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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Dambusters live on in Woodhall Spa

The connection between RAF Dambusters Squadron 617 and Woodhall Spa is well known around here, and is nowhere more evident than in the Petwood Hotel, where in 1942 Dambuster crew, including Canadian, New Zealand, Australian and British Air Force personnel, were stationed. The Squadron Bar, virtually untouched since it served as the officers’ mess, remains a magnet for historians and anyone who, like me, as a boy, was thrilled by the Dambusters film when it came out in 1955.

I am now struck by the tenacity and dedication of those who keep the Dambusters reality alive, as evidenced not just by frequent guests and visitors, but also by numerous posts on social media and, in particular by the Dambusters Blog, written by Charles Foster, nephew of Dambuster pilot David Maltby. As well as logging fascinating biographical notes and reproducing numerous old photographs, the blog features some intriguing current stories, such as an unusual take on Barnes Wallace, the inventor of the famous bouncing bomb: Continue reading

Grist to the mill

windmills_150Lincolnshire has more working windmills than any other county in the UK, according to the Lincolnshire Mills Group.

Mary Cook writes: Around 800 windmills were grinding flour for Lincolnshire’s inhabitants up to a century ago. But winds of change have blown across the county, leaving some mills in ruins while giving others a new lease of life. Local government organizations, charitable trusts and private enterprise have been working to convert them into tourist attractions.

Visit the Maud Foster Mill, Boston.

This windmill is close to Boston town centre – just off the A16/A52 Grimsby/Skegness road and there is a free car park for mill visitors. On foot the windmill is a 10 minute stroll from the market square and the historic Boston Stump church. It’s hard to miss! Continue reading

Gibraltar Point update

Last Friday I took another trip out to Gibraltar Point, conscious that the building of the new visitor centre must now be well advanced. I was not wrong. The weather was unseasonably fine and sunny all the way there but, as is often the case, the point was shrouded in sea mist when I arrived.

Undaunted I took some shots of the visitor centre development from the car park on my much-derided and battered Nokia mobile, then dropped in to the temporary shop and café. I was working on the theory that the mist would clear as there was an offshore wind blowing. It seemed a fair gamble, having driven all the way there.

This strategy turned out well. Continue reading

George Boole Update: Film premiere at the Collection

By way of an update to my previous posts about the Lincoln born father of digital technology George Boole, Dave Kenyon writes:

Friends of George Boole,

I thought you might be interested in the UK premiere of the Irish film about George Boole. It’s at 2pm this Sunday 25th Oct at the Collection. It’s part of a longer programme, but the Boole film is 58 mins long. Attendance is free but ticketed.

The film is presented as part of the current Frequency Festival in Lincoln. Tickets are available here. (Get your free tickets by clicking on the green “register” button.)

Gibraltar Point, an East Coast miracle

I would like to believe a yarn heard about Gibraltar Point, a windswept nature reserve on the Lincolnshire coast, near Skegness. The story goes that one day the driver of a huge articulated truck from somewhere in eastern Europe pulled into the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust Car park there and seemed surprised that there was no sign of a car ferry to Morocco.

Seems he was using a satnav. Not as surprised perhaps as the wildlife trust ranger.

Hard to believe, but true or not, I am reminded of the story every time we go to this wonderful miniature wilderness, all the more fascinating for the extreme contrast with one of England’s iconic seaside towns, only two miles away. Continue reading

Frequency Festival 2015

“Frequency Festival of Digital Culture is a biennial festival hosted in the city of Lincoln, providing a platform to celebrate the pioneering spirit of digital innovation and culture through exhibition, creative collision and debate.” If this takes your fancy, or even if like me you are intrigued by “creative collision”, then do check the programme out on the Frequency website schedule before you go. The festival runs from October 23 to November 1, with multiple events taking place in various city venues.

 

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