Warboys Local History Society Meeting Report 3 July 2023

Joan Cole presented Part 2 of her armchair historical walk. Starting at the Methodist Church she
talked of the great fire of September 1900 which was started by 3 children playing with matches
behind the wooden Weslyean Chapel (now Methodist). Straw caught fire and spread rapidly with a
strong wind, raging down the High Street, past the White Hart to the Cock Inn (Ashleigh Court
Entrance). It spread across the road to the Ship Inn and Croft House and behind to the cycle store
and brewery. A large quantity of gunpowder exploded blowing firemen off their feet. Sixteen
cottages were destroyed and 60 people made homeless.
In 1961 Warboys County Primary School (now library and Parish Centre) had an indoor swimming
pool. The school sang carols at the Methodist Church and around the village (the piano was played
by headmaster Horace Hyde on a mobile float) then return for welcome refreshments for the
children. In 1946/7 the school magazine was started. The front page witch logo was chosen from
designs submitted by the children, and the first articles were written by the children. Included was
the story of collecting rose hips (3p/lb) for making rose hip syrup. The Board School (corner of School
Road/ High Street) opened in 1870 was a Baptist school built in one year on a ¼ acre (rood) plot
known as Watson’s piece by the village pump, and had some 250 children.
A variety of shops were illustrated. The old paper shop was previously a hairdresser and Reads
Harness maker. Huggins Pork Butchers shop (was left of the parish centre entrance) sold pork,
sausages, black pudding and ham. Arthur Huggins also killed pigs to order from villagers, sometimes
keeping a favourite cut for himself. Giovanni’s hair salon was previously Lloyds Bank and a fish and
chip shop. The house to the left of the old paper shop was Whitseys shop selling many items
including ice cream, later run by Joan Cole. The dilapidated Newmans Store had been a grocers with
a bakehouse at the rear, as well as a two seater wooden toilet. Previously Meadows as a popular
haberdashery with hats, clothes and rolls of cloth. Run at some time by Mr Child who left in his will
Adam Lyon Close (now Adam Lyon playing field) to the village for ever. Beth Paynes shop, Browns Car
Show room and Stewards Hardware (was Rose Cottage, now Spar) were shown. The Baptist Church
built in 1832 with bricks from the Knot Hole (pre Warboys Brickyard) was known for total immersion
baptisms in the weir attracting audiences of around 2000. The first prepack plastic bags for
vegetables, known as B-PAK, originated in Warboys in the 1950s in the building to the left of the
Baptist Church.
The design of the village sign incorporates snippets of the history of Warboys from aircraft,
brickworks, farming, Manor House, witches, barns, White Hart pub, the weir, windmills, a bishops
mitre (for John de Warboys Abbott of Ramsey) and the ancient bronze knocker in the church.
An entertaining evening of recent social history with memorable anecdotes.
Next Meeting 7 August A tale of a poacher getting away with murder – Joe Whistlecraft
Brian Lake

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