Fascinating facts and oddities of our area
From The Hinckley Times....
The Spa town of Hinckley
Hinckley at one time enjoyed considerable distinction as a spa. When the glory departed, the town boasted of a very healthy climate. A Doctor Paterson, a former physician to the Danish Legation, spoke of the qualities of the local air as being bracing and exhilarating.
Everyone knows that William Shakespeare mentions Hinckley in one of his plays. But do you know which one and what is actually said?
It is King Henry IV Part II, Act V, Scene I.
Davy, a servant, is talking to his master Shallow, who is a county justice, and Davy says: “Now sir, a new link to the bucket must need be had; and, sir, do you mean to stop any of William’s wages, about the sack he lost the other day at Hinckley fair?”.
Hinckley’s first telephone exchange was operating in Hinckley by 1898. Mr Orton was in charge of it and there were 20 subscribers each with a phone.
The George Hotel was one of those and it’s number was 20.
The switchboard was operated by Mrs Kay who used to work very long hours before handing over to the night service in Leicester.
Racing fire engines
During July of 1939, a local councillor said that the Hinckley Fire Brigade was being compared to the Fred Karno Brigade (a musical hall comedy act). The councillor said that a new fire engine was needed and he made a challenge that from a standing start he could race the present engine up Shilton Hill!
In 1939, Shilton Hill was much steeper than it is today. For years, Hinckley had only been spending a rate of half a penny, whereas in Leicester they spent 3.75d on the Fire Brigade. The council then proposed to spend £2,400 on the Hinckley Brigade.
5) Argent’s Mead
Did you know that at one time the moat in Argent’s Mead Memorial Gardens was fed by waste water from the Co-op Society’s milk sterilising plant? The idea was to keep the water in the moat in a good state. In 1992, the moat was dredged and a fountain installed. What a pity the Co-op dairy is no longer in Hill Street and that the idea is not now in operation, although the attractive fountain now in place should keep the water moving.
Barwell and Earl Shilton bypass
In July 1935, Leicestershire County Council was preparing a plan for a bypass on the Hinckley to Leicester main road, which would have cut out Barwell and Earl Shilton. It was to cost £44,000. A second portion would have continued through Stapleton to the Watling Street.
7) The Airship R100 flew over Hinckley in July of 1930
Thousands of people in the Hinckley area were awakened from their sleep. It was flying at about 1,000 to 1,500 feet and the lights of the cabin were easily seen.
A Hinckley Urban District councillor was seen at his bedroom window in his pyjamas. He was reported to have said that if he had a pole handy he could have touched one of the cabins!
Anyone for tennis?
During September of 1932, Hinckley tennis ace Harold Wightman, the well-known local outfitter and county coach to Leicestershire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire played at the London Championships.
Harold gave the champion, Dan Maskell, a fright, when in the second round he ran him to 6-3 7-5 and 6-3 before losing a good match
In February of 1932, there was a mini gold rush in Hinckley. It was all due to the rate of exchange.
Hinckley people were exchanging their gold for bank notes and current coins. Mr T. Gould, the Regent Street jeweller, took 3,500 gold sovereigns in three days. Each sovereign was bought for 26s 6d (£1.32).
Hinckley's first self-service supermarket was called Lawrences and it was in the old drill hall on New Buildings in town. It was owned by Lawrence Mackey and opened in September 1955.
He had visited the USA a few years earlier and had seen self-service shops at first hand.
It was the first of its kind and people came from miles around to do their shopping.
There was even an in-store cafe.
Today, the drill hall and Lawrences are long gone.
Even more facts.....
During the early 1930s, the local MP Sir William Edge raced against Leicestershire pigeons. Out of three yearly events, Sir William beat the pigeons twice.
On Saturday June 24 1933 at 11.30am, 94 pigeons were released from Palace Yard, Westminster. At that moment Sir William jumped into a waiting taxi that took him to Euston Station, where he caught a train to Rugby.
At Rugby he ran to a waiting car that took him to Hinckley where he broke his journey for a few minutes. Then he went on to Ibstock, where he waited for the pigeons to arrive.
George Canning was the Prime Minister of England for 119 days. He was the shortest serving Prime Minister in history holding the top job in 1827 before he died in the very same year.
Canning also lived in Burbage in the building which now homes the Constitutional Club. There is also a street named after him in the town.
During September of 1932, Hinckley tennis ace Harold Wightman, the well-known local outfitter and county coach to Leicestershire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire, played at the London Championships.
Harold gave the champion, Dan Maskell, a fright when in the second round he ran him to 6-3 7-5 and 6-3 before losing a good match.
In 1965 The Hinckley Times was reporting that town traders planned on having Thursdays off.
The Hinckley Chamber of Trade was proposing a five day week for shops, with the current half-day closing becoming a full day off.
Seven airfields were in use by the RAF during the Second World War within just a short distance of Hinckley.
Leicester East which today is Leicester Airfield
Braunstone which is now near the park and ride
Desford which is now Caterpillar’s site
Bruntingthorpe which has various uses today
Bitteswell which is now an industrial estate
Bramcote which today is an army barracks
RAF Nuneaton Leicestershire which today is MIRA
During the Second World War the people in Hinckley and the surrounding area helped to raise money for the war effort. They managed to collect £21,868 12s. 7d which was enough to purchase four Spitfires.
Private enterprise: In 1959, 1,000 shares were offered to the public to build a railway from Hinckley to Nuneaton at £10 each. The total cost of the line was estimated at £45,000 including the purchase of the ground, the length of the line being between four and five miles.
The first film to be shown in Hinckley was at the George Hotel in the Market Place. On the site today is the Bounty. The film was shown in 1911. Unfortunately, the generator being used to produce the electricity needed to run the projector proved unsatisfactory and the films were shortlived.
The Borough Theatre then started showing films from April 7 1913 and the first showing was Betrayed to the Turks.
The following article appeared in The Hinckley Times on October 11 1924: “Drive slowly notices to be erected. The Police Superintendent replied to a letter from the council regarding excessive speed of motor cars when being driven through Hinckley. He wrote that he was having all known drivers of vehicles that plied for hire at Hinckley, warned as to their driving, which he hoped would minimise the danger complained of. He went on to write that if the council could see its way to put up notices asking motorists to proceed slowly through the town it might have a good effect.
"At a meeting of the council, Councillor Jennings said that last Saturday he saw a motorcycle pass a car in Spencer Street at a terrific speed and if anyone had been crossing the road there would have been a terrible accident.
"Councillor Bott said there were six main roads in Hinckley and the erection of noticeboards, as suggested, would be an expensive item. The chairman moved that the boards be erected."
On Christmas Eve 1965 the largest meteorite ever to fall on England landed in Barwell. Eye-witnesses saw the meteor even hundreds of miles away. It travelled through the atmosphere creating a brilliant fireball as it went. It hit the ground in Barwell at around 4.15pm on Christmas Eve.
Apparently, people walking nearby heard three loud bangs as it landed. Part of the meteor hit the home of Mr and Mrs Grewcock in Barwell and it smashed two panes of glass in the front room window.
By 1966, around 103lbs of the meteorite had been recovered making it the biggest ever to land on England. Some of it was displayed at the Natural History Museum in London.
Hinckley and District was the childhood home to three famous brewers? It seems incredible to think but it is true. William Bass (1717-1787) lived in a house in Castle End, Hinckley. William Butler (1868-1909) was born in a house, no longer standing, in New Buildings, Hinckley. William Worthington (1723-1800) was born to yeoman farmers in Orton on the Hill, within the confines of the Borough district.
Hinckley and District Museum and Hinckley and Bosworth CAMRA, will be commemorating and celebrating these connections with a range of events in 2017.
From April to October there will be a Three Brewers exhibition at the Museum featuring material related to all three brewers, some of the artefacts being lent to the Museum by the National Brewery Museum.
Never was there more truth to the local ryhme
“Higham on the Hill,
Stoke in the dale,
Wykin for buttermilk,
But Hinckley for ale!”