Looking Back: Mayors of Peterborough - from HP Gates to John Peach

The first first citizen of Peterborough, HP Gates
The first first citizen of Peterborough, HP Gates
2
Have your say

Soon Cllr John Peach’s picture will be hanging on the wall in the Mayor’s Parlour in the town hall in Bridge Street.

Cllr Peach was recently chosen to be the 129th mayor of Peterborough.

Do you know who this mayor was and what the event was?

Do you know who this mayor was and what the event was?

The pictures of all but three of the city’s mayors hang on the wall in the parlour. One of those missing is George Smith who was mayor in 1957-58 who refused to allow his picture to be included in what termed the “rogues’ gallery’’.

Among those there are Charles Swift, still a serving councillor, who in 1960-61 became the city’s youngest mayor at the age of 30.

Looking at the list of “first citizens’’ many are embedded in the city’s history and some have their names honoured in buildings and places – Vergette, Winfrey, Mansfield, Itter, Mellows, Horrell, Westcombe.

The city’s first mayor back in 1874 was Henry Pearson Gates. His portrait is also “missing’’ from the Mayor’s Parlour instead it proudly hangs in the council chamber. A memorial, a gift to the city from his widow, was built in his honour and was erected in Market Place which is now Cathedral Square.

HP Gates, the first mayor of Peterborough

HP Gates, the first mayor of Peterborough

It contained a fountain –but this was for drinking and proved considerably less controversial than the fountains now in place on the square.

In 1967 the monument was dismantled and relocated to Bishops Road Garden where it remains today.Legend has it that when the memorial was being dismantled an Evening Telegrpah photographer “borrowed’’ one of the stone pieces and hid it in his car boot for a laugh. After being discovered he allegedly spent a night in the police cells which no doubt he laughed off.

Today’s pictures, I could claim, come for the Peterborough Telegraph’s archives, but that would be a rather grand name for the tatty old cardboard box I found gathering dust in the corner of the office.

Inside, this magic box, however, there proved to be a real treasure trove of old pictures which I shall feature on these pages. Many of them have no accompanying details, a few have a clue in the form of some scribbled words no doubt penned by a sub editor in a hurry to meet a deadline. So if you have more information please get in touch.Among them are two pictures of HP Gates and one of his memorial.Another is of John Mansfield who of course gave his name to a secondary school inthe city.

The memorial to HP Gates

The memorial to HP Gates

Was he serving as mayor when that honour was bestowed?Two of the others pictured are of John Thompson and John Whitwell - mayors in 1882 and 1883. I wonder if there are any of their relations still living in the city? If so please get in touch.

The other picture, is obviously a civic event of some sort.

Is the man on the podium the city mayor and if so which one is he?Does anyone recall the event and what year it was?

If you have any old pictures of Peterborough, and any memories to go with them please get in touch, we’d love to feature them on this page.Contact Nigel Thornton on 01733 588714, email: nigel.thornton@jpress.co.uk or write to Nigel Thornton, Peterborough Telegraph, 57 Priestgate, Peterborough.

John Mansfield, who gave his name to a city school

John Mansfield, who gave his name to a city school

Mayor John Thompson

Mayor John Thompson