THE INDUSTRIAL AGE
ISOLATION & CONTRACTION
The industrial revolution passed Folkingham by and the Heathcote dream of creating a prosperous market town dwindled and died. The death knell was the coming of the railways, which changed the way in which people travelled, worked and made and bought goods. Unfortunately Folkingham’s undulating topography did not suit the rail engineers, who needed flat terrain, and so the rail lines bypassed the town. The new transport revolution heralded a decline in the coaching trade, which had been the life blood of establishments such as The Greyhound and the anciliary service trades which many coaching towns maintained. Folkingham was no longer a convenient stopping off point on a journey from Lincoln to London. Instead people could now hop on a train and be there in a fraction of the time.
Being bypassed by the railway also meant being an industrial backwater. Investment went into places where the railway could easily transport raw materials, labour and goods. Grantham, for example, saw a fifty percent increase in its population in the second half of the nineteenth century. Billingborough was the same size as Folkingham in the early nineteenth century, but had grown to around one thousand two hundred people by 1885. By contrast, Folkingham declined. In 1848 there had been eight hundred and twenty inhabitants; by 1905 that number had dwindled to just four hundred and sixty two.
Billingborough and Horbling Railway Station.
END OF THE COACHING ERA
The undulating countryside around Folkingham was ill-suited to railway construction, but that didn’t stop the Eastern Counties Railway putting in an application to Parliament for a line from Peterborough to Folkingham, which was recorded in the London Gazette in November 1846.
Anxious to keep GER out of the north, the Great Northern Railway hurried through a proposal for a line between Sleaford and Bourne, which was accepted in 1865. GNR quickly realised the poor financial return of their hasty intervention and sought to abandon it, but the Board of Trade compelled them to follow through on their promise. The line was thus built as cheaply as possible, being single track except for a short section at Billingborough, whose station was the only one to feature two platforms. As feared the line was never commercially viable and it shut to passenger traffic in 1930 and goods services in 1964.
Wesleyan Chapel, Chapel Lane, 1841.
CHURCHES & CHAPELS
Like most parish churches, St Andrew’s Church was subject to the Victorian zeal of restoration in the fashionable Gothic Revival style. The first work to be undertaken was the replacement of three of the bells. The main restoration was achieved in two phases, both conducted in the final years of the Rev. Thomas H. Rawnsley’s incumbency. The first was in 1857-58 under the supervision of Kirk and Parry of Sleaford - Charles Kirk Junior was the architect, while Parry acted as administrator. The second restoration was conducted by Stamford architect Edward Browning (son of Bryan Browning) in 1860. The necessity for this was precipitated by extensive damage caused to the north aisle and arcade by a severe gale - this had brought down the north wall and twisted the nave piers.
The Wesleyans first met in Folkingham in a domestic house on the west side of Back Lane, which became Chapel Lane. A new chapel was erected in 1841 to the rear of the original property at a cost of some £350. Designed by Thomas Pilkington, a Scottish architect working in Stamford, it consisted of a utilitarian brick-built box, with a shallow hipped roof and a standard internal layout centred on the pulpit - an internal gallery provided extra seating.
National School, Market Place, 1875.
The Free Grammar School continued to function through the early Victorian period, presumably from the school room on West Street - John Rose became the master in 1846 and he was living in West Street in the 1851 Census - he later took up residence in The Elms. He remained master of the school until a new public elementary school was erected at the bottom of Market Place in 1875. This was a National School based on the church principles of the National Society, established in 1811 - it cost £1000 and could cater for up to one hundred and thirty children. Average attendance in 1885 was eighty two.
Post Office, No. 14 Market Place, 1909.
Being on a coaching route with Royal Mail services, meant that Folkingham got its first post office early on. The office subsequently moved down the hill to a three-storey building at No. 14 Market Place. The 1861 Post Office Directory states John Mackland was the Postmaster and that letters from London arrived at 5:45am, this service also picking up letters for the north, while the mail from the north arrived at 7pm, performing the same function in reverse.
In 1870, the national Post Office launched its telegraph service, followed in 1881 with the postal order for sending money by post. Kelly’s Directory of 1885 describes the Folkingham branch as a ‘Post, Money Order and Telegraph Office’, reflecting these developments. It also acted as a ‘Savings Bank and Government Annuity & Insurance Office’.
Above: shop unit inserted into Greyhound House, Market Place.
The typical trades associated with a small market town continued through the Victorian period, the main development being the increase in retail shops, which were mainly located in Market Place and West Street. Shopping in commercial stores became a feature of Victorian life and was considered a part of the woman’s job in the keeping of the home. The opportunities presented by retail are revealed by the fact that Greyhound House, which was formerly part of the inn, was rented out as a separate shop unit with a new plate glass frontage for the display of goods.
Whites Directory of 1856 records that Folkingham was home to three bakers, four boot and shoemakers, two butchers, six grocers and drapers and three tailors. Other trades included a cooper, a blacksmith, a corn miller, a cattle dealer, a surgeon, an ironmonger, a malster/brewer, a wool buyer, a mason and builder, a saddler, a bookseller and druggist and a veterinary surgeon. There were also twelve farmers and two gardeners. The Post Office Directory (1861) lists three carriers operating to Bourne, Sleaford and Grantham along with Henry Mitchell, brewer and wine and spirit merchant, whose advert is reproduced on the following page. A brick and tile manufactory operated in the 1840s and50s on Brickyard Lane, which ran east off the main Bourne Road, south of the town. This was owned by Richard Maple, who employed twelve men and three boys. The heavy clay in that area must have provided a convenient raw material.
Pub landlords often undertook multiple trades to support their enterprises, and John Harmston, who was the landlord of The Red Lion from 1824, was also a blacksmith - his son carried on both trades until about 1890.