Monthly Archives: May 2019

Change of Speaker on 9th May

Due to illness, June and Vernon Bull are unable to give their talk about “Secret Peterborough” at our meeting on Thursday.  Instead the speaker will be Dr Ernest Warman on the “History of Theatres in Peterborough”.  He has given several presentations to us in recent years, and this should be an enjoyable topic.

When music hall performances were popular in the early 20th century, Charlie Chaplin frequently appeared at Peterborough, as part of a touring troup, in the old Empire Theatre, Broadway. Previously called The Theatre Royal, the Empire closed in 1959 and a few years later, Sheltons Department Store was built on the site – now converted into flats.  Ernest Warman has a rich theatre history to draw upon…

The photograph below, from the Day family’s collection, shows a theatrical-looking group at Towngate crossroads.  They may be dressed up as part of a parade for Towngate Feast, which was held each October, until the event died out around 1915.





The Hidden Past

June and Vernon Bull, founder members of Peterborough Local History Society, will be the speakers at our meeting on Thursday, 9th May.  It is five years since they last visited and gave an excellent talk about the city’s history.  This time they will reveal less well-known events and characters, in their presentation titled “Secret Peterborough”. The talk starts at 7.30pm in the Conference Centre, Deepings School.  (£2 charge for non-members)

It is often common-place activities from the past that fail to be recorded and are forgotten. The scene below was a familiar sight in Deeping for decades – the sheep dyke or sheep dip, at the corner of Godsey Lane and Towngate East.

From the mid 19th century, sheep were routinely immersed in water treated with insecticide, to kill parasites in their fleece and avoid skin infections such as sheep scab.  When not in use by farmers, the fences around the dipping site provided a resting place for people out walking.  Just visible in the field behind the wall are sheaves of corn, stacked by hand into stooks and left to dry in the sun.

The man in the photograph is Walter Edgar Greenfield, born in December 1896, and his youthful looks suggest the picture was taken around the time of the First World War.  He was known as Edgar, son of Walter James Greenfield a motor engineer in Halfleet. When only about 16 years old, Edgar assembled the first wireless receiver in the village, in time to hear news of the Titanic disaster in April 1912.


Only one small concrete section of the sheep dip now remains on the corner of Godsey Lane, opposite The Deepings Practice.

The photograph below shows another farming activity which is no longer seen – a group of women potato picking at West Deeping. They are gathering potatoes into baskets, which are then emptied into the horse-drawn carts in the background.  Some of the women are wearing traditional Lincolnshire bonnets made of white cloth with a flap at the back to protect their necks from the sun while they work in the fields.

The bonnets were usually hand-made and designs varied in different parts of the county.  Some incorporated a wide collar that covered the shoulders as well as the neck, for extra protection against sunburn.

Both old photographs were originally owned by Horace Mason Day and his family, who lived in Towngate.  His daughter Florence, born in 1913, wrote “History of the Deepings”.

After June & Vernon Bull’s presentation on 9th May, we take a summer break, until the start of next season’s talks on Thursday, 12th September.  There are still six places available for the conducted tour of Peakirk church and village on Thursday, 13th June.  It is being organised by local historian Dr Avril Lumley Prior, to raise funds for renovation of St Pega’s church.  The charge per person will be about £6 and the tour starts from the church porch at 2pm.  If you would like to take part, and haven’t already let us know, please email