Category Archives: Stamford Canal

WALK: the Stamford Canal: 10 am Saturday 18th May 2019

There’s an opportunity to join a guided walk,  starting from The Bertie Arms, Uffington, along part of the former course of the Stamford Canal, including privately-owned sections not normally open to the public, at the canal’s junction with the River Gwash and at Copthill.

Crayon Drawing of Stamford Canal at Uffington Bridge. A reconstruction by Nelson Dawson 1930s

Uffington Bridge

West Deeping Heritage Group supporters will remember the Heritage Lottery funded project of 2013, when several of us put in a lot of effort to research this historic navigation and raise awareness of its significance. We consulted the experts, created a photographic record of the remaining traces, gathered together copies of the scattered archives, installed interpretation boards, developed this website and published a walk leaflet for the West Deeping and Tallington section of the Stamford Canal. 

For everybody who sticks to the public footpath on the Uffington estate or missed the chance to investigate the Copthill section, here is the opportunity to explore, with the landowners’ permission.

It’s free for anybody who is on West Deeping Heritage Group’s contact list, as well as members of FRAG (Fane Road Archaeology Group).

Please register using the following link to the  FRAG website

Meet in the car park of The Bertie Arms, Uffington at 10 am. The walk will be a circular route of about 4 miles, stopping occasionally for a breather and some information about the history of the canal.  From Uffington Bridge, there is an option of making a diversion into the grounds of Copthill School, and a final visit  to the Bertie Arms for those who would like refreshment! Further details, if required,  from Maggie Ashcroft, West Deeping Heritage Group


A midsummer opportunity to explore Molecey’s Granary and grounds

DJI_0506The Granary on Stamford Road in West Deeping

Date stone 1773

The engraved stone on the gable-end of The Granary records the date of 1773 – which makes 2018 its 245th birthday! This was when miller and baker John Molecey, married to Eleanor, built the granary. It was attached to their watermill which came to be known as Molecey’s Mill, to the east of the village of West Deeping, on the recently-opened Turnpike road, (now Stamford Road) and next to the Welland Navigation, the canal between the Deepings and Stamford.

The current owners, Graham and Glenn,  


West Deeping Heritage Group and friends

 to celebrate this birthday on

Wednesday 20th June 2018

Meet at 6 p.m. at “The Boaty”, between 60 and 66, King Street, West Deeping  – to walk with Graham and Maggie who will be your guides along the former route of the Deeping to Stamford canal, the Welland Navigation.

Or if you do not want to walk – meet at 7 pm at The Granary, Stamford Road, West Deeping, where there is plenty of parking in the paddock.

Bubbles, Bites & Birthday cake will be available!

Please let us know if you are coming – or text 07808 585189



Last but not least of our meetings

It’s more than West Deeping Heritage Group’s Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 16th May 2018. After the briefest of meetings, starting at 7.30 p.m. at the Village Hall, there will be an opportunity to have a “Delve into the village archives.”

There’s no charge, the weather forecast for Wednesday is dull and cool and we have many interesting things to show you – so do join us!

We have picked out just some of the archives in our collection for you to look at: IMG_20180515_0001

 – our oldest original documents – including some found by John Watts, a lodger for a short time in the room above the garage of West Deeping Rectory in 1955 when he was lodging there. 60 years later Mr Watts’ daughters Sandra Edwards and Linda Reed of Coventry contacted West Deeping Heritage Group and made the trip to the village to return the package. The oldest is a church warden’s bill from 1758 – for “4 times washen the linin”  he was owed 10 shillings!

– the file of information about village buildings – including all our listed buildings and research on the Figg family and the Moleceys.

Late 19thC school group

West Deeping School pupils in the late 19th century when Mr Mann was the schoolmaster

 – archives for the village school –  from when it was first endowed by Miss Molecey in 1845 and opened in the stone cottages on King Street near the Red Lion. When the new West Deeping Church of England school opened in 1900, the original building became the Reading Room and later was converted into a family home. Most of the school records are at Lincolnshire Archives but we have copies which have been transcribed.  The log book was kept right up to the school’s closure in 1972.


– the Archaeology archive, including aerial photographs, maps and photographs of excavations at Rectory Farm starting in the 1990s and copies of talks given to West Deeping Heritage Group by the archaeologists.

and last but by no means least:

–  the “Boaty Archive” – many of the information resources we collected for the Heritage Lottery-funded project on the Stamford Canal.

If there are other aspects of West Deeping’s history in which you are interested or if you have information to share, please get in touch by commenting on this post.

Midsummer Heritage opportunities

It’s “Midsummer Magic” in West Deeping from 17th to 25th June – and it’s a great opportunity to get to see some of our fascinating village heritage.

Starting with the weekend of 17th to 18th June, there will be fifteen village gardens open to the public.  All of them have history attached and five of them incorporate parts of the former Welland Navigation or Stamford Canal which cannot normally be seen.

In the following week, there will be two Midsummer Heritage Walks – on Wednesday 21st June along part of the route of the canal and on Saturday 24th June, following the “Figg trail”!

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The Spalding Gentlemen’s Society

We welcome Tom Grimes on Wednesday 8th February to give an illustrated talk on

300 years of the Spalding Gentlemen’s Society

7 for 7.30 pm at the Village Hall, King Street, West Deeping.

Tom may or may not mention one of the archival treasures I discovered when I first visited the library and museum of the Spalding Gentlemen’s Society. West Deeping Heritage Group was involved in its Heritage Lottery-funded project on the Stamford Canal and we were looking for illustrations of vessels on the River Welland from the period when the canal was in use.  Until then, we had only seen some pictures reproduced in black and white in The Stamford Canal, the book published by Deepings Heritage in 2005.

But here were the originals!  In a bound volume is a collection of small watercolour paintings, not much bigger than postcards and two to a page. They are each numbered, captioned and dated. The 3 below –  “The Chain Bridge, Spalding” , 1828, “The River Welland in Spalding Lincolnshire”, 1827 and “View of Spalding from the Deeping road”, 1828, include vessels under sail and fenland lighters of the type which brought goods up the Welland Navigation to the Deepings and on the canal as far as Stamford.

Each picture is initialed HB – by the artist Hilkiah Burgess. Born in Bethnal Green in 1776, his family later lived in Lincolnshire. He worked as an engraver with his father William, who was also a Baptist minister at Fleet, near Holbeach.

The collection is a treasure trove for local historians. There are several more scenes of fenland and river scenes near Spalding, but keep on turning the pages and you will also find illustrations of historical buildings and churches further afield in Lincolnshire. What a treat it was to discover the illustration of our own church at West Deeping, dated 1821!


There are several other watercolours of particular local interest –
Maxey Church, Fletland Mills, Northborough Hall, Uffington House and the “Ancient Cross at Deeping St James”.

What other treasures are to be revealed? Do join us to hear Tom Grimes talk about the history of the society, how it was formed in the early 1700s, about its  famous and erudite subscribers and the collection of artefacts, archives and literary treasures that has been built up over 300 years.

Images by Maggie Ashcroft for West Deeping Heritage Group (2013) by kind permission of Spalding Gentlemen’s Society

Pottery in the local archaeology

At West Deeping Heritage Group’s first meeting of the year, Mike Clatworthy talked about ‘Pottery in the local archaeology’ which led into a hands-on, workshop session.

Even the person who admitted that pottery wasn’t really their thing couldn’t fail to be impressed by Mike’s enthusiasm for his subject. His knowledge of pottery and archaeology developed from a childhood passion for picking things up from the soil and a lifelong need to collect things!

Finds around the badgers’ hole at Torpel Manor Field

Mike introduced himself as a ‘HAG’ – but quickly explained that this means he is a member of the Heritage and Archaeology Group, linked with the Langdyke Countryside Trust. Their project to investigate the history of Torpel Manor field at Helpston provided him the opportunity to indulge his collecting interests. With the help of landscape historian and archaeologist Professor Stephen Upex, an archaeological research team from York University led by Steve Ashby and a workshop led by Paul Blinkhorn, previously of Time Team, Mike has himself become something of an expert in identifying and dating finds. Although Torpel Manor Field is a scheduled Ancient Monument and cannot be excavated, badger activity has helped to unearth many examples of pottery, particularly from the medieval period. Sifting through molehills has had some success too – with Roman and medieval pottery sherds discovered – and is an ideal way of introducing children to archaeology.

When an archaeological test pit was dug at the local school the children’s enthusiasm inspired several Helpston residents to dig their own, and Mike has been closely involved with identifying pottery and other artefacts. About 140 fragments of Roman pottery were found in one test pit providing the new and  exciting evidence of a possible Roman farmstead in the back garden of the Exeter Arms. No Roman remains (apart from the villa further west) had been previously identified in Helpston.

Before he let us loose on the extensive collection of finds he’d brought with him, Mike Clatworthy urged us all to keep our eyes open and pick up anything we see of interest whenever we walk the local fields or when we’re digging our gardens – you never know what you might find.

Mike brought examples of pottery for us to try our hand at different stages of processing – washing, sorting, identifying and labelling. Some of us had a go at trying to match up the Torpel Manor finds with the identification schedule – harder than it sounds!

Several people brought a find to be identified – but the first thing to establish was whether it was pottery!

Graham Magee’s find was from the bank of the disused Stamford Canal in front of the  Granary. It looked as if it could have come from the base of a large round dish – but Mike was able to recognise it immediately as a ‘concretion’, not man-made and not a pot.

A concretion is a hard, compact mass of matter formed by the precipitation of mineral cement within the spaces between particles, and is found in sedimentary rock or soil. Mike thought that Graham’s find is almost certainly a gypsum bound clay nodule. A concretion like this would resist weathering and end up on the surface or cast aside when digging clay for various purposes. They vary greatly in size but are generally found as flattened spheres. The fragment seen was almost certainly split off by frost action, though it did look pretty intriguing at first. A bit disappointing if you’re expecting a piece of pottery, but still interesting in the context of the canal’s history. Clay was used to line the bed of the canal to make it watertight – which evidently worked well in this stretch alongside Molecey’s Mill as the old canal is still holding water 350 years after it was constructed!

Allan Crowson’s find was from a field to the east of the village, originally called Mill Field, in Market Deeping. Between the Greatford Cut and Millfield Lane, it is not far from the Roman farm and villa discovered in 1994 at the Rectory Farm site to the west. This was definitely pottery, but not part of a roof tile as Allan had at first thought. Mike identified it as a piece of the rim of a Roman mortarium, a container with coarse sand or grit embedded in the surface used for pounding or grinding with a pestle. Roman tastes in food favoured the use of sauces, relishes and subtly-blended herbs and spices. Such ingredients often needed to be ground or puréed, and a strong mixing-bowl with a grit-roughened interior was, therefore, an essential kitchen utensil. Mortaria first appear in Britain before the Roman conquest, implying that there were people, whether British or immigrants, who enjoyed Roman cuisine.

So remember, always pick up any unusual items! West Deeping Heritage Group would really like to know about anything you find in the village.

“Site meeting” at The Granary

A scrap of wallpaper, a grain chute, a handful of dried beans …

Recent finds at The Granary, one of West Deeping’s National Heritage listed sites, might be considered as only minor details but for the owners they have helped to bring to life the building’s history and its previous occupants.

The Granary was once part of the watermill known as Molecey’s Mill, on Stamford Road between West Deeping and Market Deeping. The history of the site is closely linked with its position alongside one of  12 locks on the former canal between Stamford and the Deepings. On the same site was West Deeping Toll Bar Cottage, where tolls were collected for the Deeping and Morcott Turnpike road.


Now a separate building from the watermill, the granary has been extensively refurbished by the most recent owners. Their attention to architectural and constructional detail has ensured that every clue they found as to the granary’s history was noted and investigated.

Rather than sitting in the Village Hall to hear a talk, we’re going “on site”. West Deeping Heritage Group’s first meeting of the autumn season will be hosted by Graham Magee, who will talk about the history of Molecey’s Mill  and take us on a guided tour of the Granary.

Everyone is welcome

Come and join us on Wednesday 7th September 2016

The Granary, Stamford Rd, West Deeping, Peterborough PE6 9JD

  • Refreshments will be served as usual from 7 p.m.
  • The talk & tour will start at 7.30 p.m.
  • Admission £2.50.
  • If you wish to walk over the fields from West Deeping, allow 20 minutes. There will be a number of cars to provide lifts back to the village afterwards.
  • There is plenty of parking. Turn off the A1175 (Stamford Road) at The Granary (not The Water Mill), over the bridge and through the gates, then turn left for the car parking area.



Stamford Canal project on display

Thank you to Uffington’s Scarecrow Festival organisers who kindly invited us to put on a display about the Boaty Story, the Stamford Canal project, over the May Bank Holiday weekend.

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It attracted lots of interest from those who already knew about the canal as well as many more who didn’t! “I never knew there was a canal going through our village!” was the comment from several visitors. It was an opportunity to give out lots of the West Deeping and Tallington walk leaflets, and to show off the  splendid set of display boards, bought with part of the grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.  There was also an opportunity to talk to a lady who remembered the part of the canal to the south of Uffington House and playing there as a child over 80 years ago! Next on the agenda – a web page about the Uffington stretch of the Stamford Canal – from Newstead, through Uffington Park and Copthill, to the parish boundary with Tallington. Any volunteers?

Leaflets are available for distribution – just let us know how many.  The display is available for any organisation that has an event or a suitable place to put it.  ‘Leave a reply’ to contact us.


Dr Barry Barton talks about the Stamford Canal

Anyone who is interested in the Stamford Canal, or the Welland Navigation and who missed Dr Barry Barton’s talk at West Deeping in July 2013 won’t want to miss the opportunity to hear him talk in more detail about the history of the canal on Saturday 1st March 2014 at 2.30 p.m. at Uffington Village Hall.  Archives, photographs and a digital record of West Deeping Heritage Group’s recent project will be on display for the afternoon.

Uffington Bridge, Barnack Road

Uffington Bridge

Dr Barton is a member of the national Panel for Historic Engineering Works, for the Institution of Chartered  Engineers.  He carried out extensive research on the Stamford Canal the 1990s, resulting in its being listed as a Historical Engineering Work, along with Uffington Bridge.

In aid of the Village Hall roof, with tea and cakes, tickets £10.      Contact Michael Crowe 01780 762490

West Deeping’s project at UEA’s celebratory event

The University of East Anglia’s Ideasbank team supported West Deeping Heritage Group’s project by giving moral support right from the start. Landscape historians Sarah Spooner and Jon Gregory came on one of our exploratory canal walks, and were extremely helpful with setting up this website and the photographic archive on Flickr and Google Earth.

Allan Crowson and Liz Noble represented West Deeping Heritage Group at the celebratory event at Ickworth House last year.

We’ve just received the video footage: