When plum stealing hit the headlines in the News

Queen Victoria was on the throne, the Liberal Party led by Viscount Palmerston, won a General Election and Britain's first speed limits were imposed - 2mph in town centres and 4mph in the country.
The front page of the very first edition of the Horncastle News from  Saturday, September 5, 1885.The front page of the very first edition of the Horncastle News from  Saturday, September 5, 1885.
The front page of the very first edition of the Horncastle News from Saturday, September 5, 1885.

The year was 1885 and on September 5 the Horncastle News was published for the first time, with the editorial promising not to ‘utter a word of deprecation of other Journals.’

Back then, the News incorporated the South Lindsey Advertiser and cost one penny.

An imitation copy of the first edition has come to light thanks to John Henson.

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He came across the copy while clearing the loft at his parents’ bungalow in Horncastle.

He also unearthed a magazine - published in 1985 - which celebrated the newspaper’s 100th ‘birthday’.

That magazine at least contained photographs...unlike the very first edition.

Then, the front page was comprised entirely of adverts, the two inside pages featured national and international news while local news was confined to the back page.

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The front page adverts included some familiar names - including William Achurch who wished to inform the public of Horncastle and neighbourhood that he had made further improvements to his steam and water mill and ‘can now furnish the public with flour of excellent quality.’

E Achurch were advertising their business under general furnishing, agriculture ironmonger, gas fitter, bellhanger, and tin plate worker.

They had a range of goods available, including kitchen ranges from 30 shillings.

Anyone with £1.10s could buy a ‘Wonder Wringer and Mangle’, while a ‘Cottage Washer’ would set you back a lot more.

There was, stated the advert, a ‘liberal discount’ for cash.

More than a century later, Achurch is still synonymous with Horncastle, although the existing hardware store - in the Market Place - could soon become a Costa Coffee outlet.

Another advert that catches the eye was a vacancy for a parish clerk in Scrivelsby.

Applicants were restricted to ‘respectable labouring men - without young children.’

Preference would be given to a man whose wife could ‘undertake the washing for a small family’!

Baumber Park was advertised for sale, complete with 252 longwool sheep, 42 short-horn beasts, four horses and assorted poultry.

WM Crowder and Sons were advertising Dutch flower roots for early Spring blooming, while their shop - located at 5 High Street - had a large quantity of ferns for sale, along with tulips and turnips.

Chemist FW Kenwick, at 6 The Bull Ring, promised an indigestion mixture that was ‘guaranteed to remove pain at the chest, giddiness, restore appetite and ‘import health and vigour to the system’ - all for 1s 6d.

A gallon of gin would set you back 14s at Spirit Merchant Robert C Armstrong in South Street.

National and international news covered the entire spectrum, from an outbreak of cholera in Japan to a bill about to appear in Parliament outlawing the employment of barmaids.

In Horncastle, the Local Board was concerned about ‘filthy pigstyes and privies’ .

The Board of Guardians - the equivalent of today’s Town Council - met and were asked to take action against parents who refused to allow their children to have a smallpox vaccination. An outbreak had been reported in Hagworthingham.

A report presented to the board revealed there were 89 inmates at the town workhouse, including 29 women, four girls aged between 2-9 and one infant.

The petty sessions - with the Rev Canon Lodge and the Rev Canon Wright sitting in judgement - were the source for several new items.

The cases included a ten-year-old boy - named as Fredrick Boswell - who was accused of stealing plums from a tree in a garden.

A police report stated: “The lad admitted he had given some of the plums to his brother - and ate the others.”

The boy said he had found the plums on the ground, but he was found guilty, fined 6d and ordered to pay costs of 10s 6d.

William Bradshaw, a nail maker, was charged with fighting on the highway after brawls in Foundry Street and East Street . He was fined 10s.

Two women were threatened with 10 days’ hard labour after what was described as a ‘neighbour’s quarrel’.

The sessions also had to deal with objections regarding a new licensed premises in Woodhall Spa, with claims from several residents that a ‘beershop would do harm, especially to young people.’

A decision on the application was adjourned.

Other news included a report that the vicar of Horncastle (the Rev EF Quarrington) had ‘gone for a short visit to the sea-side’ to recover from ill health.

The town’s Fete Committee met at the Greyhound Inn, with Major Armstrong in the chair.

Takings from the fete were down on recent years, with members blaming an economic slump and a clash of dates with a ‘great horse show’ at Beesby.

Various suggestions were put forward for ‘fresh attractions’ and it was decided to increase prize money to attract more visitors.

There was a proposal that the full financial details from the Fete should be handed on to the editor of the new newspaper so people could see the committee were not ‘putting money into their own pockets’.

The Blue Star Football Club were due to play at their new ground in Bowl Alley Lane for the first time under the captaincy of Ambrose Langley, who went on to play and manage Hull City.

In Coningsby, Horncastle Amateur Dramatic Society was putting on a performance of ‘Miriam’s Crime’.

Miss Edith Garthorpe, of London, had been specially engaged at great expense to take on the part of Miriam.

In village news items, Scrivelsby’s Thomas Smith - described as a tramp - was sent to jail for five days for being drunk and William Priestly was fined 1s for allowing his horse to stray onto the highway in Thimbleby.

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