Visits were arranged for people to visit Lincoln Archive Office, Stamford Museum Store and Stamford Town Hall. The visits proved interesting and informative, particularly at Lincolnshire Archives where we were shown behind the scenes. We searched for documents, maps and pictures – anything we could find with the keywords ‘Stamford Canal’, ‘Welland Navigation’ or even ‘New Cut’. We took copious notes and photos of the relevant resources to record in the Boaty Archive.
Lincoln Archive Office.
Pat Abel, from Deeping St. James, joined the West Deeping group purely as an onlooker. As an ex-journalist she has always been interested how the back-room boys (and girls) work. She wrote to us: ‘I was firstly impressed by the security – our heritage is in good hands. Then it was also impressive the amount they have in storage, together with the amount of money and care it takes to preserve it.’
Roger de Toney was part of the group that visited the Lincoln Archives, he said: ‘It was my first visit to this resource and I was amazed with the range of material and the support offered by the staff. In the time available we were only able to scratch the surface of the information relevant to our particular project, but being introduced to the facility has opened up the possibility of using it for future research.’
One of the most interesting finds was a map showing the course of the canal in West Deeping as it was in 1872. This was when the canal was sold by Stamford Corporation to Elizabeth Wright Hetley, (a descendant of Richard Figg) and landowner of the neighbouring property. It shows the canal crossing King Street under the road, apparently through a bridge and not by means of a ford, as some sources state. It also shows the route of the canal through the fields to the east of the village, in relation to the river and the position of Lammas Lock – there are now no traces left after years of in-filling and ploughing.
‘We found it a great experience’ said Joy de Toney; ‘the staff were very friendly, enthusiastic and helpful and the range of materials, not just those associated with our project, was so impressive given the limited storage space. It emphasised what a loss to the community resulted from the closure of the museum and it is to be hoped that this archive will be made more readily available as soon as Council funds allow.’
Pat Abel wrote in a similar vein: ‘The visit to Stamford Museum was sad in that it is now behind closed doors – but I was pleased by the enthusiasm of the staff on guard. My day was made by the discovery in perusing some cuttings relevant to the West Deeping canal, of the name and date appertaining to the mysterious albums of photographs of the canal found in a skip which fortunately was handed in to the museum. It was gratifying to find people so keen about their work – a pity that so much of it goes unseen.’
We tracked down the owner of the photographs, Richard Platt. He had put together the collection as a teaching resource in the 1970s. It must have been after he left the school that they found their way into a rubbish skip, before being rescued! Lincolnshire Libraries staff were very pleased to have identified the owner. Richard joined forces with West Deeping Heritage Group to share his knowledge and resume his research on the canal and generously allowed us to copy and use all his photographs.
Stamford Town Hall.
Melanie James said ‘I thoroughly enjoyed the visit to the Stamford Town Hall archives where we were given two boxes of documents relevant to the Stamford Canal, one of which turned out to be a box of delights! It contained posters and documents concerning the sale of the canal, including numerous ‘Welland Navigation’ committee meeting minutes. These minutes detailed the discussions held relating to issues of the sale, some of which specifically mentioned West Deeping. This was exciting to find.’
A surprise find among the legal opinions, committee minutes and indentures was a little drawing. It particularly appealed to Liz Noble, the artist in the team. Perhaps one of committee members got bored during one of the many meetings, and doodled a cross-section of the canal! There is no date or signature.