The man who introduced piped water to Boston

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Praskipark on November 8, 2012

My family has had connections with Boston in Lincolnshire for quite a while now, going on for thirty years or more. I am the only member who has never lived in the town but I do go to visit regularly as my sister, brother and parents live there.

When I was there in September with my granddaughter I became very interested in the monument that stands in a circular courtyard in front of St Botolph’s Church or otherwise known as The Stump. I must have walked past this monument hundreds of time and never studied it.

The lady in jade wearing a head dress and a gown that appears to be slipping from her shoulders, attracted me to the spot where the monument stands. She is pouring water from a vessel that looks very much like a copper vase. Above the lady, stands an authoritave figure gazing towards the Market Place. He is dressed in a formal suit with a buttoned waistcoat. It is very difficult to figure out what he is holding in his hand, it could be a stone tablet, heavy book, or paving stone. The image is of Herbert Ingram (1811 – 1860), a liberal politician who was born in Boston and eventually represented the town for four years.

It turns out that his father was a butcher and as part of his education he attended a free school on Wormgate. I know the street well; my sister lived in a terraced house on this very old street and when we returned from living in Portugal we stayed here with her for a short period of time. At the young age of 14 he became an apprentice to Joseph Clarke, a local printer. When his apprenticeship was over he was free to move around and choose an organisation outside Boston. He decided to go to London and then later in 1832, he set up his own printing company in Nottingham. The business was slow in making great profits, Ingram became restless as he had many innovative ideas that he wanted to put into practice but to do this he needed funds. Eventually, he was able to raise the finances by buying the rights to a medicinal tablet called, Parr’s Life Pill, which was a laxative of sorts. This was a profitable move on his part and with the extra earned funds he was able to set up The Illustrated London News.

Ingram’s main concerns at the time were helping the poor and pushing for social reforms. Subjects like working in the mines and factories were covered in his paper but he always stated that the paper was nonpartisan. In 1856, he became the Liberal candidate for Boston and was responsible for introducing the railway to the town and installing piped water, hence the statue of the fair maiden, holding the water vessel that stands underneath his image in front of The Stump.

From what I have read about Herbert Ingram, it seems he led a very interesting life that ended with tragedy. In 1860, when travelling with his son on Lake Michigan, the vessel they were sailing in collided with another ship and sunk. They both died as well as hundreds of other passengers. After the death of his father and brother, the other son, William, carried on with the newspaper business and also represented Boston as an MP.

I do like the monument and its location. I think it looks mighty handsome and poignant, standing in front of The Stump although I wonder if the statue of Ingram would look more dramatic if his suit of clothes were of a darker colour. The Stump is a wonderful church and creates a great backdrop for the monument. Within the circular courtyard there are wooden benches where people like to sit and talk. I have sat here often with my Mother and always enjoyed the spot. I should have learnt about this character in history before now. It shows how you can walk past so many historical monuments without taking notice. In future I will take more time and care to appreciate and understand.

You can find the monument dedicated to Herbert Ingram, founder of the Illustrated London News, in the Market Square, Boston, in front of St Botolph’s Church.

St. Botolph's Church/The Stump
Church Street
Boston, Lincolnshire, PE21 6NW
01205 354670

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