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The Men’s Probus Club of Skegness founded 1974
Speakers: February to June February 13th Neil Watson: Boston Now and Then Neil introduced himself and gave a brief outline of his interests. His presentation started with a restoration project of a family photo album dating from 1891. Some of the photos were faded but, with the help of modern digital technology, they were able to be restored. The villages of Kirton and Skegness were part of this album and Boston in particular was shown in the 1890s as a busy market town with photographs of Boston cattle market and also showing that Boston harbour was navigable to very large cargo ships. He then moved to a slide show of some ‘magic lantern’ slides taken in the 1890s (these were much more difficult to restore) showing the industry of Boston at the time. One of the slides was of Boston Grammar School which he compared to a recent photograph taken 120 years later showing how little the main building has changed. This year is the 50th year of the closing of the railway line in Boston and he has been commissioned to put together an exhibition about Boston railway. This part of the talk centred on the Hall Hill Sleeper Works and how they processed sleeper timbers that came from as far away as Canada. The Rundle family has supplied him with photographs of their family connections in Boston. They owned fairground rides, farm machinery, steam rollers etc. The talk was rounded off by showing a short film taking in the 1963 big freeze and how the railways had to deal with the amount of snowfall blocking the tracks. He also had aerial photographic contributions from a member of Skegness Mens probus that he was in the process of restoring. John Boreham gave a vote of thanks February 27th Neil Watson: The History of Boston Theatres and Cinemas The President welcomed 31 members. Having stepped in at the last minute for the previous meeting and presented his scheduled talk, Neil chose this time to give an illustrated talk about Boston Theatres and Cinemas, an interesting historical talk that showed the many places of entertainment that have existed in Boston over the past 200 years. most of which are now used for other purposes or have been pulled down and replaced. The President, John Boreham, gave a vote of thanks March 13th John Hayes: Another lot of balls and a Panama hat Twenty six members attended the meeting. John gave a very entertaining talk regarding his cricket experiences, both as a player but mainly as an umpire. A very accomplished speaker wirth a relaxed style and a host of amusing anecdotes much enjoyed by all present. John Boreham gave a vote of thanks March 27th Doctor Eric Grigg: Anglo-Saxon and Viking Lincolnshire When the Romans retreated back to Rome what happened in Lincoln was that all the infrastructure remained but were left to fall into disrepair and the Anglo-Saxons mainly used the stones and timber for their own buildings as no quarrying took place. The kingdom of Lindsey was set up by the Angles but not a lot of information is available for this period. All we know is there is a list of Kings but none of these were able to be verified. The boundary of Lindsey ran from the North Sea to the River Trent via the Humber estuary and then to the River Witham . A number of slides were shown of Anglo-Saxon armour. Pieces of armour were recovered from the site at Caenby indicating that a king may have been buried there. In 679 the Battle of the Trent was fought between Mercia and Northumberland with Lindsey becoming part of Mercia. Slides were shown of monasteries and churches on the surrounding area during this time. The Vikings arrived who pushed the Anglo-Saxons out of Mercia. The Vikings divided up Lincolnshire and settled in Lincoln a vital spot for trading as the river enabled them to use their ships. They even minted their own coins and we know they traded as far afield as Afghanistan as amber was also recovered at the site from the Baltic. Lincoln was not ruled as a kingdom but as an autonomous self-governing body. A Viking ice skate was also shown to the members made out of cow bone. 40% of the place names from Lincolnshire in the Doomsday Book are of Viking origin. John Boreham gave a vote of thanks 10th April Graeme Thompson: Borehole in Ghana Graeme gave an account of his work in 2018 when he was involved in drilling a bore hole for fresh water to a village called Karufa in the shanty region of Ghana. The village is near to Akra. Funds for this project were raised by the congregation of Addlethorpe Methodist church that had to close due to structural problems and the funds in the account were passed over to be used for this purpose. Karufa was chosen as the place for the bore hole to be drilled for fresh water and this went down for 50m before any fresh water was found. This has transformed the lives of the village and particularly benefitted the 430 pupils at the local school. Much of the village relies on charitable donations and much of the school, toilets etc are in urgent need of repair and it was stressed there is a need to raise £5000 so that by September this year a return visit can be made to replace the toilets. . John Boreham gave a vote of thanks
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During the Business Meeting The President conferred Honorary Life Membership on two members, Ivor Davis (left) and Bill Reid
24th April Nigel Lowey: The transformation of St Pancras Station St Pancras was born in AD289 and made a martyr because he was executed during the Diocletian purges on Christianity. He refused to renounce Christianity and was executed for his beliefs. The Midland Railway was based in Derby and amalgamated with the Great Northern Railway but after disagreements they split and became bitter rivals. To compete they built a station which is now St Pancras. They had many obstacles to overcome including the River Fleet that now runs under St Pancras station, and a town that was bought by compulsory purchase at Agar. This was demolished, making 32,000 residents of the area homeless. The Church of St Pancras still stands there but the churchyard was moved and all the graves had to be relocated. William Henry Barlow, the chief railway engineer, designed the roof structure that was located directly onto the floor instead of high pillars. This remained the tallest single span building until Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport was built in 2006. The Midland Grand Hotel was commissioned in 1866 and based on a Gothic design by George Gilbert Scott and took nine years to complete, it had three hundred bedrooms with only eight shared bathrooms for the whole hotel! The hotel, closed since 1935, was used as offices by British Rail. It was a building frozen in time and some of the internal architecture has been painted over (in some cases 10 or 12 layers thick) and paint also covered Victorian wallpaper. The hotel is now a Grade I listed building , a status achieved with the help of Sir John Betjamin. In 1988 British Rail Property Office decided to sell the contents of the building and St Pancras station and hotel was acquired by the Eurostar Company. The hotel was sold later to a Canadian Pension Fund who subsequently sold it on to the South Korean Pension Fund who currently own the site and are responsible for its upkeep. . John Boreham gave a vote of thanks
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22nd May David Coleman: Tales of a Pitman David came in dressed in the clothes that he used to wear for work and commenced by telling stories of the early days of coal-mining and what conditions were like for the very young whose started work around 12 years of age. The only opportunities available were farm work, joining the army or down the mines. He gave anecdotes about the dangers of working at the time describing how he was involved with the mines rescue and going on to describe some of the horrific injuries the miners suffered when accidents occurred, including what happened to him personally. He then went on to show the kit he wore down the pit, starting with the helmet and what it was made of (compressed card) and also how long his lamp lasted on a full battery power. Also part of the kit that each miner had to carry was a respirator, which he demonstrated. They used Davy lamps to detect methane gas and before entering a shaft they used live canaries right up to recent times. Part of the kit was his ‘snap can’ that they used to keep their food in. The reason they were of the specific shape was because it was the same shape and size as a 2lb loaf that was available at the time. John Boreham gave a vote of thanks
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