Sunday, 26 June 2016

Red and green houses abandoned in favour of a picnic!

Been quite a momentous week, one way or another, and Saturday saw me spending the afternoon at the Picnic In The Park, an annual event showcasing local talent, encouraging local folk to take part in local branches of national organisations, being green and many other things. To be more precise about my role, I was helping out in the Ludd Hub, handing out leaflets, talking to folk and watching with fascination as the ladies in the tent moved left-over-right as they showed off the traditional hand craft of lace-making. The hub was created to help explain the events of 1816, and to commemorate the long walk that many Loughborough people made to take up employment in Tiverton. 

When I arrived in the park just before 12, the heavens opened and the rain came down in stair-rods, and it took me about 15 minutes to walk from the Carillon to our patch, on the grass just in front of the museum. Appropriate really, as we were there to commemorate the 1816 attack by a group of Luddites on Heathcoat and Boden's lace-making factory, which was situated where Iceland now is, a couple of streets behind where our hub was positioned.

As well as the ladies making lace, we also had an information leaflet and walking trail leaflet, which was a revised version of the one produced to accompany the exhibition in the museum in about 2007. As if that weren't enough, we had live music from the time from the Sherwood Lads, we had people in period costume, and Lord Byron delivering his maiden speech to the House of Lords, in which he argues against the death penalty for the perpetrators of frame-breaking. 

In between showers, I got out and about, accosting people and trying to give them leaflets. Well, I didn't actually accost anyone, I was very polite about it, and found the reactions of people I approached to be quite interesting. I've never been in this position before, but I was amazed at how many people were interested in the Luddites, knew something about the local events, and wanted to spend time talking to me! I met some great people, renewed some acquaintances, and generally learned quite a lot!

What you might not know is that some of the visitors at the event were actually from Tiverton, and had planned to walk back to Tiverton after the event! This is going to take about 15 days!! We believe the original workers would have walked along the Fosse Way, but today's group are walking along the canal into Somerset, then across country, I believe. I also believe a number of local folk joined them on the first leg of their journey, and some people are going to join them somewhere along the route. 

So, around three o'clock in the afternoon, I was honoured to be able to go to a reception to officially greet the Tiverton visitors, and wish them well on their journey. All-in-all, there were about eight of them, and we were also joined by descendants of John Heathcoat - Sir Ian Heathcoat-Amory and David Heathcoat-Amory - who each gave a short speech. This was followed by Lord Byron delivering his speech again, and an announcement from one of the descendants of one of Heathcoat's lace-makers, Tony Jarram, that a new local street would be named after John Heathcoat's partner, John Boden. Then we waved off the Tiverton visitors on the first leg of their journey!

If you didn't manage to get hold of a walking trail, pop over to my virtual walk, and follow that to see all the places with a connection to John Heathcoat and the Luddite raid on his factory in 1816, including Heathcoat's former house, complete with secret tunnels!

Although I spent time in the Ludd Hub, I did manage to get out and about a bit and see a little of the other things that were going on. Here's some pics of what I saw: 
The Ludd Hub
Inside the Hub
Lace-making in action  
In costume
In costume
Lord Byron delivering his speech in the rain
The Sherwood Lads
Entertainment around the Carillon
Entertainment around the Carillon
Band warming up
Band from one of our twin towns
Dancers from one of our twin towns
Band from one of our twin towns
Tommy - or is that Billy - Atkins Band, with Bill Brookman, Jan and Madeleine
Local handmade company (visit their shop on Ashby Road!)
Entertainment in the bandstand
The official event photographer!
The big send off!
The Heathcoat-Amorys at the send-off!

You are welcome to quote passages from any of my posts, with appropriate credit. The correct citation for this looks as follow:

[Dyer, Lynne (2016). Red and green houses abandoned in favour of a picnic! [Online] Available from: [Accessed 26 June 2016]

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Red, white or maybe green?

Ah, hello! Thanks for dropping by. If you landed here because of your interest in the 2016 US Presidential campaign, you may wish to go back to your search results and try a different link, unless you're interested in the houses of Loughborough, in which case, do please read on!

There's something that's been bugging me for a while, a couple of years in fact, since I did my tour guide qualification, when I had the luxury of time to spend looking through books, maps, newspapers and all the ephemera in the local studies room at Loughborough public library.

Now, I'm no map reader, but I spent hours poring over the old maps of the town, trying to visualise where things were then and where they are now - if you see what I mean! A good friend had said it would be really interesting to overlay the older map with a newer map and see what once stood on the site of those things that are so familiar to us today.

What a good idea, I thought, but not one I've ever had time to do anything about (I'm sure there's someone out there who has had the time and skills to do this though!), except to puzzle over the odd thing that I couldn't quite make sense of at the time.

So, I've now been thinking about this for more than 3 years, and, as is often the case, it's taken me this long to work it out. Ok, so it's been bubbling away in the back of my mind for this long, whilst a whole lot of other things have been at the front, but gradually I've managed to make some sense of what appeared to me to be conflicting information.

Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to get much pictorial evidence I need for this blog, so I hope my words, and the few pics I've got will be enough to convince you!

On an 1880s map of the town, I was looking along Leicester Road when I spotted the words "White House". Hmmm, was that going North or going South? Did I have the map up the wrong way, the right way, upside down, or what? Well, whichever way I held the map, it seemed to me that the White House was on the wrong side of Leicester Road. Ah, now, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, is it not? I was aware that the route of Leicester Road had changed over the years, and that the main road used to turn into Pack Horse Lane at one time (which, of course, means it was one-way in the opposite direction from what it is today), so maybe Leicester Road further down had moved too? Not very likely really, is it?!

Anyway, my consternation was because I had discovered whilst investigating the history of Middleton Place, that there was a White House on the Fairfield School site. This was so called because at one time, Fairfield House had been built as the home of the White family, who were owners in the hosiery company Paget and White, in 1823, before Augusta Sophia Middleton moved here quite some time after the death of her husband, Edward William Craddock Middleton, who died in 1887. At the time of the 1901 census she was still living in Shelthorpe Cottage (now The Cedars) and some of the White family were still living in the White House, but shortly afterwards, the Whites had moved out, and Mrs Middleton had moved in. 

Today, Fairfield House, now called the White House, is still on the Fairfield School site, but the view has been rather eclipsed by a new building, which sits in front of it. The view from Southfields Park isn't all that great either.

As we all know, Fairfield School is on the right hand side of Leicester Road as you head towards Leicester, and I'm pleased to tell you that this part of Leicester Road follows the original road and hasn't moved! If we travel out of Loughborough along this stretch of Leicester Road, to the point where there is a left turn into Beeches Road, with the BP garage on one corner and Maher's the off-licence on the other (actually, Maher's is now called Lifestyle Express), let's stop here for a moment. 

I believe this is the position of the other White House, which appeared as the only White House on that 1880s map! Maher's Lifestyle Express is it! If you walk along Leicester Road just beyond that left turn and look at the corner shop from the side and the back, I think you'll agree that this would have been quite a substantial property at the time it was built. And I believe this it the White House I couldn't quite place until recently. I haven't had time to check and see when it was built, nor who lived there over the years, so that's a blog post for another day! Talking of which, I haven't had time tonight to cover the Red House, or the Green House, or do I mean greenhouse? So that'll have to wait a while too!
Walking away from Maher's down Leicester Road

Maher's from the opposite side of Leicester Road

Maher's on the corner of Leicester Road and Beeches Road

A map of LES campus showing the White House in the middle of the block on the front right (No. 5)
A view of the White House (formerly Fairfield House) from Southfields Park

Fairfield (now the White House) just above middle of photo
White House, corner Windmill (now Beeches) Road


You are welcome to quote passages from any of my posts, with appropriate credit. The correct citation for this looks as follow:

Dyer, Lynne (2016). Red, white or maybe green? [Online] Available from: [Accessed 19 June 2016]

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Birthday celebrations

Picnic in the Park is back in 2016!

  • Charnwood Arts is 40 this year!
  • Loughborough's twining with Schwabisch-Hall is 50 this year!
  • Loughborough's twining with Epinal is 60 this year!
  • John Storer House is 50 this year!
  • Loughborough University is 50 this year!
  • Her Majesty the Queen is 90 this year!

  • Zeppelins raided Loughborough 100 year ago this year!
  • Luddites attacked the factory of Heathcoat and Boden 200 years ago this year!

So what are we doing to celebrate and commemorate???

Preparations for BIG celebrations in Queen's Park are under-way, and there's an exciting programme of events planned! 

Some commemorations have already taken place, and we have seen the unveiling of the memorial plaque to those inhabitants of the town who died on the night of 31st January 1916, when the Zeppelin airship dropped its bombs on the town, popular accredited tour guide Bob Stephens led a walk of discovery around the sites where the bombs fell, (which has been interpreted also as a virtual walk), a vigil has been held, and there has recently been a huge commemorative event in the form of a weekend of short plays telling the story of each the town's citizens who died.

A local descendant of a family who fled the town after the Luddite attacks recently led a walk of discovery around the sites associated with Heathcoat and Boden, (which has been interpreted also as a virtual walk), and last week, on June 2nd, I attended the launch of an exhibition on the Luddite attack in 1816, at the local public library. "Loughborough's Lace and Luddite Heritage", was created by the Loughborough Library Local Studies Volunteers, and others, and after an introductory welcome by one of these, the exhibition was officially opened by Dr Robert Knight from the Politics, History and International Relations Department at Loughborough University.

This is a wonderful exhibition, and much research and thought has gone into it (as we've come to expect from the volunteers, I might add). What was even more exciting was that the Tiverton Heathcoat Walkers sent three representatives from their group to be here in Loughborough public library for the opening of the exhibition. If you don't know the story of the Luddite attack and the subsequent events, the significance is that after the attack, Heathcoat transferred his business to the town of Tiverton, and took many, if not most, of his workers with him. They travelled to Tiverton on foot, following the Fosse Way.

So, back to Picnic in the Park! During the events on the weekend of Friday 24 - Sunday 26 June (for more detail see the LoveLoughborough website) there will be a "Ludd Hub" in Queen's Park, where all-things Luddite will be happening. This will be run by the Loughborough Library Local Studies Volunteers, together with the Politics, History and International Relations Department of Loughborough University. The Tiverton Heathcoat Walkers will be attending, and after the event they will be walking back to Tiverton, just as their ancestors did in 1816, although the walkers in 2016 will be following the canals to Somerset, before taking a footpath and then picking up the canal again (I believe). The walk is expected to take 14-15 days and Loughborough people are very welcome to join the Tiverton Heathcoat Walkers on their long journey! Once you get to Tiverton, there is a local Heathcoat trail which can be followed, which links up the both the beginning and the end of the lacemakers' journey. 

In support of the commemorative events, a reprint of a publication called "The Lacemakers Story" is available from the Local Studies volunteers at Loughborough Library and costs £4.00. Free copies of "The Lace and Luddite Story" and the "Loughborough Luddite Trail" are available from the exhibition area in the library.

Here's how the local paper, the Loughborough Echo, has publicised the event, and how it has been publicised in the Exeter region.

Useful links:
  • Follow the Loughborough Library Local Studies Volunteers, and get advance notice of upcoming exhibitions: Twitter - @Loughlibvol
  • Follow Charnwood Arts on Facebook:
The opening of the exhibition Loughborough's Lace and Luddite Heritage
Dr Robert Knight opening the exhibition
Just before the opening ceremony
You are welcome to quote passages from any of my posts, whilst giving appropriate credit. The correct citation for this post is as follows:

Dyer, Lynne (2016). Loughborough Union Workhouse. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 9 June 2016]

Sunday, 5 June 2016

George Hodson and the Loughborough Union Workhouse

Last week I shared some information about the Loughborough Union Workhouse with you, that was prompted by a visit to Southwell Workhouse. This week's post (which was where last week's was headed but didn't quite make it!) is about the workhouse, George Hodson, a tramp and the Zeppelin raid of 31 January 1916.

The Loughborough Union Workhouse was built to a design by George Gilbert Scott and W. Bonython Moffatt in 1838. Whether the building wasn't big enough, or whether there was an increase or change in "inmate", George Hodson designed an extension to the workhouse, in about 1874. This was built specifically to accommodate vagrants. If I've understood this correctly, the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 did not cater for vagrants, because this was regarded as a matter for the police. However, in around 1837, under a new regulation, workhouses could offer help to vagrants if their need was urgent, and after this, accommodation for vagrants became an integral part of the design of newer workhouses.

The Union Workhouse in Loughborough, having been built in 1838, then needed a wing especially for vagrants, and this is what George Hodson designed around 1874. Hodson was a surveyor of the local Board of Health, and in 1906 was responsible for designing the gravity dam at the Blackbrook Reservoir.

Sorry, back to vagrants! This purpose-built vagrant extension block would have been very basic, even more so than the rest of the workhouse. In the early days of such accommodation, loose straw may have been provided as a bed, or there may have been low hammocks, and people coming to the workhouse for such help would have had to queue from late afternoon onwards, and even then might not have got a place for the night. However, around 1870 a new design was taking hold, which was based on a single vagrant using a sleeping cell (perhaps with a fold-up bed) and this would have possibly led through to a work room. Given that Loughborough's vagrant accommodation was constructed in about 1874, then it seems likely that this built to the new cellular design.

Possessions of things like alcohol, tobacco and money would have been confiscated if found on the vagrant, although sometimes ways were found around this! 

Like other people in the workhouse, the vagrant would be expected to wear workhouse clothing, and would be given a nightshirt after having bathed, and whilst their own clothes were being fumigated. A meal was provided, and the vagrant would not be allowed out of the workhouse until the following morning. After about 1882, when the Casual Poor Act was passed, workhouses could keep vagrants in for two nights, and they would be expected to do a day's work (for example, stone crushing or oakum picking) before being let out. If the work being done was stone crushing, the stones would have to be crushed small enough to pass through the grilles in the door to the work room used by the vagrant.
At Loughborough workhouse on the evening of 31 January 1916, a vagrant was admitted who had somehow been caught up in the Zeppelin bombings earlier that evening. Although a register of the inhabitants of the workhouse was kept, and "inmates" were listed, for example, in the census returns, it appears that records of vagrants coming to the workhouse are sparse, so it is almost impossible to know who was in the vagrant part of the workhouse, and when or how often they were there. 

According to Mr G. Walsh*:

"There is a want of uniformity as regards detention and the task of work in the various casual wards, and it is worthy of notice that at Loughborough, where the guardians after a short trial of two nights' detention, decided to revert to a one night's detention only, the number of vagrants has increased from 10,751 in 1906 to 12,058 in 1907."

So, who the vagrant who was admitted to the workhouse was I don't know, and given the numbers admitted, it would be almost impossible to find out. Nonetheless, it would be very interesting to find out, and learn what he actually experienced on that dreadful night. So, if you have any more information, I'd love to hear from you!

Below are some pictures of Southwell Workhouse. This was built some time before Loughborough's but it gives you an idea of what such places were like. I haven't been able to track down any online pictures of the workhouse, but there is a picture of the Boardroom, and of the Loughborough Board of Guardians: I think the doorway of Southwell Workhouse is very similar to the Loughborough one. 
The entrance to Southwell Workhouse

Drying racks, possibly for vagrant's clothes?

Stone crushing yard at Southwell Workhouse

Down below stairs at Southwell Workhouse

Down below stairs at Southwell Workhouse

The separate yards at Southwell Workhouse
* Mr G. Walsh reporting on the situation in Leicestershire, Lincolnshire etc., in 1907. In: Dawson, William Harbutt (1910). The vagrancy problem: the case for measures of restraint for tramps, loafers, and unemployables. Westminster: P.S. King & Son.