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Spalding is a market town with a population of 30,000 on the River Welland in the South Holland district of Lincolnshire, England. Little London is a hamlet directly south of Spalding on the B1172 road, whilst Pinchbeck a village to the north is part of the metropolitan area.

Spalding is well known for its annual Flower Parade which attracts many regular visitors from all over the world. Since 2002 it has also held an annual Pumpkin Festival (not linked to Hallowe’en) in October.

Spalding is upstream from The Wash, the bay formerly proposed as a World Heritage Site.

Excavations at Wygate Park in Spalding have shown that there has been occupation in this area from at least the Roman period, when this part of Lincolnshire was used for the production of salt to which it was suited as coastal siltland. At Wygate Park salt making seems to have come to an end by the mid 3rd century AD however, when climatic change and flooding may have made such activities difficult.

The settlement’s name is derived from an Anglian tribe, the Spaldingas, who settled in the area during the 6th century, and may have retained their administrative independence within the Kingdom of Mercia into the late 9th century, when Stamford became one of the Five Boroughs of the East Midlands under Danish control.

  • 1015 – a Benedictine Priory was founded by Thorold de Bokenhale
  • 1086 – the town is recorded in the Domesday book as ‘Spallinge’
  • 1284(c) – St Mary and St Nicolas, Spalding was built as a parish church by the priory under Prior William de Littleport de Kurphery Frederick.
  • 1377 – The White Hart Inn of the Market Place is built
  • 1430s – Ayscoughfee Hall built by Richard Alwyn
  • 1566 – Mary, Queen of Scots, stopped overnight at the White Hart in the Market Place
  • 1588 – The Spalding Grammar School, originally located within the Church, was founded.
  • 1590s – Spalding’s first drains constructed.
  • 1650 – Sir John Gamlyn founded almshouses in Spalding.
  • 1688 – Maurice Johnson was born at Ayscoughfee Hall in Spalding on 19 June.
  • 1710 – Maurice Johnson founded the Spalding Gentlemen’s Society Museum, which is now the second oldest museum in the country.
  • 1768 – Holland House, described as the finest house in Spalding, was built by William Sands Junior.
  • 1774 – The famous explorer Matthew Flinders was born at nearby Donington, on 16 March. He went on to discover most of southern Australia.
  • 1801 – The population of Spalding according to the census was 3,296.
  • 1805 – The Friends Meeting House, in Double Street, was built.
  • 1826 – Spalding’s last house of correction was built. It closed down in 1884.
  • 1831 – The population of Spalding according to the census was 6,497.
  • 1838 – The High Bridge over the River Welland was re-built.
  • 1842 – The Sessions House in Sheep Market was built.
  • 1847 – The Spalding Free Press newspaper was founded.
  • 1848 – The Great Northern Railway opened their railway station.
  • 1851 – The population of Spalding according to the census was 8,829.
  • 1852 – William Bramwell Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, accepts leadership of the Methodist Reform circuit in Spalding
  • 1854 – Spalding Cemetery was consecrated in November.
  • 1855-56 – The Corn Exchange was built.
  • 1857 – The Butter Market was opened.
  • 1858 – The police station was built.
  • 1860 – An Act was passed to pipe fresh water to Spalding from Bourne.
  • 1866 – Spalding Amateur Dramatic Society formed.
  • 1866-67 – St Mary and St Nicolas, Spalding was extensively restored by Sir George Gilbert Scott.
  • 1870 – Goodfellows National School was opened.
  • 1871 – The population of Spalding according to the census was 9,111.
  • 1874 – The ecclesiastical parish of St. John the Baptist was formed on 1 December from the civil parishes of Spalding and Pinchbeck.
  • 1875 – The Church of St John the Baptist and the primary school next door to it, with the same name, were built.
  • 1875-76 – The Church of St. Peter, on the site of the old Abbey, was built.
  • 1878 – Spalding’s Roman Catholic church in Henrietta Street, dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and St. Norbert, was built.
  • 1878 – Birth in Bridge Street of Frank Pick, dynamic CEO of London Passenger Transport Board and architect of the ‘modern’ typography still used on the Underground today.
  • 1880 – St Paul’s Church in Fulney was built to designs drawn up by Sir George Gilbert Scott, who was a member of the Spalding Gentlemen’s Society – he also designed buildings for Boston, Lincolnshire, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire and other areas.
  • 1881 – The present grammar school building, in Priory Road, was erected.
  • 1884 – Spalding’s last house of correction was closed. Part of the site is now occupied by Spalding Library. 1887 – The Methodist church in Broad Street was opened.
  • 1891 – The population of Spalding according to the census was 9,014.
  • 1916 – Spalding Arts and Crafts Society was founded by surgeons at the Johnson Hospital in Spalding for recovering soldiers wounded in the First World War. Spalding Town Council sponsored their first exhibition in 1918.
  • 1921 – Spalding United F.C. was formed.
  • 1941 – In May, during World War II, a stray Luftwaffe bomber dropped its bombs on Spalding, destroying much of Hall Place and causing damage to several businesses.
  • 1958 – The first Spalding Flower Parade took place.
  • 1959 – Closure of M&GN railway ends direct passenger services from Leicester to Great Yarmouth via Bourne, Holbeach, Long Sutton, Sutton Bridge, King’s Lynn, Fakenham and Norwich
  • 1960 – St Nicolas Players Amateur Dramatic Society was formed in Spalding. The group’s name came from the use of the St. Nicolas Church Hall for early meetings.
  • 1967 – Barbeque 67 took place featuring the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Geno Washington, Cream and Pink Floyd. Jimi Hendrix stays at the Red Lion Hotel
  • 1970 – Closure of East Lincolnshire line ends direct rail services to Boston, and through services from Grimsby to London
  • 1974 – In April Spalding moves from Holland local authority (based in Boston) to the new South Holland council, based in Spalding. South Holland is the larger of the two former districts of Holland.
  • 1977 – Location filming for Episodes of BBC TV series Murder Most English starring Anton Rodgers, based on the work of Lincolnshire author Colin Watson. The town stands in for the fictional Flaxborough.
  • 1982 – Closure of GN&GE ‘Joint Line’ railway to March
  • 2002 – Main line railway locomotive named ‘Spalding Town’ in ceremony at the station
  • 2008 – Tulip Radio was awarded a full time broadcasting licence from Ofcom and announced that they will start broadcasting in early 2009.

In John Bartholomew’s Gazetteer of the British Isles (1887), Spalding was described as; “market town and par. with ry. sta., Lincolnshire, on River Welland, 14 m. SW. of Boston, 12,070 ac., pop. 9260; P.O., T.O., three Banks, two newspapers. Market-day, Tuesday. Spalding is an important railway centre, while the river has been made navigable to the town for vessels of from 50 to 70 tons. It is situated in a rich agricultural district, and has a large trade, by river and by rail, in corn, wool, coal, and timber. It has also flour, bone, and saw mills, breweries, and coach works. There are remains of a priory of 1501, a fine old church (restored 1860), a grammar school, a corn exchange, and a spacious market place.”

The River Welland flows north from Crowland, through Spalding and passing the village and port of Fosdyke before leading out to the Wash, bisecting Spalding from east to west; the town has developed as a linear settlement around the river. Land had been reclaimed from the wetlands in the area since mediaeval times, and Spalding was subject to frequent flooding. The Coronation Channel, opened in 1953, diverted the excess waters around Spalding and ended the flooding, allowing the area around the banks to be safely built upon. Although this area has become heavily built up, the river retains its recreational usage and fishing is still popular.

In July 2005 a “Spalding Water Taxi” service was launched, running from Easter to late October. Its route is from just off Spalding’s High Street (behind Hills Department Store), upstream along the river, turning onto the Coronation Channel, and going to Springfields Outlet Shopping & Festival Gardens, and back. It is mainly used as a recreational tourist attraction, described as “a relaxing 30 minute cruise”. Around the north-west of Spalding is a large waterway called Vernatt’s Drain, named after one of the civil engineers who drained the fens. A South Holland council nature reserve is situated on part of the old Boston railway line at Vernatts Drain. Fulney Lock is the point where the Welland is no longer tidal.

Spalding falls within the drainage area of the Welland and Deepings Internal Drainage Board.

The town has a population of about 22,000 (26,000 including the large village of Pinchbeck, to the north). The population is growing fast, due in great part to many retired people coming to the area and migrant workers from eastern Europe working in the many food processing factories or on the land.

Spalding is located at the centre of a major region of flower and vegetable growth, due to the rich silty soil which mainly comprises drained recovered marshland or estuary. There are many garden centres and plant nurseries, as well as a thriving agricultural industry and various vegetable packing plants. The main vegetables are potatoes, peas, carrots, wheat, barley, oats, broccoli, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts. The vast majority of these are sold to large concerns such as supermarkets, with little being available for sale locally.

Despite this, local fruit and vegetable shop Booth’s sells lots of local produce to Spalding’s citizens. They sell all major fruit and vegetables ranging from the famous, locally grown ‘Boston’ potatoes to imported rarities such as custard apples.

Known as The Heart of the Fens, Spalding is famous as a centre of the bulb industry, and has close links with the Netherlands (origin of the Geest family, who were former major local employers). The annual Tulip Parade takes place on the first Saturday in May, and is a major tourist attraction, comprising a procession of floats on various themes, each decorated with tulip petals, a by-product of the bulb industry. In years when the tulips are late, daffodils or hyacinths are sometimes used in their place. When the tulips are early, crepe paper has to be substituted. The flower industry has, however, become less important in recent years, and the bands of bright colours that covered the fenland are now essentially gone.

Many small and internationally famous products are supplied from the area including:

  • George Adams local butchers with long standing heritage
  • FESA UK LTD Fruit importers and packers, based in Clay Lake. Internationally recognised for working directly with growers of fresh produce worldwide and supplying most of the UK’s supermarkets, processors and food service companies.
  • Welland Power generators from the Farrows family.
  • Uniq plc (formerly Unigate) have a factory for their prepared salads.
  • Fowler-Welch Coolchain, historically a Spalding transport company, have their UK base in the town on West Marsh Road near the power station, and were bought by the Dart Group in 1994.
  • In May 2005, the Icelandic company Bakkavör purchased the main Spalding-based company Geest, for £485 million. It had a large operation on West Marsh Road as well as factories in Holbeach and Peterborough. It began in 1935 has Geest Horticultural Products by John and Leonard van Geest who imported tulip bulbs to the UK. The salad preparation factory in Spalding opened in 1972. It launched on the London Stock Exchange in 1986. In 2010 Bakkavor moved its central operations and registered head office to their Spalding site.
  • Guttridge, based in the large Wardentree Business Park, is a leading designer manufacturer of conveyors, elevators, bulk bag systems, valves and ancillary equipment for bulk product handling. The company operates across the UK and often into Europe and further afield.
  • Lincolnshire Field Products (LFP) are large farmers and growers based on the outskirts of the town. Suppling produce to supermarkets and food manufacturers, the business transports much of its own produce and that of other firms through its subsidiary transport company FreshLinc.
  • The EMAP publishing company, now mainly based in Orton and formerly known as East Midlands Allied Press, was started by Sir Richard Winfrey in Spalding when he bought the Spalding Guardian in 1887. This would become EMAP in 1947, and launched the Peterborough Evening Telegraph in 1961. Sir Richard Winfrey’s first local newspapers were initially designed to promote his Liberal politics.
  • Lloyd Loom of Spalding, situated on the Wardentree Lane estate still produce handmade British Furniture in the traditional styles of the 1917 original designs. Their furniture can be found throughout Spalding cafes and restaurants.
  • Kerry Foods Bakery, an Irish food company based in Tralee, situated in Fulney Lane, is a leading producer of sausage rolls & Armadillo pasties to the UK markets
  • Spalding Bulb, a long-established garden mail order company based in the Georgian Market Town. Founded soon after the Second World War, at a time when quotas were in place for the import of many products, including flower bulbs. The company has an expansive range of plants and bulbs, that are sold directly to the end consumer, working with top nurseries across Europe, particularly Holland.
  • TransFlor Ltd a fresh cut flower repacker and haulage company situated in Bicker, Nr Donington. Main UK stoarge and distribution contractor for UK flower importers from countries such as Columbia and Equador. Established by Neil Dobney.

Spalding is one of the homes of the Lincolnshire sausage, ranging from the traditional recipes of Brownings and Bennetts Butchers in Winsover Road (A151) to the more peppery flavours of T Law in Hall Place or the perfectly acceptable mass-produced sausages of George Adams. The key ingredient of the Lincolnshire sausage is sage. One town-centre fish-and-chip shop, Turner’s (known locally as Sheddy’s) in New Road, sells Spalding-produced butcher’s sausage in batter

Spalding was chosen to host the World Tulip Summit in 2008, from Thursday, 1 May to Friday, 2 May, alongside a broader Tulipmania festival from 13 April to 24 May. This coincided with the date of the Flower Parade (Saturday, 3 May), which was the fiftieth anniversary of the parade. The Summit was estimated to attract about 200 delegates from around the world.

Accompanying the Summit and Festival were many entertainment activities, all with a general focus on promoting the local area.

Spalding has a popular, reasonably-sized, market every Tuesday and Saturday and on the first Saturday in every month a Farmers’ Market.

The best-known building in Spalding is Ayscoughfee Hall, formerly a 15th century country house and now a museum). Visitors to Spalding can find other local attractions at the Pinchbeck Engine Museum (just north of Spalding), Bulb Museum (situated at Birch Grove Garden Centre, Pinchbeck) and the Gordon Boswell Romany Museum, to the south of the town. There is also a nineteenth-century Blacksmith’s Forge on the River Welland which has retained much of its original features, and has been marked out for development as a museum.

Spalding and the surrounding area is famous for its parish churches; St Paul’s at Fulney, on the eastern side of the town, was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, the designer of St Pancras Station London, who was a friend of Spalding Gentlemen’s Society. St John’s, the Parish Church of St John the Baptist, built in 1875 at the same time as the Church school next door,Spalding Parish Church itself (St Mary and St Nicolas, Spalding) has a handsome spire visible for miles around and dates from the 13th century. The Chatterton Tower is near Sainsburys.

Five supermarkets are available to locals: a Tesco Express store, a Sainsbury’s in the centre of the town, a Marks and Spencer Food Hall, and a Morrisons in Pinchbeck. Outside of the town centre, Springfields Shopping Outlet and Gardens offer a wide range of outlet stores set in a variety of landscaped gardens designed by Charlie Dimmock and Chris Beardshaw among others. The Castle Sports Complex provides fitness facilities throughout the day and evening. The South Holland Centre is an arts centre on Market Place that stages concerts, theatre productions and film showings.

On 7 October 1979, the first barcode was used in the UK at Key Markets in Spalding.

A new £425m, 860MW combined cycle gas turbine power station, owned by Intergen, was built on the former site of British Sugar on West Marsh Road by Bechtel in October 2004. Intergen have also consent to build a second 900 MW expansion to its existing Power station which is due to commence construction 2011. In mid-2006 a new wind farm (operated by Wind Prospect UK) became visible from much of Spalding, located in nearby Deeping St Nicholas.

Spalding, like nearby Boston, is a regular destination of heavy goods vehicles transporting processed vegetables and other food produce. The A16 used to pass through the town until August 1995, when the Spalding-Sutterton Improvement (by-pass), built mostly on the closed Spalding to Boston railway line, opened. The twelve-mile (19 km) A1073 between Spalding and Eye Green in Peterborough has been replaced by a completely new road classified as the A16 replacing the previous A16 that ran to Stamford which has been renumbered as the A1175.

Spalding railway station is situated on the Lincoln Central – Peterborough railway line, operated by East Midlands Trains. The service is irregular, and non-existent at night or on Sundays; however, it is of great convenience to Peterborough for employment and shopping. The service to Peterborough was withdrawn by BR in October 1970 as part of the closure of the East Lincolnshire route from Grimsby and Boston, but reinstated in June 1971 with a grant from Spalding Urban District Council. This was one of the first examples of this type of rail support in the UK and not advocated in the Beeching Report.

The section of the Great Northern & Great Eastern ‘Joint’ line from March, which carried the ‘Boat Train’ between Harwich and Sheffield, closed in 1982. The trackbed has largely built over at the south of the town for housing, and there is further encroachment towards Cowbit for new road construction.

Spalding was also on the east-west Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway, which had Bourne to the West and Holbeach to the east. It closed in February 1959, ending through passenger services from Leicester to Great Yarmouth via King’s Lynn and Norwich. Local freight, mainly farm produce, continued to carried between Bourne and Sutton Bridge until 1964.

On 4 May 2002, Spalding had the honour of having a main line diesel locomotive named after it. Class 31 diesel No. 31106, in immaculate condition after a major works overhaul, hauled the ‘St James Tripper’ excursion to Peterborough from Preston via Doncaster, Lincoln and Sleaford, and made a brief stop at the station to have its ‘Spalding Town’ nameplates unveiled by Colin Fisher, Chairman of South Holland District Council. No. 31106 is the property of Cambridgeshire businessman and author Howard Johnston, who was born at nearby Cowbit and educated in the town. In 2012, the locomotive was still on hire to Rail Vehicle Engineering Limited and employed on Network Rail track measurement trains all over the United Kingdom. A replica ‘Spalding Town’ nameplate has been presented to SHDC for public display.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.


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