I found this photograph in a shop in Lincolnshire and it immediately caught my attention. It shows a crowd of women in the street, some children and a few men, including a policeman milling about. Two young boys standing on a wall watching the crowd. It’s a nice snapshot of the day-to-day fashion of the period. As usual for this time everyone is wearing a hat. The girl in white looking directly at the camera has a nice one with flowers on. The lady with the very black hat (3rd from the left) looks like she has brought out quite a fancy hat - perhaps she knew the photographer was going to be there.
What were these people all doing in the street outside the hosiery shop? Was it some kind of stocking sale?! Then I spotted the buckets and it all fell into place: they were queuing for water from the wagon. I had recently been reading about the typhoid epidemic in Lincoln in 1904-5 and I wondered if this was taken during that time - the fashion certainly looks right. The first thing to do was to establish the location and so I searched the directories on Ancestry for a hosiery shop owned by ER Powley. Sure enough in a 1905 Lincoln directory there is a listing for Miss Eva Powley, 143 Burton Road, Hosier. A hosier was someone who made stockings, socks and gloves.
A trip on Google Streetview takes us to the spot where the picture was taken: the corner of Burton Road and Wilson Street in the uphill area of the city. In the picture you can see the first-floor bay window and the small window to the side of it on Wilson Street and these remain in place today. ER Powley’s shop is now an accountant’s office.
I wonder whether any of the Powley family, John and his wife Louisa and their daughter Eva, who were living in 143 Burton Road in 1905 were in the photograph.
On 19 March 1877, Louisa Mary Rylett, a 23-year-old tailor’s daughter, married William Rippin, a 27 year old labourer, at Spitalgate church near Grantham in Lincolnshire. They had a daughter called Lucy, born in around 1878. William died shortly after their marriage as Louisa was a widow on the 1881 census. The only death record I have been able to locate is William Rippon who died and was buried at Crowland on 24 October 1877, only a few months after his wedding. So in 1881 Louisa was living on the High Street in Colsterworth with her daughter Lucy and, on the night of the census, there was a visitor present: John Powley, a groom from Fiskerton in Lincolnshire. On 6 January 1884 at St Nicholas church in Lincoln, Louisa and John were married. On 31 May 1885 their daughter, Eve Rylott Powley was baptised at Colsterworth church.
In 1891 census John, Louisa and their daughters Lucy and Eva were living at 19 Castle Street in Lincoln. Coincidentally a few doors away from where I used to live when I was growing up in the city. John was now working as a stone sawyer. Lucy was working as a domestic servant even though she was only 13.
A few years later, on 15 February 1897, Lucy married the impressively named Brompton Hucker Price at St Nicholas church in Lincoln.
In 1901 census, John, Louisa and Eva were living in the shop at 143 Burton Road. John was a bricklayer’s labourer and Louisa was working as a dressmaker. Eva appears as the hosier at 143 Burton Road in the local directories in 1905, 1909 and 1913. John died in 1907 and was buried in Newport Cemetery on 1 July.
In 1911, Louisa and Eva were still living at 143 Burton Road. Louisa was a dressmaker while Eva was listed as a hosier. They also had a ‘nurse child’ living with them, Raymond Smith was 2 years old and from Chesterfield. A nurse child was a child being brought up in the household of someone other than the parents, normally for money. Adverts from people willing to take in a nurse child appear in the local papers.
By 1921, Raymond was no longer present and Louisa and Eva were once again alone at 143 Burton Road. Louisa was 66 and no longer working. Eva was still working as a hosier. She was also an organist and gave music lessons in order to supplement her income. Eva played the organ at the Wesleyan chapel on Croft Street in Lincoln and was taken ill suddenly on 9 January 1932 while at church. She died later that same day. She was buried in Newport Cemetery at Lincoln on 13 January.
Louisa died in 1937 and was buried with Eva in Newport Cemetery on 30 January.
So what had led to people having to queue up in the street for water? Typhoid broke out in the city in the winter of 1904 and it would go on to infect 1,045 people and kill 131. Typhoid fever is a highly contagious bacterial infection, which spreads through contaminated food or water. In Lincoln, it spread through a polluted supply of water from the River Witham. On 21 January 1905 warnings were issued to citizens to boil all their drinking water. From February the council provided water wagons and published schedules so that people would know when and where their nearest collection point was. The newspaper extract here for April shows that there was a wagon on Burton Road at the junction with Wilson Street, every day at 10am.
Lincoln’s much neglected water supply infrastructure was very much to blame for this outbreak and the corporation also come under a great deal of criticism for repeatedly ignoring the issue and failing to invest in modernising the system. The epidemic forced a change and Lincoln was granted the right to pipe water from a reservoir at Elkesley, Nottinghamshire and store it in a purpose-built water tower. A 22-mile long main was laid from Elksley to the Westgate Water Tower on Chapel Lane in Lincoln. The tower was designed by architect Sir Reginald Blomfield so that it did not look out of place beside the magnificent Lincoln Cathedral and Castle. The scheme was completed and operational by 1911 with work taking four years to complete. While there is no public memorial to the dead of the epidemic perhaps the water tower itself will do.
 1905 Kelly's Directory of Lincolnshire; Publisher: Kelly's Directories Ltd p376  Marriages (PR) England. Spittlegate, Lincolnshire. 19 March 1877. RIPPIN, William and RYLETT, Louisa. Collection: Lincolnshire Marriages. www.findmypast.co.uk: accessed 3 March 2022  Burials (PR) England. Crowland, Lincolnshire. 24 October 1877. RIPPON, William. Collection: Lincolnshire Burials. www.findmypast.co.uk: accessed 3 March 2022  Census records England. Colsterworth, Lincolnshire. 3 April 1882. RIPPIN, Louisa. Class: RG11; Piece: 3228; Folio: 9; Page: 9; GSU roll: 1341769. www.ancestry.co.uk: accessed 3 March 2022.  Marriages (PR) England. Lincoln, Lincolnshire. 6 January 1884. POWLEY, John and Louisa RIPPEN. Collection: Lincolnshire Marriages. www.findmypast.co.uk: accessed 2 March 2022  Baptisms (PR) England. Colsterworth, Lincolnshire. 31 May 1885. POWLEY, Eve Rylott. Collection: Lincolnshire Baptisms. www.findmypast.co.uk: accessed 3 March 2022  Census records England. Lincoln, Lincolnshire. 5 April 1891. POWLEY, John. Class: RG12; Piece: 2592; Folio: 52; Page: 52; GSU roll: 6097702. www.ancestry.co.uk: accessed 3 March 2022.  Marriages (PR) England. Lincoln, Lincolnshire. 15 February 1897. PRICE, Brompton Hucker and RIPPIN, Lucy. Collection: Lincolnshire Marriages. www.findmypast.co.uk: accessed 3 March 2022  Census records England. Lincoln, Lincolnshire. 31 March 1901. POWLEY, John. RG13/3063. Folio 95.Schedule 59. Page 11. www.findmypast.co.uk: accessed 2 March 2022  1905 Kelly's Directory of Lincolnshire; Publisher: Kelly's Directories Ltd p376  1909 Kelly´s Directory of Lincolnshire p 378  1913 Directory of City of Lincoln; Publisher: Ruddock p265  Burials (CR) England. Newport Cemetery Lincoln, Lincolnshire. 1 July 1907. POWLEY, John. Collection: Lincoln Cemetery Burial Registers. Lincolnshire Family History Society. Page 1358  Census records England. Lincoln, Lincolnshire. 2 April 1911. Powley, Louisa. RG14PN19749 RG78PN1182 RD418 SD2 ED30 SN49. www.findmypast.co.uk: accessed 2 March 2022  Census records England. Lincoln, Lincolnshire. 19 June 1921. POWLEY, Louisa. Schedule No: 222. Reg district: 418. Sub district: 2. Enumeration District: 49. www.findmypast.co.uk: accessed 2 March 2022  Lincolnshire Echo (1921) Music Success. Lincolnshire Echo. 19 December. Page 2, Col g. British Newspaper Archive. www.findmypast.co.uk: accessed 3 March 2022  Lincolnshire Echo (1932) Taken Ill in Church. Lincolnshire Echo. 11 January. Page 5, Col a. British Newspaper Archive. www.findmypast.co.uk: accessed 3 March 2022  Burials (CR) England. Newport Cemetery Lincoln, Lincolnshire. 13 January 1932. POWLEY, Eva Rylett Collection: Lincoln Cemetery Burial Registers. Lincolnshire Family History Society. Page 1358  Burials (CR) England. Newport Cemetery Lincoln, Lincolnshire. 20 January 1937. POWLEY, Louisa Mary Collection: Lincoln Cemetery Burial Registers. Lincolnshire Family History Society. Page 1358  Bray, Christopher et al (1987) The Enemy in our Midst. Lincoln: KM Associates. p38  Lincolnshire Echo (1905) City of Lincoln, Free Water Supply. Lincolnshire Echo. 7 April. Page 3, Col 3. www.findmypast.co.uk: accessed 3 March 2022  Nanrah, Gurjeet (2021) The secret history of Lincoln's lofty water tower built after city's typhoid epidemic. Lincolnshire Live. https://www.lincolnshirelive.co.uk/news/lincoln-news/secret-history-lincolns-lofty-water-5531977: accessed 7 March 2022