Pinchbeck Engine Museum

Just outside the village on Pinchbeck Marsh stands Pinchbeck Engine Museum, a Victorian beam engine built to fight the floods and drain the surrounding land. Ken gave me a great tour, sharing newspaper reports of the destructive floods of 1947 and stories about Charles Seymour, the last man to look after the engine. Until his retirement in 1952 Charles managed, mended and maintained the Pinchbeck steam engine for 43 years. He lived and worked on site, to stoke and run the steam engine. Ken showed me the bald wooden shelf next within a few feet of the furness where Charles would have rested on nights when he needed to keep the fire stoked 24 hours a day to keep the land from  flooding.  I was particularly drawn to the display of tools in one room, handmade and unique to the Fenlands, with strange shapes and stranger names – prongs for eel hunting and funny shaped scoops for ditch clearing. Ken then showed me the on site workshop, complete with forge, where Charles would have crafted some of these items and made repairs for the engine.   Today this steam engine contrasts with the unmanned electric pumping station next door, but it has a new life as a museum, celebrating and sharing its contribution to the story of the Fens.

 

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Cowbit Playing Field, Village Stores and Old Post Office

Spent a few days in Cowbit and headed for the playing field, mentioned by several Brownies and a few local young people as an important meeting place. The village has set up a Playing Field Committee to organise funds, events and improvements, with local children creating designs for new equipment. Thanks to Jonathan and Emily for their help.

 

 

Cowbit has been without a shop for a while until Cowbit Village Stores was opened. So many people  – young and old – were full of good things to say, particularly about Colin who serves the villagers every day –  how he made home deliveries after hours to people unable to get out, how he’d slip an extra chocolate bar into your bag when you weren’t looking, how you could still buy sweets for a penny.  “It’s the best shop ever!”

I had to persuade Colin to come out, and take the shot really quick between customers – but I felt it was really important for Colin and the Village Stores be represented in the project – although not the best shot I’ve taken, this image and its story sums up what I wanted this project to be about – celebrating the everyday these villages.

 

Cowbit Colin

 

 

On my visits to Cowbit I’ve tended to always park in the layby on Barrier Bank by the Church, outside the Old Post Office, and this led me to have the pleasure of meeting and talking with Peter and Vivian Higham who live there. They both had some wonderful memories to share. Generations of Peter’s family have lived in the village, working the land and running the post office. Whilst Peter raised livestock on the fields of Cowbit Wash, Vivien dedicated 40 years to the Post Office, serving villagers until retiring in 1991.

 

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Sunflowers and Bulbs

I’ve been spending some in Pinchbeck, following up on conversations I’d had with the Glen Crafters and the Guides, which led me to go and see George Slinger founder of the Bulb Museum, at Birchgrove Garden Centre. George was very generous with his time, and gave me great insight into the history of the local flower growing economy –  the tulip growers rise and decline and books about the local Flower Festivals. This led me to find some of the nurseries and flower fields still growing around Pinchbeck, and I was lucky enough to come across a sunflower field on Gallery Walk as it was harvested.

 

 

 

 

On the buses …

Met with Will Smith from Norfolk Green buses at the Kings Lynn bus terminal today. The company’s been really supportive of the project. I went to measure up the interior panels of the buses where we’ll be able to exhibit some of the postcard images on vinyl panels throughout August. We’ve got 1 double decker and 2 single decker buses that run the No. 505 route from King’s Lynn to Spalding –  serving both Moulton and Whaplode villages.

The postcards will be available on board as well with a tear off section for people to respond to questions about place and identity, and the use of the buses as creative spaces. Once completed they can then hand them in to the driver, and I’ll collect them and post the responses here…

Introducing our mobile galleries:

Walks and Windmills

Spent the weekend camping in The Fens. Great to be able to scoot around the villages without having to dash back to Nottingham. Had a wonderful tour of Moulton Windmill and found out how the community were absolutely key in its restoration to the impressive working mill it is today – the tallest in the UK. The hundreds of white slats of the sails were actually made by local people working collectively, each person taking wood and a pattern home to cut each piece and bring them back to the mill. The sails were completed and installed in 2011.

I then drove over to Pinchbeck Woods after the Pinchbeck Guide leaders had told me about how they and other community groups had helped to design and plant this new small woodland to celebrate the Millennium. The pathway tracks a much older thoroughfare that took villagers from Pinchbeck over the River Glen to Spalding over 400 years ago. 14 years on fro its planting it was quite a magical experience to wander through it.

On Sunday I took a long walk to explore Cowbit Wash – this place holds so much history that’s very specific to South Holland. In the winter it was where the national speed skating championships were held, it’s the site of an iron age salt works and it’s where the fenland punt gunners hunted for wildfowl. Now it’s been drained it boasts fantastic soil for supporting crops and wildlife – and the skies are just amazing!

 

Popping Up

We had a meeting with the South Lincolnshire Highways Agency who’ve now given permission for Manya and I to go ahead with the Bus Stop Pop Up events in August – which is great news!

The stories I’ve been gathering from local people have inspired us to transform the shelters into mini exhibition spaces.  We’ll be popping up and dressing a bus stop in each of the four villages at the beginning of August, using these public spaces to engage with bus users and villagers about the postcard project and ideas around using buses and bus shelters as spaces for sharing art in the future.

Here’s our schedule for August – hope to see some of you there!

5th  – wooden shelter on Church Street, adjacent to the Bull Inn, Pinchbeck

7th  – brick shelter on High Road, adjacent to Stockwell Gate, Whaplode

8th – wooden shelter on High Road, adjacent to River Lane, Moulton

9th – brick shelter on Barrier Bank, opposite St Mary’s Church, Cowbit