Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Taking Stock

Take a look at the photograph below and see if you can tell what it is (and if anybody says, it’s my kitchen door, they’ll be banned from this board for life…or until the X Factor’s removed from our television screens, whichever is longer):

Want a clue? Well, it’s the wrong way up for a start. It would more normally have been seen lying lengthways rather than upright.
Still none the wiser? I can only assume you wouldn’t make much of a detective then, seeing as the following photograph (which has been in view all the time) is a dead giveaway:

Yes, it’s a set of stocks – or to be more precise, Poulton Stocks. That’s probably the chairman of Wyre Archaeology’s grandfather incarcerated in them. Come to think of it, it might even be the chairman of Wyre Archaeology himself.
“So what are you doing with the wooden section of Poulton stocks in your back garden?” I hear you ask. (I heard somebody ask it anyway. Too many long nights with only the cats for company has that effect on me.)
To be honest, Paul Bradshaw -- remember him? He’s the bloke from Bodkin Hall whose front drive we completely obliterated a couple of years back -- was having a clear out of his workshop. “Everything must go!” the council told him. So, go it did…into the back of a van and straight round to my place, which was very good of him I thought.
Exactly how long the stocks had been in his workshop it’s hard to say, so we did a bit of investigating.
Poulton stocks, apparently, were constructed in 1351. Don’t ask me where we got that particular year from, because I can’t remember now, but we got it from somewhere, so it must be right.
The two large oak leg fastener bits (one considerably more knackered than the other, it should be said) in our back garden aren’t that old of course. No, according to John Porter’s History of the Fylde published in 1876: “…the wooden portion has been recently renewed” so, we weren’t entirely certain whether these were the ones that were replaced, or the ones that replaced the ones that were replaced because the stocks in Poulton now appear to be relatively modern.
They’re certainly the ones that appear in the photograph above, right down to the holes where the chains were originally attached. Unfortunately, because the photograph’s Victorian, and because 1876 falls smack bang in the middle of Victoria’s reign, the photograph could have been taken either side of the date of ‘replacement’.
So we found another photograph – the one below to be more exact:

Once again, they appear to be the same set of wooden leggy bits that we’ve got at home. However, we’ve no idea when this photograph was taken either.
Given that there appears to be some sort of motoring sign in the background, though, we can safely assume that it was taken sometime after 1876.
Therefore, by a process of logical deduction, the stocks in our kitchen are the replacement Victorian ones.
Still, they’re an intriguing bit of history, and not one you find every day scaring the cat when it’s trying to eat.
Hopefully, by the time this hits the Internet we’ll have dropped them off at the Fylde Country Life Museum where they’re going to form part of the Wyre Archaeology display. Unless nobody can give us a lift, of course, because they are a bit too big to fit in my rucksack, in which case they’ll still be leaning against our bookcase trying their best to look nonchalant.


John said...

If I was more awake, i would have guessed stocks due to the holes... I may have even guessed Poulton stocks, since you've mentioned them before, but I would have been wondering just where the heck you found them!

Luckily you cleared up that mystery so I can go back to sleep. Hopefully they'll be put up in a nice display, and not let leaning against the wall somewheres. Definitely include one of your photos because they are very recognizable.

Just wash your hands after touching them... i hear nasty things were thrown at people in stocks.

more please, JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...


The stocks are currently in the museum...although I didn't take them there myself...Mr. Higginson shifted them for us in his whether or not they're leaning against a wall I couldn't tell you, but sooner or later I'll get round to going into the museum myself and sorting them out.

Jayne said...

Stocks are in great stock at the moment, still voting for their reinstatement in all town squares.

Andrew said...

You didn't think of selling them on Ebay? There is a bar in Soho.......

Brian Hughes said...


You and me both, only instead of rotten tomatoes, we could use bricks.


That Soho joint refuse to buy anything else off us after the last ball and mace snapped.

Fyldecoaster said...

The first photo of Poulton Market Square is after 1887, as the lamppost next to the whipping post was put there to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Even the earliest photos showing the stocks are from the 1880s.
For comparison purposes, do you have a photo showing the other side of the stocks? I imagine the iron brackets were put on the side you don’t usually see on old photos. The brackets aren’t there on a late Victorian photo of the north facing side and were possibly added after the stocks were partially demolished by buses in 1926 and 1930.