In keeping with the pictures from the time of the Great War, this week’s reader feedback concerns the photograph from 1918 (left) which appeared last week.
The caption said it was taken at Walton airfield but I could find no reference to such a place.
Michael Dougall got in touch and revealed the picture was not taken in Peterborough. He wrote: “I instantly recognised the picture. It is in the endpapers of ‘A History of Aerial Warfare’ by John W R Taylor. It is the pilots and personnel of No. 1 Squadron with their S.E. 5a fighters near St Omer France in July 1918.
“No.1 Squadron was based at RAF Wittering. Maybe the cause of the confusion.’’
Thanks to Michael for the information and also to Hazel Day whohad some information which might explain why the picture was captioned “Walton airfield’’.
Hazel, who has lived in Walton since 1969, found reference in the book ‘Peter- borough Past - The City & the Soke’to an aircraft factory.
She told me a company calledSage & Co relocated to Walton from Londonin 1911. It was a shopfitters but when the war began it was converted into an aircraft maker.
She said: “It was decided by the Government to produce military aircraft under licence during the First World War. They continued building after the war and built substantial numbers of Avro 504Ks.
“The factory was sold to the Aeronautical Corporation of Great Britain in 1936 which in 1937 went into administration.
“They tested the Avros adjacent to the factory at Marholm Road golf course. They did not have enough land so they were part assembled on one side of the railway then had to be taken across the railway to the other side to get it finished.’’
This plaque is located on the modern (1930) finely cut stone facade facing into Cathedral Square between the Great Gate to the Cathedral Precincts and NatWest Bank.
The wall to which the plaque is affixed marks the limit of the former monastic precinct in relation to the square, standing at the western end of a range of buildings running east towards the Cathedral’s west front. This range contained, at its western end, the Abbot’s Gaol and, probably in fairly close conjunction, the King’s Lodging.
Construction of the modern wall upon which the plaque is placed was necessitated by the demolition of Georgian buildings whose facades fronted onto what was Narrow Street, on its original alignment, in order to create the present Town Hall – see plaque No. 16.
The modern wall conceals a later twelfth century undercroft. Here was the Abbot’s Gaol.
By the later middle ages the Abbot of Peterborough wielded enormous power. The privileges enjoyed by the Abbey (which set the Soke apart from the rest of Northamptonshire) ensured that, in practice, the Abbot controlled many aspects of ordinary royal government as a kind of franchise held from the King. Thus his sources of power were twofold. First as landlord – the abbey effectively owned the ‘service town’- dealing with a whole range of matters of concern to the town, from the renewal of leases and sub-leases to resolving an assortment of grievances of one sort or another.
Second as holder of outsourced governmental powers, including the right to police crime, to hold courts, maintain a prison and hold markets, there was ample basis for constant interaction with royal power and its nominees.
At the Dissolution of the monastery the Dean and Chapter became lords of the manor, their power in this respect being initially as great as the Abbot’s had been. Although their control slackened and weakened over time, the last tattered vestiges of their power can still, astonishingly, be detected almost into the twentieth century.
The Abbot’s Gaol ceased to be used as the town prison in 1842, when Donthorn’s NeoNorman new Sessions Court House and prison (the latter demolished 1962) was built on Thorpe Road.
Debate continues as to the probable location of the King’s Lodging at different times throughout the Middle Ages.
This plaque is the twentieth (and last) in a series of twenty blue plaques recently installed in the city centre by Peterborough Civic Society. Further details about all the plaques can be found in the accompanying leaflet available at the Visitor Information Centre in Bridge Visitor Information Centre in Bridge Street or via the society’s website.