From a bridge to a castle in Bourne- a plea for the town to recognise and celebrate its historic past

  Posted: 02.08.20 at 09:53 by Steve Giullari

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The Bourne History Group Facebook page has had a recent name change from Non Time History…prior to then, the page was called ‘Non Time History – Save Our Bridge’.

This was in support of our local discarded railway bridge, Bridge 234. The name ‘Non Time History – Save our Bridge’ only lasted a short while as it became very apparent that members wanted to read more about Bourne’s history. (I was using historical content as a filler in between news and updates of Bridge 234.)

The initial reason for saving Bridge 234, which to this day is still ongoing, was to raise awareness of this derelict little bridge which somehow has been allowed to grow old peacefully, undisturbed by the butchering of our lovely historic buildings within the town of Bourne…that is, until recently. The bridge is slowly being surrounded by new development.

Everyone who joins the page is in agreement that this quaint little bridge of ruinous state should be left to stand as a monument to remind us of our golden railway era which has pretty much been erased from history.

We believe if we allow developers to remove this bridge without a fight we would be doing our ancestors an injustice. It would be like our ancestors never existed…these developers would have removed them from history. Imagine if our future generation tried to remove our timeline from existence like we never existed. I can’t imagine many people today would be happy.

Therefore, we have a duty to protect our predecessors by ensuring their memories live on. Bridge 234 would be a perfect opportunity to ensure just that. The sad truth is that we had so many buildings which could have stood for their memories, but the Butchers of Bourne have hacked those buildings out of existence.

What the castle may have looked like

The idea of a facebook page began in 2018, but I have been trying to raise awareness a few years prior. However, the bridge was not the only project I was working on. There was something else which I hold quite close to my heart and that is the castle of Bourne.

As a youngster I was told that Bourne once had a castle which stood somewhere on the Wellhead. And not only did we have a castle, but Bourne was the home of Hereward the Wake, a legend second only to the famous Robin Hood.

The thing that fascinated me most about these two revelations was the lack of awareness. There are no signs, information boards, or statues. In fact, a lady resident of Bourne at the age of 84, had only recently learnt that Bourne had a castle through a conversation we had. She said that she had no idea and was delighted to learn about it.

This lack of awareness is in contrary to our neighbouring towns such as Stamford, Sleaford and Spalding who have embraced their heritage. It made me wonder why we, as a town, have fallen so far behind our neighbours?

I began researching our history, especially the castle tradition and soon discovered that to find anything about our local history one almost had to be an archaeologist because it is buried so deep.

The bridge that led to the campaign

The main place to learn anything about our local history can be found at the heritage museum, Baldock’s Mill. This museum is ran voluntarily by the Civic Society. Without this museum I can honestly say that learning anything about the towns history would be nigh impossible.

It holds an abundant of information, but sadly not all. One would be very hard pushed to learn anything about the castle in Bourne, the Normans, the Saxons, the Vikings, or even the Romans who have all at some point in history graced these lands that we call Bourne.

However, digging further, I soon found a book by JD Birkbeck which contained a lot of information about Bourne. It’s in this publication where we get a glimpse into Bourne’s early years. It really is a fantastic read. There is also some information about the castle which was here in Bourne.

By this time I had been given a few photographs by my recently departed friend, Janet Mitchell. These photos contained parch marks surrounding the mound at the Wellhead.

This was my first tangible bit of evidence that there was something structural beneath the surface. However, Birkbeck was unsure whether there was ever a castle on the site stating that the truth seemed to lie between the over credulous and the completely sceptical.

The bridge in former times

By now my investigation had taken root and I wanted to learn as much as I could about the castle of Bourne. I made it my mission, when I had found all relevant information, that I would collate my findings into one easily accessible publication. It was my intention to build a website dedicated to Bourne castle and the history of Bourne.

All of this effort has been done under the banner of Non Time History. I always sign off with ‘Non Time Team’, but in truth it has just been me. It was my desire that other like-minded people would join me. But what one often finds is that history enthusiasts normally have a project on the go which is so time consuming it is very difficult to join forces, hence the name change which I will discuss in more detail later.

It would be my discoveries of Bourne castle and other interesting local history shared on my facebook page which would be key in helping the page to grow. My initial thought was that the page might attract around 50 or so members but I have been absolutely blown away by the people’s love of history. The page is currently at just over 1100 members and continuing to grow.

As research can take a lot of my time I decided that there should be another filler, so I created a game of ‘where is this?’ to run through the year of 2019 in hope that members would interact with each other. It became very popular and still runs to this day. I think people enjoy seeing pictures of the town as it used to be in comparison to how it looks today. I always try new things to explore, and recently we have put out short videos which have been greatly received.

The reason for the name change from Non Time History to Bourne History Group was to demonstrate that the page belonged to the members where they can send in information, ask questions, create posts, send in pictures, talk about historical topics.

As I mentioned earlier there are a lot of history enthusiasts who are working on projects. I wanted the group to be a platform to share their work. I also want to open the doors to other historical groups to use the page as a platform to talk about what they do and how members can get involved with that particular group.

I want history groups to come together, to be able to talk to each other. I want groups such as the Civic society to be able to tell our members who they are and what they are about, also the Town Hall Trustees and other such-like groups. History should be freely shared. I would also like local re-enacting groups to post on Bourne History Group informing us what they do and any upcoming events the might be attending.

I would like Bourne to discuss its heritage, to discuss how we can bridge the gap between us and our neighbouring towns in putting up signs, information boards, statues and such like.

I would like to see the youth get involved with local history. I would like to see the schools get involved with the page to encourage their pupils to learn more about our local history. Maybe even showcasing the childrens’ historical work which they have achieved whilst at school.

Further to this, I would like to see a history festival celebrating the towns 2000 years of rich history. We would like to have a festival and we would like to see the festival to organically grow and not try to force it into something that becomes uncontrollable. We would love to hear from anyone who would be interested in making this festival a reality.

However, saying all this, we can only do any of this if everyone gets involved. We would love for everyone to get involved.

Obviously, finance can be an issue, and it’s true finance is generally needed. But it does not have to be the thing that hinders a project. I’ve always created things on zero funds. What this has enabled me to do is be creative on how I produce things; but what it has also shown me is that anything is possible with the right mind-set.

I believe we can produce a festival which the town could be very proud of, because I know when you have a collective of like-minded people, great things can be achieved. I know this from first-hand experience.

In 2014, I produced a music video for the commemoration of World War One. There were so many kind, generous, like-minded people who came together to help produce this commemorative video for the Royal British Legion, and it was all on zero fund. I would dare say anyone who has watched the video would have thought that we had a budget. The whole video relied upon the generosity and kindness of all involved. The video can be seen using this link.

I also adapted the video to speak about one of our own heroes, Charles Richard Sharpe which can be found here.

Bourne History Group is a history group which means we love history, so it doesn’t have to be just local interest.
Bourne is surrounded by beautiful history and historical towns such as Stamford, Sleaford, Spalding, Billingborough, Fotheringhay, Folkingham, Aslackby, Oakham, Uppingham, Grantham, Boston, and so much more.

As Non Time History I stand alone, but as Bourne History Group, we stand together. The Non Time Team is growing with new editors arriving such as the wonderfully informative Jamie Lawrance, and also history enthusiast, Steve Goddard.

I am hoping more will join the team, a team that will inject excitement into the town.

The website has just begun, but as promised, I have collated all relevant castle information into one place. We now hope that we build upon that.

We also intend to link the Hereward the Wake site to our website so that everyone can learn about this famous character who belongs to Bourne, thanks to19th century novelist, Charles Kingsley.

There is one special person whom I haven’t mentioned yet. His name is Rex Needle. Rex Needle has done more for Bourne’s history than anyone I know, and I think that most people would agree with that statement.

Rex Needle has a cd rom called ‘a portrait of Bourne’ which can be purchased at the Baldock’s mill. (all proceeds go to the Civic society). This CD Rom contains so much history it is full to bursting. I call it the Bible of Bourne and it is worth the purchase, plus, one would be helping the survival of the heritage museum.

The address for the website is this: but you can also go and find us at our facebook page, Bourne History Group.

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