Bourne Archive: Bourne Trade: T.W.Mays

 http://boar.org.uk/abiwxo3TWMays1.htm          Latest edit 10 Jul 2011.  

Interactive version ©2010 R.J.PENHEY


The Bourne Archive


T.W. Mays & Sons, Ltd., Wool Merchants, Bone Crushers, Blood, Bone, and Chemical Manure Manufacturers.


A Great Lincolnshire Industry.

By Sidney T. Smith, M.J.I. 1


This is a thirty-eight page booklet presented with the compliments of T.W. Mays and Son, of Bourne. It is un-dated but internal evidence indicates that it comes from shortly after 1905, and before 1909.


The back cover reads:—

T. W. Mays & Sons, Ltd.,


Bone Crushers, Blood, Bone, and Chemical Manure 2 Manufacturers,

Guaranteed Analysis and highest possible Testimonials.

Manures specially prepared for all crops.

Works: BOURNE, Lincs.

Full value given for all dead stock, and prompt attention given to fetching the same.

Agents for Messrs, Mays & Sons’ Ltd. SILVER MEDAL CHEMICAL MANURES.




Mr. H. B. Hurry,

Mr. G. W. Taylor,


Bridge House, Walton,


New Road,





Forman and sons, printers, Nottingham.

Title page:—

A Large Lincolnshire industry.

being a description of the extensive works

    of —

Messrs, T. W. MAYS & SONS, Ltd.,





Page 2:—


Bourne Market Place on Fair Day.























Photo Redshaw, Bourne

Bourne Market Place on Fair Day.


Page 3:—

“His corn and Cattle were his only care,

And his supreme delight a country fair.”              DRYDEN.


Chemical Manure Works Looking East.
















A visit to Bourne on Fair Day (October 31st), prompted the writing of the few pages which follow, and which it is hoped may interest the readers and serve a useful purpose.


Pages 4 to 35:—

The town itself is of great historic charm. In very early times the Romans held and fortified the place, and in the neighbourhood the great Car Dyke is a reminder of their achievements. When they had left Britain, Dane and Saxon contended at Bourne for the mastery, and in Edward the Confessor’s time the Castle 3 was held by Saxon Lords 4; Morcar 5, who perished at Threckingham, was one of them; Leofric, the great rival of the house of Godwin, was another 6. The great hero of the Fen country, Hereward the Wake, was also “Lord of Brunne” (its Saxon name), and here held in check the impetuous advance of William the Norman. In the time of Rufus, however, Walter 7 Fitz-Gilbert, a Norman knight, was given the manor, but from Henry II, to Edward III. The lords of Wake and Wilsford again held possession. The Castle was demolished by Cromwell 8.

William Cecil, first Lord of Burleigh, Elizabeth’s trusted and wised Counsellor, was born here, and his name will ever live in history. In latter Main Sorting Sheddays, too—early in the Victorian era—another world-wide celebrity first saw the light in North Street. This was Mr. F. C. Worth 9, who, after an education at Bourne Grammar School, went to London and thence to Paris. He was destined to become the arbiter and dictator of fashion to the beau monde of Europe and America, as M. Worth, the famous Parisian costumier.

Bourne once had an Augustinian Abbey, founded by Baldwin Fitz-Gilbert, but this was suppressed in the 16th century. Another of its ancient buildings, the Red Hall, long the residence of the Digby family, and where the gunpowder plotters met 10, has been converted into the railway station, and generally the town has undergone a modernizing process. It is on the Essendine, and Bourne and Sleaford branch of the Great Northern Railway, and the Midland and Great Northern line connects it with Leicester and Nottingham via Saxby 11, and the Eastern Counties via Spalding.

On market and fair day, the town presents a very busy scene, as may be seen by the illustration we give. Cattle and horse dealers from all parts of the country foregather here, with merchants and their representatives, and crowds of folk from far and wide, who are given a real Lincolnshire welcome, the firm of Messrs. MAYS, Limited, whose name is a household word, alone entertaining some hundred of their customers, agriculturalists from all parts, at the “Nag’s Head” Hotel while genial hospitality on all hands abounds.


Woolstapling and Fellmongering.

“Is there not a double excellency in this?”—Shakespeare –“Merry Wives of Windsor.”

No. 2 Sorting and Packing Room.Bourne has several distinctive trades, and does not lack enterprise, but the most remarkable, most extensive, and one of the most typical businesses is that carried on by Messrs. T. W. Mays & Sons, Ltd., and its ramifications are various. They have the largest Woolstapling business in Lincolnshire, probably the most famous as a wool-growing county. It was founded over half-a-century ago by the grandfather of the present heads of the firm—Mr. Wm. Mays—and there is scarcely a farmer in Lincolnshire but knows Messrs. Mays and Sons, for they are large buyers of wool at the Markets and Fairs throughout the County.

The woollen industry is older than all existing civilizations. Like many another art, the manufacture of wool has risen and fallen with the rise and fall of nations. Who first used the sheep’s woolly coat is unknown. The inscribed tablets recovered from buried cities in Western Asia and Southern Egypt show that woollen manufacture was practised by nations whose origin and end are unknown. In the very earliest traditions of our race the sheep figures as the useful property of man. We find in Genesis “and Abel was a keeper of sheep.” Job, the hero of the oldest book in the Bible, possessed in the days of prosperity which gladdened his old age 14,000 sheep, and was doubtless a large exporter of wool. Centuries later, Ezekiel spoke of Tyre as the market of white wool from Damascus, and blue cloths from the tribes of Syria. In vanished African Empires, wool stiffened with gold was worn by Kings and Chiefs. All round the world, “from China to Peru,” wool has been used for clothing, for comfort, and for ornamental fabrics, from times beyond the beginnings of recorded history. The woollen industry is, as the old Guild Charters say, “a most ancient and honourable craft.”

Nos. 1 and 2 WarehousesThe seat of the Lord Chancellor of England is called “the Woolsack,” It is a large square bag of wool without back or arms and covered with red cloth. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth an Act of Parliament was passed to prevent the exportation of wool, and that this source of our national wealth might be kept constantly in mind, woolsacks were placed in the House of Peers whereon the Judges sat, hence the Lord Chancellor, who presides in the House of Lords, is said to sit on the woolsack or to be “appointed on the woolsack.” In 1666 an Act of Parliament was passed for “burying in woollen only,” which was intended for “the encouragement of the woollen manufactures of the Kingdom and preventing all the exportation of money for the buying and importing of linen.” This Act however, was repealed in 1814. It shows however, the importance attached to the woollen industry, which is of native growth.

There is little doubt that the high quality of English wool, and the wealth it brought, was one of the chief causes of the Norman Conquest. William of Normandy knew that the weavers of Rouen and the wool merchants of Caen were frequently hampered in their trade by the fluctuating restrictions imposed on wool exports by English Kings. Were the two countries united, those restrictions could be abolished. That William had economic as well as political purposes in his mind when he invaded England is proved by the fact that he brought with him a company of French weavers. But the woollen trade has been English in the main, with the English character stamped upon it. Taken by themselves the fibres of wool, soft, silky, serrated, and curling, are natural products of little value; he must have been a great poet who saw in them the potentialities of cloth. Labour, labour of brain and heart and hand, is the one and only “philosopher’s stone” which transmutes the common things of earth into sources of human wealth and joy.

Skin Yards (Water Side)The wool-stapler deals with the raw material of manufacture and that is Messrs. Mays & Sons’ business, their “commercial emporium or seat of trade” being at Eastgate, whither we were taken in a well-equipped motor car 12. Here are their well-fitted commodious offices, with telephonic communication all over the country, and also to the different departments; and it is a busy time for the staff when the markets at Bradford and other centres are in full swing. Here, too, are the extensive stables, many horses being kept going; and some of the warehouses, one immense shed, some hundred feet square, being in the shearing season a veritable hive of industry. Here, too, the fleeces are received, and the wool stapled.

There are four distinct qualities of wool on every sheep, the finest being upon the spine, from the neck to within six inches of the tail, including one-third of the breadth of he back. The second covers the flanks between the thighs and the shoulders. The third clothes the neck and the rumps, and the fourth extends from the lower part of the neck and breast down to the feet, and also upon a part of the shoulders and thighs to the bottom of the hind quarters. These are torn asunder and sorted on the fleece being delivered after the shearing, and it is a great sight to see the men and women at work in Messrs. Mays’ large shed in June and July. No less than twelve or fourteen distinct varieties of wool can be obtained by the experienced stapler, and as it is sorted it is baled ready for dispatch to Bradford and other wool centres.

Independent of the quality of fineness, there are two sorts of wool which afford the basis of different fabrics, and are somewhat differently treated in the process of spinning. The long and the short Lincolnshire sheep are noted, of course, for their long, heavy wool. The Lincoln hog has a long staple with a curly fibre; the Lincoln wether has a short staple with no curl. The half-breed has a fine wool, the staple of the hog and wether being also long and short respectively.

Skin Yards and Woll Warehouses.It may not be uninteresting to explain that after the removal of the first fleece the tup-hogget becomes a shearling, the ewe-hogger a grimmer (generally called in Lincolnshire gimmers), and the wether hogget a dinmont (hence the name “Dandy Dinmont.” 13) After the removal of the second fleece, the shearing becomes a two-year wether, the grimmer a ewe, and the dinmont a wether. After the removal of the third fleece the ewe is called a twinter-ewe, and when it ceases to breed, a draft ewe. To “cast a sheep’s eye” at one is to look askance, like a sheep, at a person to whom you feel lovingly inclined, and no doubt the sheep regards the shearer lovingly when he removes his heavy winter coat. This begins to be rugged in Spring, or early in Summer, and in June is ready for shearing.

But besides the fleeces, Messrs Mays are large purchasers of “farmers’ locks,” the name given to the wool cut from the sheeps’ tails prior to shearing. These locks, when carefully treated, yield a second grade wool of excellent quality; and during the Japanese War Messrs. Mays did an enormous business in this wool, which was turned into khaki and blankets for the Japanese troops. Their great sorting shed in June presents a scene of great animation, one side being occupied by women picking these “clag locks.” They do not entirely separate the dirt from the wool, but what they have picked is put into “willying machines,” the drums of which are studded with iron spikes, and which, driven by a gas engine 14, perform from five hundred to a thousand revolutions a minute, and take the excreta from the wool. This contains much nitrogen, and is a valuable consistent of the Artificial Manure made by Messrs. Mays, who waste nothing that comes to them. Formerly, the “clag blocks” were washed on the farm, and the dirt made soluble and the liquid thrown into the dykes or rivers; but Messrs. Mays deal with it, as will be seen, in a scientific manner, and it is, of course, and invaluable ingredient of their Manures.


The Malting 15 and Works.

“Famous through the World.”

Shakespeare,—Henry VI. (II).

Part Of Skin Yards and Warehouses (Street Side).On the opposite side of Eastgate, a little further down, we come to No. 2 Works, and here are the Fellmongering Works, with more Wool Chambers, and the Fleshing 16 and Cleaning Yards and Stores. The long range of buildings are conveniently situated on the banks of the Bourne Eau, overlooking the Fens, of which a fine view is commanded from the top storeys, Boston Stump 17 being plainly visible on a clear day. The Eau, which joins the River Glen at Tongue End, was formerly an important waterway, along which the town supplies were brought in ancient times. The handiness of the water supply greatly facilitates the operations carried on by Messrs. Mays, as will be seen presently.

No. 4 Yard.Woolstapling and Fellmongering are inseparably connected. A fellmonger is described in most dictionaries as “a dealer in skins and furs”; but he is far more than that, as we shall show. To begin with, we may explain for the benefit of the in-initiated that the wool shorn from the living animal is known as fleece-wool, and we have shown how what is stapled in the large sorting room, of which Mr. Marriott gives so excellent a Fleshing Skins.photograph. The wool pulled from the skins of animals that have been slaughtered is termed skin-wool. Messrs. Mays purchase sheep and other skins over a very large district, many coming from London and other large cities.

Our illustrations show how the skins are treated. On arrival they are placed on platforms in the stream, easily accessible from the doors of No. 3 Yard, as it is called, to free them from the dirt and foulness of various kinds, and in particular from the grease and oil with which it is generally imbued. The wool in its natural state contains a quantity of peculiar potash soap, secreted by the animal, and this forms into a lather, which assists the cleansing of the skins. After being cleaned, the skin side is treated with a chemical, remains for some hours, and then stoved, after which it is ready for the pulling shop. Men are to be Lime Pits.seen “pulling” the wool in the illustration of the Clock Yard. The skins, known as “pelts,” are then dipped in the lime pits, and are prepared for market, eventually going to the tanners, where they are often split into three parts, the top one being turned into Parchment, the middle one into fine American Cloth, and the third Pulling Shop.into Chamois Leather. 18

.The “clag locks” are also dealt with in the fellmongery yard by another process, and the horse wending its way round the ring, is rotating a triple iron roller, which is crushing the dirt out of the clag-wool, which is subsequently cleansed and dried ready to be sent away, as before stated, for manufacture into cheap blankets, the excreta here also going to the Manure Works.

But all the skins are not submitted to the “pulling” process. Many are salted down for skin rugs, in which Messrs. Mays do an extensive business.

Going from the Fellmongering Yard to the “Malting” we find the Skin Rug Department and important one, Messrs Mays being the largest suppliers of Rug Skins in the country—Lincolnshire skins being especially suitable for this purpose. There are a number of wool chambers on the upper floors, the pulled wool being dried over furnaces, the coke fires, of course, being on the ground floor, and then stapled and baled as seen in the photograph of one of the chambers.

There are many bye-products from the fellmongering yard. The hoofs of horses slaughtered are sold to glue manufacturers; the fat from the  sheep goes to Peterborough, where Messrs. Mays have established a factory at Padholme Road, and where it is boiled down into pure tallow to be turned into candles and soap. The No. 3 Skin Yard.Hide and Skin business of the firm at the Wagon and Horse Yard in Bridge Street, Peterborough, is shortly to be extended by the erection of extra buildings and stores. Here the fleeces are sorted and sent on to Bourne, while the hides and salted, classed and marked prior to being forwarded to the different tanners.

In connection with fellmongering it may not be generally known that Felt is made from the fibre of hair and wool. Tradition says that St. Clement, when on a pilgrimage, put carded wool between his feet and the soles of his sandals, and found at his journey’s end that the wool was converted into cloth. If wool is continually trodden, and at the same time moistened, it becomes felt. In some Roman Catholic countries, the hatters celebrate St. Clement’s Day (November 23rd) as a festival, looking upon him as the “founder” or benefactor of their trade.

Skin, it is said, can be made from anything, and though one must go to Messrs. Mays for the genuine article, an amusing story may be cited. A short time ago a gentleman entered a bootmaker’s, and was fitted with a pair of “understandings.” On asking the price he was informed that it was 25s. “Rather steep, isn’t it?” he queried, with raised eyebrows. “Well, Sir,” said the shopman, “they are made of porpoise skin, you see.” “Oh!” he ejaculated, “they skin the poor paupers up at the workhouse now, do they?”


The Chemical Manure Factory.

“The worth of that is that which it contains.”

Samuel. lxxiv.

But we have not yet got to the last of Messrs. Mays’ many businesses; it is a question if we ever shall. Crossing the river, and passing over a road cut by the enterprising firm into the Fen, we pay a visit to what our guide facetiously terms “the Peppermint Works.” 19 The manufacture of Chemical Manures is one of Messrs. Mays’ latest enterprises. It seems to be a natural correlary of the fellmongering trade, but has only been established four years, and remarkable success has attended it. For three years out of four, Messrs. Mays have taken Silver Medals for supplying the Manure for the Mangolds 20 which took first Prizes at the Deepings’ Foal and Root Show, being second in the fourth year, while this year the Specimen Champion Prize for the best nine Mangolds was taken by the aid of their Manures, as well as the Acreage Mangold Championship, so that they have been awarded both the Silver Medals offered by the Society, a feat of which Skin Rug Store.they may well be proud, considering the keen competition which is always to be seen amongst growers and manufacturers alike at the Deeping Show.

Within a radius of ten miles of Deeping Church, there is some of the best root-growing soil in England, 21 but what can be done by the assistance of Artificial Manure is attested by the fact that Mr. George Frier, of Deeping St. Nicholas, obtained 65 tons 1 cwt. Per acre in 1905, when he took the Championship, and Messrs. Mays the Silver Medal! But all this is by-the-bye. We were aware of it before the present visit to the works, though we had no idea of their extent, or of the amazing way in which they have been extended in so marvellously short space of time. “It is the quality,” no doubt, as Shakespeare says; but we cannot say with Macbeth that it “Sweetly recommends itself,” though Othello would probably Arrival of Dead Stock.say it is a “Nourishing dish”; Hamlet that “We shall relish of it”; Henry VI. that it “Hath won greatest favour,” and after an inspection of the Factory one must agree with Gonzalo, in The Tempest, that “Here is everything advantageous to life.” 22  22 

We have no intention here of giving a treatise on the principles upon which farm production is based, or on the value of nitrogenous manure. All realize that plants feed, and that just as the bodies of animals, including man, are Delivering Dead Stock.built of materials found in the soil, the atmosphere and in water, so are the bodies of plants. The plant, either directly or indirectly, feeds the animal. Hence the dependence of the one kingdom on the other, for the waste or excreta of the animal returns to the soil, and after undergoing certain chemical and other changes, becomes food for plants. There is, however, not sufficient farm-yard manure to re-fertilize the land after the cropping has been taken off, and the art of the good farmer is to apply himself to the economical supplementing of the land’s own resources by means of well chosen artificial fertilizers. Without them Boiling Shop.the utmost skill will not ensure anything like the full result that should follow on the farmer’s thought and labour. High-farming, or good promptly-acting artificials, raises the condition of the land. Artificial fertilizers, in short, properly and abundantly used, increase and maintain the fertility of the farm, and it is to the rapidity of their action to which their effects are due.

Few have any idea of the great skill and care which is exercised in such a factory as Messrs. Mays’ to produce good reliable fertilizers. In fact, the work is carried on under the ægis of Parliament, and so important is the process of manufacture considered, that the Fertilizing and Feeding Stuffs Act of 1894 was passed to control it, and this has been strengthened by a subsequent Act. Having donned a pair of rubber top boots, we were conducted round the Works by Mr. Percy Mays and Mr. Blanchard, the manager. The illustrations, and some of the photographs, being taken by flashlight, alone convey an idea of the various processes, but a brief pen description is perhaps necessary.

Fish, Bones and Carcases.It may be taken as a broad principle that Chemical Manures consist of Phosphates, Potash, Salts, and Nitrate of Soda, and a tour of Messrs. Mays’ Works shows how the combination is obtained, and the various processes passed through before the fertilizer reaches its finished state. The scientific way in which the process of manufacture is carried on is very interesting, and would surprise many of those who merely see the finished article in the shape of what looks like light congealed mud or dust. There is the unloading Store, where the carcases of slaughtered animals, bones and blood from the butchers, offal from the tan-yard in Eastgate, and slightly tainted fish from Grimsby are delivered, the latter at times being in great quantity, and consisting of all sorts of submarine monsters. The fish and the offal are then taken to the “cook house,” where they are placed in immense coppers with great furnaces under them, and boiled to remove the oil.

The more the oil is extracted the better is the manure, for the more rapid is its decomposition. Oil retards this, and is in itself useless as a manure, though it is a valuable commercial product. The fish, offal, blood and the shoddy from the tan-yard are then taken to the Mixing Department, and treated with sulphuric acid (oil of vitriol at a certain strength to fix the nitrogen and make the phosphates soluble. It is the dried with sulphate of lime (carbide of gypsum)—the acid has partly effected this—and mixed with bone and mineral No. 2 Mixing Shed.phosphates, and sulphate of ammonia (nitrogen to bring it up to the required standard.

Under the provisions of the Fertilizers and Feeding Stuffs Act, every person who sells a fertilizer is required to furnish an invoice giving the name of such fertilizer, also stating whether it is artificially compounded or not, and giving the percentage of nitrogen, phosphates, and potash. The greatest care, therefore, has to be taken in the analysis of the different Manures Messrs. Mays supply, and sometimes they obtain two analyses before sending out their Manures.

Another interesting department is the Bone Crushing. There are three mills which grind the bones to different degrees of fineness, and they are driven by a steam engine, as shewn in the photograph. The bones are made soluble by being passed through sulphuric acid, and are in another room mixed with other constituents, and taken to the Sifting and Store Shed, where the different qualities are seen in mountainous heaps. The Manure is placed in sacks, being mostly Weighing-off Roomlike so much fine dust; and while Messrs. Mays’ vehicles deliver a good deal, dozens of farmer’s wagons may be seen loading up in February, which is the busy season.

It may be mentioned, as shewing the constituents of the various qualities, and their use for different crops, that the “No. 1. Manure” is specially prepared for the growth and development of Swedes, Turnips, Cole, Kale, Rape, &c.

Tallow Refinery (Peterboro')It is a well-known fact that Turnips cannot be successfully grown without artificial assistance, and that Messrs. Mays produce the best of all fertilizers is attested by Mr. J. R. Bettinson, of Cottesmore, who won first prize for the best crop of 10 acres of Turnips in the County of Rutland, given by the Rutland Agricultural Society, as a result of using their manure.

The “No. 2. Manure” for Mangolds, &c., contains a large supply of organic nitrogen, derived from the chemically-dried blood and flesh, soluble and insoluble bone phosphates, and an ample supply of phosphoric acid and alkalies (potash and soda), for which Mangolds, Potatoes, Beans,, Celery, Cabbage, Sugar Beet, and general garden produce are very grateful. There is about 33 per cent. more nitrogen in this quality, and twice the quantity of potash, with less phosphates than is found in “No. 1” quality.

Fat Boiling (Peterboro')Here is the analysis of “No. 2 Manure”—

Organic Matter 40 to 50 percent.

Nitrogen 2 to 3 per cent., equal to Sulphate of Ammonia 8 to 12 per cent.

Soluble and insoluble Phosphates 9 to 10 per cent.

Potash 2.50 to 3 per cent., equal to Sulphate of Potash 4 to 6 per cent.

In the “no 3 Manure” for Wheat, Barley Oats, Rye, and Grass for mowing, the constituents vary, for while the chemicals are reduced in strength, the quantity of soluble and insoluble phosphates is increased. Still it includes a large amount of nitrogen or ammonia.

The “Compound Manure,” again is a special fertilizer, consisting of the bye-products from Fellmongering Yard, with bone and organic matter, phosphates, potash, and soda, and is suitable for most crops and land.

Peterboro' DepôtIn this connection it may be mentioned that Messrs. Mays make a special feature of testing samples of soil from farmers in various parts of the country, and in informing them what elements they are lacking for plat life, Thus it is possible to easily solve the problem, whit troubles so many, of raising the quantities of Chemical Manure Works Looking Westnitrogen, phosphates, potash, and lime in the soil to the highest level, and maintaining them at that standard. Or by receiving a description of the soil, the previous crop grown, and the nature of that to follow, Messrs. Mays recommend the enquirer to the most beneficial fertilizer, or, in exceptional cases, prepare a special one for them. The members of the firm are practical men, and thoroughly understand their business, hence the public have confidence in them and respect for the quality of their products.

In going through their extensive Works we cannot but express wonder, especially considering the nature of the business, of the cleanliness and order observed, there being “a place for everything, and everything in its place,” while a more intelligent body of workmen—who all show their interest in the great business—it has never been our pleasure to meet.

Pages 36 and 37:—

Price List


Messrs. T. W. Mays & Sons’, Ltd.

Silver Medal Chemical Manures.

No. 1 Manure.—For Swedes, Turnips, Cole, Kale, Rape, &c.

Delivered, packed in 2 cwt. Bags, at nearest Railway Station, in 2 ton lots or more.

£4 5s. per ton.

3s. 6d. per ton allowance if fetched from the Works.

No. 2 Manure.—For Mangolds, Potatoes, Beans, Peas, Celery, Cabbage, Sugar beet, and General Garden Produce.

£5 10s. per ton.

Carriage paid, or 5s. per ton allowance for fetching same from Works.

No. 3. Manure.—For Wheat, Barley, Oats, Rye, and Grass for Mowing.

£5 10s. per ton.

Carriage Paid, or 5s. allowance for fetching.

Compound Manure.—A Special Low-priced Fertilizer.

£3 5s. per ton.

Carriage Paid, or 3s. 6d. allowance for carting.

The Gardener and Florist’s Friend.—For all kinds of flowers, fruit and vegetables.

1 Stone 1s. 6d., 2 Stones 2s. 9d., 4 Stones 5s., 1 cwt. 10s.

The Photographs of the Works, some of which had to be taken by flashlight, are by

Mr. H. Marriott, Peterborough.



Messrs. T. W. Mays & Sons, Ltd.


I have much pleasure in testifying to excellency of your Manures for Corn and Roots, and for both light and heavy lands.

Faithfully yours,

William Gee,



H. B. Hurry,


Prize Mangold


Mayfield, Besthorpe, Attleboro’, Norfolk.

To Messrs. T. W. Mays & Sons.

Dear Sirs,

I have much pleasure in asking your acceptance of a Testimonial for your Manures, which I have now given four year’s trial, both for Corn and Roots, with highly satisfactory results.

Yours faithfully,

H. Wilkinson.

Numerous other Testimonials on application.



This is a thirty-eight page booklet presented with the compliments of T.W. Mays and Son. It is un-dated but the writer announces himself as being a member of the Institute of Journalists. This organization was founded in 1884 and took the Institute of Journalists name in 1888. In 1890 it received a royal charter, becoming the Royal Institute of Journalists. It is now the Chartered Institute of Journalists. The booklet therefore, seems to be dated between 1888 and 1890. However, the railway to Saxby is mentioned as operating in the present tense so it will not be earlier than 1894. Later, the “Japanese War” is mentioned. This will be the Russo-Japanese War which ended in September 1905. Since the writer refers to it as though in the past, the article will date from this time, at the earliest. This brings us to a time when it is known that there were motor cars in Bourne, so the mention of the writer’s having been collected in such a vehicle is no surprise. There is a photograph of Dr. Gilpin driving a car without the number plates required by the Road Car Act of 1903 (McGregor p.18). The firm won prizes in four consecutive years immediately preceding the time of writing. One of these years was 1905, thus the latest date is 1909, before the result of the latter year’s competition was known and the earliest date is after the root crop harvest of 1905.


1. ^    Member of the Institute of Journalists.

2. ^   In modern terminology: fertilizer.

3. ^   It is highly unlikely that a castle was built here before the Conquest and very unlikely that it pre-dates the founding of the abbey. The probable date of its establishment is about 1140.

4. ^   At this stage, the Saxon culture was predominant in the south of the country. Here the people were predominantly Angles.

5. ^   Not to be confused with the 11th century Leofric, Earl of Mercia’s grandson, the Morcar of the Domesday Book. The battle at Threekingham (870) took place well before Bourne castle was built.

6. ^   This was Leofric, Earl of Mercia, who died in 1057. His rivalry with the Saxon House of Godwin was a clear example of the Saxon-Anglian rivalry. By his time, there was a strong Danish element in it too.

7. ^   The man of this family who is associated with Bourne was Baldwin. He appears to have obtained the estate by marriage with the heiress of Hugh d’Envermeu. That this was a device for giving him the property must be a possibility.

8. ^   The re-fortification of the derelict castle was begun, almost certainly by the Parliamentarian side, in October 1645. The demolition is likely to have been pursued after its owners, the Cecil family came back into control, probably after 1660.

9. ^   Charles Frederick Worth. The reversal of his fore-names was current around this time. It seems to have arisen from a mistake by a journalist from the Daily Telegraph.

10. ^ The Gunpowder Plot culminated in November 1605. The Red Hall will not have been built much before 1620.

11. ^  The line opened in 1894.

12. ^ This was the period when Raymond Mays was absorbing his father’s enthusiasm for motoring.

13. ^  Dandie Dinmont is a character in Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Guy Mannering.

14. ^ This will have been a large, single-cylinder, stationary engine, probably fuelled by town gas, driving various machinery through a system of belts, pulleys and shafts. See Wikipedia. The town’s gas company was set up in 1840 (Birkbeck p98).

15. ^  This name seems to have nothing to do with the Mays business. A malting or maltings is a malt house, a building in which barley grain is spread out and encouraged to sprout so as to convert some of its substance into malt for the brewing of beer and other uses. The building in question here may have been erected for this purpose and later taken over for Mays’ work. The picture shows it as having extensive floor area and rather low headroom, as might be expected but it is alongside the 1781 navigation basin and has the appearance of that period. Perhaps it was intended that the barley should be brought in by water.

In the picture, the modern Cherry Holt Lane passes between the buildings just beyond the tall one.

16. ^ For these processes see Muspratt’s Leather.

17. ^  The tower of St. Botolph’s church in Boston, at a distance of about 33 km.

18. ^ See Muspratt’s Leather.

19. ^ This plant was closed in about 1981. Towards the end of its life at least, its unofficial name had become ‘the Bovril’.

20. ^ A variety of Beta vulgaris. A photograph can be seen at the end of the article. It is a root vegetable used as a fodder crop, in the early 20th century it was much used for feeding sheep in winter.

21. ^ It is marine silt, fluvial silt and glacial silt. The glacial deposits were laid down in a fan, in the bottom of the proglacial lake Fenland around the mouth of the Welland valley. The fluvial silt came largely from the Northampton sands which were exploited for their iron and used as arable from a very early date. They were thus more prone to erosion than much of the upland was. The marine silt is well mixed and came from the roddons or levées deposited as the incoming tide overflowed the banks of the creeks and no longer constrained by the creek channels, the waters slowed down as they flooded the marine marsh.

22. ^ These were still the days when a journalist felt a need to appear cultured, though those days were already passing.


Top of the Page