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Gainsborough in 1836 - History

Description of the town from an old book.

Published : 01 March 2018


Description of the town from an old book.

GAINSBOROUGH. Famous in history as the landing place of the Danish ships, when Sweyne, their bloody commander, ravaged and laid waste the country, stands on the eastern bank of the River Trent, about 19 miles northwest from Lincoln, and 146 north from London.

On entering it from the Lincoln road, the first object worthy of our attention is THE BRIDGE on the left. From here we pass along a narrow street running parallel with the river, filled principally on the left or water side of the street, with warehouses connected with the shipping trade, and on the right with habitations and shops, at first of an inferior kind, but increasing in importance as we reach the MARKET-PLACE, where we find the TOWN HALL, the POST-OFFICE, and the principal shops. The Town Hall is a plain brick building, in no way remarkable, where the Magistrates meet every fortnight to transact the public business, and where the vestry meetings are held; it is also used for public balls and assemblies.

Too many words, skip to the end.

Gainsborough from the Retford road

Gainsborough from the Retford road

Leaving the Marketplace we pass into LORD-STREET, and, turning to the left, the street leads us to the water side. This spot, (which till lately was a very inconvenient one, an uneven, muddy declivity rising from the water's edge between two dead walls), is used as the landing and boarding places of the steam packets that ply between here and Hull: one leaving Hull every morning with the tide, and the other leaving Gainsborough every morning at half past eight. The advantages of a steam navigation are here strikingly evidenced. The distance from Gainsborough to Hull is somewhat more than fifty miles, and the voyage to Hull is usually made in little more than five hours, and from Hull in little more than four hours, at an expense of 2s. 6d. only for the best cabin passengers, and 1s. 6d. for the others. A curious phenomenon is observed in the Trent at the spring tides, called the Eagre or Hygre. The water rises on the surface six or eight feet high, and rolls on, though gradually decreasing in size, from the mouth of the Trent to some distance beyond Gainsborough. A few miles before it reaches the town, it has a grand and imposing appearance.

Returning up the street we perceive, on the left, an opening into a spacious area, where stands the Old Hall, a most highly interesting building. A little further on, also on the left, forming, with the street leading from the Bridge, one long and almost continuous line, interrupted only by the Market-place, and still following very nearly the course of the river, we find Church-street, which, of course, derives its name from --THE CHURCH. This is a strange mixture of Gothic and Grecian architecture, which contrasts curiously enough: the tower being a fine specimen of the Gothic, while the body of the church is entirely in the Grecian style; yet the effect of the whole is striking, and in some degree noble. The interior is handsome. Its principal ornaments are a finely toned organ and a small font standing in the middle aisle, the form of which is beautiful. The tower possesses a peal of eight bells. The living is a vicarage in the archdeaconry of Stowe, and diocese of Lincoln, rated in the king's books at £22. 16s. 8d.; the patronage vested in the Bishop of Lincoln. Passing the Church, we find, a little further on, on the right, the GAS-HOUSE, a handsome modern erection. We are now at the end of the town, and the street changes into a high road.

Retracing our steps to Lord Street, and turning to the BEAST-MARKET on the left, we proceed to the top of the street, where, nearly on a line with it, is another street, new, and very pleasant, called Spring Gardens. After making a short turn to the left we come to the Spittal-road ; facing this turn is the METHODIST-CHAPEL, a large brick building. Returning past the top of the Beast-market, we pass through a narrow street, called Beaumont-street, into an open road, skirted every here and there by houses and mansions of a very superior kind. This road leads us back to the point from which we first started,--The Bridge.

The Government of the town is vested in a Court-leet by which the burgesses, constables, and other officers are elected.

COMMERCE.--The Trent is navigable for vessels of 200 tons; and, in consequence, Gainsborough, for an inland town, enjoys a good trade, The port is almost entirely one of imports. The quantities of timber, principally deals, brought from Riga, Memel, &c., that pass weekly through is town are immense. Corn is shipped here also, to a great amount, for the London and other markets. The counties of Stafford, Nottingham, and Leicester, are principally supplied through this place with sugar, spirits, timber, deals, rushes, hides, tallow, iron, lathe, bark, valonea, yaffers &c. &c. The quantity of linseed imported for crushing exceeds probably that of any other port. There is also considerable business done here in the malting trade. Besides the extensive warehouses of the merchants, Gainsborough possesses four steam mills for crushing linseed, several malting-houses, two extensive rope-walks, three ship-yards, and two or three brass and iron founderies.

CHAPELS.--Beside the Methodist chapel already alluded to, there is one for a body who, some three years since, seceded from the others, and who are now called New Methodists, one for the Primitive Methodists, one for the Independents, one for the Presbyterians, one for the Society of Friends, and one for the Unitarians.

EDUCATION.--The principal public Schools are two: the Grammar-School, educating generally from 40 to 50 boys, (which is nominally the Free School of Queen Elizabeth, but is free only in name, as the parents pay for the education of their children), and the really free school, conducted upon the Madras system, supported by annual subscriptions. This school generally contains from 200 to 250 children of both sexes.

Gainsborough from up the hills.

Gainsborough from up the hills.

MARKETS, FAIRS. &c.--There are two fairs or marts here; one commencing on Easter Monday, the other on the 20th of October, each lasting ten days. Like most other fairs, though originally intended for the sale of Merchandise, these are now principally devoted to mirth and festivity; --The market day is Tuesday.

TL;DR - Conclusion.

POPULATION.--In 1831, of the township of Gainsborough, 6686; and including the hamlets, 7563.

If anyone knows what a yaffer is, or indeed why Gainsborough imported them or even what they used them for, please do comment below so that the less knowledgeable among us, (me), can be enlightened. A picture of a yaffer would do.

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