Sunday, 2 February 2014

WW1 and the Zeppelin raids


Before I tell you about the Zeppelin raids in Loughborough, a quick update on a number of things I’ve mentioned in the past.

The first of these is to report that according to the local newspaper, The Loughborough Echo, the local plan, or the “core strategy” as it is known, submitted by Charnwood District Council which outlines their proposed housing development plans, has not been accepted by the government planning inspector. The inspector has identified what he calls “significant issues” and he has asked for a hearing in March.

Next, I’m sure you’ll all be pleased to learn that Loughborough is, for the second time, representing the East Midlands, as a finalist in the “In Bloom” competition, in which we were chosen from over 1000 entrants. We are in the “small city” category and will be competing against seven other finalists, which includes Bath and Tamworth.

I think I may have mentioned before that the National Trust have bought Stoneywell Cottage, the former home of members of the Gimson family. The NT had fairly modest plans for the cottage and stables in order to open to the public, but they have just put in revised plans for work on the stables. I believe they are hoping to open to the public during the summer season this year.

The bid to the heritage Lottery Fund for moving the WW1 memorials in All Saints Church, to a more prominent position has now been submitted. Don’t forget, there is a community consultation meeting on Saturday 8th Feb, at 7.30 in the church, so do go along and share your views and ideas with the organisers.

Finally, I recently discovered the Carillon newsletter, appropriately named the Carillon Chimes, on the web and so got in touch with Mel Gould, the curator of the Carillon Museum, to ask if he could include me in his mailing list. Many thanks to him, because not only did he put me on the mailing list for the newsletter, but he also mentioned this blog in the latest issue.

Now, moving on …   

Zeppelin Walk

Being tour guides!
My good friend, and fellow tour guide, Bob, invited me along to his latest walk – a voyage of discovery of the sites in Loughborough that were bombed by the Zeppelin, on 31 January 1916. Twenty-four of us gathered inside the Carillon, which Mel had kindly opened for us, and had a look at some medals, photos and plaques, before we all, including Mel, headed off to look at the actual sites.
Side view of the old Crown and Cushion pub

We walked down Frederick Street, where Bob explained how Herbert Schofield installed an electrical generator in one of the college buildings, before walking down past the site of the former Crown and Cushion, now Peters, where the first Zeppelin bomb fell in the garden of a house in Orchard Street which backed onto the pub.

The granite cross in the middle of The Rushes
Then, we headed down Greenclose Lane, taking in the site of the former gas works on our left, and reached the Rushes. From the Rushes shopping centre side of the road we could see the wooden plaque on the shopfront where the brass memorial plaque, now in the Carillon Museum, was originally placed.
The granite cross in The Rushes
The wooden mounting board
It being a busy Saturday afternoon we decided not to risk our lives and go and stand in the middle of the road, so it was lucky that we were just about able, from the roadside, to make out the granite cross in the tarmac, which marks the actual spot where the bomb hit.

Medieval Loughborough

The site of the next Zeppelin bomb was quite some way away, so we passed through the old medieval town, down Nottingham Road, crossed over to Queen’s Road, before landing at Empress Road where Queen’s Road turns into Wharncliffe Road. The longish walk was an opportunity to chat to some of the other people on the walk, and I met some very interesting people, as well as people I’ve known for a long time, and other people I recognised.

When we reached Empress Road Bob explained that there had been warnings that Zeppelins were on their way, heading from the east coast. Leicester, Nottingham and Derby had gone into blackout mode, but, apparently, parts of Loughborough were of the thinking that raids had never come that far inland before, so probably wouldn’t today, and as a result, blackout guidelines were not much observed (except by the Brush) thereby making Loughborough a real target.

On the outside wall of what was the Herbert Morris factory (called the Empress Works, or the East Works) there was a plaque, commemorating the Zeppelin raid in Empress Road which killed a mother and her children - the original plaque is in the Carillon Museum – and there is a granite cross in the road, close to the pavement, which marks the spot at which the bomb fell.
No.83 next to corner house, door not visible
Number 83 Empress Road was so close to the bomb it’s surprising the house wasn’t damaged, but the only evidence of the attack was shrapnel marks in the side wall of the house.

A selection of views of the Empress Works

Whilst we were looking at the cross, the lady who lived in number 83 actually came out and regaled us with a few stories and memories of the event. She wasn’t old enough to have been around at the time, but had spoken of the event with older members of her family. Quite fascinating!

Leaving Empress Road, we made our way back to town and Queen’s Park, via the Great Central Railway, at which point I had to leave the walk as I had another event to attend.

Bob did a great job of showing us parts of Loughborough we were probably less familiar with, and of telling us stories about the day of the Zeppelin raid. I’m sure this is only the first of his WW1-themed walks, so if you missed this one, keep on eye on the local paper for news of his next one.

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