THE HISTORY OF SINCIL BANK
The area now known as Sincil Bank lies in a rectangular area between the East side of the lower High Street, Tentercroft Street, Canwick Road and South Park/South Park Avenue. It is bisected by the Sincil Dyke, running east from the River Witham, turning north a short distance from the High Street, running straight as a die and finally disappearing into a tunnel at Tentercroft Street car park. The dyke provides the main drainage for the area, which otherwise would be marshy for part of the year. Now an area of dense largely Victorian and 20th century housing, the area has a surprisingly long history as a significant part of the City of Lincoln.
The Romans first made a road down what is now the Lower High Street – in fact two roads, diverging south of Gowt’s Bridge, one proceeding to Exeter, the other to London. When the original legionary fort became a Colonia, in true Roman fashion a cometary lined the road and substantial remains of it have been found. Further archaeological excavation has shown that the Roman city grew rapidly, and shops, workshops and houses lined the road, replacing the cemetery. Economic and social collapse followed the end of Roman rule, but prosperity returned by the 10th century when the fine Saxon church of St. Peter at Gowt’s was built.
Evidence of medieval prosperity can be found in the medieval palace now called St. Mary’s Guildhall, and there were once 7 churches along the Sincil Bank stretch of the lower High Street. At the back of the houses were small fields either side of the Dyke, and a stone wall was built on the inside of the dyke, with grand gates at Bargate and Little Bargate. The area has seen dramatic events – notably the last phase of the rout and destruction of a rebel baronial and French army by royal troops in 1217 in the battle known as Lincoln fair and the storming of Lincoln by a Parliamentary army in 1643, which left the churches in ruins. Evidence of the damage can still be seen in the tower of St. Botolph’s (now St Basil’s and St. Paisios Greek Orthodox church).
In the early 19th century the first public park in Lincoln and an elegant tree-lined walk were established in what is now Sewell’s Walk and along the eastern side of Sincil Bank. Guidebooks in the mid-19th century described a very rural scene of gardens and fields along the line of the bank (tactfully not mentioning the smelly Skinyard on the dyke where hides were prepared for tanning just north of what is now Scorer Street.
As industry grew, attracted by the improvement of the Fosdyke and the Witham and then the arrival of the railways, the population of Lincoln rapidly increased. From 1860 housing of varying quality began to fill the area of Sincil Bank. In 50 years it changed from a landscape of fields and gardens behind the High Street to a dense maze of streets with a high level railway running east to west across the area. Schools, new places of worship, shops and businesses served (and in some cases still serve) the community, and of course Lincoln City’s LNER stadium has pride of place in Sincil Bank and the club has been present in the area since 1884. Development has continued into the 20th century for good or ill and now there are several community groups trying to improve the area.
A full version of the History of Sincil Bank can be found by clicking, here. If you would like to take a look around Sincil Bank for yourself, please consider using the Heritage Walk route which you find more information on by clicking this link.