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1995 - 2020 : 25 years of The Survey of Lincoln

The Survey of Lincoln reached the impressive milestone of 25 years of studying the history of Lincoln on January 1st 2020. The group officially started on 1/1/1995, held its first committee meeting in February 1995 and its Inaugural Meeting in June 1995. 

Throughout 2020 this website will celebrate the achievement and look at how The Survey of Lincoln came to be formed, what it has done - and what we hope to do in the foreseeable future. 

Click on this link to read more!
June 2020 - The past few weeks of virus-related disruption have provided an opportunity for some Survey of Lincoln members to add the 1828 Valuation of Lincoln to our online resources. More details
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June 2020 - Members will not be surprised to learn that the Annual General Meeting of The Survey of Lincoln could not be held on the intended date. We await a later date when members can gather more confidently. Please email solsecretary@gmail.com for updates. 
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April 2020 - The Survey of Lincoln wishes all its members and all website visitors the very best of health. We are saddened to report that we have learnt of the recent deaths of two members, Nigel Burn and Dr. Dennis Mills and we offer our sympathy to their families and friends. 

Dennis Mills died suddenly on 23 March, a few days short of his 89th birthday.  Rob Wheeler has provided the following obituary:

Dennis Mills was the son of a gardener and grew up in the estate village at Winthorpe, near Newark, and then at Canwick outside Lincoln.  One of his grandfathers was a small farmer at Scothern who, by hard work and a canny business sense, was able to buy his own farm at Thurlby.  Rural society was already changing under the influence of the internal combustion engine and the shadow of the approaching war but it still retained its traditional structure.  Dennis was thus one of the last of that select group of academic geographers who could write about traditional rural society with the benefit of personal experience as well as academic rigour. 

After reading geography at Nottingham, with National Service looming, he chose to join the Royal Navy.  The Cold War was getting hotter, there was a massive requirement for Russian translators, and so the Navy sent him to the Joint Service School for Linguists.  He thus became one of that select group of kursanty who have so influenced the academic and artistic worlds.  After service in Germany, observing a different pattern of rural society, as well as putting his Russian to good use in the service of military intelligence, he returned to Nottingham as a Demonstrator and Temporary Assistant Lecturer. 

During a spell as a schoolteacher, he took a part-time external PhD at Leicester.  It was in this period also that he met his wife Joan, whose subsequent support has meant so much to him, academically as well as domestically.  A subsequent move to Melbourn Village College introduced him to that well-documented village which provided the material for a rich vein of research.  Three years as a senior lecturer at Ilkley College followed, after which he joined the Open University, first as a Staff Tutor, then as a senior lecturer within the central academic staff.  That made it possible for him and his wife Joan to move house closer to their home turf, as a result of which Dennis became involved with SLHA's publication programme, chairing its History of Lincolnshire committee and himself editing the Twentieth Century Lincolnshire volume.

The academic field for which Dennis was best known, the extension of the traditional Open / Closed classification of English villages in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, started with his Leicester PhD, but then drew on the wealth of material he had uncovered relating to Melbourn, and led to a dozen papers between 1972 and 1988, as well as various books.  A 1978 paper on the techniques of house repopulation may have seemed a mere diversion at the time but was enthusiastically received by the growing band of amateur local historians, people who needed advice on the potential and quirks of the key sources for eighteenth and nineteenth century social history and a demonstration of how those sources could be used.  This linked in to the activities of the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure.  In due course it led to a series of papers and books on the Census Enumerators' Books, on Land Tax Assessments and on trade directories.  There must be thousands of local historians who have never read a word of Dennis's papers on open and closed villages but who regularly turn to these useful aids whenever they encounter some new oddity in these sources.

After his retirement from the Open University in 1985, Dennis's papers widened in subject matter.  He was now able to pursue topics that he found interesting, without worrying about whether they would be viewed favourably in academic circles.  He wrote extensively on the village of Canwick and the Sibthorp family.  He wrote on hermaphrodites – which may seem a remarkable jump in interests to those unaware that a hermaphrodite or 'moffrey' is a farm cart that can be converted to a wagon.  An interest in the large-scale map produced in 1848 by the engineer George Giles to set out his proposals for Lincoln sewerage led to further work on that phase of Lincoln's long-running sewerage controversy and on the career of George Giles himself.  Even in his eighties he worked extensively on the history of Branston and in recording the recollections of his fellow Russian linguists. 

Not the least of the benefits Dennis has conferred on Lincolnshire historical work has been his encouragement of researchers from a wide range of backgrounds, of whom the writer is just one.  He was one of the initial organisers of the Lincolnshire Archives research seminars.  He was one of those responsible for the greater breadth of interests of the Survey of Lincoln, compared to its predecessor; and was the originator of the Survey's project to republish Padley's large-scale Lincoln maps.  His influence will live on for many, many years.

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Recently added to this website:
April 2020
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January 2020
Two Lincoln stores of Waterstones may not be carrying stocks of all its publications at present. We understand that this is the result of a change to the previous store ordering arrangements. The George Boole booklet is now available at Waterstones Cornhill branch. For other titles you may have better luck at Jews' Court Bookshop (bottom of Steep Hill) and Lindum Books (Bailgate, opposite the White Hart. We can also supply booklets direct (email solsecretary@gmail.com). 
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December 2019
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Our most recent publication (November 2019):


For further details, please email Geoff Tann at solsecretary@gmail.com

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We now have a Twitter account  https://twitter.com/SurvLinc  

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Are you interested in joining the Committee that runs The Survey of Lincoln?  
For details, email solsecretary@gmail.com

What is The Survey of Lincoln?

We are a Lincoln-based group of people who are interested in the history of the city, especially its older buildings & other features left as visible traces of past activity. We research varied aspects of a different area or aspect of Lincoln each year, publishing our findings in illustrated affordable booklets. 

Members receive a copy of The Survey of Lincoln’s newsletter The Lincoln Enquirer, twice a year. Members are invited to the AGM (June) and to Open Meetings where short talks relating to Lincoln’s history are presented & discounts are offered on The Survey of Lincoln’s publications. 

This website contains most of our previous newsletters and details of our growing number of publications. It also holds material which we have not published elsewhere.

To contact us please email solsecretary@gmail.com or write to The Secretary, The Survey of Lincoln, c/o 23 Spa Buildings, Lincoln. LN2 5AU. 

Chairman's Introduction

The Chairman's baton has been passed on four times now. Throughout the years the position has been held by an Archaeologist, a Historian, an Archivist (my thanks to Chris Johnson for all the wisdom, knowledge, guidance and patience imparted over a most effective reign) and now an Engineer!
 In all these I'm sure that there has been and will be one unifying factor: a respect of and concern for our own City of Lincoln. 

An Engineer for 40 years before the inevitable redundancy "Friday this place is a factory, Monday it will be history" - some of my recollections are published as the chapter 'He's gone to the foundry' in our booklet Boultham and Swallowbeck: Lincoln's south-western suburbs (A. Walker edited, 2013).

In 1999, a few months before the final closure of the Ruston Bucyrus site I was made redundant. Having been for some years an Industrial Volunteer at the Museum of lincolnshire life, and having completed an external conservation course with Nottingham University, I was offered a 'front of house' position at the Museum of Lincs Life and this eventually led to supervision of the volunteer group.

A final retirement in 2013 has confirmed my belief that retirement can be a 'many splendoured thing'. In addition to membership of The Survey of Lincoln, the SLHA Vernacular Architecture and Industrial Archaeology teams, and industrial advisor to the Lincoln city council Historic Environment Panel, it is good to keep in touch with spanners at the Dogdyke Drainage Station. 

We must all be conscious of the rapidity with which the built environment of the City is changing. I hope that when this baton is next passed on, The Survey of Lincoln will still be contributing to the documented knowledge of our past and when necessary will remain an effective voice of conscience against those forces that would give us a city not worthy of its past. 

I would urge all members, and others, to keep themselves appraised of proposals currently affecting Lincs County Council Heritage Services, and not to hesitate to put pen to paper to relevant councillors to express opposition or support as appropriate for their various intentions. 

Derek Broughton  
Chairman, The Survey of Lincoln 2017 -