Wednesday, March 25, 2020


Brigg Blog today posts the third part of a Dates Timeline series that will eventually feature events of note in our area from the 11th century through to the present day. Here we recall the 1940s and 1950s.
We will be posting additional decades in the near future, including the 1920s & 1930s, and the new millennium years from 2000.
We'll then go back to the early 20th century and follow that post with Brigg dates and events from previous centuries.
If you have any entries for the 1920s and 1930s you feel should be added to what follows, please email
Your contribution will be included next time we update our Brigg Timeline with additional entries.
Brigg Blog's aim is to create a database tracing the development of Brigg from a humble fording place on the Ancholme, with a few properties nearby, to the popular market town it is today.
Although our Dates Timeline is centred on Brigg, some entries relating to the surrounding district have been included, and more are welcome.

1940: Kirton airfield opened as a fighter base; famous pilot Douglas Bader, who had lost both his legs in a crash, was posted there; he inspired the film Reach for the Sky. Work started on building Hibaldstow Airfield for the RAF. North Lincolnshire experienced its coldest winter since 1894; “To be in time for school became the exception rather than the rule,”  Brigg Grammar explained,  as transport was severely disrupted by snow drifts.

1941: RAF Elsham Wolds (bomber) base became operational. Brigg Grammar School was closed  for three weeks in October so pupils could give much-needed assistance on farms in the neighbourhood during the potato harvest; there were 324 boys at the school at the time. Young geography master Geoff Jarvis was dividing his time between serving with Brigg fire service and teaching.

1942:  Colonel Oliver Sutton Nelthorpe, from Scawby - chairman of governors at Brigg Grammar School - was made a Commander of the British Empire in the King's Birthday Honours List.  RAF Kirmington became an operational bomber base.

1943:  A prehistoric boat dug up in Brigg decades earlier was destroyed when Hull’s Albion Museum was hit during a German air raid. Pingley Camp opened off Bigby High Road; it housed Italian and German prisoners-of-war and was built to provide accommodation for 750. Pingley Camp’s huts continued to house agricultural workers for many years. Legendary Lancaster bomber ‘Mike Squared’ entered service at RAF Elsham Wolds and completed a record 140 missions by the end of 1944.

1944: Prompt action by Brigg signalman Walter Ward helped avert disaster when an ammunition train caught fire. War-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill stayed the night, in secret, at the Exchange Club in Brigg; he was here to visit a company in Scunthorpe which made vital equipment for the D-Day landings in northern France. Future star of The Great Escape WW2 film, actor Donald Pleasence was shot down while on a bombing raid from RAF Kirmington and himself became a prisoner of war.

1945: A Lancaster bomber caught fire and one of the crew members who landed by parachute died in Brigg (memorial plaque installed in 2018 at Harrison's Hideaway, near Smithy's Pond, on Island Carr). Margaret Horton had an unscheduled flight on the wing of a Spitfire at RAF Hibaldstow where she was based, surviving the ordeal. VE Day and VJ Day, marking the end of hostilities, saw major celebrations in the town, with a police sergeant being carried shoulder-high by one group of happy revellers. Brigg’s VJ Day celebrations went on until 1am (officially ‘last orders’ in the pubs). Earlier, there had been a communal bonfire and firework display, and a number of parties. Politician David Quibell became Lord Quibell, with Tom Williamson elected Brigg’s MP.  Brigg Agricultural Show was held on August 6, following the Horse Fair.

1946: Corah's began manufacturing clothes in Brigg using a former RAF hut – soon extended to three - before building a factory off Bridge Street which later employed 400.  George Hewson was elected for the first time to serve on Brigg Urban District Council.

1947: Brigg people of all ages suffered during a very severe winter, with coal in short supply for heating, rationing still in force on many items and an era of austerity prevailing. RAF Elsham Wolds was closed.

1948: Lance Mallalieu was elected Brigg MP, serving until retirement in 1974. Sheila's Cottage - owned by Brigg pub proprietor John Proctor - won the world famous Grand National horse race at long odds. He bought drinks that evening for everyone who visited town centre pubs, not just his own Lord Nelson! Nationalised British Railways was created, running all trains, stations and goods depots in the Brigg area.

1949: Building work was under way on the post-war Springbank council housing estate in Brigg. The Briggensians' Association, representing former pupils of Brigg Grammar School, held its first annual 'social' dance at the Angel Hotel; it was well-attended and music was provided by Harry Thompson and his Band - the Ballroom being "appropriately decorated in School colours." At Brigg Grammar School a bronze war memorial plaque was unveiled listing the names of 50 former pupils who had died while serving their country; their names were read at the dedication ceremony.

1950:  A shortage of buildings at Brigg Grammar School made it necessary to continue using old Army huts bought in 1918, while the boarding house and the headmaster's dining room had to be used for some classes. Pupils enjoyed tours of Appleby-Frodingham steelworks, Scunthorpe, watching furnaces being tapped.

1951: Metal handrails replaced the original sandstone balustrades on Brigg County Bridge. Newstead Priory Farmhouse, Cadney, was made a grade one listed building. Rugby union was added to the list of sports played by pupils at Brigg Grammar School. Miss D.  Rickatson,  a state registered nurse, became the new matron in the boarding house. The original, tall slide on the Davy Memorial Playing Field was installed for Brigg children to enjoy (estimated date provided by Denis Laycock who used it as a boy).

1952:  Councillor Edward Dodd, as Chairman of Brigg Urban District Council, positioned himself in the Market Place to read the official proclamation about Queen Elizabeth II succeeding to the throne following the death of her father, George VI. Brigg Recreation Ground opened - created from Woodbine Farm, purchased by the council.  The access to Cary Lane from the Market Place was widened to make things easier for drivers – one building being demolished.

1953: A temporary arch was erected on the County Bridge to mark the Queen’s Coronation; the Scouts toured Elsham with lighted torches made from baked bean cans filled with mothballs! Brigg Recreation Ground opened in July. Scawby’s village pond was filled in and became Coronation Gardens. The prestigious Lincolnshire Show was held in Scawby Park.

1954: Brigg Sequence Dance Club was founded. A golden period for Barnetby United FC was capped by clinching the Grimsby League First Division title.

1955: Glanford School, Brigg, opened. Brigg Grammar School started work on a new swimming pool, having gained approval from the governors and Lindsey County Council.

1956: A dramatic child rescue from a Brigg house blaze resulted in a bravery award for fireman Charles Richard. Don Charlwood published No Moon Tonight – an acclaimed book about his war-time service with 103 Squadron at RAF Elsham.

1957:  A national flu epidemic badly affected Brigg Grammar School which had to put back its annual speech day by several months. Reflecting a popular UK music trend, a Jazz Club was founded, playing records on a gramophone.

1958: Brigg's Barrie Horstead was in Scunthorpe United's 'giant-killing' squad which won at Newcastle United in the FA Cup. The defender played 320 league appearances, retiring in 1966; he later worked at Brigg Sugar Factory.

1959: Westmoor School, Brigg, opened;  H. B. Williams became headmaster of the Grammar School; he was to become the last in a long line. 

PICTURED: The temporary arch erect for the Queen's Coronation, Coun George Hewson, the bed at the Exchange in which Winston Churchill slept, and the Layne's Garage frontage in 1947.

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