements for several days at a time. Post Office vans can
also be seen being driven on and off the verges while emptying letter boxes,
specifically those in North Road where the condition of the grassed surfaces
bear witness to this continual misuse.
Yet the Highway Code gives them
special mention. Section 246 states that vehicles with a maximum laden weight of
over 7.5 tonnes (including any trailer) must not be parked on a verge, pavement
or any land situated between carriageways, without police permission. The only
exception is when parking is essential for loading and unloading, in which case
the vehicle should not be left unattended.
The latest complaint is unlikely
to have any effect because the town council has few powers other than to
complain to those in authority at a higher level, whether it is the district or
county councils or even the police. Only enforcement of the law on the streets
will prevent further damage to our grass verges and cars left mounted on the
pavement during the day and overnight will remain a hazardous feature of our
communities until the drivers are taught the error of their ways.
A temporary sales office has opened at
The Croft in North Road where the site of this once grand town house is being
turned into a retirement village after many years of wrangling over its future.
The building, however, looks
anything but temporary having needed planning permission to erect because it was
not included in the original application and several weeks to construct. Its purpose is to attract and even persuade potential customers to
sign up for one of the 68 bungalows which will soon be on offer as part of the
£8 million development of one, two and three bedroom properties being built
exclusively for elderly retired people by Longhurst Group which promised "to
rescue this important landmark in the town" after years of neglect.
As the project gets underway, it
is also worth reiterating the company's press statement issued to coincide with
the planning application in 2009 which said:
"Major features of the
scheme will be the restoration of the house itself and the magnificent driveway
that will be landscaped and returned to its former glory. The Victorian lamp
standards that were once on the railway station at Bourne will also be restored.
Landscaping with open grass, trees and shrubs will be a major ingredient in
providing a highly attractive setting for the proposed 68 bungalows which will
be entirely appropriate to this part of Lincolnshire while the house itself will
be restored at a cost of £200,000 for use as a community area, manager's office
Show houses on housing estates do
have a habit of being turned into saleable properties as the development nears
completion but we feel sure that although this one does appear to be a permanent
fixture, the developers will ensure that it will not be allowed to spoil the
appearance of that magnificent driveway permanently.
Another point about this
development is the latest reference
to The Croft itself
by the developers in the
Stamford Mercury as “the manor house which offers historic value and
character” (July 22nd) but I have to tell them that this property has no
connection whatsoever with our two manors of Bourne and Bourne Abbots.
Far from having such distinguished origins, the property was built in 1922 as a
five-bedroom family home and although fairly large it had few architectural
pretensions but then if that is the way it is being presented, then that is the
way it will be in the future although we should not lose sight of the facts.
Yet another attempt is being made to
bring the complement of town councillors up to the required level of fifteen, a
task that has been taking up the authority's time on and off for much of the
year, a situation that reflects a widespread reluctance by suitable candidates
to stand for office, much to the detriment of our local authorities.
The latest vacancy is in Bourne
West where four seats remained unfilled after the local government elections in
May and although suitable candidates were co-opted last month, one resigned
after less than a week in office and so the hunt is on for a replacement.
There were rumours that one
hopeful was planning to force a by-election by mustering the required support of
ten other people but this appears to have come to naught, so saving the town
council £3,000 in costs. Instead, a special co-option meeting has been called
for next Tuesday (July 26th) and so far there are two candidates although there
could be others. The successful one will therefore be chosen by a secret ballot
of councillors after each nominee has had the chance to state his case as to why
he or she should become a councillor.
Anyone wishing to be considered
for co-option must have lived or worked within three miles of the parish for
more than 12 months and should register their interest by 5 pm on Monday (July
25th). Let us hope that a suitable candidate will be found and that this
selection will be the last one for the time being.
Thought for the week:
A democracy is a
place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with
interchangeable candidates. - Gore Vidal (1925- ), American author,
playwright, essayist, screenwriter, and political activist.
Saturday 30th July 2011
A tenant is being sought
for the Burghley
Street warehouse which has been standing empty for some months while its future
The property was bought by South
Kesteven District Council in 2008 for £350,000 specifically for inclusion in the
town centre redevelopment scheme but when this foundered, the authority was left with
the building on its hands and serving no useful purpose. In October the
following year, the signs went up outside saying that it was to let and that
remains the case today, the symbol of a failed endeavour, a valuable asset that
has become a liability. The building has been earmarked for conversion into
shops and flats as part of the refurbishment of Wherry's Lane but this may now
be some way off because the Stamford Mercury informs us that the
authority is still seeking a suitable tenant (July 22nd) which indicates that
there are no immediate plans for the work to begin.
The council's primary aim is to
provide public services and with this central space on its hands surely this is
the time to find out if there is a demand for it to be used for that very
purpose because there is no shortage of suggestions, many of them published by
the local newspapers.
It would, for instance, make an
excellent venue for the performing arts, a similar idea discussed for The Croft
in North Road but that was a commercial property and well outside the means of
voluntary effort and is now being redeveloped as an £8 million complex of 68
retirement bungalows. The Burghley Street warehouse, however, is a very
different proposition because it is now in public ownership and there does
appear to be an enthusiasm for such a project in the town.
SKDC funds arts centres at
Stamford and Grantham but not here and although there is some performance space
at various locations around the town, such as the Corn Exchange and the Church
Hall, an arts centre at the Burghley Street warehouse would provide a base for a
wide range of groups ranging from Morris dancing to Gilbert and Sullivan.
“Talent is not in short supply”, wrote Bob Harvey in the Bourne Forum (17th
January 2010). “I would like to see a non-local authority solution for Bourne as
with the parks and the open air swimming pool and a volunteer committee would
soon be attracting touring companies, setting up exhibitions and providing
encouragement for a great deal more than we already have.”
The debate has revealed that an
arts centre would be an asset to the town and the Burghley Street warehouse
could be turned into a first class venue with permanent banked seating, dressing
rooms and good quality stage apparatus, all the things that are lacking in those
currently available. It would also become the centre point for the arts in
Bourne and the surrounding district which at the moment depend on much less
adequate accommodation for their productions.
Surely this is what the Prime
Minister, David Cameron, means by his Big Society but the idea is one thing and
its implementation another. Voluntary skills are available and ready to get
started but the release of buildings owned by our local councils does not have a
good record. The Bourne Arts and Community Trust which runs Wake House is no
nearer being granted the tenancy by South Kesteven District Council than it was
when it took over in 1997 while Bourne Preservation Society which was formed in
2008 with the intention of restoring the Victorian chapel in the cemetery has
still not been given the keys by the town council.
This is at the very heart of many
local problems and may well presage the failure of the Big Society philosophy.
As with all communities, Bourne has sufficient willing hands with the necessary
expertise and enthusiasm to carry out the task in hand but are thwarted by their
local councils which now regard their function as one of business rather than
public service and nothing is likely unless it looks good on the balance sheet.
But here is one way that SKDC
could make amends to this town for the failure of the £27 million town centre
development by handing over a building it already owns for use as an arts centre
provided a suitable business plan can be drawn up and there are those with
experience who think it can be done. Nothing would be lost by letting them try
yet everything would be gained.
Another councillor was co-opted by the town council
this week to fill the vacant seat in Bourne West and the choice will surprise
many because it means the return of Jane Kingman who has already served the
authority well in recent years.
She joined the council as a
member for Bourne West in 2002 and was elected mayor from 2007-08, also serving
as chairman of the highways and planning committee for a spell, but stood down at the local government elections in May
when she was planning to
move away from the area but has since decided to stay. Not all the seats were filled,
however, and the last vacancy was decided on Tuesday when two candidates were
interviewed but Jane was the unanimous choice. "I am very pleased to be back",
she said, "and will commit myself to the role as before because my heart is in
Her co-option is also a success
for the ladies on the council who now occupy six of the 15 seats which is well
above the average in Britain because the latest figures indicate that they are
under represented in most council chambers across the land where men outnumber
them by more than four to one.
Every autumn, I pick up a couple of horse
chestnuts that have fallen from the trees in the Wellhead Gardens or the
churchyard and leave them on my desk for a few weeks, a nostalgic reminder of my
boyhood seventy years ago when conkers was a much loved game among the lads of
the neighbourhood and schoolyard. There is also a jar of those old fashion
multi-coloured marbles, or glass alleys, in my study which apart from their
pleasing and aesthetic colours, revive equally fond memories of those games of
yesteryear, now fast disappearing.
We also played leapfrog down the
middle of the street, tag around the houses and gardens, hopscotch on squares
chalked on the pavement where we also had slides on frosty days in winter when
the surface was soon polished as smooth as glass by the soles of many small
shoes. The girls skipped endlessly with ropes fashioned from old clothes lines
and the lamp posts served as a meeting place for the kids in the street where we
hung about and talked until long after twilight on summer evenings.
But this traditional recreation
is all but a memory because a recent report complains that the street games we
once played are slowly disappearing and are even banned by many schools where
there is an increasing trend towards risk aversion. The more energetic pastimes
have therefore been condemned as dangerous and likely to jeopardise pupil safety
while conkers has even been blamed for causing discomfort among sufferers of nut
The decline of conkers, marbles
and hopscotch among our children's pastimes is an indicator of our lost
innocence because these once simple and even energetic pleasures are being
replaced by more elaborate electronic diversions, television and the Internet,
which, in the process, are creating a culture of idleness and little effort, and
childhood will be the poorer for it.
The neglected state of a small secluded
corner in the churchyard at Bourne is causing concern to descendants of those
who lie buried there. The space beneath the east window of the Abbey Church was
highly sought after in past times and as a result the graves are those of the
town's most important people from the 18th and 19th centuries yet their
monuments have not been maintained and the surrounding land is overgrown and
covered with weeds and nettles.
The grand stone memorials
commemorate many who gave their time and money for the good of this town, among
them members of the Mawby family who also had a long association with the
church. John Mawby (1758-1818) was a wool merchant who lived at what is now
Bourne Eau House which was occupied by his children and grandchildren until
1894. The family were all regular worshippers, building the elegant Regency
bridge over the Bourne Eau in 1832, one of the few in England ever to be cast
from a solid block of iron and connecting the grounds of the house with the
church to make their journeys shorter on Sundays.
His son, also John Mawby, died on
26th January 1837 at the age of 49, and a magnificent stone sarcophagus was
erected to his memory in this part of the churchyard but is in danger of
deteriorating through neglect. Now the family's descendant, Mrs Jane Farquharson,
of Wallingford, near Oxford, has become so concerned about the poor state of the
memorial and the lack of maintenance for that area of the churchyard that she
has written to the vicar, the Rev Christopher Atkinson, asking if something can
"My ancestor's memorial dates
from 1837 but the stonework is still in good condition", she said. "However, it
is in an area that has been allowed to grow wild and the memorial is surrounded
by rampant ivy which threatens to encroach on the stonework, obliterate the
lettering and perhaps damage it beyond repair. If this should happen, a small
part of the town's history will be lost forever. I appreciate the need for
economy but would it be possible for some maintenance, at least once a year?
John Mawby's son, Thomas, was churchwarden for thirty years and the family gave
long and unstinting service to the church in their day and therefore deserve to
be remembered in a fitting manner."
Burials in the churchyard ended
in 1855 because there was no more space. Ironically, John Mawby's wife,
Elizabeth, died on 5th April 1856 at the age of 62, after the churchyard had
been closed and although her name is engraved on the tombstone, she was interred
instead at the newly opened cemetery in South Road on 10th April 1856 which is
so well kept that it has won two awards. Maintenance of the churchyard passed to
the Bourne Burial Board then Bourne Urban District Council and since 1974 it has
been the responsibility of South Kesteven District Council and although periodic
work is carried out, it is never completed satisfactorily because the far corner
under the east window is rarely touched.
However, the situation may now
change because Mrs Farquharson's appeal has not fallen on stony ground and she
has received a favourable reply from the vicar who has explained that the future
of the churchyard is already under review by the parochial church council and a
long term plan has been proposed to clear and tidy the area and trim the two
massive horse chestnut trees which overshadow the tombstones. This is unlikely
to happen with any immediacy but there is now a likelihood that the ivy will be
cut back in the autumn to avoid any long term damage to the Mawby memorial.
This is heartening news, not only
for Mrs Farquharson, but also for all of those whose ancestors are among the 276
known burials in the churchyard, a figure that has recently been determined by
a survey of the monumental inscriptions carried out by the Lincolnshire Family
History Society (Bourne branch), the earliest date being 1710. These quiet
places, so often referred to as God's little acre, have become part of our
heritage, the last resting place of those who went before and now the focal
point of research for anyone anxious to trace ancestors from past centuries and
so it is right that they should be treated with respect and their tombstones
Thought for the week:
Each in his narrow
cell for ever laid, the rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep. - from Elegy
Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray (1716-71), English poet,
classical scholar and professor at Cambridge University.