- The villages around Bourne, Lincolnshire, England -
YOU MUST DRIVE along a very dangerous stretch of road to reach the hamlet of Twenty, four miles east of Bourne, because the A151 into Spalding is narrow and undulating, badly maintained and with several severe bends, but what is more frightening is the deep drainage dyke forever on the offside and with each heavy lorry that thunders past defying the speed limit, you imagine yourself nose-diving to the bottom of it.
Twenty is situated on one of the more notorious bends and appears at first sight to consist of little more than a bus stop, an electronically-controlled pumping station, the Black Sluice built in 1955, and a row of terraced council houses, but the heart of the village is to be found off the main road where there are many private homes and a busy community life.
The hamlet achieved world fame in September 1982 when a local wag daubed the road sign with the words "TWENTY. Twinned with the Moon. No atmosphere!" in fluorescent paint and television pictures of the joke were beamed around the globe. In 1993, the village was again in the headlines when the Sun newspaper published a story linking Twenty with a cut in their cover price to 20p.
This was once a busy village with its own railway station on the line between Bourne and Spalding but it closed to passengers in February 1959 and the 19th century station house is now a double glazing workshop although the platforms remain intact.
There are many theories as to how Twenty became so named. Until 1977, it was suggested that drivers on the No 20 bus route serviced by the Lincolnshire Road Car Company were required to slow down to 20 m p h to negotiate the sharp corner on the road but that is a modern idea and we need to hark back to the 19th century for the real reason. In October 1853, local solicitor Francis Thomas Selby had proposed the formation of the grandiose sounding Spalding, Bourne and Stamford Railway and Waterworks Company. The tracks and a water pipe would run side by side through the fens between Spalding and Bourne and then the railway would continue across the Great Northern Railway's main line into Stamford. As it happened, this last section was completed by the G N R and opened in 1856 while the Bourne to Essendine portion was built by another group and opened in 1860.
This left the 9½ mile section from Bourne to Spalding to be constructed by the Bourne-Spalding Railway Company and it opened for traffic on 1st August 1866 but was later absorbed into the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway under their amalgamating act of 1893. During the construction work, it was decided to have three intermediate stations, mainly for the transit of farm produce. Since these would be well outside the village centres, names had to be invented for them and as the first station out of Bourne was sited near to a milestone on the main road, now the A151, announcing that it was 20 miles to Colsterworth, then the name of Twenty was adopted.
A similar explanation suggests that when the building of the track reached the new North Fen station, the engineer in charge of the project said that a more specific name was needed and after asking how many sections had already been laid, he noticed that the station would be sited in a field in Section 20 of his Ordnance Survey map and the village was so named.
Modern day Twenty has a vigorous community spirit and the village hall that was opened in July 1952 is the focal point for a variety of functions throughout the year. There is also a well-equipped playing field, leased from a local farmer for 25 years, with swings, climbing frame and a sandpit. Villagers are also anxious to see more newcomers moving in and the parish council is prepared to approve most plans for new residential development.
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