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Signs will point to Boston's heritage

Stories from Boston's heritage-laden past are to be brought to life with a series of new information signs, mixing fascinating history with modern-day mapping.

The six information panels, known as monoliths, will be portals to the town's historic past, informing locals and visitors alike about the events which helped shape Boston.

The large information panels will be supported by re-prioritised and redecorated directional finger posts, helping everyone locate the places of interest. The aim is to raise awareness of the rich stories of Boston to encourage people to explore more and stay longer.

Boston's exceptional historic and heritage offer helped influence the Heritage Lottery Fund to make a grant available for the new directional and interpretative signage which will begin to appear around the town from the end of this month and into July.

The council worked with Heritage Lincolnshire (a local heritage charity) and the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce in conducting consultation events to involve a wide contribution to the project.

The monoliths will feature images and short histories and each will have a new map showing retail areas alongside attractions and recreational areas, orientated to the forward facing position of the observer rather than the traditional north orientation.

Luke Skerritt, Boston Borough Council's museum, arts and heritage manager, said this more intuitive format would make it easier for anyone looking at the map to know where to go to next by not having to orientate themselves to match a north-pointing map.

The six monoliths will be placed at the railway station, St Botolph's footbridge, Strait Bargate and three around the Market Place telling the stories of Boston's former wealth from its wool trade and the importance of its port, its influential ancient and modern markets and fairs, the connection with the Pilgrims and the exodus to the New World, the world-beating Stump and dependence on its setting in a watery fenland landscape.

All these stories will be available on the council's website translated into Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian and Portuguese. Look out for www.boston.gov.uk/explorestories which will go live when the monoliths begin to be installed.

The existing heritage-styled finger posts will be refurbished in a new easier-to-read blue-and-white colour scheme.

Finger post close-up Shodfriars background Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
One of the new signposts already in position - near The Folly public house and pictured against the backdrop of historic Shodfriars Hall

Supported by match funding from Boston Borough Council and Lincolnshire County Council, the project maximises the use of existing fingerposts, delivers new signs and establishes a cohesive look and feel helping illustrate the town's special character.

The project is aimed specifically at encouraging people to easily engage with the cultural and historic offer of Boston as well as its retail and visitor economy.

Cllr Claire Rylott, Boston Borough Council's portfolio holder for grounds and open spaces, said: "This has been an exciting project to be involved in and the new signage will bring the stories of Boston's past alive and deliver them to new audiences."

Cllr Paul Skinner, the council's town centre portfolio holder, said: "Everyone will benefit if we can give our visitors more reasons to spend longer in town, and then, hopefully, spend more money. What is often obvious to locals is not so obvious to visitors, especially those who visit here as part of a holiday on the coast. This initiative aims to make them aware of what more Boston has to offer than just one of the best stall markets in the country."

Luke said: "The project can be used to inform signage in the future. This ensures that the scheme will continue to have the impact of visibility, confidence, consistency and coherency, including beyond the bounds of the town, for example, Witham Way Country Park and the Pilgrim Fathers Memorial site where the scheme could start to tell allied tales of the natural environment alongside its historic stories."

Welcome to Boston

These examples of text for two of the monoliths show how the town's exciting past can point the way to a prosperous future by capitalising on Boston's rich heritage:

Welcome to Boston; a lively historic port and market town located on the River Witham, joining the North Sea at a part of the coast known as 'The Wash'.
Boston and its magnificent church are named after St Botolph, an Anglo Saxon monk, who according to tradition visited the area in the 7th Century.  
Its position on the edge of the North Sea and its river connection with the city of Lincoln, allowed the town to develop as an important trading centre.
In the early medieval period, only London was richer and more important than Boston as a port; Boston's wealth was based on wool. During the time when wool was England's main export, the town was sending three million fleeces a year abroad, making a significant profit.
Boston's medieval wealth can be seen from surviving buildings in the town; St Botolph's Church (known locally as 'The Stump'), St Mary's Guildhall and the town's stunning Market Place are just three examples. The large weekly markets each Wednesday and Saturday and its annual May Fair, are also legacies from the medieval period.
As the value of wool declined, the town changed. By the 1700s, the agricultural revolution provided another economic boost. During this time, Boston supplied one third of London's grain directly from granaries situated along the riverside. Once again, this wealth influenced the architecture of the town and many fine Georgian buildings still remain.
Boston today is a diverse and vibrant town to explore and discover, with a range of quality national and independent shops, wonderful dining experiences and a unique history and heritage.

In 1612, The Reverend John Cotton was appointed vicar at St Botolph's Church. He was a passionate man of character who challenged the church with his beliefs and teachings. He wished to change the church from within and was known as a 'Puritan'; seeking to remove (purify) practises from a recently reformed church.
The Rev Cotton was hugely popular and people travelled long distances to hear his sermons which sometimes lasted five hours. He was however unpopular with the church authorities and was often in trouble with them for sharing his beliefs.
Unable to change the church, he inspired members of his congregation to seek a new life in America.  Between 1630 and 1634, about ten percent of Boston's population left for a new life abroad, between 200 and 300 people. This group included many educated and powerful residents; a mayor, a lawyer, a headmaster and many others who helped shape the colony in America that they founded in 1630.
Members of this newly established American congregation became Governors of the new city.  The first American school, the Latin Free School, was based on Boston Grammar School; this school would eventually evolve into Harvard University.
And the name of this new city?  Boston, in honour of the town they had known, loved and left behind.