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St Andrew's Church, Firsby.

Firsby (Lincolnshire)

Firsby shown within Lincolnshire
Population 276
District East Lindsey
Shire county Lincolnshire
Region East Midlands
Constituent country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town SKEGNESS
Postcode district PE24
Dialling code 01754
Police Lincolnshire
Fire Lincolnshire
Ambulance East Midlands
European Parliament East Midlands
UK Parliament Boston and Skegness
List of places: UKEnglandLincolnshire

Coordinates: 53°08'56?N 0°10'55?E? / ?53.149, 0.182

Not to be confused with Firsby near Rotherham or East Firsby and West Firsby that are located north of Lincoln.

Firsby is a small rural linear village in Lincolnshire, England, 36 miles (58 kilometres) east from the county town of Lincoln, 4 miles (6.4 kilometres) south east of the nearest market town of Spilsby and 8 miles (12.9 kilometres) inland from the popular holiday resort town of Skegness.

The village lies on the northern side of the waterway today known as the Steeping River, which is the lower element of the River Lymn that sources in the Lincolnshire Wolds. Today a quiet rural village Firsby was once the location of one of the busiest railway stations on the East Coast of England.

At the last census in 2001 the population of the village was recorded as 276.


[edit] History

[edit] Early history

Historically Firsby belonged to the Wold division of the Wapentake of Candleshoe and was in a part of ancient Lindsey.

In his "History of the County of Lincolnshire" written in 1834, historian Thomas Allen records "Firsby is an obscure place on the north side of the River Limb (sic) between Wainfleet and Spilsby, being five miles distant from each". [1]

Allen further comments that "Firsby's St Andrews Church is an ancient crumbling edifice in a state of great decay. The single aisled church is thatched and in front of the porch is a bare pillar of stone that may have at one time held a sundial". Prior to the reformation the church belonged to the Abbey at Bardney and was presented to the village by the Norman Lord of the Manor Sir Gilbert de Gaunt (1048 - 1094). The rectory was valued in 1834 at £12 0s 7d. The original Norman church was demolished and a new church building erected in 1856 on the same site.

There were once two public houses in the village although both have been long closed. One of the public houses had its own brewery, and the other serviced the busy railways and doubled as the Railway Hotel. There are several mentions in old records of a third drinking establishment around 1852, Whyley's Beerhouse, that stood adjacent to Firsby Station. The long forgotten beer houses were introduced by the 1830 Beer Act and permitted anybody to open a licenced beer and cider house in their front room for a licence fee of two guineas, but they were not permitted to sell spirits or fortified wines. Many beer houses went on to develop as full public houses to sell a full range of drinks and still exist, by 1885 those that hadn't become pubs had all died out.

At the beginning of the 20th century the village had its own football team, who played their fixtures on the local field behind the Railway Hotel with a club house and changing rooms adjacent to the field. A long closed local village hall was situated beside the main Spilsby to Wainfleet road.

[edit] Railway connections

The railway station at Firsby opened in 1850 and was a substantial structure for a country station, totally unlike the majority of small isolated rural halts. The station had three platforms each two hundred metres long and covered with buildings, booking offices, several waiting rooms (male, female and general), restaurants, toilets, baggage and goods halls, crew rooms, staff canteen and several railway offices. The main line tracks were crossed by a substantial passenger footbridge and most of the station was covered by an ornate cast-iron and glass canopy normally only seen at main city stations. [2] The station also had signal boxes, water towers, extensive goods sidings and engine repair sheds.

Firsby was a junction for the Skegness line and the Spilsby line on their short branches from the main GNR London to Cleethorpes railway. During the summer months holiday passenger traffic from all over the country alighting at Firsby for their connection to Skegness was substantial with hundreds and sometimes thousands of passengers passing through the station at a weekend and the platforms would be teeming with families and their luggage. In the Victorian era most holidaymakers travelled by train and Firsby was one of the busiest stations on the east coast main line. The station was the major employer in the area and between the station master and his assistants, ticket office staffs, ticket inspectors, signalmen, porters, catering staffs, drivers, firemen, guards and track maintenance staff for three separate railway companies, several hundred people worked at or from Firsby station on a regular daily basis. [3]

Between 1943 and 1958 Firsby station was kept busy as the nearest railhead staging point for RAF and later USAF airmen travelling to and from the nearby RAF Spilsby airfield at Great Steeping.

The line was closed down in 1970 due to the Beeching axe cuts, and the majority of the station and the platforms were demolished. Only one small section of a station building remains and is now a private residence. With the old east coast mainline between Firsby and Cleethorpes removed a new direct link to Skegness was installed at the junction a few hundred metres south of the old Firsby station. Although the station is long gone many locals still remember the station master calling out "Skegness passengers, Over the bridge for Skegness!" [4]

[edit] Firsby to Spilsby railway

A small local railway company built a branch line from Firsby junction to Spilsby and it opened on 1 May 1868. The branch was just over four miles long and connected Spilsby to the Kings Cross London to Cleethorpes main line. The only other station on the branch line was Halton Holegate Halt. The necessary parliamentary permission had been obtained by an Act in July 1865 which incorporated The Spilsby & Firsby Railway Company with an authorised capital of £20,000 and loans of £8,333 for the construction of the four mile long single track branch. [5]

Construction of the railway began in March 1867 with the ceremonial cutting of the first turf performed by local rector, The Reverend Rawnsley who was standing in for the railway company's chairman Lord Willoughby de Eresby the 25th Baron. The Railway was expected to be opened quickly but disputes with the contractors arose over the quality of their work and several lengths of track had to be replaced. With these problems finally fixed the official opening took place. Initial traffic levels and income were promising, however by 1885 rail traffic had slumped badly leading to the Great Northern Railway buying out the Spilsby & Firsby Railway Company for £20,000 through an Act of Parliament on July 25th 1890.

In 1920 there was a major accident when the Spilsby engine was derailed and passengers had to be taken on by road. When the locomotive was returned to the tracks it managed to reach Firsby in a record eight and a half minutes instead of the normal thirteen minutes. Unfortunately, just a few days later, the train ran hard into the buffers of another stationery train at Firsby and several passengers were badly shaken. A 71 year old local business man, Mr. Welch, died the following day from the delayed effects of the accident.

Falling useage caused passenger services to be suspended in 1939 just as the Second World War started and they were never reinstated. A goods service for grain, potatoes, livestock and other agricultural products continued through Firsby for almost a further twenty years. Goods including petrol, paraffin and coal continued into Spilsby via the rail link up to its final closure on 30 November 1958. The Spilsby station building has been demolished but other buildings still stand and in recent years have been used by an agricultural suppliers as a shop and store with new sections added. Between Firsby and Spilsby most of the old track route can still be seen in aerial photographs, marked by the avenue of trees and bushes, with only 5% ploughed out into fields.

[edit] Governance

Firsby is governed by the Firsby group Parish Council that covers the villages of:

  • Bratoft
  • Firsby
  • Great Steeping
  • Irby in the Marsh
  • Little Steeping

The chairman is Mr Richard Kidd of Irby in the Marsh, Vice chair is Mr Robert Heane of Great Steeping

[edit] Geography

Firsby stands on the northern side of the waterway today known as the Steeping River, which is the lower element of the River Lymn and to the east of the Lincolnshire Wolds on a tract of flat fen land, bounded by Boston deeps and the North Sea and is within eight miles inland from the holiday centre of Skegness, on what many consider is the best part of the Lincolnshire coast.

The Wolds comprise a series of low hills and steep valleys underlain by calcareous chalk, green limestone and sandstone rock, laid down in the Cretaceous period under a shallow warm sea. The characteristic open valleys of the Wolds were created during the last ice age through the action of glaciation and meltwater. Geographically, the Lincolnshire Wolds are a continuation of the Yorkshire Wolds which run up through the East Riding of Yorkshire, the Wolds as a whole having been bisected by the tremendous erosive power of the waters of the Humber.

The Fenlands that stretch down as far as Norfolk are former wetlands consisted both of peat bogs and tidal silt marshes which were virtually all drained by the end of the nineteenth century when Firsby had its longest period of Victorian growth. The former peat fens and silt marshes provided a rich loamy soil that was ideal for the growing of cereal and vegetable crops and gave Lincolnshire its reputation as being the 'bread basket' of England. The resulting flat lands also made an ideal environment for the later mechanisation of farming in the mid 20th century. Firsby has always been an agriculturally based village.

[edit] Demography

The 2001 census recorded the following information for Firsby:

Population: 276

52.5% male and 47.5% female. Average age 39.8

18.4% are single and never married, 64.2% married with the remainder split between separated, divorced or widowed.

98.9% are white and 1.1% of mixed race. There are no Asian, Indian or Chinese residents

83% declared a Christian religion, 1.1% Bhuddist and 15.9% stated no religion

57% employed, 18.7% Retired, 2.6% unemployed and the remainder are disabled, full time carers or students.

[edit] Education

There are no schools in the village. School bus transport is provided by Lincolnshire Education Authority.

Most primary school children attend Great Steeping Primary School - This is a mixed sex rural primary school and has approx 115 pupils with 67 boys and 48 girls

Secondary school age pupils attend a choice of:

King Edward VI Humanities College in Spilsby, a coeducational bi-lateral secondary school and specialist Humanities College for children between the ages of eleven and sixteen

St Clement's College (formerly known as the Earl of Scarborough High School) is a secondary modern on Burgh Le Marsh Road, Skegness.

Skegness Grammar School on Vernon Road, Skegness.

[edit] Religious sites

Firsby's St Andrew's parish church was built in 1856 by Street.

Firsby Methodist Church is on Fendyke Road

[edit] Notable people

  • The celebrated Bishop Warburton was once rector at Firsby, a post he held between 1730 and 1756 but he never resided in the village rectory.

[edit] References

[edit] See also

(Source: Wikipedia)
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