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Barrowby in the twentieth century

During most of the nineteenth century Barrowby had been wealthy, as we can tell from the significant number of Listed buildings. So far as I can tell this wealth was generated almost entirely by farming.

Life seems to have continued little-changed during the Edwardian era. But, like everywhere else in Britain, all that changed during 1914. Many of the men needed to keep farms operating enlisted in the army. And the engineering companies in Grantham had to work flat-out to produce armaments, making extra demands on the supply of labour. Not far away in Denton and Woolsthorpe there was extensive extraction of iron ore which, too, was labour-intensive.

The Armistice in 1918 did not result in things going back to how they had been, in part because of rising death toll of the 'Spanish' 'flu epidemic. But somehow Barrowby kept going, seemingly still making money, through the 1920s and 1930s.

In 1919 the ninth Duke of Devonshire sold off many of the farms he owned in Barrowby, with some more in 1920 (Cryer 1979 pp 24, 26, 54, 71). At the time the ninth Duke, Victor Cavendish (died 1938), was the Governor-General of Canada and inherited the dukedom from his childless uncle in 1908. Presumably it was easier for him to 'cash in' his estate rather than administer the land holdings. The shift from tenancy to ownership would potentially benefit the farmers, although it may not have been an easy transition, at least financially. (source)

By 1939 the agricultural workers were being enlisted for another world war. Food imports would be severely affected, leading to rationing and the need for allotments so families could be more self-sufficient. Maps surveyed in the 1950s and 1960s reveal how many allotments there once were in and around Barrowby, though most have since been built on. Indeed, from the early 1970s onwards Barrowby steadily expanded towards the A1 (the dual carriageway to bypass Grantham was constructed about 1960).


The eighth Duke of Devonshire donated land for allotments in 1896.

The three plots of land donated by the Duke in 1896 for use as allotments.
The one near Westry Corner (centre bottom) later became the Scout hut.
Adapted from Cryer 1979 p22.

The 1970 Ordnance Survey map shows the allotments near Westry Corner still in use. Subsequently the land was used for a Scout hut and the allotments relocated to a much larger area of land to the west of The Drift. This land is owned by the Parish Council and run by the Barrowby Gardeners Association.


Although Barrowby had horsedrawn 'carriers' since at least 1849, the major innovation in 1922 was a bus service to and from Grantham. Four times a day the Silver Queen made the trip. Between 1926 and 1937 it was the Cliff Reliance Express. In 1979 there was the Grantham Town service and a revival of the Reliance coaches, operated from Great Gonerby; additional buses ran along the A52.

Changes to routes were made in the late 1970s to serve the residents of Reedings Road, Hedgefield Road and the more minor roads leading off.

L.R. Cryer gives brief details of Barrowby's early bus services (Cryer 1979 p61).

Pubs and publications

In 1959 one of the two pubs in the village, the Marquis of Granby, closed its doors and was sold as a house. While in recent decades such closures have been commonplace, in the 1950s this was not so common. The remaining pub, the White Swan, continues in business.

In the early 1970s a group of pupils at the King's School undertook extensive archaeological fieldwork in Barrowby parish (see Smith and Manterfield 1973). And a few years later L.R. Cryer published a detailed history of Barrowby (see Cryer 1979). In passing Cryer describes aspects of life in the village in the 1970s – forty-something years later these are now historical records in their own right.

of dogs and roos...

    'Several people have told me about the village terriers, a well-known breed noted far and wide. An old copy of the Grantham Journal recorded the success of "Slider", a Barrowby dog, owned by Dr Ellington of Middlesbrough which carried off three prizes at the Manchester show.'
    (L.R. Cryer 1979 p68)

Cryer must have talked to people about this breed in the early 1970s, so there must have been some of them alive in the inter-war period, if not more recently. Apart from that inference he gives no indications of when 'Slider' was so successful. A few searches on Google reveal nothing about a 'Barrowby terrier' breed so presumably it is now extinct. Or known by a different name.

The breed is unlikely to predate the late eighteenth century, when Robert Bakewell (1725–95) with his farm at Dishley Grange, to the west of Loughborough, proved that it was possible to create 'stable' breeds within relatively few generations.

If anyone can shed even the slightest light on these dogs then please email me:– bobtrubs@indigogroup.co.uk.

At one time, in the years after about 1910, Barrowby was known not for its dogs but for its kangaroos. Or, more accurately, for the absence of kangeroos.

Seems about 1910 a travelling circus came to Grantham. Where several kangaroos broke free and word was put about by the police. Sometime the next morning animals were seen leaping about on Mill Hill, Stubbock Hills and near Barrowby Thorns Farm. They were tracked down. And found to be goats.

For some years afterwards the inhabitants of Grantham referred to the people of Barrowby as 'kangaroos', or just 'roos'.

This is an excellent example of an 'exonym' – a name used by outsiders but not by the locals. It verges on a 'pejorative exonym', as indeed most of them do. Not because calling someone a 'kangaroo' is especially offensive, but because it recalls a scenario which did 'show up' the locals. There's a well-known example on Teesside – never call someone from Hartlepool a 'monkey hanger'.

If anyone knows any exonyms for the residents of Barrowby or surrounding places then please email me:– bobtrubs@indigogroup.co.uk.

If you want to find out why Lincolnshire folk are called 'Yellowbellies' then consult Wikipedia. Which offers eight contradictory explanations...

Bands and clubs

Like all villages Barrowby had Friendly Societies set up by farmers as a form of insurance against the loss of livestock, property or the ability to work. The oldest seems to date from 1819, though there may have been a precursor.

Other organised social activities included a brass band and a string band The football club dates back to at least 1855 (the pitch was at the far end of Rectory Lane – then still Toll Bar Lane – near the A52). Of a similar ancestry is a cricket club.

See Cryer 1979 p68–9 for more details.

If you know of any accounts of the history of the football and cricket clubs (or are interested in doing the research) then please email me:– bobtrubs@indigogroup.co.uk.

There's more could be said...

There are many people alive in Barrowby who were either born here or moved to newly-built houses during the 1970s. Each of them could shed light on the 'who', 'what', 'when' details of twentieth century. In most cases the response is 'Well everyone knows that!' But not everyone does. And, without wishing anyone ill, that information will be lost in not too many more years. Please email me:– bobtrubs@indigogroup.co.uk if you can add names, dates and other details to the articles.

In addition there is a need for people who know the village well to talk to other long-standing residents – especially ones unlikely to see this web site – and do some 'oral history'. I am too much of a newcomer to be the right person. But I can offer advice on how best to interview folk and be more than happy to add any such recollections to this web site. And maybe come up with a more enduring way of archiving and/or publishing them.

See also a separate web page about additional research.


If you think I've got something wrong – or can add additional information or photographs – then please email me:– bobtrubs@indigogroup.co.uk.

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what's new?

Articles about Barrowby

Barrowby's location and geology

summary of prehistoric Barrowby

summary of Roman Barrowby



Seventeenth and eighteenth centuries

Nineteenth century

nineteenth and twentieth century population

Twentieth century

guided walks in and around Barrowby

there's more could be said...


index of surnames in Cryer 1979

Articles and web links for nearby places

rare seventeenth fonts at Muston, Bottesford and Orston from Project Gargoyle Newsletter 2020

Ironstone quarries of Leicestershire
YouTube video

Wyville's wells

Harston's Anglo-Saxon carvings

Bottesford's effigies

Grantham Canal Society

The Grantham Canal
All you need to know – and more – from Wikipedia

Croxton Kerrial manor house excavations
photos and brief details from Leicester Mercury.
By 2021 the remains had been consolidated and there are annual open days.

Harlaxton History Society

Bottesford History Group

Grantham Civic Society

Grantham Museum

Heritage Lincolnshire