Tag Archives: Spalding

Scrap Book Project – Spalding Flower Parade

In the late 1970s my first job in Local Government was in the Finance Department at Rugby Borough Council and I worked in a small office of six people one of whom was a man called Ron Lindley (in the picture on the left).  Ron was in his late fifties and had previously served in the army and had worked for a long time at British Leyland in Coventry and, I’m afraid this has to be said –  he was a bit boring!  He had a lifetime full of stories about serving in India and production line techniques and if Ron caught you for a chat you’d really want to make sure you were the one nearest the door.

Anyway, one Monday morning in about 1978 Ron came to work after a week off and I made the mistake of asking him what he had been doing.  He told me he had been to Spalding to the Flower Parade and would I like to see some pictures.  I didn’t even know where Spalding was but it was rude to say no so I said that I would love to.  To my horror Ron produced five ‘Photo express’ packs of thirty-six photographs each and proceeded to go through each one with an explanation and a commentary.

This took some time I can tell you, and by the end I was close to using the office stapler on my leg to keep me conscious but eventually it came to an end and I mention all of this because when it was all over I clearly remember saying to myself, “Andrew, whatever you do in life, make sure you never go the Spalding Flower Parade!”

The history of the Spalding Flower Parade stretches back to the 1920s when the sheer number and variety of tulip bulbs grown throughout the area surrounding the market town became an annual feast of colour.  The crowds that came in created many problems for the town and coaches and cars caused chaos on the narrow lanes around the fields and this continued to happen until in 1948, the Growers’ Association became involved in organising a Tulip Week.  With the help of the Royal Automobile Club, a twenty-five mile tour through villages and country lanes was planned to show the best fields.

So successful was the attraction that by 1950, Tulip Week had become Tulip Time.  A Tulip Queen competition was organised and the crowning of the Queen was performed just before the start of Tulip Time.  The Queen and her two attendants had to be employed in the flower bulb industry and were selected at competitions held at village dances.

An influx of visitors created an opportunity and an idea to put on an attraction to publicise the bulb industry.  A few experiments with decorated cars showed that the tulip heads could be made into garlands and pinned onto backing materials in colourful designs and would still hold their colour for a few days at that time of year.

To ensure that there would always be tulips on display, even if they might not be in the fields, from the many millions of tulip flower heads removed it was decided that keep some available for decorative purposes, firstly for static displays and some selected carts and vehicles, and these eventually started to drive around the town until, in 1959, the first Spalding Tulip Parade took place.

Building of the floats began with an intricate outline of steel tracery welded on a base carefully measured to fit a tractor underneath it. The initial form and steel skeleton of each float was skillfully constructed into the outline shape of the subject and then the steelwork was covered with a special straw matting to form a base to which the tulip heads could be attached.

Teams of up to two hundred people then worked throughout the two days before the Parade using up to one million tulip heads and pinning each one onto the floats in the colours and patterns required until all the floats were covered with tulips.  A single float, which can be as much as fifteen metres in length was decorated by as many as a hundred thousand tulip heads.

The first Parade was described as ‘a floral pageantry a mile long’.  There were just eight floats but it became an event not to be missed – twenty special trains came from all over England to the sidings at Spalding station.  Temporary caravan villages sprang up and two hundred thousand (sad) people would watch the spectacle. The success of the Tulip Parade, the only display of floral floats in the world using just tulips, brought Spalding and its horticultural industry to the notice of the country. Within only three years, the Parade had become so famous that a quarter of a million people were coming to Spalding on Parade Day to line the four mile route around the town.

Fast Forward…

In August 2000 I had a change of job and went to work for South Holland District Council and over the next few months I became aware of preparations for the 2001 Flower Parade and it seemed that as part of the duties of the job I had a part in all of this.  Even then I had forgotten about Ron’s boring story and just made my contribution.

On Saturday May 6th I got up for a day at work and travelled to Spalding and spent the morning making sure everything was in place for the event and still my memory wasn’t nudged in any way until the Parade came into view and started to pass by.  It seemed to take forever and suddenly it came to me, my words from 1977, “Andrew, whatever you do in life, make sure you never go the Spalding Flower Parade!”

This goes to prove that we really need to be careful what we say because our words can come back to haunt us.  I have now been to ten Spalding Flower Parade’s, each one has long and tedious as the first, each one just as mind numbingly boring as Ron’s never ending packs of photographs.

I left Rugby in 1980 and never saw Ron again, he died a few years later but I will never forget his Flower parade photographs.

World Tulip Summit

In 2000, after ten years working in the private sector in the waste management industry  I volunteered for redundancy and started to look for alternative employment.  I was fortunate to get a job back in local government and on 8thAugust I started work at South Holland District Council.

When I was a boy I used to like to do jig-saw puzzles (this was a year or two before Nintedo and Gameboy you will understand) and I can remember having a set of two that were about flowers.  The first was the Battle of the Flowers in Jersey and the second was the Spalding Tulip Parade.

As I put those puzzles together on the dining room table I could not have possibly foreseen that nearly thirty-five years later I would move to Spalding to work at South Holland District Council and have the pleasure of helping to prepare and deliver that Parade and neither could I have imagined either that nearly forty years later (give or take a year or two) that I would have the very great privilege to welcome delegates from across the World to the World Tulip Summit in Spalding.  And believe me this was a real privilege because you don’t get that many World Summit meetings in Spalding

Actually there are quite a lot of World Summits across the globe each year and as I looked around to see what other sort of enthusiasts were meeting up at the same time in 2008 I was interested in these examples:

  •  Mountain Bikers World Summit – Berlin (that wouldn’t work very well in South Holland on account of the land being so flat)
  • Adventure Travel World Summit – Brazil & Norway
  • Knowledge Society World Summit – Athens

But my favourite just has to be the World Toilet Organisation Summit in Macau.  I can’t help thinking that I bet the delegates get to listen to a load of crap.

My research informs me that there are three South Holland’s across the world.  The first and the original is not surprisingly in the Netherlands.  The second is a village in Chicago in the USA, which like Lincolnshire’s South Holland has its origins with Dutch farmers and settlers.

During the Second-World-War the Dutch Royal Family took shelter in Canada and after the war the Netherlands sent gifts of tulips that helped promote the famous annual Ottawa tulip festival.

The name Tulip was first applied to the plant by a man called Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq who was a Dutch ambassador in Turkey in the sixteenth century and was also a great floral enthusiast.  One day he was talking to a sultan and he noticed that he was wearing an attractive flower in his headwear.  When I say talking what I mean is that they were communicating with each other in the way that people do when they can’t speak each others language with lots of funny faces and wild gesticulations.  Busbecq was curious about the flower and pointed to it and enquired its name.  In Turkey the name of the flower was a Lale but the Sultan tought he meant what is the name of his hat so he told him it was a Tulipan or turban and Busbeqc, who completely misunderstood, acquired some bulbs and sent them back to Europe with the information that they were called Tulipa.

All parts of tulips are edible and the bulb can be substituted for onions (although they are a little more expensive and less flavourful). The Dutch ate tulip bulbs in hard times of WW2 even though the petals have little taste but can be used to garnish a dish, chop a few petals and throw them in a salad, sugar them to decorate a cake or use the entire flower for a fruit bowl, pinching out the pistil and stamen in the middle.

My plan was to work at South Holland for just a few months until I could find something different, but I liked it so much and they kept on promoting me so in the end I worked there for over ten years when once again I volunteered for redundancy and left the place and all of its happy memories on 30th April 2011.

Lincolnshire Roads and a Tenancy

In August 2000 I was appointed to a job at South Holland District Council in Spalding, Lincolnshire which is about sixty-five miles from what was my home in Ilkeston, Derbyshire.  In my previous job I had been used to travelling long distances (I once drove daily from Rugby to Southend for three years) so I assumed that this tiny distance would present no problems at all.

How wrong I was!

This turned out to be the most tortuous, energy sapping and soul destroying journey imaginable.  First of all I had to negotiate the city of Nottingham which is a busy place in early morning rush hour and then the long drag to Grantham and by now I had been on the road for an hour and was only just over half way there and about to begin the worst part of the journey.

Lincolnshire has no motorways and is also desperately short of dual carriageways and the A52 is a single carriageway nightmare.  It is permanently full of lorries from the south Lincolnshire food distribution centres, caravanners making for the coast and tractors, hundreds of tractors, who all seem to come out on the roads together at a time certain to cause maximum inconvenience to motorists.

Lincolnshire Postcard

If I was lucky I could do the journey in an hour and forty-five minutes but sometimes (especially going home on a Friday night) it could take two hours!  Even though I was still driving the Onyx UK company car and they were fuelling it for me for six months as part of my redundancy deal this was not sustainable and when this perk disappeared and I had to pay for my own diesel I had to make alternative arrangements.

The solution was to rent a house and live closer to work and I found a delightful place in Moulton Seas End about seven miles from Spalding and what I was saving in fuel more than paid for the modest rent on the two bedroom, one hundred year old, ex agricultural farm workers cottage and on 6th June 2001 I signed the tenancy agreement.

I don’t remember thinking that I would still be there ten years later but I enjoyed working at South Holland District Council and living in South Lincolnshire and after a while I came to consider it my natural home with a good job and an excellent quality of life.

Unfortunately, good things come to an end and with the Tory assault on the public sector the good job was gone and so was my happy enjoyment of Moulton Seas End and South Lincolnshire so after ten happy years I terminated the tenancy and started a new life in the north of Lincolnshire instead, sad to go but happy to move on.

Spalding Flower Parade

In the late 1970s my first job in Local Government was in the Finance Department at Rugby Borough Council and I worked in a small office of four people one of whom was a man called Ron Lindley (in the picture on the left).  Ron was in his late fifties and had previously served in the army and had worked for a long time at British Leyland in Coventry and, I’m afraid this has to be said –  he was a bit boring!  He had a lifetime full of stories about serving in India and production line techniques and if Ron caught you for a chat you’d really want to make sure you were the one nearest the door.

Anyway, one Monday morning in about 1978 Ron came to work after a week off and I made the mistake of asking him what he had been doing.  He told me he had been to Spalding to the Flower Parade and would I like to see some pictures.  I didn’t even know where Spalding was but it was rude to say no so I said that I would love to.  To my horror Ron produced five ‘Photo express’ packs of thirty-six photographs each and proceeded to go through each one with an explanation and a commentary.

This took some time I can tell you, and by the end I was close to using the office stapler on my leg to keep me conscious but eventually it came to an end and I mention all of this because when it was all over I clearly remember saying to myself, “Andrew, whatever you do in life, make sure you never go the Spalding Flower Parade!”

The history of the Spalding Flower Parade stretches back to the 1920s when the sheer number and variety of tulip bulbs grown throughout the area surrounding the market town became an annual feast of colour.  The crowds that came in created many problems for the town and coaches and cars caused chaos on the narrow lanes around the fields and this continued to happen until in 1948, the Growers’ Association became involved in organising a Tulip Week.  With the help of the Royal Automobile Club, a twenty-five mile tour through villages and country lanes was planned to show the best fields.

So successful was the attraction that by 1950, Tulip Week had become Tulip Time.  A Tulip Queen competition was organised and the crowning of the Queen was performed just before the start of Tulip Time.  The Queen and her two attendants had to be employed in the flower bulb industry and were selected at competitions held at village dances.

An influx of visitors created an opportunity and an idea to put on an attraction to publicise the bulb industry.  A few experiments with decorated cars showed that the tulip heads could be made into garlands and pinned onto backing materials in colourful designs and would still hold their colour for a few days at that time of year.

To ensure that there would always be tulips on display, even if they might not be in the fields, from the many millions of tulip flower heads removed it was decided that keep some available for decorative purposes, firstly for static displays and some selected carts and vehicles, and these eventually started to drive around the town until, in 1959, the first Spalding Tulip Parade took place.

Building of the floats began with an intricate outline of steel tracery welded on a base carefully measured to fit a tractor underneath it. The initial form and steel skeleton of each float was skillfully constructed into the outline shape of the subject and then the steelwork was covered with a special straw matting to form a base to which the tulip heads could be attached.

Teams of up to two hundred people then worked throughout the two days before the Parade using up to one million tulip heads and pinning each one onto the floats in the colours and patterns required until all the floats were covered with tulips.  A single float, which can be as much as fifteen metres in length was decorated by as many as a hundred thousand tulip heads.

The first Parade was described as ‘a floral pageantry a mile long’.  There were just eight floats but it became an event not to be missed – twenty special trains came from all over England to the sidings at Spalding station.  Temporary caravan villages sprang up and two hundred thousand (sad) people would watch the spectacle. The success of the Tulip Parade, the only display of floral floats in the world using just tulips, brought Spalding and its horticultural industry to the notice of the country. Within only three years, the Parade had become so famous that a quarter of a million people were coming to Spalding on Parade Day to line the four mile route around the town.

Fast Forward…

In August 2000 I had a change of job and went to work for South Holland District Council and over the next few months I became aware of preparations for the 2001 Flower Parade and it seemed that as part of the duties of the job I had a part in all of this.  Even then I had forgotten about Ron’s boring story and just made my contribution.

On Saturday May 6th I got up for a day at work and travelled to Spalding and spent the morning making sure everything was in place for the event and still my memory wasn’t nudged in any way until the Parade came into view and started to pass by.  It seemed to take forever and suddenly it came to me, my words from 1977, “Andrew, whatever you do in life, make sure you never go the Spalding Flower Parade!”

This goes to prove that we really need to be careful what we say because our words can come back to haunt us.  I have now been to ten Spalding Flower Parade’s, each one has long and tedious as the first, each one just as mind numbingly boring as Ron’s never ending packs of photographs.

I left Rugby in 1980 and never saw Ron again, he died a few years later but I will never forget his Flower parade photographs.

Spalding, Warship Week and HMS TAKU

During the Second World War, the Royal Navy lost two hundred and fifty-four major warships in addition to over a thousand minor vessels and auxiliaries due to enemy action and to counter these losses a huge shipbuilding programme was begun.  The enormous expense involved forced the Government to appeal to the British people to assist in meeting the bill and weeks were set aside during which local communities were encouraged to save to adopt locally a warship.

The weeks were organised by the National War Savings Committee and there were over one thousand ‘Warship Weeks’ organised during the campaign, involving 1,273 local authority districts.  The campaigns encouraged civilians to save their money in Government accounts, such as War Bonds, Savings Bonds, Defence Bonds and Savings Certificates. Each Council set its own target appropriate to the size and wealth of its population.  A small village for example might be able to sponsor something small such as a motor launch whereas a large city could aspire to reach the two million pounds that was required to buy a major battleship.  The national campaign raised £955,611,589 for the war effort and resulted in the adoption of 8 battleships, 4 aircraft carriers, 49 cruisers, 301 destroyers, 25 submarines, 164 corvettes and frigates and 288 minesweepers.

Other national war campaigns were a ‘Wings For Victory’ Week to buy bomber planes, a ‘Spitfire Week’, a ‘War Weapons Week’ and a ‘Tanks For Attack’ Week. The purpose of all these campaigns was to finance the building of ships, tanks or aeroplanes that would then ‘belong‘ to the particular locality where the funding to build it had come from.

Communities that successfully raised the money required to construct a ship were able to ‘adopt’ a warship, receiving a shield from the Admiralty in recognition and often, in return, presenting ‘their ship’ with a commemorative plaque of their own.  In Spalding, the Urban District Council and the Rural District Council decided in October 1941 to hold a Warship Week in March 1942, and a target was set at £425,000 to adopt a submarine.  For two relatively small local authorities and a population of under thirty-five thousand people this must have been hugely ambitious especially when many similar size councils went instead for the much cheaper ‘buy a Spitfire’ option at only £12,000.

‘Warship Week’ was set for the 7th to the 14th March 1942 using the slogan “MAKE THE WEEK A SUCCESS BY LENDING MORE AND SPENDING LESS”.   Parades and exhibitions as well as fund raising events were held in Spalding and in all of the villages and at the end of the week, the total reached was £383,151, which averaged £10.18s.0d (£10.90) per head of population.   To raise this considerable amount of money was a monumental task and to put it into perspective, at today’s values this would be the equivalent of raising twelve million pounds in one week.

This effort was enough to fund the construction of a new submarine and because of this fantastic achievement Spalding & District adopted H.M. Submarine ‘Taku’, a ‘T’ Class, Patrol Type Submarine.  The ‘Taku’ was already in service and had been constructed by Cammell Laird of Birkenhead and had been launched on 20th May 1939 and completed on 5th January 1940 and had cost at that time around about £350,000.  The Royal Navy’s T class of submarines was designed in the 1930s and approved in 1936.  The prototype was called ‘Triton’ and completed in December 1938 and in total fifty-three ‘T’ class submarines were built just before and during the war.

This is a bit obvious but all ‘T’ class submarines had a name that started with the letter T.  ‘TAKU’ was a Chinese fort situated in Tientsin Province, a strongly fortified spot guarding the approach to Tientsin and Peking that had been captured by British and French fleets in 1860 and again by allied troops during the Boxer uprising of June 1900.

In June 1942, some of the crew visited Spalding and stayed with local families.  Led by the Royal Marine Band they marched from the Grammar School to the Market Place and at a ceremony that followed Rear Admiral Buckley and Lt. P C A Day who was the 2nd in command of H.M.S. ‘TAKU’ exchanged plaques with the Spalding Urban and District Councils.  The submarine’s Jolly Roger flew from the Corn Exchange, which is now the South Holland Centre.  Dances and other entertainment were put on in Spalding and surrounding villages because, as the presentation took place during “Wings Week”, many servicemen were in town for the party.

Seventeen of the fifty-three submarines were lost to enemy action but the ‘Taku’ was a very successful submarine that managed to see out the entire war.  She sank 32,473 tonnes of enemy shipping plus an unconfirmed 10,000 tonne tanker and many small craft.  Until the end of 1940, she spent time patrolling off the coast of Norway and in January 1941, she went on patrol in the Bay of Biscay.  In February, she was damaged by heavy seas in the Atlantic on the way to Canada and had to be towed back to the Clyde for repairs but by April she was in the Mediterranean sinking a number of merchant ships and auxiliary vessels.  Returning to the Mediterranean in May 1942 she carried out twenty patrols, attacking and sinking enemy shipping and was part of ‘Operation Vigorous’, which was an attempt to re-supply Malta from Alexandria.  On 16th December 1942 in the Doro Channel, she was attacked by patrol craft and was kept under water for thirty-six hours before successfully making an escape.   This would have been an especially unpleasant experience for the crew who were forced to breathe stale rancid air for all of that period.

On 20th December, she successfully landed three Greek agents on a special mission and then went on to bombard Port Kurn hitting some small ships and warehouses.    She arrived in Beirut on 1 January 1943 and then went on to Malta to join the 10th Submarine Flotilla but developed engine defects so had to return to the UK.  In June 1943, she returned to Southern Norway and the Skagerrak but on 13th April 1944, just before eight o’clock, she was rocked by an explosion, which put out all lights and sprang several leaks.  She had run into a mine and had to abort her mission and return to harbour.  She could never return to full combat service because the explosion cracked the hull but she remained on active service until June 1945 and was sent to the breakers yard in 1946.

A Life in a Year – 8th August, South Holland District Council and Tulips

In 2000, after ten years working in the private sector in the waste management industry  I volunteered for redundancy and started to look for alternative employment.  I was fortunate to get a job back in local government and on 8th August I started work at South Holland District Council.

When I was a boy I used to like to do jig-saw puzzles (this was a year or two before Nintedo and Gameboy you will understand) and I can remember having a set of two that were about flowers.  The first was the Battle of the Flowers in Jersey and the second was the Spalding Tulip Parade.  As I put those puzzles together on the dining room table I could not have possibly foreseen that nearly thirty-five years later I would move to Spalding to work at South Holland District Council and have the pleasure of helping to prepare and deliver that Parade and neither could I have imagined either that nearly forty years later (give or take a year or two) that I would have the very great privilege to welcome delegates from across the World to the World Tulip Summit in Spalding.  And believe me this was a real privilege because you don’t get that many World Summit meetings in Spalding

Actually there are quite a lot of World Summits across the globe each year and as I looked around to see what other sort of enthusiasts were meeting up at the same time in 2008 I was interested in these examples:

  •  Mountain Bikers World Summit – Berlin (that wouldn’t work very well in South Holland on account of the land being so flat)
  • Adventure Travel World Summit – Brazil & Norway
  • Knowledge Society World Summit – Athens

 But my favourite just has to be the World Toilet Organisation Summit in Macau .  I can’t help thinking that I bet the delegates get to listen to a load of crap.

My research informs me that there are three South Holland’s across the world.  The first and the original is not surprisingly in the Netherlands.  The second is a village in Chicago in the USA, which like Lincolnshire’s South Holland has its origins with Dutch farmers and settlers.

During the Second-World-War the Dutch Royal Family took shelter in Canada and after the war the Netherlands sent gifts of tulips that helped promote the famous annual Ottawa tulip festival.

The name Tulip was first applied to the plant by a man called Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq who was a Dutch ambassador in Turkey in the sixteenth century and was also a great floral enthusiast.  One day he was talking to a sultan and he noticed that he was wearing an attractive flower in his headwear.  When I say talking what I mean is that they were communicating with each other in the way that people do when they can’t speak each others language with lots of funny faces and wild gesticulations.  Busbecq was curious about the flower and pointed to it and enquired its name.  In Turkey the name of the flower was a Lale but the Sultan tought he meant what is the name of his hat so he told him it was a Tulipan or turban and Busbeqc, who completely misunderstood, acquired some bulbs and sent them back to Europe with the information that they were called Tulipa.

All parts of tulips are edible and the bulb can be substituted for onions (although they are a little more expensive and less flavourful). The Dutch ate tulip bulbs in hard times of WW2 even though the petals have little taste but can be used to garnish a dish, chop a few petals and throw them in a salad, sugar them to decorate a cake or use the entire flower for a fruit bowl, pinching out the pistil and stamen in the middle.

My plan was to work at South Holland for just a few months until I could find something different, but I liked it so much and they kept on promoting me so in the end I worked there for over ten years when once again I volunteered for redundancy and left the place and all of its happy memories on 30th April 2011.

A Life in a Year – 2nd May, Spalding Flower Parade

In the late 1970s my first job in Local Government was in the Finance Department at Rugby Borough Council and I worked in a small office of four people one of whom was a man called Ron Lindley (in the picture on the left).  Ron was in his late fifties and had previously served in the army and had worked for a long time at British Leyland in Coventry and, I’m afraid this has to be said, he was a bit boring.  He had a lifetime full of stories and if Ron caught you for a chat you’d really want to make sure you were the one nearest the door.

Anyway, one Monday morning in about 1978 Ron came to work after a week off and I made the mistake of asking him what he had been doing.  He told me he had been to Spalding to the Flower Parade and would I like to see some pictures.  I didn’t but it was rude to say no so I said that I would love to.  To my horror Ron produced five ‘Photo express’ packs of thirty-six photographs each and proceeded to go through each one with an explanation and a commentary.

This took some time and by the end I was close to using the office stapler on my leg to keep me conscious but eventually it came to an end and I mention all of this because when it was all over I clearly remember saying to myself, “Andrew, whatever you do in life, make sure you never go the Spalding Flower Parade!”

The history of the Spalding Flower Parade stretches back to the 1920s when the acreage and variety of tulip bulbs grown throughout the area surrounding the market town became an annual feast of colour.  The crowds that came in created many problems for the town and coaches and cars caused chaos on the narrow lanes around the fields and this continued to happen until in 1948, the Growers’ Association became involved in organising a Tulip Week.  With the help of the Royal Automobile Club, a 25 mile tour through villages and country lanes was planned to show the best fields.

So successful was the attraction that by 1950, Tulip Week had become Tulip Time.  A Tulip Queen competition was organised and the crowning of the Queen was performed just before the start of Tulip Time.  The Queen and her two attendants had to be employed in the flower bulb industry and were selected at competitions held at village dances.

An influx of visitors created an opportunity and an idea to put on an attraction to publicise the bulb industry.  A few experiments with decorated cars showed that the tulip heads could be made into garlands and pinned onto backing materials in colourful designs and would still hold their colour for a few days at that time of year.

To ensure that there would always be tulips on display, even if they might not be in the fields, from the many millions of tulip flower heads removed it was decided that keep some available for decorative purposes, firstly for static displays and some selected carts and vehicles, and these eventually started to drive around the town until, in 1959, the first Spalding Tulip Parade took place.

Building of the floats began with an intricate outline of steel tracery welded on a base carefully measured to fit a tractor underneath it. The initial form and steel skeleton of each float was skillfully constructed into the outline shape of the subject and then the steelwork was covered with a special straw matting to form a base to which the tulip heads could be attached.

Teams of up to 200 people then worked throughout the two days before the Parade using up to one million tulip heads and pinning each one onto the floats in the colours and patterns required until all the floats were covered with tulips.  A single float, which can be as much as 50 feet in length, may be decorated by as many as 100,000 tulip heads.

The first Parade was described as ‘a floral pageantry a mile long’.  There were just eight floats but it became an event not to be missed – twenty special trains came from all over England to the sidings at Spalding station.  Temporary caravan villages sprang up and 200,000 people would watch the spectacle. The success of the Tulip Parade, the only display of floral floats in the world using just tulips, brought Spalding and its horticultural industry to the notice of the country. Within only three years, the Parade had become so famous that a quarter of a million people were coming to Spalding on Parade Day to line the four mile route around the town.

In August 2000 I had a change of job and went to work for South Holland District Council and over the next few months I became aware of preparations for the 2001 Flower Parade and I seemed to have a part in all of this.  Even then I had forgotten about Ron’s boring story and just made my contribution.

On Saturday May 6th I got up for a day at work and travelled to Spalding and spent the morning making sure everything was in place for the event and still my memory wasn’t nudged in any way until the Parade came into view and started to pass by.  It seemed to take forever and suddenly it came to me, my words from 1977, “Andrew, whatever you do in life, make sure you never go the Spalding Flower Parade!”

This goes to prove that we really need to be careful what we say because our words can come back to haunt us.  I have now been to ten Spalding Flower Parade’s, each one has long and tedious as the first, each one just as mind numbingly boring as Ron’s packs of photographs.  I left Rugby in 1980 and never saw Ron again, he died a few years later but I will never forget his Flower parade photographs.

Now, just as the format of the Parade is changing (2011) with an exciting new team organising the event and some long awaited and much needed new ideas it seems appropriate that this will be my last as I finish work with South Holland on exactly the same day as the Parade when I go on to something new and hopefully the Parade goes from strength to strength.

A Year in a Life – 12th March, Spalding, Warship Week and HMS TAKU

During the Second World War, the Royal Navy lost two hundred and fifty-four major warships in addition to over a thousand minor vessels and auxiliaries due to enemy action and to counter these losses a huge shipbuilding programme was begun.  The enormous expense involved forced the Government to appeal to the British people to assist in meeting the bill and weeks were set aside during which local communities were encouraged to save to adopt locally a warship. 

The weeks were organised by the National War Savings Committee and there were over one thousand ‘Warship Weeks’ organised during the campaign, involving 1,273 local authority districts.  The campaigns encouraged civilians to save their money in Government accounts, such as War Bonds, Savings Bonds, Defence Bonds and Savings Certificates. Each Council set its own target appropriate to the size and wealth of its population.  A small village for example might be able to sponsor something small such as a motor launch whereas a large city could aspire to reach the two million pounds that was required to buy a major battleship.  The national campaign raised £955,611,589 for the war effort and resulted in the adoption of 8 battleships, 4 aircraft carriers, 49 cruisers, 301 destroyers, 25 submarines, 164 corvettes and frigates and 288 minesweepers. 

Other national war campaigns were a ‘Wings For Victory’ Week to buy bomber planes, a ‘Spitfire Week’, a ‘War Weapons Week’ and a ‘Tanks For Attack’ Week. The purpose of all these campaigns was to finance the building of ships, tanks or aeroplanes that would then ‘belong‘ to the particular locality where the funding to build it had come from.

 

Communities that successfully raised the money required to construct a ship were able to ‘adopt’ a warship, receiving a shield from the Admiralty in recognition and often, in return, presenting ‘their ship’ with a commemorative plaque of their own.  In Spalding, the Urban District Council and the Rural District Council decided in October 1941 to hold a Warship Week in March 1942, and a target was set at £425,000 to adopt a submarine.  For two relatively small local authorities and a population of under thirty-five thousand people this must have been hugely ambitious especially when many similar size councils went instead for the much cheaper ‘buy a Spitfire’ option at only £12,000.

‘Warship Week’ was set for the 7th to the 14th March 1942 using the slogan “MAKE THE WEEK A SUCCESS BY LENDING MORE AND SPENDING LESS”.   Parades and exhibitions as well as fund raising events were held in Spalding and in all of the villages and at the end of the week, the total reached was £383,151, which averaged £10.18s.0d (£10.90) per head of population.   To raise this considerable amount of money was a monumental task and to put it into perspective, at today’s values this would be the equivalent of raising twelve million pounds in one week.

This effort was enough to fund the construction of a new submarine and because of this fantastic achievement Spalding & District adopted H.M. Submarine ‘Taku’, a ‘T’ Class, Patrol Type Submarine.  The ‘Taku’ was already in service and had been constructed by Cammell Laird of Birkenhead and had been launched on 20th May 1939 and completed on 5th January 1940 and had cost at that time around about £350,000.  The Royal Navy’s T class of submarines was designed in the 1930s and approved in 1936.  The prototype was called ‘Triton’ and completed in December 1938 and in total fifty-three ‘T’ class submarines were built just before and during the war.

This is a bit obvious but all ‘T’ class submarines had a name that started with the letter T.  ‘TAKU’ was a Chinese fort situated in Tientsin Province, a strongly fortified spot guarding the approach to Tientsin and Peking that had been captured by British and French fleets in 1860 and again by allied troops during the Boxer uprising of June 1900.

 

In June 1942, some of the crew visited Spalding and stayed with local families.  Led by the Royal Marine Band they marched from the Grammar School to the Market Place and at a ceremony that followed Rear Admiral Buckley and Lt. P C A Day who was the 2nd in command of H.M.S. ‘TAKU’ exchanged plaques with the Spalding Urban and District Councils.  The submarine’s Jolly Roger flew from the Corn Exchange, which is now the South Holland Centre.  Dances and other entertainment were put on in Spalding and surrounding villages because, as the presentation took place during “Wings Week”, many servicemen were in town for the party.

Seventeen of the fifty-three submarines were lost to enemy action but the ‘Taku’ was a very successful submarine that managed to see out the entire war.  She sank 32,473 tonnes of enemy shipping plus an unconfirmed 10,000 tonne tanker and many small craft.  Until the end of 1940, she spent time patrolling off the coast of Norway and in January 1941, she went on patrol in the Bay of Biscay.  In February, she was damaged by heavy seas in the Atlantic on the way to Canada and had to be towed back to the Clyde for repairs but by April she was in the Mediterranean sinking a number of merchant ships and auxiliary vessels.  Returning to the Mediterranean in May 1942 she carried out twenty patrols, attacking and sinking enemy shipping and was part of ‘Operation Vigorous’, which was an attempt to re-supply Malta from Alexandria.  On 16th December 1942 in the Doro Channel, she was attacked by patrol craft and was kept under water for thirty-six hours before successfully making an escape.   This would have been an especially unpleasant experience for the crew who were forced to breathe stale rancid air for all of that period.

On 20th December, she successfully landed three Greek agents on a special mission and then went on to bombard Port Kurn hitting some small ships and warehouses.    She arrived in Beirut on 1 January 1943 and then went on to Malta to join the 10th Submarine Flotilla but developed engine defects so had to return to the UK.  In June 1943, she returned to Southern Norway and the Skagerrak but on 13th April 1944, just before eight o’clock, she was rocked by an explosion, which put out all lights and sprang several leaks.  She had run into a mine and had to abort her mission and return to harbour.  She could never return to full combat service because the explosion cracked the hull but she remained on active service until June 1945 and was sent to the breakers yard in 1946.