New book: A history of the Peterborough day by day

Brian Jones of Deeping with his Peterborough book. EMN-141215-194833009

Brian Jones of Deeping with his Peterborough book. EMN-141215-194833009

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Historian Brian Jones has just created a remarkable day by day snapshot of Peterborough’s past.

He has painstakingly selected a range of quirky events over the course of hundreds of years - one for each day of the year.

Peterborough Cathedral, The Vineyard - the site where Oliver Cromwell hit his head.

Peterborough Cathedral, The Vineyard - the site where Oliver Cromwell hit his head.

The result is the delightful The Peterborough Book of Days.

It has 366 pages - to cover those leap years - crammed with an array of fascinating tales from over the years.

Mr Jones, of Chatsworth Close, Market Deeping, said: “It started when I went to the publisher, The History Press, with an idea for a book but they suggested a book of days, which they said would sell a lot better.

“I began work on the book at the end of 2011 and finished it at the beginning of 2014.

“In total it took about nine months of work but was interspersed by family matters and a refurbishment of the city library.”

Mr Jones, who has a Masters degree in local and regional history, is an accredited historic Peterborough guide and an interpretative re-enactor for Peterborough Museum, said “It was not a particularly easy project.

“But it has been a good challenge.

“The only real resource for me was newspapers and Peterborough newspapers over the years have not been very numerous.

“In addition, the library keeps the old newspapers on microfiche, which is difficult to scroll through to hunt out those interesting snippets.

“During the library refit I even had to take photographs of the pages I wanted to keep.

“The whole project was a tough challenge to my skills and it was just perseverance and bloody minded that kept me going.”

And it seems the effort was worthwhile.

The book, which retails for £9.99, is available at Waterstones, in Bridge Street, Peterborough, from where it has been flying off the shelves.

Mr Jones said the book had sold 100 copies within weeks and the bookshop had ordered in a second batch.

The Peterborough Book of Days provides a bite-sized fact - of about 200 words - matching the day to an event on the corresponding day many years ago.

For instance, it starts - on January 1, obviously - with two tales. One from the same day in 1798 when the use of sedan chairs for well to do ladies was regulated.

The other from 1904 with the first car registration in Peterborough was handed to city dentist RS Parris.

Key dates for Peterborough:

5 January, 1928: The great flood hit Peterborough and the gauge at the Town Bridge showed the water nearly a foot higher than before at 15ft 6inches deep.

22 January, 1991: The Evening Telegraph reports Princess Diana flouts formality and walks down Bridge Street.

21 February, 1972: A passageway linking Priestgate to the city centre became a reality - after 63 years of campaigning by tradesmen.

8 April, 1643: Oliver Cromwell captured Royalist Peterborough. Cromwell is reputed to have banged his head on a gateway linking the Vineyard to the graveyard.

3 May, 1661: Cathedral accounts show order for two stocks locks for the cloisters.

31 July, 1916: Sgt Thomas Hunter dies in Peterborough Infirmary, Priestgate, now the museum. He was buried in the Broadway Cemetery but is said to still haunt the museum.

20 November, 1969: The Evening Telegraph reveals the slum area of Eastgate is to be demolished.