Market Rasen 1951-1960

Recovering from the Second World War, the United Kingdom paid a heavy price for victory, it now faces a new war the 'Cold War'. We now look back to this time from the Market Rasen Mail's viewpoint.

1950s Those fabulous '50s!

The era of teddy boys, Rock 'n' Roll and the Eagle comic. What a glorious decade!

'YOU'VE never had it so good!" These famous words uttered by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan became the catchphrase of the '50s as post war gloom and penny pinching gave way to a colourful era of consumerism and rock 'n' roll!

The Festival of Britain in 1951 brought back some much needed confidence to a nation that had been battered by war - and the conquest of Everest and the Coronation in 1953 further restored national pride.

The '50s of course saw the birth of the teenager, with a glowering James Dean and a hip swinging Elvis inspiring a whole generation.

As the Cold War got colder the world watched amazed as the Soviets sent Sputnik whizzing around the earth.

Britain, stung by the fading of its Empire, flexed its military muscles over the Suez Crisis in 1956.

For many boys a great weekly thrill was tuning into the thrilling radio adventures of Dick Barton and Journey into Space! And – if you could find the elusive Radio Luxembourg on the airwaves – the Adventures of Dan Dare!

Dan, Britain's premier space hero, was the star of that great weekly adventure comic for boys, The Eagle.

The first issue came out on April 14 1950 price 'threepence' and it ran until 1969. As well as the Pilot of the Future, his faithful batman Digby and the melon-headed Mekon, there was PC 49, Riders of the Range and Harris Tweed, Extra Special Agent!

The nation quivered in terror when the BBC screened their Quatermass Serials. Before each episode Auntie Beeb broadcast a warning for those of a 'nervous disposition'. Pubs up and down the country became deserted as folks ran home to catch the latest episode of Quatermass and the Pit!

Rising living standards saw British homes transformed with shiny new cookers, hoovers, and television sets.

Truly, we had never had it so good!


1951 - "We're sunk!" The day Rasen became bankrupt

Fifty years ago, the 'John Bull' magazine published an article on Market Rasen entitled 'Town that wants to be a village.' This week we look at this article and what the writer, Harry Hopkins, thought of the town half a century ago.

IN HIS small cottage in King Street, Coun WR Walsham JP, a bricklayer by trade, poked the fire carefully and said: "A halfpenny plus a halfpenny equals a penny. But if you haven't a halfpenny? People say we're lowering ourselves in Market Rasen. But we're sunk. What I'd like to know is how can you be lower than sunk?"

These were the opening words of the article in the 'John Bull' magazine that looked at Market Rasen.

What had triggered the national media interest was the fact that Market Rasen had virtually bankrupted itself and was applying to reduce its status from that of a town to one of a village, under the control of Caistor Rural Council.

In 1951, Market Rasen had 2,210 citizens, an endowed grammar school, a local newspaper (the Mail), a Liberal Institute, a gasholder, two Methodist chapels and the Racecourse. Tuesday was market day and the cattle market was on a Wednesday. Everything it seemed but a public convenience. But two thirds of houses had no inside taps and conversions to proper modern water closets proceeded at the slow rate of just seven a year. A new 100 council house estate was approached by a road with no foundations.

In local government in those days, the Urban District Council would have had responsibility for many things now the responsibility of District or County Council or indeed public/private companies. But by 1950, the council found itself with 'soaring costs, rising wages, a series of overdrafts, the raised eyebrows of the district auditor and an unprecedented rate of 25 shillings in the pound.'

Roads were left unrepaired, cracked old sewers let in so much water that the sewage works ran up an enormous electricity bill pumping it out and the drinking water supply failed to muster sufficient pressure to feed the new houses built on a slight incline. The Chairman of the council, Coun W.R. Walsham said: "To put it vulgarly, we're broke."

The 'John Bull' article went on to examine the reasons for Market Rasen's sorry demise. "In part it was Market Rasen's fault; in part it was Market Rasen's misfortune. But both fault and misfortune were rooted in the past. As Charlie Gibson, compositor at the 'Mail' said: "We're suffering now for the failures of our forebears."

The stage coaches made Market Rasen a thriving town, said the writer, but when the railway came 'the citizens lived on in the coaching age.' Market Rasen people believed government was an 'unnecessary evil.' When the Town Hall was built, it was built by private enterprise and was then turned into a cinema. The Market Square and the cattle market were privately owned and the council turned down the chance to buy them, losing market tolls and parking fees, 'which might be enriching the town.'

By the autumn of 1950, 'time caught up with Market Rasen.' "What have you to lose," said the council clerk to a council meeting - in a rented room, of course, above an insurance office in Mill Road - "You own nothing. You have no offices. You certainly have a refuse-collecting vehicle but there is a loan on that. Besides that you have a few wheelbarrows, a few spades, a little place at the corner of Mill Lane, and the mortuary. I do not know what else you have."

The council sacked two roadmen, leaving just three plus the foreman, Vic Robbins, two street cleaners, one sewage farm attendant and Charlie Smith, the sexton. Market Rasen's sole government officer was John Potts, who was town engineer, surveyor and sanitary inspector all for 495 a year.

It was, wrote Harry Hopkins, the "picture of a town that is creaking to a dead stop, an eighteenth-century 'rotten borough' that has somehow survived, petrified, into the twentieth century."

'Mail' editor, Teddy Sharpe, said: "It's the same with towns as it is with men. 'Poor old chap!' they say. 'What a state he's in! Poor chap! What a pity!' And then they turn up their collars and make their getaway."

Market Rasen was receiving little income a penny rate in Birmingham yielded 28,080, in Southend 6,080, but in Market Rasen just 45. Even up the road in Caistor, the same penny rate raised over 224. The average rate over England was 15s. 8d (c78p), but in Market Rasen it was 24s (1.20).

"Market Rasen's trouble," continued the article "is not a disease of the heart, but a blockage of the arteries... a disease endemic among... local authorities, whose boundaries take more account of ancient tradition than of the needs of modern government... Democracy is dying at its roots."

"In the four years that I've been on the council," said Coun Hall "we've had 12 visitors and six of those were German prisoners of war brought in to see how democracy works."

Changes to local government were brought in and Market Rasen never did have to suffer the indignity of placing itself under the control of Caistor!


1950's top ten

The most popular records of the '50s

1. All I Have To Do Is Dream – Everly Brothers.

2. Diana – Paul Anka.

3. Rock Around The Clock –Bill Haley.

4. Rosemarie – Slim Whitman.

5. Give Me Your Word – Tennessee Ernie Ford.

6. All Shook Up – Elvis Presley.

7. Magic Moments – Perry Como.

8. Just Walkin' In The Rain – Johnny Ray.

9. Young Love – Tab Hunter.

10. A Fool Such As I – Elvis Presley.

11. Travellin' Light – Cliff Richard.

12. Only Sixteen – Craig Douglas.

13. Who's Sorry Now – Connie Francis.

14. I'll Be Home – Pat Boone.

15. Whatever Will Be Will Be – Doris Day.

16. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes – The Platters.

17. I Got Stung – Elvis Presley.

18. Stupid Cupid – Connie Francis.

19. When – Kalin Twins.

20. Mary's Boy Child – Harry Belafonte.


February 1952 – when there were some ghostly goings on at the George

CONSIDERABLE uneasiness has been felt in recent weeks by Mrs Carwithen, of the 200-years-old George Hotel in Market Rasen. She states that she has seen a wraith in a bright red skirt with a white cap on its head.

Dressed in a costume of 150 years ago, the figure appeared to be of medium height and rather stout.

"This mischievous spirit – and I believe it really exists," said Mrs Carwithen, "has a strange partiality for small objects such as handkerchiefs which it will hide in the most peculiar places."

It has also a rooted dislike of electric lights, the bulbs of which are frequently thrown about in confusion.

"There are so many things that add up," said Mrs Carwithen, "and although I have an open mind, I am firmly convinced that there is some sinister influence at work."

The light fitting of the chandelier, Jacobean design, fell down about a month ago and the electrician said that there was no evidence of wear on the wires.

A bulb flew out of a wall fitting and crackers were thrown off the mantlepiece.

When asked for corroborative evidence, Mrs Carwithen said that Mrs Dickinson, an employee, had become very frightened. She left the light switched on in the kitchen and when she returned it was switched off, but no-one had been near it.

Moreover the animals – two cats and a dog – sense trouble and often become alarmed.

Doors mysteriously open when no-one is around and a guest said recently that he did not sleep a wink as someone was walking up and down outside his room all night.


May 1952 - when a man lost his memory in Oxfordshire and ended up in Rasen market place!

MR FRANK Harvey Heath, aged 35, a market gardener living at Drayton St Leonard, Oxfordshire, went out on Wednesday morning to look at his radishes and was not seen again until the following day when he turned up in Market Rasen market place, 150 miles away.

On Friday he returned to his home again with his wife without having recovered his memory.

Papers in Mr Heath's possession showed a connection with Oxfordshire and when Market Rasen police telephoned Oxford they found that a search was being made there after Mr Heath had been reported as missing.

Mr C. Bird, an AA road patrol man living at Northgate, Louth, was the first to notice that Mr Heath seemed to be in trouble in Rasen market place.

He told the AA man: "My head feels awfully bad, I have lost my wife and little girl. I have been to look at my radishes and they have all gone. Where am I?"

Mr Heath, who was taken to see a doctor, was obviously a well educated man, said Mr Bird. He said he had been on active service as a paratrooper in the war.

He looked very worried, said Mr Bird, and he said: "This is not my car. It belongs to my wife."

After being notified by the police, Mrs Heath drove up to Lincolnshire in her husband's car with other members of the family.

She said: "It is a great relief to me to know that my husband is safe. We didn't know what had become of him and were very worried."


Click on >> button for next page!November 1952 – when a jet bomber crashed at Sixhills

Snippet from the Market Rasen Mail at that time

THREE airmen were killed when a Canberra jet bomber on a training flight crashed in low cloud in a grass field beside Sixhills at midday on Monday.

The aircraft first struck a hill on the Legsby side of the village before crashing into a tall ash tree near the hill.

Rapidly losing height from this point, it tore through roadside telegraph wires and flattened the hedge before striking the hillside 200 yards beyond, where the aircraft exploded with a loud report.

Parts of the plane were hurled high into the air and villagers who rushed to the scene from houses nearby realised what a narrow escape they had had.

Mr B Baker, of Grove Farm, who was first on the scene, told our reporter: "There was a terrific flash and I saw the plane in flames.

"It all happened so quickly I never saw the plane in the air. I went straight up to the plane and saw the men in it were dead."

Mr Baker ran back to telephone for assistance but his phone, like others in the village, had been put out of action when the aircraft ploughed through the telephone wires.

Two men who were very near to the plane as it crossed the road running up Sixhills hill were Joseph Hubbert and his son Victor, who were on their way home in farm carts from the potato fields.

They were halfway up the hill when the Canberra roared by just below them, ripping off the telephone wires which fell towards them in a tangle.

"We couldn't do anything," Mr Hubbert told our reporter. "The horses just turned round and bolted down the hill as fast as they could go.

"I managed to hold on but I was thinking about my son behind me and wondering if he was alright. It dazed me completely. It is the worst thing that has ever happened to us."

Market Rasen Fire Brigade, under Station Officer V Robins, was on the scene only ten minutes after being called.

Stretcher parties arrived with an ambulance from Binbrook and men were engaged for a long time afterwards in salvaging widely scattered parts of the wrecked aircraft.


1953 - Potato and spoon race

Potato and spoon race at the old Sheffield Manor School on Caistor Road, Market Rasen, in 1953. It has been kindly loaned to us by Colin MacGill of Glentham.


1953 - Pop factory closes in Caistor!

HOW MANY people today know a highly successful 'pop' factory used to be run from Caistor, using natural spring water from the Wolds?

In 1898, when they won a third prize medal at a national exhibition, Winter & Ainger of Caistor were the owners of the Caistor Table Waters, better known as the 'Pop Works,' which they ran from a shop in the Market Place, now a take-away.

The factory for producing the table waters was situated on Plough Hill, where the DIY shop is now, and around 1925, Mr George Borman took the job of driver/salesman.

The owner was by now a Mr Brocklesby, who was in partnership with Bloomers, the solicitors and garage owners in Grimsby, and the foreman was Mr Bill Wright.

The basic ingredient for the 'pop' was pure spring water which came from a very deep well right at the top of the yard and which ran underground directly into the factory to a large water wheel, which was set in motion to pump the fresh spring water into the bottling machine, where it was mixed with pure fruit syrups to create the individual flavours.

Each bottle was then given its 'fizz', supplied from a large gasometer.

When Bill Wright found things were getting to be a bit too much for him, George Borman would often have to go back in the evenings to get machines going and to fill and label the bottles ready for his round the next day.

His daughter, now Mrs Joyce Marriott of Nettleton, remembers how she used often to go back with him and was absolutely fascinated with all the workings of the factory, especially watching her dad filling the bottles while keeping a close eye to see each bottle got the right amount of syrup, which was syphoned down from the syrup room above the machine, and of course making sure the gas didn't run out or there would have been flat 'pop!'

The crushes were the fruit juice and segments of citrus fruits – orange, lemon, grapefruit and lime – which came in one gallon glass carboys, packed in padded wicker hampers.

Well-known Caistor resident Harry Minns remembers being sent by the Grammar School matron to buy bottles of pop to make into jelly for the boarders' tea!

Washing, labelling and bottle sorting were jobs carried out by boys and girls, who then put them into crates.

On Saturday mornings all the copper and brass pipes were cleaned and flushed out, floors were scrubbed and everything got ready for the start of the new week, and Joyce remembers the sight of the sun shining through the windows onto the gleaming pipes.

Her father took over the management and sales when Bill Wright died and his family moved into the factory house and although Joyce was working in Caistor at the time, she and her mother still managed to help her father out at the factory.

When her father died unexpectedly in 1951, Joyce left her job and went to work in the factory, as she and her mother were particularly concerned they might have to leave their 'tied' house.

She had help in showing how to work the machinery but she had to teach herself how to mix the syrups and carbonated water from her father's recipes.

Around 1953, the factory was sold to a Mr Jones from Cleethorpes and before long everything was dismantled and taken away and the building sold. It was the end of an era.

Our thanks to Joyce Marriott of Nettleton for the information in this slice of Caistor's history.


Click on >> button for next page!October 1953 - when one poor chap bit off more than he could chew!

MR CHARLES Chapman, a well known Osgodby tractor driver, lost his false teeth when he went on the swing boats with his wife at Market Rasen on Saturday night.

Mr and Mrs Chapman went to the fair with a party of friends and it seemed to this little group that the swing boats were one of the chief attractions. Mr and Mrs Chapman were already swinging through the air nicely on these boats when Mrs Chapman shouted across to her husband: "Can't you go any higher, Charlie?"

He opened his mouth to reply as his boat was rushing downward and before he could speak his upper denture flew out on to an iron grill covering steps leading down to a market place basement.

They stopped the swinging motion as soon as they could and together rushed forward to recover the denture, Mrs Chapman shouting to the friends who couldn't understand what was happening: "Charlie has lost his teeth."

But his teeth, which had fallen between two bars on the grille, fell down into the cellar before Mr Chapman could recover them.

All the six friends who formed the party looked down into the blackness of the cellar without being able to see the missing dentures and Mr W. G. Wharram went to a policeman on duty in the market place and borrowed his night light. But, even with the aid of this, the denture could not be reached.

Eventually, when Mr Chapman got down into the cellar, he discovered that his dental plate had been fractured by the fall and was in two pieces.

There was an unhappy sequel even to this tale of woe. When Mr Chapman went to see his dentist he learned that he was just going away on holiday. He will therefore be without his upper plate for a fortnight.

Mr Chapman remarked philosophically: "This shows that wives do sometimes say things at the wrong moment."

He is on a diet of soft food and cream crackers until his teeth come back again.


Saturday, October 17 1953.

Let's all get gas!

This wonderful advertisement for the East Midlands Gas Board appeared 50 years ago in our edition of Saturday, October 17 1953.


September 1953 -Fire at Kingerby Hall

FIRE which swept in a few hours along the tinder dry roof timbers of Kingerby Hall left the upper part of this fine old Georgian building a blackened shell.

Firemen from four centres who were quickly on the scene had no chance of saving the roof of the central part of the building. Mr V. Robins, in charge of the Market Rasen brigade, which was the first to arrive, said: "When we came up the drive the roof was a mass of flames. We were in action straight away but there was no hope of saving the roof at all."

Helpers who rushed up joined with firemen in helping to clear the lower rooms and Regency furniture, pictures and valuables of all kinds were soon piled up all round.

The hall was almost ringed round with fire pumps and there were hoses playing on the flames from every angle. This concentration of water power prevented the fire from spreading and damage was virtually confined to the top storey of the three storey building and to the considerable damage which was done by water. Mr F. M. Young, owner of the hall, had lunch before setting off in his car for London and was not there at the time.

Mr Tom Gray, one of the men working at the hall, said that the job which was being done was to get rid of dry rot in the timber and clean out fungus from behind the bricks. "We had to use a blow lamp and, though we used every care, I think it is quite possible that a spark may have got in one of the joints," he said.

But for the speed with which the firemen fought the outbreak the whole building would almost certainly have been gutted. As it was, two wings and the front rooms containing period furniture and Mr Young's collection of sporting pictures were saved.


October 1953 - Cinema's Sunday screenings cause controversy in Rasen

There was obviously some controversy going on about Sunday screenings at the local cinema in October 1953, as this letter appeared in our October 31 edition.


January 1954 - When Albert Shadlock remembered the roads of yesteryear

A WELL known member of the Lindsey road staff, Mr Albert Shadlock, who is now, with his wife, celebrating his golden wedding at Middle Rasen, recalls the remarkable transformation which has been seen in the county roads in the last few decades. "The roads aren't all they should be, even now," Mr Shadlock told our reporter. "But it is best to look back as well as forward in thinking of road problems."

Mr Shadlock worked for a long period as a ganger in charge of road improvement schemes. "I have tar sprayed all these roads for miles around," he said.

The roads have improved out of all recognition in his view. "I can remember when the ruts on the Tealby road were deep and dangerous, and when the Osgodby top road, now carrying heavy through traffic, was a narrow track with grass growing between where the horses walked and the cart wheels ran in the ruts."

Mr Shadlock estimates that traffic passing through Market and Middle Rasen has more than doubled

and is still increasing. A by-pass is the only long term solution of the Rasen traffic problem, he suggests.

Like so many more men, Mr Shadlock turned to road work after an earlier period on the land. "When I first went on the roads," he said. "We were paid by the hour. Pay was stopped when it rained. Now, of course, there is a guaranteed week."

Mr Shadlock said he would never have been able to bring up a family of six children if he had not been lucky enough to have a wife who was a good manager.

"Just before I went in the Army," he pointed out. "I was only getting 15s a week and had 3s a week rent to pay. I lost wet time and we already had four children. Today, most men would think that 12s wasn't enough for their own spending money."


January 1954 for some interesting snippets from Market Rasen Mail

House falling down

MARKET Rasen Urban District Council has decided to take immediate steps for the rehousing of an 83-year-old woman tenant of a house in Paradise Row, part of whose house was said to have fallen down. The Chairman, Coun W.C. Hall, JP, said that when his attention was called to the matter he went to see the lady concerned and found her quite composed. The Surveyor, Mr J. Potts, suggested that councillors should see the house for themselves. "It may surprise you," he said.

Freak Egg

LAST weekend Mr H. Baldock found a freak egg, huge in size, when making his daily collection from his fowls. It weighed five and a quarter oz and was seven and a quarter inches in circumference. Inside was another complete egg floating in egg white, and inside the second egg one complete yoke. The outer egg was white shelled; the inner one brown.

Situations Vacant

APPRENTICE to Ladies' Hairdresser required. Must be of good appearance and well spoken – Apply Madame Daphne, 26 Queen Street, Market Rasen. Phone 3154.

COOK wanted, over 18, experience not necessary – Miss Gibbons, The Hall, Holton-le-Moor.

Man awarded BEM

WARRANT Officer George Everard Slater, son of Mr and Mrs G. Slater, of Claxby, who is awarded the British Empire Medal, is now in Germany after a long period in Kenya. The citation, which has now reached his family, speaks in high terms of two years of valuable service which Warrant Officer Slater has given to his Regiment, the King's Royal Rifle Corps, as company sergeant major and acting quartermaster of the regiment.


LOST, pure large black pig, gilt, nine weeks old; police informed – Milson, Legsby Road, Market Rasen.


May 1 1954 - Celebratory dinner to mark end of rationing

RATIONING of food did not end with the War, as many people believe.

Market Rasen's butchers were reported in our edition of May 1 1954 to be holding a celebratory dinner at the Gordon Arms Hotel to mark the end of meat rationing, and speakers were urging the need for more definite information on policy, slaughtering arrangements and other details.

A new company - Caistor and Market Rasen Meat Co Ltd - was formed as part of the arrangements.

Emphasising how important it was to get the trade back on track after years of rationing, and expressing concern at the prospect of having abattoirs as much as 40 miles away, Mr S J Cottingham said the 'housewife was now passing out of a period in which the most useful implement in the kitchen had been the mincing machine and in which the first essential in handling meat was to have a really sharp knife.'

"When you get back to free marketing again," he added "you butchers may find that there are housewives who also have a sharp tongue."

Most butchers had already filled their windows with joints, so prices at Market Rasen cattle market were more normal than had been expected and prices were no more than 10 shillings per cwt above the previous week.

The first two or three days of the free market had seen dramatic price rises, but after a week, things had settled down.

Attendance of farmers and butchers was far above normal at the market, reflecting the great interest which was being taken in the new look markets. Not only were buyers present from a wide area but prospective sellers were also watching carefully.

* And at the Nettleton poultry farm of Mr R J Woodcock, the largest poutry farm in Lioncolnshire, an egg weighing half a pound and measuring ten inches in circumference, was laid. It was perfectly formed and had a second egg or normal size inside it.

Apparently, the hen laid it with no discomfort.


May 1 1954 - Team of girls help out with church bellringing

A shortage of male bellringers led the Rev E O Butler of Sixhills, to enlist the help of a team of girls to ring nearly every Sunday. Pictured with

him in our May 1 1954 edition are Anne Hubbard, Christine and Mary Baxter, Hilda Davies and Margaret Baxter.


July 7 1954 - Ann(e) Robinsons gain their class badge prizes

A pair of Robinsons - and both of them Ann(e). The captain of Market Rasen Guides, Miss M N Tyson, was pictured with Anne Robinson (left), the first lone Guide in the Market Rasen area to gain second pass, and Ann Robinson (right) who was presented with the coveted first class badge. Miss Tyson had been presented to founder of the Guide movement, Lady Baden Powell.


Click on >> button for next page!Same old traffic chaos in Rasen'

An interesting photograph taken in May 1954 of Queen Street in Market Rasen.

The caption at the time read 'Market Rasen's two great features are summed up in this busy Main Street picture.

Its shops attract visitors from the surrounding farming district. Heavy through traffic makes Rasen streets as active as those in many big cities.'


1955 - Look how Queen Street has changed

Another image of os Market Rasen's Queen Street in 1955 – changed a bit hasn't it? W H Smith & Son, William East and Audrey's ladies' hairdresser can be clearly seen on the left of the picture. How many readers remember going into those shops? Back in 1955 a new gas cooker would cost 21 and a refrigerator would set you back 55 guineas. Photo courtesy of the Frith Collection.


January 1956 - 'Bisto' gets stuck in!

This photo shows one of Rasen's best loved figures, Harold 'Bisto' Plumtree, clearing the snow in Rasen town centre back in January 1956.

Harold was one of the great Rasen area characters alongside such unforgettable names as 'Pigmutton' Smith, 'Roper' Robinson, 'Zogger' Proctor and 'Ratty' Toyne.

They are all affectionally remembered in your number one Mail!


1956 - Suez Crisis - Rasen Man, first to go in

When the whole world was gripped by the Suez Crisis. President Nasser of Egypt siezed the Suez Canal and Great Britain hit back with a Rasen man one of the first to go in!

MRS ROMA Slater, of The Pines, Caistor Road, Market Rasen, had a thrill on Thursday morning when, in listening to the radio at 8am, she heard that her husband, Flight Lieut John Slater, DFC, had led the attack on an Egyptian airfield on the previous night.

Flight Lieut Slater, who is stationed at Binbrook, is one of the most experienced marker pilots in the RAF. It is his job to lead the way and pin-point the place of attack.

On the previous night, at nine o'clock, Mrs Slater had listened with close attention to the BBC news and when a statement was made about an air attack she told her 10-year-old son, Michael, who was with her: "Your daddy may have been there."

Flight Lieut Slater left Market Rasen about 10 days ago, telling his wife that he might be away for a month. "I guessed that he would be in the Middle East," she said. "When he goes away like this I never question him closely. These sort of things are kept very secret. Even wives don't know everything."

Michael, who is attending the Church School at Market Rasen, is missing his father very much. But missing him still more is his baby sister, Caroline. "John calls her 'Babbity'," said Mrs Slater. "'Babbity' is six months old. She tries hard to say 'Daddy' but can't quite manage it yet."

Flight Lieut Slater was at Hemswell for a period before moving to Binbrook. He joined Guy Gibson's famous dam busting squadron and took part in the attack on the Tirpitz. He has had great experience of night flying.

Well known around Market Rasen and Binbrook, the flight lieutenant sometimes joins local shooting parties. He paints in oils and his canvasses reveal what skill he has in this medium.


May 1956 - when firefighters battled a huge blaze at Willingham Forest

ABOUT 25,000 young fir trees were destroyed in just over two hours on Sunday afternoon in a corner of Willingham Forest extending into the Parish of Tealby. The fire raced with a roar through undergrowth as dry as tinder and when Market Rasen fire brigade arrived on the scene within a short time of being called out the blaze threatened to get completely out of hand.

The firemen, working with great speed, at once made an effort to contain the flames in an area of about 12 acres forming a woodland block and in this they were at length successful.

Mr D. F. Marshall, who is in charge of this important Forestry Commission property, told our reporter: "If the fire had got beyond the woodland ride through which runs the public footpath between Market Rasen and Tealby, the consequences might have been very serious indeed. Not only would thousands more trees have been involved but Moor Farm, which has trees running right up to it, might have been threatened."

Moor Farm is the home of Mr C. Hotchin. Near the farmhouse are four corn stacks. Farm buildings near-by might also have been threatened.

It was practically a race between the fire and the fire engines as to whether protection could be afforded to the threatened area but when four fire tenders had driven along the narrow ride with the fire roaring towards them only a short distance away the position became much more assured.

Jets of water were poured from the fire hoses into the blazing undergrowth. Ten feet high fir trees became scorched and blackened. But, very gradually, the firemen gained the upper hand, only occasionally having to move their equipment as it was temporarily threatened.

One Market Rasen fireman, overcome by the intense heat had to receive medical attention but there were no other untoward incidents.

The fire was brought under control by tea time but men remained on duty all night as a precaution.

Mr Marshall commented: "It is heartbreaking that so much damage has been done to some of our best young fir trees. Eight years expenditure of public money has gone up in smoke, possibly as the result of carelessness."

Mr Marshall said he was delighted that people should enjoy the sight of the fine woodlands but it could not too often be reiterated that visitors should refrain from smoking, particularly at this season when the undergrowth is so dry. "Even a cigarette thrown from a car window can cause a roadside fire which will spread," he added.


1958 Murder Without Men

This smashing photo of the Caistor WI Drama Group shows them on stage for their 1958 production of Murder Without Men. Pictured from the left are Enid Brown, Margaret Dixon, Kathleen Sowerby, Maria Crowder, Dorothy Clark, Phyllis Hollings, Elsie Lord, Mrs Grant and Dorothy.


1959 - Who remembers the 'cabbage' man?

MR JOSEPH Kirk, who is on the point of celebrating his 80th birthday, claims to have lived in Faldingworth for a longer time than any other present resident.

He told our reporter: "I will give you a cabbage if you can find anybody who has lived longer in the village than I have."

Growing cabbages is one of Mr Kirk's accomplishments so that the challenge is not to be regarded lightly.

"I have traded at Richardson's shop," he said, "for 48 years but I wasn't born here. I was born at Skellingthorpe. I lost my mother when I was 10 and soon after that my father took me to Lincoln Statute Fair and let me be hired for 6 a year.

"I came to Faldingworth when I was 19. I was married here and I lost my poor wife 20 years ago. I have now been going to Faldingworth chapel for 60 years."

And here is Mr Kirk's recipe for a happy old age. He said: "I am a teetotaller and a non-smoker. Then I try to go straight and be friendly with people. That gives you a contented mind. There are too many people now who are not contented."

Mr Kirk reckons up periods of time at Faldingworth by decades rather than by years. "I moved into this cottage 37 years ago," he said, "and I have been here ever since. In the old days I had 14 acres of land, two cows and a horse."

He recalls all the farmers of a past generation, for many of whom he worked. Have wages now advanced just a little bit too far, asks this old Faldingworth veteran. He thinks perhaps they have. When he got married he was earning only 13s a week, together with a pig once a year and potatoes supplied.


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July 1959 - when the Bell Playing Field was opened

Snippet from the Market Rasen Mail of the time.

TWO Market Rasen schoolmistresses, whose names are still very much honoured in the town, are linked together in a new central playing field which was formally declared open on Saturday afternoon.

Known as the Bell playground, the new playing field, which is in Jameson Bridge Street, was a bequest to the town under the terms of the will of Mrs Elizabeth Ann Proctor and it is named after Miss Isabella Bell.

Mrs Proctor was for many years headmistress of the Market Rasen infant school and her great friend Miss Bell was headmistress of the senior girls' school close by.

In calling upon Mrs Constance A Starbrook of Nottingham, Mrs Proctor's niece, to perform the opening ceremony, Councillor B Atkin JP, chairman of Market Rasen Urban District Council, said both these ladies, by the devoted work of a lifetime, had left behind them an indelible memory of service to the young generation.

The brief ceremony took place at the memorial gateway which provides the chief entrance to the new playground.

Mrs Starbrook said both her aunt and Miss Bell had been greatly interested in the children of Market Rasen and she hoped the playground would prove to be of benefit to all of them in the years ahead.

She added she had frequently visited Market Rasen as a child and had many happy memories of the town.

Councillor A R Farrow proposed a vote of thanks and Mrs Starbrook was presented with a bouquet by the youngest Brownie of the Market Rasen Pack, Jane Farrow.


Rasen's church school's class of 1954

Children, parents and teachers from Market Rasen church school are pictured before their annual meeting in August 1954.


Christmas 1959 - Christmas service memories

THIS photo may stir memories for some readers. It shows churchwardens Robert W. Hardwick and Hugh Bourn with the Rev W. Ingham outside Holton Beckering church at Christmas 1959.

The photo was taken to celebrate the fact that Mr Hardwick, then aged 82, had attended the Christmas services at the little village church without a break for 75 years. In all those years he only missed one harvest thanksgiving service - when he was ill with typhoid as a youth.

Now there's staying power for you!

Mr Hardwick became verger at the parish church in 1911 and he succeeded George Strawson as churchwarden in 1941.

When he was interviewed by the Mail back in 1959 Mr Hardwick told us he remembered four Rectors, one of whom, the Rev J. Osborne, was at Holton for 52 years.

In his day Mr Osborne was one of the best shots in the Wragby area and had some wonderfully good bags of both pheasents and partridges!


Lincolnshire's oldest farmer

This week we reprint a piece which appeared in the Mail back in October 1960 - when a local character looked back on his life.

MR JOHN Thomas Shaw, of Linwood House, near Market Rasen, who was famous in his day as a breeder of shire horses and Lincoln Red cattle, this week quietly celebrated his 99th birthday.

Standing upright before his dining room fire just as he might have done 20 years ago, he surveyed the farming scene to a reporter as it has unfolded before him since as a boy he used to drive in his father's trap to Grimsby 90 years ago.

The quite extraordinary span of years which Mr Shaw was able to cover was shown by some dates which he quoted. His grandfather, John Shaw, was born at Goxhill in 1795 and died at Barnoldby in 1883. His father, George Shaw, who farmed for many years at Barnoldby, died there in 1909.

"About 80 years ago," said Mr Shaw. "Grimsby was a busy place which was much liked by farmers. We used to go in by trap, and put up at Corringham's, who had big livery stables in Maude Street and Freeman Street. Motors were not thought of then but there were plenty of traps and gigs and we just used to wave the whip to show which way we were going."

He believes his father used one of the first corn binders made by Hornsby's of Grantham. But he also remembers, as if it was yesterday, corn being cut by reaper and a certain amount also cut by scythes. Women then did the tying up of the sheaves.

"Father didn't want me to be a farmer," he went on. "Because I was a bit delicate. He sent me to be an apprentice at Grandfather Allison's at Goxhill. I stopped my six years as an apprentice but then I got back into farming. First I was under a Yorkshireman who was a splendid farmer at North Cotes. Then I got a farm of my own at North Cotes."

From there Mr Shaw went on to the Hall Farm at North Owersby, where he became a leading stockbreeder. "I remember that when John Burkitt came round buying horses for the 1914 war I sold him some of my best for 150 each."

Through the depression years Mr Shaw clung on, hoping for things to change, and in the late 1930's he saw that this change was beginning. It was his stock which helped him through this period, he thought.

In later years, at Linwood, Mr Shaw gradually took his place among the elder generation of farmers and he scarcely ever missed a Market Rasen NFU meeting until he was about 90.

A bachelor, he doesn't mind in the least having his leg pulled by friends calling on him who speak of the domestic joys which he may have missed. He just smiles at them. It is difficult to say whether he agrees or disagrees with the comments made. His father, incidentally, was three times married and had two sons and three daughters.


November 1960- Council want their bell back

Market Rasen Urban District Council was disturbed last week by the fact that the bell which struck the hours in the town clock on the facade of the recently demolished town hall had not been handed back.

The town hall was acquired last year by the Co-operative Society to provide a site for a new store. The hall was privately owned but the town clock was erected in Victorian times by public subscription and the sweet toned bell which struck the hours was regarded as valuable.

The bell was removed when the town hall was demolished and was taken away. The council were having difficulty in securing its return from contractors but it has now come back.

Weighing 2cwt, the bell arrived at the urban council offices on a lorry and it took three men to move it away to a council outhouse. It bears the date 1853 and the name of a London firm, J. Warner and Sons.

Coun H. F. Brown, who for many years was responsible for winding up the clock, said it was always understood the bell was the most valuable part of the clock. "We were always told it was nearly pure tin," he said.

Market Rasen opinion, which at first inclined to the view that some new site would be found for the town clock which was the equivalent of Rasen's Big Ben, now regards it as unlikely that the clock will ever come back.

The town clock, for years Rasen's central point, is already becoming a memory.


Click on >> button for next page!The Mail back in Autumn 1960, shows - 'When I'm cleaning windows...'

PERHAPS the best known person in Market Rasen today is Mr Harold Plumtree who, for the past 34 years, has been trundling his barrow through the streets of the town, on a tour of our many windows.

Mr Plumtree started his career by working at a chemists and cleaning windows in his spare time, he decided that this was the job for him. He embarked upon this full time career with his uncle, Mr Robert Plumtree, who had been in the trade since 1918. On the death of his uncle Harold was left with all the windows of Market Rasen spread before him. He set to and cleaned them and has enjoyed almost every moment of it.

It was 13 years ago when he fell from a height of 17 feet, landed on his feet, and fractured both his heels. But even this mishap did not deter him, as he was up the ladder again the next day.

Fairly recently work began to be rather hard going for Mr Plumtree and he was advised to have an operation. So into the theatre went Harold and since then he has been as vigorous as ever in his work at which he can be seen today and everyday cheerfully carrying on.

Where should we be without him?


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