Grantham (/ˈɡrænθəm/ GRAN-thəm) is an English town in the South Kesteven district of Lincolnshire. It straddles the London–Edinburgh East Coast Main Line and the River Witham and is bounded to the west by the A1 north–south trunk road. It lies about 23 miles (37 km) south of the county town, Lincoln, and 22 miles (35 km) east of Nottingham. The population in 2016 was put at 44,580.[1] Grantham is known as the birthplace of UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, for educating Isaac Newton at the King's School, as the birthplace of the UK's first female police officer, Edith Smith in 1914, and for making the UK's first running diesel engine in 1892 and tractor in 1896. Thomas Paine worked there as an excise officer in the 1790s.


Grantham as seen from the nearby hills and hollows.

Coat of arms of the former Grantham Borough Council
Location within Lincolnshire
Population44,580 (ONS, 2016)
OS grid referenceSK9136
 London100 mi (160 km) S
Civil parish
  • Grantham
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtNG31–NG33
Dialling code01476
AmbulanceEast Midlands
EU ParliamentEast Midlands
UK Parliament
WebsiteVisit Grantham, South Kesteven District Council


Grantham lies close to the ancient Old North Road. It was the scene in 1643 of Oliver Cromwell's first win over Royalists during the English Civil War, at Gonerby Moor.[2]


The origin of "Grantham" is uncertain, although the name is said probably to be Old English "Granta+ham", meaning "Granta's homestead". It appeared as early as 1086 in the Domesday Book in its present form of Grantham,[3] but was also recorded variously as Grandham, Granham and Graham. The place name element grand could possibly mean "gravel".

The name of the town is the origin of the Scottish surname, now often used as a given name, Graham.[4]


Late neolithic vessels from a burial were found at Little Gonerby, in the north of the town, in 1875.[5] A number of flint blades have been found, including from near Welham Street to the south-east of the town centre and from near Barrowby where a macehead has also been found. At Little Gonerby a neolithic settlement site was discovered with finds of pottery and flints.

There have been a number of finds of flint and stone tools including palaeolithic hand-axes, from the Cherry Orchard Estate, to the north-east of the town centre, and from near North Lodge on the hill top south of Barrowby. Mesolithic flints have also been recovered from the Cherry Orchard Estate as well as from sites to the west of Great Gonerby

To the north-east of the town centre a Bronze Age bucket and urn cemetery, with cremation burials and ploughed-out barrows, has been recorded. Bronze Age flint scatters have also been found in several places, particularly on the higher ground near Barrowby. At Saltersford a Bronze Age ingot and a rapier were found. There are also several ring ditches on the higher ground above Saltersford.[6]

According to the Chronicles of Raphael Holinshed, Gorbonianus, a legendary King of the Britons built Grantham between 292 and 282 BC.[7]

Middle Ages

The Domesday account notes Queen Edith having 12 carucates to the geld, with no arable land outside the village. She had a hall, two carucates and land for three ploughs without geld, and 111 burgesses. Ivo had one church and four mills rendering 12 shillings, and eight acres of meadow without geld. The lands of Bishop Osmond were described: "In Londonthorpe ... is land for two ploughs. This land belongs to the church of Grantham. In Spittlegate, St Wulfram of Grantham has half a carucate of land to the geld. In Great Gonerby, St Wulfram of Grantham has 1 carucate of land. There is land for twelve oxen."[8]

On 4 December 1290, the funeral cortège of Eleanor of Castile, accompanied by her husband King Edward I, stopped at Grantham on its way from Lincoln to Westminster Abbey. An Eleanor Cross was later erected in the town, although its precise location has not been identified.

In 1363 "The Castles, Manors and towns of Stamford and Grantham" were granted to Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, and fifth son of Edward III of England. The question has been raised as to whether Grantham House was the site of a castle, however, no such site has been reliably identified. The street name "Castlegate" cannot be traced further back than the 17th century.[9] There are references to a Hospital in Grantham as early as the 1330s.

Grantham received its Charter of Incorporation in 1463.[10]

19th and 20th centuries

The town developed when the railway came to the town. The Nottingham Line (LNER) arrived first in 1850, then the London line (GNR) – the Towns Line from Peterborough to Retford – arrived in 1852. The Boston, Sleaford and Midland Counties Railway arrived in 1857.[11][12][13][14]

The town received gas lighting in 1833. The corporation became a borough council in 1835. Little Gonerby and Spittlegate were added to the borough in 1879. The town had been in the wapentake of Loveden, and the town included three townships of Manthorpe with Little Gonerby, Harrowby, and Spittlegate with Houghton and Walton.[14][15][16]

Grantham Golf Club (now defunct) was founded in 1894. The club continued until the onset of the Second World War.[17]

Until the 1970s the housing estates west of the town centre were green fields. Green Hill, on the A52, was literally a green hill.[14][16] In July 1975 the National Association of Ratepayers' Action Groups (NARAG) was formed in Grantham by John Wilks, its Chairman, being a forerunner of the TaxPayers' Alliance.

Military history

The town has a long military history dating back to the completion of the Old Barracks in 1858.[18]


During the Dambuster Raids Royal Air Force missions in May 1943, the RAF Bomber Command's No. 5 Group and the operation HQ was in St Vincents,[19] a building which was later owned by Aveling-Barford and housed a district council planning department. It was built by Richard Hornsby in 1865, lived in by Richard Hornsby's son, and is now a private house. In 1944 (including D-Day), this was the headquarters for the USAAF's Ninth Air Force's IX Troop Carrier Command, being known as Grantham Lodge.[20]

RAF Spitalgate

RAF Spitalgate trained pilots during both world wars, initially as a Royal Flying Corps establishment. It was the first military airfield in Lincolnshire. It has never been an operational fighter or bomber base; although it did see operational service during the 1943 invasion of Europe as a base for American and Polish gliders and parachutists. It officially closed in 1974. The Women's Royal Air Force had been there from 1960 until closure.[21]

After closure, RAF Spitalgate became the Territorial Army Royal Logistic Corps Prince William of Gloucester Barracks, named after Prince William of Gloucester.[21][22] Grantham College used the site's two football pitches for their South Lincolnshire Football Development Centre (from September 2004).[23] After closure in 1975 a Vehicle test centre was built on the outfield, which closed in 2011.[24][25] The large mast on the base was part of the BT microwave network.[26]

The Queen's Royal Lancers (part of the Royal Armoured Corps) have their RHQ on the base.

RAF Regiment

The RAF Regiment was formed just north-east of the town in parts of Londonthorpe and Harrowby Without during December 1941 with its headquarters at RAF Belton Park which is recognised as the birthplace of the Corps.[27] The Belton Park estate had been the training centre for the Machine Gun Corps from November 1915.[28]

The RAF Regiment grew to in excess of 66,000 personnel, and during training were housed at RAF Belton Park, which was the Regiment's first depot, RAF Folkingham and RAF North Witham.

Women's police force

Grantham was the first place after London to recruit and train women police officers. It was the first provincial force to ask the newly formed Corps of Women's Police Volunteers to supply them with occasional policewomen, recognising them as useful for dealing with women and juveniles. In December 1914 Miss Damer Dawson, the Chief of the Corps, came to Grantham to supervise the preliminary work of the women police. The officers stationed there were Miss Allen and Miss Harburn.[29] In 1915, Grantham magistrates swore in Edith Smith, making her the first policewoman in Britain with full powers of arrest.[30]

Industrial history

Richard Hornsby & Sons

Richard Hornsby and Richard Seaman founded Seaman & Hornsby, Iron Founders and Millwrights, at Spittlegate in Grantham in 1810. The company was renamed Richard Hornsby (1790–1864) & Sons when Seaman retired in 1828.[31] Products included ploughs and seed drills.

From 1840 until 1906 the company built steam engines. Thereafter production shifted to oil, petrol and gas engines. The works employed 378 men in 1878 and 3,500 in 1914.[32]

In 1905 Richard Hornsby (1790–1864) & Sons of Grantham (founded 1815) invented a caterpillar track for a machine using Hornsby's oil engines; these engines were developed by Yorkshireman Herbert Akroyd Stuart, from which compression-ignition principle the diesel engine evolved, being manufactured in Grantham from 8 July 1892.[33] Although these engines were not wholly compression-ignition derived, later in 1892 a prototype high-pressure version was built at Hornsby's, developed by Thomas Henry Barton OBE – later to be the founder of Nottingham's Barton Transport, whereby ignition was achieved solely (100%) through compression; it ran continuously for six hours, being the first known diesel engine. In the town, Hornsby's built Elsham House (the grounds became Grantham College) and the Shirley Croft. Their site on Houghton Road was bought from Lord Dysart.

In 1909 Hornsby's showed the British Army their invention, who were bemused, but took the idea no further than that, although they subsequently bought four caterpillar tractors in 1910 to tow artillery. A short time later, Hornsbys sold the patent for the caterpillar track in 1914 to The Holt Manufacturing Company of California, USA for $8,000, having only sold one caterpillar tractor commercially.[34] Hornsby's design was far ahead of anything else around at the time. Through ownership of the patent, this company became the successful Caterpillar Inc. Tractor Company. Benjamin Holt even claimed to be the real inventor. In December 1914 the British Army's Colonel Ernest Swinton saw one of Holt's caterpillar tractors towing a piece of artillery, and realised its potential as an attack vehicle. One year later the tank was born (using Hornsby's initial designs), being made in nearby Lincoln by William Foster. It first saw action at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette on 15 September 1916.

In 1918 Hornsby's amalgamated with Rustons and the company became Ruston & Hornsby. In the 1920s the company had their own orchestra in the town; the site was a diesel engine plant. During the Second World War, the company made tanks such as the Matilda at the Grantham factory. Ruston and Hornsby left in 1963 and most of the factory was taken over by a subsidiary, Alfred Wiseman Gears, who left in 1968.


The agricultural engine and steamroller manufacturer Aveling and Porter of Rochester, Kent, merged with Barford & Perkins of Peterborough to become Aveling-Barford Ltd in 1934, largely due to financial help from Ruston & Hornsby, when both companies had entered into administration. The new company took a former site of Hornsbys, naming it the 'Invicta' works, from the motto on the coat of arms of Kent, and translates as 'unconquered'; all Aveling & Porter machinery was brought from Kent by rail.

During the 1970s it was the town's largest employer with around 2,000 employees.[35] It initially prospered, but with the sinking market for large dumper trucks and road rollers, it declined. Their agricultural division, Barfords of Belton, in 1947 developed the world's smallest tractor, the Barford Atom, weighing 177 lbs.

Now as Barford Construction Equipment, it makes dumpers for construction sites, being owned by Wordsworth Holdings PLC, owned in turn by the entrepreneur Duncan Wordsworth until it went into administration. In March 2010 Wordsworth Holdings went into administration. A restructuring package resulted in ownership transferring to Bowdon Investment Group in May 2010, and is known as Invictas Engineering.

A trailer company, Crane-Fruehauf, moved into part of the factory, from its former home at Dereham, when it went into receivership in early 2005.


British Manufacture and Research Company (British Marc Ltd or BMARC), on Springfield Road, made munitions, notably the Hispano cannon for the Spitfire and Hurricane from 1937 onwards. It was owned by the Swiss company Oerlikon from 1971 until 1988, becoming part of Astra Holdings plc. The company was bought by British Aerospace in 1992, who afterwards closed the site which has now been developed as a housing estate. The site's former offices are now business units for the Springfield Business Centre. Grantham's register office was moved there in 2007.

Former developments

In 1968 Reads of Liverpool built a canning factory on Springfield Road. It made cans for Melton Mowbray, becoming American Can, then Pechiney (French) in 1988, then as Impress (Dutch) it was closed in 2006, demolished in 2007 and is now a housing estate. Ransome & Marles Bearing had a ball bearing factory in the town until 1957, when production was moved to Newark.

Mowbray and Co Ltd, a brewery, was bought by JW Green of Luton. It was founded in September 1828 and became a public company in 1880. It closed in 1967.


Grantham once lay within the ancient Winnibriggs and Threo wapentake in the Soke of Grantham in the Parts of Kesteven.[36]

Politically the town is part of the Grantham and Stamford constituency and is represented in Parliament by Conservative Party Member of Parliament (MP) Nicholas Boles who was first elected in May 2010 and re-elected in 2015.

Two of Grantham's MPs in recent years (Joe Godber and Douglas Hogg) have been Secretary of State for Agriculture.

The local authority – South Kesteven District Council – is currently Conservative controlled, with the current councillors being 45 Conservative, 6 Independent, 3 Labour, 1 Liberal Democrat and 1 UK Independence Party.[37] Before SKDC in 1974, the local area was represented by Grantham Borough Council, based on St Peters Hill, and West Kesteven Rural District, based on Sandon Close; this became the planning department of SKDC. In November 1973 it was decided to make Grantham the headquarters of SKDC, first based in the former offices of Grantham Corporation.

The Grantham Charter Trustees have responsibility for the ceremonial functions remaining from the former Grantham Borough Council. These include civic ceremonies, annual commemorative events, hosting official visits and maintaining the town's regalia. The Charter Trustees consist of the Grantham District Councillors on South Kesteven District Council and two members of the Charter Trustees are elected annually to become the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Grantham. The Charter Trustees hold meetings in the Guildhall, in the Mayor's Parlour. Currently, Grantham does not have a Town Council, the only town in South Kesteven without one. This unresolved situation has been a subject of local debate and controversy.

The 2016 population, put at 44,580, divides by electoral ward into Belmont 4,900; Grantham Arnoldfield 4,666, Grantham Barrowby Gate 5,195, Grantham Earlsfield 6,557, Grantham Harrowby 4,770, Grantham St Vincent's 7,637, Grantham St Wulfram's 5,461, and Grantham Springfield 5,394.[1]


The town boundary crosses the A1 to the west at the Dysart Road bridge. North of there it lies to the east of the A1. It crosses the B1174 at Gonerby Hill. All of the Manthorpe estate is a part of the town, but the (smaller) Manthorpe village and the church are part of Belton and Manthorpe civil parish. The boundary then follows Green Lane, bordering the civil parish of Harrowby. It passes to the west of Harrowby Hall and over Hall's Hill. It then crosses the A52 at the start of Somerby Hill, borders Little Ponton, and crosses the B1174 at the southern end of the Spittlegate Level Industrial Estate.

According to Super Output Area data from the ONS, the least socially deprived area in Lincolnshire is the ward of Stamford St John's; Grantham's least deprived ward (SKDC) is in the north-east of the town near the former Central School.[38]


Grantham has a variety of churches of different denominations.[39] The main local landmark is the parish church of St Wulfram's, which has the sixth highest spire among English churches at 282.5 feet (86.1 m). It is the second tallest church in Lincolnshire, after St James' Church in Louth. It is also home to England's first public library, dating from 1598, when Francis Trigge, rector of Welbourn, gave £100 for a small chained library of books for the clergy and literate laity of Grantham. Two hundred and fifty of the original volumes remain and are kept in a small room above the South Porch. From October 1974 the church was permanently floodlit at night.

The Anglican church in the New Somerby district, dedicated to St Anne and seating about 350, was erected as a mission church in 1884 and built of iron. A mission church, dedicated to St Saviour and seating about 150, was built of brick in the Little Gonerby district in 1884.[40][41] The church of St John the Evangelist was built of stone in the Spittlegate district in 1840–41. It seated about 1,100.[42] Today the Deanery of Grantham still includes the churches of St Anne and St John the Evangelist amongst its 18 churches.[43] The suffragan Bishop of Grantham is currently Nicholas Chamberlain; his official residence is in Long Bennington.[44]

The Catholic Church of St Mary the Immaculate is located on North Parade.[45] Grantham Baptist Church is located on Wharf Road.[46] Grantham Christchurch (LEP) Church (United Reformed Church) is located on Finkin Street.[47] Harrowby Lane Methodist Church dates from the late 1920s.[48] Finkin Street Methodist Church was a Wesleyan Methodist chapel that was built in the 1840s and attended by Margaret Thatcher.

Plans in 2014 to construct an Islamic cultural centre in the town created some controversy, including protests from right-wing groups.[49]


The food-processing industry, together with Grantham Hospital, is currently the largest Grantham employer.[50] Poultry production company Moy Park (formerly Padleys) is at Gonerby Hill Foot; GW Padley bought the site in 1977 from Wolsey, a former garment manufacturer, and the site is a poultry hatchery. Moy Park are owned by Marfrig of São Paulo, with Marfrig's European headquarters at Preston Deanery in Hackleton, Northamptonshire. Aviagen Turkeys also have a poultry hatchery at farther along the B1174 at Gonerby Moor. Brake Bros Ltd have a depot near the Gonerby Moor service station, off the B1174.[51]

Fenland Foods (part of Northern Foods) on the Earlesfield Industrial Estate, was closed in September 2008 following loss of business with Marks and Spencer, their sole customer.[52] On Ellesmere Business park is Väderstad-Verken UK, its parent company based in Väderstad in Sweden and Tecknit Europe (makers of electromagnetic shielding equipment), owned from 2006 by Parker Hannifin based in Cranford, New Jersey.[53][54]

At Easton, 7 miles (11 km) south from Grantham, are two large facilities. The first is Norbert Dentressangle who bought Christian Salvesen plc in November 2007 and have maintained the frozen storage and distribution operation which has been at the site since the late 1960s. The second is McCain Foods who purchased Potato and Allied Services (PAS) in 1991, who had run a potato processing factory on this site since the early 1970s; it has since been extended. There was a third large frozen vegetable processing factory owned and operated by Christian Salvesen; it was sold to Pinguin Foods in August 2007,[55] which closed the facility in December 2008.[56]

GBS has been based in Grantham since May 1975, when known as Chatto, Bodley Head & Cape Services. Chatto & Windus had merged with Jonathan Cape in 1969. The former site was officially opened on 23 September 1975 by Michael Foot MP. Random House was formed in 1987 from a combination of book companies, and in 1990 the site became known as Grantham Book Services. The company won an award in 1992 from the British Book Awards.[57] Next door to GBS and a Gala Bingo is Cathodic Protection, who with BGB Innovation both won The Queen's Award for Enterprise: International Trade (Export) in 2009.


The conference and hospitality industry is well represented in the Grantham area, with the Olde Barn Hotel in Marston, the Q-Hotel group Belton Woods Hotel, the Urban Leisure Hotel (former Marriott) and various golf clubs. Stoke Rochford Hall won the Les Routiers Wedding Venue of the Year in 2011.[58] The Griffin Inn at Irnham won the 2012 Les Routiers B&B of the Year Award.[59][60]

Angel and Royal

The Angel and Royal, situated in the High Street, is widely regarded as the oldest surviving English inn. The façade of the main building as it appears today was built about 600 years ago, but the site had already been an inn for 200 years. It was originally built as a hostel for the Knights Templar. King John is reputed to have visited with his Royal Court in 1213. The inn was extended in the mid-14th century and again in the 15th century.

A visit by Richard III was the origin of the gold emblem angel holding the King's crown over the original archway. In 1483 Richard held court and it was from the "Chambre de' Roi", that he dispatched a letter bidding for the Great Seal to proclaim the treachery of his cousin, the Duke of Buckingham, leading to the signature of Buckingham's death warrant. Copies of the letter, the original of which is kept by the British Museum, are displayed adjacent to the Richard III lounge and the King's Room Restaurant.

King Charles I made use of the King's Room during his visit in 1633 and Oliver Cromwell also stayed at the Angel after his successful battle near Grantham in 1643. The cellars and foundations of the inn are reputed to date from the 9th century, and are rumoured to be linked by tunnels to both St Wulfram's Church and the town's Market Square. In 1707 the then landlord Michael Solomon died, but left a legacy of 40 shillings a year to pay for the preaching of a sermon, against the evils of drunkenness, for every Mayor.

The prime position of the inn on the Great North Road led to its long history as a coaching inn, which accounts for its characteristic layout, with long courtyard, old stables and entrances to front and rear. In 1800 six inns were listed in Grantham, together with 21 alehouses. The Angel's prosperity declined markedly with the coming of the railways.

By the middle of the 1800s the Angel had also enjoyed the patronage of King George IV. In 1866 the then Prince of Wales visited Grantham, directly leading to the second part of the inn's name. In the early 1920s the word Inn was dropped and the building became a hotel.

After the Second World War, the hotel was purchased by Trust House Hotels, later to become Trust House Forte. It remained with Trust House until a few years ago. Since when there has been a succession of owners, including several brewery companies. In May 2002, the Angel and Royal was purchased by a consortium of local business professionals.


Brook Street and Hill Avenue sub-post offices were closed in Grantham in 2008 as part of the Post Office Network Change programme. In August 2010 it was confirmed that the Grantham branch of Marks and Spencer would close, with two other Lincolnshire branches in Skegness and Scunthorpe, because of low sales, although a Marks and Spencer Food Hall re-opened within the town in 2014. The closure met with local protests.[61] Discount department store chain Boyes took over the property in 2012.[62] Haldanes, a chain of about 20 supermarkets based on Ruston Road, went into administration. The former HMRC office at Crown House in Castlegate closed in early 2010, moving to two sites in Lincoln.[63]


Grantham and its surrounding area is home to the peregrine falcons, which roost in the bell tower of St Wulfram's Church, and the "Grantham Gobbler", a heron. Both of these birds are voracious predators.

Grantham is surrounded by rolling countryside and woodland, such as nearby Ponton Park Wood, which has walks and views of woods and farmland. To the north-east of the town there are the attractive gardens and the magnificent deer park of the National Trust's Belton House. Adjacent to these are Londonthorpe and Alma Park Woods, both owned by the Woodland Trust. The former comprises young woodland and open areas of wild flowers, whilst Alma Park has some mature woodland on its steep limestone scarp and offers views over the town and the surrounding area.

To the south of the town, between Little Ponton and Saltersford, the River Witham flows through marshes and water meadows. These support a variety of plant species including vetches, cowslip, Primula veris, Lady's bedstraw {Galium verum}, and orchids, including the Southern Marsh Orchid, and wildlife, including herons, ducks, geese, water vole, and the now critically endangered white clawed crayfish. This area has notable populations of dragonflies, especially Aeshna grandis, Anax imperator, Libellula quadrimaculata and Calopteryx splendens, that are also found on Grantham Canal, which runs through The Vale of Belvoir to the west of the town. Wildlife can also be found in the town's Wyndham and Dysart Parks.

The Woodland Trust is based on Dysart Road and has been in Grantham since 1978; its new £6 million building,[64] on the opposite side of the road, opened in November 2010. The building, designed by Atelier One and Max Fordham, has won several architectural awards.[65]

Amenities for children

Wyndham Park has two children's play areas. There is an open air paddling pool, football pitch, skateboard park and cafe. Dysart Park has a paddling pool and safe play area for children under six, a green for football and a bandstand. Indoor amenities for children include a swimming pool at the Meres Leisure Centre.

The public library is located in the Sir Isaac Newton Centre. On St Peter's Hill, in the centre of town, stands Grantham Museum and the Guildhall Arts Centre, which includes a 210 seat theatre. [66]

Belton House is a popular National Trust site with events for children, a play area, train rides, picnic area and woodland walk.[67]


There is a small FM radio transmitter near the town's bypass on Gorse Lane from which BBC Lincolnshire and Lincs FM broadcast. Most television programmes are broadcast from Waltham, between Grantham and Melton, due to the line of sight to Belmont being blocked by hills to the east of the town.

Grantham also has a full-time community radio station, Gravity FM, which broadcasts from its own transmitter, at The Maltings on Springfield Road, and also online. Following redevelopment, the station has its own studios, on Riverside Walk, at the western side of Grantham College. The station is operated by volunteers from the local area.[68]

Gingerbread biscuits

The town is known for gingerbread biscuits which were first made in 1740 by William Eggleston. Eggleston, a baker by trade, was a producer of a biscuit called Grantham Whetstones. Whetstones were a rusk-like dry biscuit enjoyed locally and also by coach drivers who would stop in Grantham to change horses while travelling along the Great North Road. According to folk belief, Egglestone was baking whetstones in his dimly lit kitchen one morning when he mistook one ingredient for another, resulting in a ginger-like biscuit to emerge from the oven. The mistake was a huge success and the biscuit became established as Grantham Gingerbread, known as a white gingerbread because it is not made with molasses or black treacle. This provides a delicate ginger flavour, rich in butter, with a domed top that has a crackled surface. The centre is hollow and resembles a honeycomb.[69]

Grantham Journal

Grantham's local newspaper, the Grantham Journal,[70] first went on sale in 1854 as The Grantham Journal of Useful, Instructive and Entertaining Knowledge and Monthly Advertiser, which was shortened to its current name a few years later. It was founded by Henry Escritt, a Yorkshire man by birth who moved to the area in 1861. The 'Journal' is owned by Iliffe Media (formerly by Johnston Press), and has a sister newspaper in Melton Mowbray, the Melton Times. In the 1960s and earlier it produced the Melton Journal and Rutland Journal, both versions of the main paper. It also produces a Bingham edition.

David Wood CBE (1914–1990), former political editor of The Times (working under Sir William Haley), started out at the Grantham Journal.



Grantham railway station is served by the London to Edinburgh East Coast Main Line (between the stops for Peterborough and Newark Northgate), and the Nottingham to Skegness Line (Poacher Line). Liverpool–Norwich trains also call at Grantham. Electric trains began running in October 1988. Transport links to Nottingham and Peterborough attract some commuters. The town's grammar schools also attract pupils from Radcliffe on Trent, Bingham, Newark and even Retford via the train. Grantham is the best-served station in Lincolnshire, although after October 1970, most of Lincolnshire's branch lines were closed. Before October 1970 the connection from King's Cross to Lincoln Central was through Grantham and followed the A607 via Leadenham. After that date, London-Lincoln trains still passed through Grantham, but then continued up the main line to Newark Northgate, where the trains branched off to Lincoln St Marks Railway Station via a new curve just north of Newark.

In 1906 a rail accident killed 14 people.

On 3 July 1938 Mallard broke the world speed record for steam locomotives, at 126 mph (203 km/h), on the slight downward grade of Stoke Bank south of Grantham on the East Coast Main Line.


The Great North Road was routed through the town in 1196. The turnpike to the north reached the town in 1725, that to Stamford in 1739, to Nottingham in 1758, and that to Melton in 1780.

The A1 main road from London to Edinburgh runs past the town, which was bypassed in 1962. High Street, until recently, was part of the A52, which runs to Nottingham. Wharf Road and London Road junction is still a busy junction on the A607 for Lincoln. Motorway-style Grantham North Services, at the north end of Grantham bypass, is on a new junction which replaced a roundabout in May 2008.[71]

Grantham, with Stamford, had been earmarked for a bypass before the war in 1939. There were 60 serious accidents a year, with three to four deaths. After the war, on 21 November 1945, there was a meeting at the Guildhall about the proposed bypass of the London-Edinburgh-Thurso trunk road for Grantham and Great Gonerby. This was the first enquiry into a trunk road scheme in the country after the war. The proposed route followed the current line, from Little Ponton to College Farm, except it was to be a single carriageway road.

On 8 February 1960, it was announced that a bypass would be built, including the route south to the B6403 at Colsterworth. Robert McGregor and Sons Ltd of Manchester would build the road for £1,856,009. (The company went on to build Newark bypass in 1964.) The bridges were built by Simon Carves of Cheadle Hulme. It was formally opened on 10 October 1962 by James Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 3rd Earl of Ancaster, then the Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire (from 1950–75).[72] He was married to the (only) daughter of Nancy Astor.

Various attempts at one-way systems in Grantham have been introduced, but traffic delays are still commonplace. Low railway bridges also add to traffic difficulties with lorries becoming stuck under them. Many promises have been made by the local council for a Grantham bypass road. The latest, the Grantham Southern Relief Road, has been in planning since 2007. Phase one of the project was completed in 2016. Phase Two is due to start in 2019, but no formal start date has been given.


Grantham was once linked to Nottingham by the Grantham Canal. It is possible to walk and cycle along the canal starting from Grantham near the A1/A607 intersection (opposite The Farrier).

The River Witham runs through Grantham. It has a riverside walk linking Dysart Park and Wyndham Park, on which is a view of Spittlegate Mill. The walk passes Inner Street allotment and the rear of Sainsbury's car park, access to which is by a pedestrian bridge at the end of College Street. There are other footbridges with views of the river and its weirs. Swans, ducks and trout are among the wildlife that can be seen along the river.


Grantham College, a further education college for the district, opened in 1948, for those not attending school sixth forms. It has a satellite site at Sleaford, Sleaford College. Since September 2008 the Walton Academy in Kitty Briggs Lane near Harlaxton Road has run post-16 courses as Grantham's only sixth form college. In September 2019, the school had its first intake of male students in the lower school, making the former all-girls school co-educational.[73]

Two notable schools in the district are Kesteven and Grantham Girls' School and The King's Grammar School. Both have large sixth forms and eminent past students. Britain's first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, attended Kesteven and Grantham, and Isaac Newton famously attended The King's. Both have remained single-sex up to the age of 16.

In 1970, Kesteven County Council (based in Sleaford) announced plans to turn the grammar schools into co-educational comprehensives for ages of 11–16 and leave Grantham College the only sixth form for the town. Later it was proposed to create two sixth-form colleges from one of the grammar schools. Other parts of Kesteven became comprehensive but responsibility for education passed to Lincolnshire under the local government reorganization of 1974, and both schools stayed as grammar schools. Ex-pupil Margaret Thatcher was education secretary at the time. The governors of the King's School delayed the process in July 1973, and in January 1975 a plan to make Grantham comprehensive was voted against by the county council, having been approved by the council's own education committee.

On 1 August 2011 The King's School ended its long relationship with the local elected authorities and the town of Grantham, by converting to a selective academy. It remains a selective boys' school and has kept its name and logo.[74]

All four secondary modern schools are on the outskirts of Grantham. Only three of the six secondary schools are co-educational.

The Priory Ruskin Academy (formerly Central Technology & Sports College) is a co-educational school sited near Manthorpe.

On Gorse Lane is Grantham Preparatory School, an independent school preparing entrants for the 11-plus examination. Another private primary school is Dudley House School.[75] Near to St Wulfram's on Castlegate is the National Church of England Junior School,[76] built in 1859, and a feeder school for the town's grammar schools.

The Blessed Hugh More School, a Catholic secondary school, closed in 1989.[77]


Grantham House is to the east of the church, and a National Trust property.

Grantham has the country's only "living" public house sign: a beehive of South African bees situated outside the Beehive Inn since 1830.

Edith Smith Way is a road next to the Guildhall Arts Centre, on St Peter's Hill; it is named after England's first policewoman. Mary Allen and Ellen F. Harburn reported for duty on 27 November 1914.[78] Mary Allen was a former suffragette and had been previously arrested outside the House of Commons and later went on to be the commandant of the UK's women's police force from the 1920s up to 1940. She helped to set up women's police forces in other countries, including Germany. Edith Smith became the first female with powers of arrest in August 1915.[79]

Sandon Road is named after Viscount Sandon, also the Earl of Harrowby. The first person with the title was Dudley Ryder, 1st Earl of Harrowby; a road is also named after him. He purchased Harrowby Hall in 1754. The current incumbent is Dudley Ryder, 8th Earl of Harrowby.

The Blue Pig, one of many Blue pubs, is situated on Vine Street, near the Church of St Wulfram. The building is one of probably only four remaining Tudor buildings in the town and is a survivor of the disastrous fires of the 1660s. It was first mentioned as an inn in a trade directory of 1846, when the landlord was one Richard Summersby. The property was then owned by the Manners family (giving the derivation of Blue in the name).

The nearby George Hotel (known as St Peter's Place, now the George Shopping Centre) was mentioned in Charles Dickens's novel Nicholas Nickleby. Many of the town's property and industrial estates have been owned by Buckminster Trust Estates since the time of the Earl of Dysart.

To the west of the town, near the A607, is Baird's maltings, formerly owned by Moray Firth until 1999, and before that, R & W Paul. Other maltings in the town have been converted for residential use such as Riverview Maltings near the river and formerly owned by Lee & Grinling's.

The JobCentre, when it was opened on 24 June 1975 by Joe Godber, was the first of around 500 labour exchanges run by the Employment Service Agency, with soft chairs and carpets. Grantham and District Hospital is situated next to the Priory Ruskin Academy on the A607, at the north of the town. The maternity unit, which opened in August 1972, is now a midwife-staffed unit.

Nearby are many historic houses including 17th-century Belton House (the Brownlows), early 19th-century Harlaxton Manor (the Gregorys), Stoke Rochford Hall (owned by the Turnors, and since 1978 is now the training centre of the NUT), and the 11th-century Belvoir Castle (the Manners), in Leicestershire. Much of the property and land to the south-west of the area is owned by the two estates of Belvoir and Buckminster. Further to the south of Stoke Rochford are the Cholmeleys of Easton Hall.



Grantham Town Football Club is the local football team, currently playing in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League. The club was founded in 1874 and currently plays in the 7,500-capacity (covered 1,950, seats 750) South Kesteven Sports Stadium (although average attendances are well below capacity).[80] The ground also doubles as the town's athletics stadium (one of only three in Lincolnshire), next to the Grantham Meres Leisure Centre on Trent Road.[81]

The major claim to fame of Grantham Town (nicknamed "The Gingerbreads") is that Martin O'Neill started his management path from there.

Rugby Union

Kesteven Rugby Football Club was founded in 1947 and plays at Woodnook, off the B6403. The club fields two men's teams, a ladies XV and many junior sides.


Grantham Hockey Club, which fielded men's and women's team in league hockey, played at the Meres Leisure Centre, on an astro-turf pitch once situated directly behind the football stadium.[82] In 2011, the men ended a long spell in the Midlands League, moving to the East League, successfully earning promotion to Division 5 (North West). Their story is documented in 1,309 Days Later, the title a reference to a no-win spell between 2006 and 2009.[83]


Grantham bowls players have represented the indoor and outdoor clubs within county and national competitions. Indoor club players Martin Pulling, Dion Auckland, Ian Johnson, and former England U25 player Mathew Orrey, have played for the England squad.[84][85]

Table tennis

In 1993 and 1994 international team matches were held in Grantham, at the South Kesteven Table Tennis Centre, which was opened in January 1992 by Johnny Leach. Grantham College have a Table Tennis Academy.[86]


Notable people

Armed forces and police

Arts and entertainment


Politics and philosophy


Science and engineering



  • The Royal Charters of Grantham 1463–1688 Edited by G.H. Martin – Limited to 400 copies and contains list of Charters and index.[98]

See also


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Further reading

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