Who knew that the lean of Surfleet church is greater than that at Pisa?
Or that a bell above what is now the Prior’s Oven in Spalding once tolled when a public execution was taking place in the gallows inside what was then a gaol?
Local historians are probably well aware of both facts, and much more, but now author Keith Seaton has produced a book that offers these kind of fascinating historical facts in an easy to digest format.
Spalding and Around Through Time by Keith Seaton is a series of before and after photographs of local scenes accompanied by a short description of the changes that have taken place over the years.
Keith, a former director and vice-chairman of Chain Bridge Forge in Spalding – and now an occasional volunteer there – says he approached the project of compiling the book by buying postcards of old scenes from the district.
This was his only way of sourcing original images of good quality, other than a few that were contributed by people and organisations, such as the Ayscoughfee Collection and Spalding Gentlemen’s Society.
He says: “I spent well over £200 buying postcards on the Internet. Then I went out to get as near as possible the modern photograph from the same position, which is often very difficult because things have changed a lot.”
For instance, Keith has included an old picture of the Sheep Market, but says the modern block of toilets meant it was impossible to get a photograph of the same scene, so he settled for one of the old Sessions House.
Another stumbling block he found was that the majority of Spalding postcards – 85 per cent of them – depict the Tulip Parade. He has included a few of those, including one taken in 1930 of women packing tulips for the flower markets, still wearing the traditional bonnets that would have been worn in the fields.
There are also images contrasting contemporary farming methods with the past, such as the horse-drawn seed drill being used at Cooke’s Farm, Pinchbeck, in the early 1950s.
The book also contains lots of images of bridges that once crossed the Welland, such as a fascinating one of the predecessor to West Elloe Bridge – a lifting bridge – and the photograph taken by former blacksmith, the late Geoff Dodd, of the chain bridge being removed.
Some of this material came to Keith following the publication of his first book, The River Welland, Shipping & Mariners, and he is currently working on a sequel.
Spalding & Around Through Time sells for £14.99 from Bookmark in Spalding. Amberley Publishing ISBN: 978-1-4456-3811-9.