Well, they always say that you should write about something you know really well, so here is my pen portrait of my old home town. Home towns are funny things, aren't they? You spend your entire teenage existence moaning about how boring it all is, you go to university and travel round Europe desperate to get as far away as possible, then you settle down and get all nostalgic and want to go back! I'm quite fond of it now really, although it has changed enormously since I lived there - since the local farming jobs started to be taken up by Europeans, it has become a real cultural melting pot in a way that it never was before. Mostly in a positive way, but Boston is unfortunately famous for a small riot that happened during the European football championships....Anyway.....
* The location *
Boston is in the East of England in the large and diverse county of Lincolnshire. It is a coastal town on the Wash, which is the area of the North Sea just above the rabbits tail of England. It still has a thriving port with ships travelling to a variety of European destinations and beyond, with the River Witham becoming the Haven river on the way. It is 120 miles north of London - it used to have a direct train link many years ago, but this has long since become a tortuous old journey - and 32 miles from the county (and much more famous town) of Lincoln. And no, its not in America. The times people ask me that when they meet me! Trust me, youd tell from my accent (interactive dooyoo - the next step?) Its only a few metres above sea level and its only some clever drainage that keeps your feet dry!!
* The town *
Despite a recent rise in population, it is by no means a metropolis. The borough is about 140 square miles and the population is about 35,000. And (despite the riots) it retains a really safe, small town feel, where people meet people they know in the street and stop to chat and put the world to rights, and I really like that. A natural city dweller I am not. I have a suspicion that this review will tell you as much about me as the town...oh dear...
Agriculture is the main industry in the surrounding area of incredibly flat, fertile fenland - no rolling hills in Boston, Im afraid. I love the open countryside where you can see for miles and watch the weather role in (Boston, I must say, has plenty of weather) and I really miss it, but its not to everyones taste I know.
The town is largely famous for a very large church, the port, the market and its historical connections to the Pilgrim Fathers. Oh, and an increasingly famous and dynamic football team....
* Shopping *
This has been a real growth area for the town in the last year. It always used to be that when you wanted to go shopping, you headed for one of the big centres like Lincoln or Peterborough, but they have just opened a new shopping precinct which has finally brought in some of the big names like HMV and Next. I think they missed a trick not making it undercover, however. There is an older main shopping street too, so you are guaranteed all the main shops - New Look, Woolworths, WhSmith, Mackays, Boots, Poundstretcher etc etc. Which is fine if you like all your visits to small market towns to blend into one. If youre like me and not into the Starbucks model of shopping, however, here are my top five shopping tips which are particular to Boston:
1. Oldrids - in the main shopping street, this is a proper independent department store where you get a good range of quality products and people selling them that still know something about customer service. I sound like a really grumpy old woman now!
2. The Market - every Wednesday and Saturday Boston has a big outdoor market through the main streets - look out for locally grown vegetables and the auctions on a Wednesday
3. Dolphin Lane - track down this little, cobbled street with a range of independent (and one 'adult'!) shops
4. Maud Foster Mill - by the river to the north side of town, sells its own flour
5.West Street - over the other side of the river, this is off the beaten track a little, but offers a nice range of smaller shops, including an excellent music shop and a baby shop.
* Eating & Drinking *
The same applies here as did to the shops. You have the usual - KFC, MacDonald's etc., but my tips for the top are:
1. The Italian Connection - on West street, produces the most fantastic Italian food, with a great atmosphere and friendly service - you'll usually need to book as it gets busy, especially with special occasions as they bring you a cocktail with a firework in it to your table!
2. The Star of India - very good Indian, also down West Street, with a very good local reputation. And this is rural Lincolnshire, remember, so the prices are really reasonable.
3. Oldrids cafe - on the top floor, great to grab a coffee and a cake and watch the world go by beneath you.
4. The Witham Tavern - this really is a way out of the town centre, but well worth tracking down as it's a lovely, friendly little pub with excellent food - look out for Curry Night!
5. Eagles - the best fish and chips in Boston, with a really busy restaurant above serving a very good range of fish dishes - between the town centre and the football ground, near Matalan.
If you're off to Skegness on your holidays, then I'd really recommend a pit stop in Boston on the way.
* Sport *
OK, OK, so theyre not Manchester United, but Boston United (The Pilgrims) are a really popular local institution. They are in football league 2 (or whatever its called this week) and it really is a stirring sight to see the stream of amber and black heading towards their York Street grown on match days. This really is one of my biggest emotional connections to the town. And if you have any interest in football, head on down here with the family - its cheaper than the Premiership and with gates of only a couple of thousand its unheard of to get any crowd trouble, violence or problems on a Saturday, win or lose. But youve missed Gazza playing there. That was last season. But we have got Julian Joachim whos just signed. So thats great. Sorry, Im getting rather sidetracked here!
There are other sporting opportunities in Boston, and they are getting better year on year. The Peter Paine sports centre provides the usual - squash, badminton, roller skating etc, but is looking a little dated.
There is a swimming pool near the football ground - the Geoff Moulder Leisure Pool - which has a good range of swimming in two pools, including a leisure pool with a slide.
The latest addition to the Boston sporting scene is the Princess Royal Sports Arena, which promises much but as yet has not delivered much - it has a full athletics track with all the facilities. Boston also has a golf club and a rugby club - not being a fan of either, Im afraid all I know is that the former has a nice restaurant and the latter does cracking social events, but thats a start!
* History *
It has to be said that this is one of the big draws of the town for visitors. The most famous Boston landmark is the magnificent St Botolphs Church which dates from 1309 and is the largest parish church in England. It really is on a great scale and well worth a visit - it is known as the Stump because it doesnt have a spire, and you can climb the tower to get lovely views of the town. Although there is a tale of the ghost of the grey lady who threw herself off and still haunts the tower....
The other piece of history is the link with America - a lot of the early American settlers came from the area and travelled to the US from the port, including Captain John Smith who founded the first successful English colony in Virginia. The Guildhall is a small museum, but well worth a visit if this is an aspect of history which you find interesting. It has the cell where the Pilgrim Fathers were imprisoned as they tried to leave the country without royal permission. A lot of Lincolnshire place names have US connections - there is even a New York!
* The bottom line *
OK. so its not the most exciting place in the world, but its a charming little market town with a little bit of something for everyone and Id certainly recommend it for a visit, even if its only for a short stop on the way to the bright lights of the coastal resorts.
* Useful links *
Situated on the River Witham, with an area of approximately 139 square miles (that's 360 square kilometres for those of you who work in "new money"!), Boston has had a rich and varied history. The now small port, which rests at the edge of The Wash, was once the second busiest port in England. In the 13th Century, the port dealt mainly in wool and wine. In fact, the town's wealthy standards took a downturn as the river became victim to silting, thus altering the trading patterns. Boston is nestled in the midst of The Fens area of Lincolnshire, a chiefly agricultural area due to its geographical characteristics. Reclaimed from the sea, The Fens are flat with a soil type so richly geared towards crop growing. The history of Boston can be traced back to 645 AD, when Botolph built a monastery close to the River Witham. Ships from the continent would carry their wares along the river into Boston, where they were then distributed throughout the country. In 1545, Boston was granted its own charter and became a borough. In the 17th Century, many of the Boston residents travelled to Massachusetts in search of a new life. Their influence not only saw their new township named "Boston", but also enhanced the development of the colony and shaped it to be the way it is today. The Puritans set sail from Boston in their search for the New World. So what does modern Boston have to offer? An important centre for trade for the local people, Boston is famed for its shopping area. Markets are held here twice weekly (Wednesday and Saturday), where local produce can be purchased alongside household items and clothes. The market sees visitors from all over the East Midlands, with holidaymakers in nearby Skegness filling the buses to and from Boston. Wide Bargate plays host to the Auctions on The Green, where literally anything can be bought or sold. The Green also pl
ays host to the annual May fair, held the first week in May and providing entertainment for those who are so inclined as to wish to scare themselves half to death! Around the Green sit many other shops, such as small electrical retailers, furniture showrooms and clothing stores, plus the inevitable supermarkets vieing for your business! Strait Bargate and the Market Place hold many well-known high street stores, such as Marks and Spencer, Woolworths, Boots plus Boston's own, impressive department store, Oldrids. Boston has retained its Medieval street pattern, with numerous little lanes radiating from the centre of town, where all manner of small, specialist shops await the opportunity to intrigue and delight you. One such lane is Dolphin Lane, which runs from Market Place to Pump Square (a handy little tip follows: Pump Square houses the Jungle Gym, a little indoor adventure play area, well- supervised, where you can leave your little darlings for an hour or twop whilst you shop in peace!). Pescod Hall is just a moment's walk from Pump Square. This enchanting little building was built in the 15th century and has maintained all of those characteristics, despite now being used as a fashion department for Oldrids Department store. Wormgate, situated behind the Parish Church of St Botolph (better known as Boston Stump - more on that later!), is a delightful cobbled street, which contains such joys as the factory shop of Jakemans' sweets, where one can buy all manner of sweets from the old-fashioned humbug to the more modern novelty jellies. The delicious scent of jakemans Winter Warmers is often to be found wafting over the Town Bridge, and is wonderful at clearing the lungs on a cold winter's day! St Botolph's Church - The aforementioned Stump - sits on the banks of the River Witham and is a marvel of architectural design. Due to the physical characteristics of Lincolnshire (the land being f
latter than the proverbial pancake) The Stump can be seen for many miles, and is also known as the Queeen of the Fens. In days gone by, fires would be lit on the top of the tower to act as a beacon to guide ships safely into the port. The Stump was begun in 1309, and not completed until 1390 - even then without its famous tower. The tower was begun in 1425-30, and was completed in 1510-20. For a small fee, visitors can climb part of the tower (beware - the spiral, stone staircase is a killer!) where the most spectacular views across lincolnshire are to be found; on a clear day, not only can the coastal town of Skegness be seen, but also Lincoln cathedral, some 32 miles to the west! Inside the Stump, there is plenty to please the eye. The wood carvings on the pews are most intricate, and range from simple animals such as foxes, swans and dogs to comical scenes such as the hunter - complete with bow and arrow - being chased by his wife, and jesters with cats. The Pillar of Crist's Flagellation can also be found. even the elbow rests are decorated in the same manner, with one housing a fox dressed up as a priest. The Stump contains memorials to the five men of Boston who became Governors of massachusetts; George bass and Joseph banks, who both sailed with captain Cook to Australia, and John Taverner, the composer - who is reputed to have been buried beneath the tower. The tower of the Stump stands a proud 272.5 feet high (83m). Constant restoration work is carried out to keep the Stump at its best, with the restorers fighting such evils as pollution and pigeon muck! (Not to mention the grinding wind which can whistle around the tower!) The Guildhall was built in 1450, and was designated to be the Town Hall in 1546. It contained the Council Chambers, Kitchen, Banqueting Hall, Court Room and Cells. It is now a museum. The Pilgrim fathers were tried in the Guildhall in 1607, and imprisoned in the cells t
here. Visitors can themselves try the cells to see just how hard it must have been to have been imprisoned there. There is a small fee for admission to the Guildhall, which is open every day. It is free on Thursdays, and a Sony Walkman audio tour is included in the admission charge. Boston is becoming an important centre for the arts. The Blackfriars Arts Centre, down Spain Lane in the West End of the town, plays host to theatrical productions (including its own senior and youth groups), and has a Palmer and Bell cinema screen. The Sam Newsome Music Centre continues to grow in importance, too. Built from a refurbished seed warehouse in the 1980s, this centre has been used as a platform for music groups both local and national, and is regularly used by the music students at the local schools and college. Along the main route through town to Skegness sits the Maud Foster Mill. The tallest windmill in use in the whole of England, this mill was built in 1819 and used to grind the corn which was brought along the Maud Foster Drain in barges. Today, it still produces flour from local grain. Open wednesdays and weekends, the five-sailed mill offers the opportunity to climb to the top and view the internal workings as it goes about its daily grind (groan!). Eating will never be a problem, with Boston having something to suit everyone's tastes. From the usual fast food outlets, through the many pubs and small restaurants and coffee houses, right to the international restaurants (such as Chinese, Indian, Thai and Italian) Boston has it all. From a residential point of view, Boston has a lot to offer. With a wealth of different types of housing available, with typical prices for a three bedroomed semi at around £68,000, Boston has, in recent years, seen a wave of activity with many people moving from the South of the country. Medical facilities are good, with doctors' services, dentists and optical care
being reasonably easy to find (compared to a lot of other places locally, anyway!). The Pilgrim Hospital is continually expanding and upgrading its services, although, as it provides medical care for a large area, some waiting is inevitable. Schools in Boston have a relatively high standard on the whole. There are numerous primary schools, some larger than others, and secondary education is provided by the two grammar schools, the haven high School and the Kitwood Boys' and Girls' schools. There is a thriving Further Education college, offering courses in most subjects, and leading to qualifications in all areas ranging from GCSE, A Level, to Higher national Diploma and vocational qualifications. So, now you have heard about Boston, how do you find it? On the edge of the wash, situated about 18 miles west of Skegness, Boston has excellent road and rail links with the rest of the country. From the south, it can be accessedby the A15/A16 from peterborough; the A17 and A1121 from newark in the west and Kings Lynn in the east; and from the A16 from Grimsby in the north. Rail links to the East Coast Main Line, Nottingham and the Midlands are provided by the railway line that runs between Skegness and Grantham. Locals may moan about the town (although I don't!), those who don't know much about it may wonder what it has to offer; I happen to quite like it. Which is nice.
I am a bostonion. I have lived hear all of my 15 years and let me tell you its aload of rubbish! but I guess thats easy for me to say,SO I am going to tell you why....... Well there is a main road that basically goes through the heart of boston,and when it gets abit f****d up with traffic the WHOLE of Boston suffers,and let me tell you that is quite often! Boston has one of the worst reputations for people being beat up and stuff like that,There was a doccumentary on T.V not long ago with horrible scenes of people getting beat up at night. There are about 4 or 5 night clubs and aparently none of them are really all that good.But the town is quite lively on friday and saturday nights,full of nice flashing blue lights and sirens..... Theres not really alot for us teenagers to do,there is a poxy skate park,a grotty swimming pool and a smelly liesure centre. There are nowhere to get saturday jobs and the paper round jobs are terrible. There is about 2 nice schools that actually have a nice reputation, one of them would be my school of course. There is a windmill and a big church....WOW!!! dont come here go to somewhere like pontefract or somewhere.........