History behind Spalding store

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A strategy to make Spalding more attractive has thrown light on part of its history.

Spalding Civic Society last year launched a campaign to reduce the number of shop windows in the town centre that were blanked out by vinyl film.

A number of businesses contributing to the town’s ‘vinyl blight’ were mentioned in the society’s newsletter and in a subsequent news story in these newspapers.

Society president John Charlesworth has said: “It kills footfall and generally blights the appearance of the town centre.”

Hughes, the electrical retailer on the corner of Sheep Market, was one of those guilty of using vinyl on its windows.

However, Mr Charlesworth said: “Graham Boor, Hughes’ manager, responded by getting in touch with the society and together we arrived at the compromise solution of historic pictures of the buildings which had successively occupied the Hughes’ site over the past 130 years or so.”

The side of the store is now decorated with three historic images, of the drill hall, the prison and the Regent Cinema, which all occupied the site at various times.

The prison photograph (below) dates from the early part of the 1800s.

The prison, built in 1826, replaced one built in 1619 as a House of Correction on the current Broad Street Methodist Church site.

According to David Gray, who has written an article on Spalding Prison for the South Holland Life website, the ‘new’ prison had all the conveniences – “a human treadmill, lots of cells for solitary confinement and 48 sleeping cells and a chapel”.

The prison was improved and enlarged to have 95 separate cells in 1848-52, and closed in 1884.

There is also a 1920 photograph of Spalding’s Drill Hall of the 2nd Lincolnshire Volunteer Battalion. Mr Charlesworth says it was built in 1890 as the headquarters of F (Spalding) Co and then sold to H Leverton & Co in 1909 when it was converted into a car garage and showroom. The building was demolished in 1926.

The last photograph from 1930 shows the “fine art deco” Regent Cinema (above) that opened in 1927, to be replaced by a library then a bank.