About peterdewrance

Blogger, dad, grandpa, husband, local councillor, town twinner, nuisance. Formerly baby, schoolboy, student, teacher, emigrant, TV producer, university lecturer, trainer, distance learning author.

Prefabs update: Pilgrims Way talk

Pilgrims Way NW9, looking toward Barn Hill. Origin unknownPretty much as I remember itFellow Pilgrims Way denizen Paul Kennedy recently sent me a file used to illustrate a talk by Philip Grant of the Wembley Historical Society. The talk covered all the prefab estates built just after the war in Wembley, including Pilgrims way, and draws on evidence held by Brent Archives. The Pilgrims Way section is about half way through the talk, and includes a letter from Charlie Watts and some images I have not seen before. Thanks Paul!

Here are some of the slides Philip used, but you can also download the complete presentation Kingsbury’s Post-War Prefab Homes (pdf file – 8Mb) Continue reading

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My window faces the south, Part 4: Netley days

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A few weeks ago, out of the blue the phone rang to tell us that our old, and much-loved next-door neighbour Tony Bray had died. This sad news, followed by his memorable and moving burial at sea near Gosport a few days later, reminded me just what a formative period this was for us all.

Looking back, Tony, his wife Adrienne and their two sons remain right up there in the top ten greatest strokes of luck we ever had. There’s only so much research you can do when looking for a new home – estate agent blurbs, surveys, casing the joint, it’s always hit-and-miss, and one of the most important factors, your new neighbours, is the hardest factor to find out about. In this case we had won the lottery, but we didn’t know it straight away.

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Old maps tell the story of Lincolnshire

I recently came across a fascinating blog post by Dr. Caitlin Green, featuring a collection of early maps of Lincolnshire. Caitlin describes herself as a historian and writer whose professional interests lie in the history, archaeology, place-names and literature of late Roman and early medieval Britain.

She explains: “This post is primarily intended to share images of some of the interesting early maps of Lincolnshire that still exist, dating from the medieval era through until the early seventeenth century. Details of each map and a brief discussion of the principal points of interest—including the curious region-name ‘Ageland’ that appears in eastern Lincolnshire on many of them—are provided in the captions to the following image gallery, which I aim to add to over time.”

Some interesting early maps of Lincolnshire Continue reading

No cucumber unsliced, no camp chair unfolded, no pop bottle uncorked…….

In the words of W. Somerset Maugham “There are few things so pleasant as a picnic eaten in perfect comfort”

No cucumber unsliced, no camp chair unfolded, no pop bottle uncorked at the first Kirkby on Bain village picnic last summer (August 18). At 1.45, the school field looked just like any other day, except for some bunting, a table and a couple of chairs, but within an hour or so about thirty villagers, undaunted by the KoB wasp brigade, were happily tucking in to traditional English picnic grub and chatting to friends and neighbours.

The idea, suggested by Margaret Dewrance, was inspired by a similar event in a French village a few years ago. It had a lot going for it – no complicated arrangements or red tape, just bring your own picnic and spend a pleasant afternoon in good company. We were lucky though – the sun came out just on time after an overcast morning.

Since we packed up our empty picnic baskets, we have had some really good feedback on this initiative, and even a welcome offer of an alternative venue for next year, so it looks like the event is set to become a local tradition. Continue reading

Roman life in Kirkby on Bain revealed

On a fine day in December last year, Kirkby on Bain Parish Councillors were invited by Alan Stephenson, Quarry Operations Manager at the Woodhall Spa Quarry, to attend an open afternoon following the recent discovery by local archaeologists of a Roman settlement. It was a fascinating event, led by Lydia Hendry, Community Archaeologist, Heritage Lincolnshire, and her team. She took us round the site in small groups and explained what they had found so far, demystifying numerous trenches, artifacts and data.

I understand that there will be another opportunity to discover more secrets of this ancient settlement, later this year. Lydia has very kindly written an account of the December event for us:

Quarry Discoveries Continue reading

Ethel Major – A Lincolnshire village murderer?

Not long after we moved into Kirkby on Bain in 2001, somebody said to me something along the lines of “Of course you must know about our famous murderer, Ethel Major”. Of course I had never heard of her, so I did some very superficial research and found that this Kirkby on Bain lady was convicted of killing her husband (a nasty piece of work, allegedly,) in 1934 and hanged in Hull gaol.

A little later Betty Dixon, who was born that year and until recently was one of Kirkby’s oldest residents, kindly lent me a bundle of newspaper cuttings and a book about this case. Like a lot of accounts of past murders, quite a bit of this material was written in sensationalist styles, with little by way of references or source attributions. I also noticed that some accounts were word-for-word copies, apparently lifted from one original newspaper write-up.

During subsequent searches, I stumbled across a real surprise – macabre testimony to the everlasting obsession with murder, a knitted representation of Ethel’s house, made by Jean Arkell, originally installed at the Minories Art Gallery, Colchester. Believe it or not there really is a website featuring knitted representations of houses lived in by female murderers. Midsomer Murders scriptwriters, please take note.
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A recipe from Helsinki – and more besides

One of the benefits of blogging is that you discover the work of other bloggers. One such is Asli, who calls her blog “My Dear Kitchen In Helsinki”. She describes herself as “a designer based in Helsinki, who turned into a food blogger / eating designer / baker and finally found the meaning of life by cooking, baking and eating together.” Asli follows this blog, so I get loads of recipes – let me share her latest vegan creation with you – Upside Down Pineapple Cake

What I like about Asli’s blog is that as well as some interesting recipes, she tells stories about her life. Like this incident:
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