A lunchtime at the mu­seum

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Thornton On Thursday -

As a young man liv­ing and work­ing in Lon­don, I didn’t take ad­van­tage of the fan­tas­tic her­itage at­trac­tions that were right un­der my nose. I still haven’t learned my les­son and shame- facedly I must ad­mit that I’ve never been to Flag Fen and other Peter­bor­ough places of in­ter­est.

I have been to the mu­seum and art gallery but that was a few years back. I’ve been plan­ning a re­turn visit ever since it re- opened fol­low­ing its ex­ten­sive re­vamp. De­spite be­ing just round the cor­ner from Tele­graph Tow­ers, it’s taken me this long to get round to it - but it was the best lunch- hour I’d had for some time.

En­try is free – and hopefully de­spite the ever tight­en­ing grip on the pub­lic purse – it will re­main so.

The mu­seum is only small but it packs a lot into its ex­hibits. From the skull of an elephant to stat­ues by An­thony “An­gel Of The North’’ Gorm­ley.

When I re­turned to my desk, I bored my col­leagues with some of the fas­ci­nat­ing facts I picked up.

And don’t think you lot are go­ing to get away with it...

My in­ten­tion is to whet your ap­petite so if you don’t want any sur­prises spoiled look away now.

Did you know that the last man to be hanged in Peter­bor­ough was D. T. My­ers in 1812. Re­mark­ably his crime was not mur­der nor steal­ing sheep but ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity!

A crowd of 6,000 gath­ered ( there was no Posh in those days) to wit­ness his fate or his “pre­cip­i­ta­tion into eternity’’ as the Ipswich Jour­nal re­ported.

Peter­bor­ough also had a claim to fame as the lo­ca­tion for the last time the Riot Act was read out in the UK . It was in 1914 af­ter war had been de­clared on Ger­many. A mob gath­ered out­side butch­ers in West­gate owned by Ger­man fam­i­lies. The mayor took to the steps of The Bull Ho­tel to read the riot act.

That butch­ers was Frank Bros which, of course, is still there sell­ing sausages to­day.

In the nat­u­ral his­tory sec- tion there are the stun­ning, world fa­mous fishy di­nosaurs to ad­mire but I also dis­cov­ered that hip­pos once roamed the land where this city now stands. You can still see some of their descen­dants gath­er­ing around McDon­alds in Cathe­dral Square.

I also dis­cov­ered that Bret­ton as re­cently as 1971 had a pop­u­la­tion of just 60 souls. Th­ese days I’ve seen more peo­ple queue­ing at Sains­bury’s check- outs.

There are many more gems to dis­cover and if you’ve not been re­cently I urge you not to make my mis­take and ig­nore this her­itage gold­mine on our doorstep. Mrs T in­formed me the white stuff had ar­rived which puz­zled me as she hadn’t stirred from un­der the du­vet. ‘ How do you know’, I asked. “It says so on Face­book’, she replied bran­dish­ing her phone and show­ing me a pic­ture one of her ‘ friends’ had taken of their garden in Flet­ton. Whoneeds win­dows? I took the ad­vice and af­ter de­cid­ing my jour­ney was nec­es­sary ( a threat­en­ing text from the ed­i­tor helped) I stag­gered it. Or at least I would have done if I knew what the hell ‘ stag­ger your jour­ney’ means.

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