At our meeting on Thursday, 14th February, Philippa Massey will describe how Stamford has accommodated different modes of transport through its ancient streets over the centuries.
In the 18th century, it prospered as a stopping place for stage coaches, on the Great North Road from London to Edinburgh.
This coach and horses, pictured in St Mary’s Street in 1955, was reviving the traditional way of travel. (Photograph by Stamford Mercury)
When railways took over, the East Coast main line to Scotland was routed through Peterborough, rather than Stamford, and business in the town declined. Trade improved with the advent of motor transport, but by 1929, heavy traffic was causing problems in the narrowest streets and a bypass was proposed. The new road was to be on a viaduct across Stamford meadows, then pass through the old St Peter’s churchyard (next to the present bus station), bisect St Peter’s Street and cut through the site of All Saints vicarage. Fortunately, it was never built.
The infamous red route, shown on the plan, involved demolishing four houses, then either closing Eastgate to traffic and building a subway for pedestrians and cyclists, or building a bridge for the bypass to cross Eastgate at a height of 4.5 metres.
A local Action Group was formed to fight the scheme and over a thousand letters of protest were sent to the Department of the Environment.
An alternative bypass route (shown by the blue line) was eventually approved and opened to traffic in 1998.
As an historic trading centre, Deepings’ experiences with transport mirror Stamford’s. Business in both places benefitted from canal traffic in the 18th century, and Market Deeping was at the junction of turnpike roads from Boston to Stamford and “the great road from London to Lincoln”, bringing trade to the shops and inns. It missed out on the benefit of a railway station, and increasing numbers of HGVs passing through in the 20th century caused disruption. Villagers began protesting about the volume of traffic in 1939. In 1963 the County Council envisaged a bypass “within 15 to 20 years”, but in the event, the Deepings had to wait another 35 years. Stamford gained its north-south bypass in 1960.
Philippa Massey has an in-depth knowledge of Stamford’s past and will have some interesting stories to tell. Her talk starts at 7.30pm in the Conference Centre, Deepings School. There will also be a display of reports and photographs relating to the fight for Deepings bypass. Everyone is welcome. There is a £2 charge for non-members