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Coordinates: 53°13′58″N 0°32′16″W / 53.23272°N 0.537661°W / 53.23272; -0.537661

Lincoln - Castle Square.jpg
Castle Square
Lincoln is located in Lincolnshire

 Lincoln shown within Lincolnshire
Population 85,595 (2001)
OS grid reference SK9771
District Lincoln
Shire county Lincolnshire
Region East Midlands
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LINCOLN
Postcode district LN1-LN4
Police Lincolnshire
Fire Lincolnshire
Ambulance East Midlands
EU Parliament East Midlands
UK Parliament Lincoln
List of places: UK • England • Lincolnshire

Lincoln (pronounced /ˈlɪŋkən/) is a cathedral city and county town of Lincolnshire, England.

The non-metropolitan district of Lincoln has a population of 85,595;[1] the 2001 census gave the entire urban area of Lincoln a population of 120,779.[2] The council identifies a 'Greater Lincoln' catchment area covering surrounding villages and towns, which has a population of 250,000.[3]

It has several twin towns: Port Lincoln, South Australia; Radomsko, Poland; Tangshan, China; and Neustadt an der Weinstraße, Germany.




Earliest history: Lindon

The Brayford Pool

The earliest origins of Lincoln can be traced to the remains of an Iron Age settlement of round wooden dwellings (which were discovered by archaeologists in 1972) that have been dated to the 1st century BC[citation needed] This settlement was built by a deep pool (the modern Brayford Pool) in the River Witham at the foot of a large hill (on which the Normans later built Lincoln Cathedral and Lincoln Castle) .

The origins of the name Lincoln may come from this period, when the settlement is thought to have been named in the Brythonic language of Iron Age Britain's Celtic inhabitants as Lindon "The Pool",[4] presumably referring to the Brayford Pool. It is not possible to know how big this original settlement was as its remains are now buried deep beneath the later Roman and medieval ruins, as well as the modern city of Lincoln.

Roman history: Lindum Colonia

The Romans conquered this part of Britain in AD 48 and shortly afterwards built a legionary fortress high on a hill overlooking the natural lake formed by the widening of the River Witham (the modern day Brayford Pool) and at the northern end of the Fosse Way Roman road (A46). The Celtic name Lindon was subsequently Latinized to Lindum and given the title Colonia when it was converted into a settlement for army veterans. Lindum Colonia was shortened on the tongues of the later, English speakers, to become 'Lincoln'.

The conversion to a colonia was made when the legion moved on to York (Eboracum) in AD 71. Lindum colonia or more fully, Colonia Domitiana Lindensium, after its founder Domitian, was established within the walls of the hilltop fortress with the addition of an extension of about equal area, down the hillside to the waterside below.

It became a major flourishing settlement, accessible from the sea both through the River Trent and through the River Witham, and was even the provincial capital of Flavia Caesariensis when the province of Britannia Inferior was subdivided in the early 4th century, but then it and its waterways fell into decline. By the close of the 5th century the city was largely deserted, although some occupation continued under a Praefectus Civitatis, for Saint Paulinus visited a man of this office in Lincoln in AD 629.

AD 410–1066

The Norman West Front of Lincoln Cathedral

After the first destructive Viking raids the city once again rose to some importance. In Viking times Lincoln was a trading centre important enough to issue coins from its own mint[citation needed]. After the establishment of Dane Law in 886, Lincoln became one of The Five Boroughs in the East Midlands. Over the next few centuries, Lincoln once again rose to prominence. In 1068, two years after the Norman Conquest, William I ordered Lincoln Castle to be built on the site of the former Roman settlement, for the same strategic reasons and using the same road.


Construction of the first Lincoln Cathedral, within its close or walled precinct facing the castle, began when the see was removed from Dorchester and completed in 1092; it was rebuilt after a fire but was destroyed by an unusual earthquake in 1185. The rebuilt Lincoln Minster, enlarged to the east at each rebuilding, was on a magnificent scale, its crossing tower crowned by a spire reputed to have been 160 m (525 ft) high, the highest in Europe. When completed the central of the three spires is widely accepted to have succeeded the Great Pyramids of Egypt as the tallest man-made structure in the world.

The bishops of Lincoln were among the magnates of medieval England: Lincolnshire, the largest diocese, had more monasteries than the rest of England put together, and the diocese was supported by large estates outside the county.

When the Magna Carta was drawn up in 1215, one of the witnesses was Hugh of Wells, Bishop of Lincoln. One of only four surviving originals is now preserved in Lincoln Castle.

The iconic view of Lincoln Cathedral

Among the most famous bishops of Lincoln were Robert Bloet, the magnificent justiciar to Henry I; Hugh of Avalon, the cathedral builder canonised as St Hugh of Lincoln; Robert Grosseteste, the 13th century intellectual; Henry, Cardinal Beaufort, a politician deeply involved in the Wars of the Roses; Philip Repyngdon, chaplain to Henry IV of England and defender of Wycliffe; Thomas Cardinal Wolsey.

The administrative centre was the Bishop's Palace, the third element in the central complex. When it was built in the late 12th century, the Bishop's Palace was one of the most important buildings in England. Built by the canonised bishop Hugh of Lincoln, the palace's East Hall range over a vaulted under-croft is the earliest surviving example of a roofed domestic hall. The chapel range and entrance tower were built by Bishop William of Alnwick, who modernised the palace in the 1430s. Both Henry VIII and James I were guests of bishops here; the palace was sacked by royalist troops during the Civil War in 1648.

Following a recent break-in, some of the stained glass windows of the Cathedral have had to be replaced.

Medieval town

The arms of the City of Lincoln

By 1150, Lincoln was among the wealthiest towns in England. The basis of the economy was cloth and wool, exported to Flanders; Lincoln weavers had set up a guild in 1130 to produce Lincoln Cloth, especially the fine dyed 'scarlet' and 'green', the reputation of which was later enhanced by Robin Hood wearing woollens of Lincoln green. In the Guildhall that surmounts the city gate called the Stonebow, the ancient Council Chamber contains Lincoln's civic insignia, probably the finest collection of civic regalia outside London.

Outside the precincts of cathedral and castle, the old quarter clustered around the Bailgate, and down Steep Hill to the High Bridge, which bears half-timbered housing, with the upper storeys jutting out over the river, as London Bridge once had. There are three ancient churches: St Mary le Wigford and St Peter at Gowts are both 11th century in origin and St Mary Magdalene, built in the late 13th century, is an unusual English dedication to the saint whose cult was coming greatly into vogue on the European continent at that time.

Lincoln was home to one of the five most important Jewish communities in England, well established before it was officially noted in 1154. In 1190, anti-semitic riots that started in King's Lynn, Norfolk, spread to Lincoln; the Jewish community took refuge with royal officials, but their habitations were plundered. The so-called 'House of Aaron' has a two-storey street frontage that is essentially 12th century and a nearby Jew's House likewise bears witness to the Jewish population. In 1255, the affair called 'The Libel of Lincoln' in which prominent Jews of Lincoln, accused of the ritual murder of a Christian boy ('Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln' in medieval folklore) were sent to the Tower of London and 18 were executed. The Jews were expelled en masse in 1290.

During the 13th century, Lincoln was the third largest city in England and was a favourite of more than one king. It also became caught up in the strife between the king and the rebel barons who had allied with the French, which was an ongoing result on the baron rebellion against King John. It was here and at Dover that the French and Rebel army was defeated.

However, during the 14th century, the city's fortunes began to decline. The lower city was prone to flooding, becoming increasingly isolated, and plagues were common. In 1409, the city was made a county corporate.

16th century

16th century High Bridge

The Dissolution of the Monasteries further exacerbated Lincoln's problems, cutting off the main source of diocesan income and drying up the network of patronage controlled by the bishop, with no less than seven monasteries within the city alone closed down. This was accompanied by closure of a number of nearby parliamentary abbeys which led to a further diminishment of the region's political power. When the cathedral's great spire rotted and collapsed in 1549 and was not replaced, it was a significant symbol of Lincoln's economic and political decline. However, the comparative poverty of post-medieval Lincoln preserved pre-medieval structures that would probably have been lost in more prosperous contexts.

Civil War

The west front of Lincoln Cathedral viewed through the Exchequer Gate, one of a number of surviving gates in the Cathedral Close walls.

Between 1642 and 1651, during the English Civil War, Lincoln was on the frontier between the Royalist and Parliamentary forces. Military control of the city therefore changed hands numerous times. Many buildings were badly damaged. Lincoln now had no major industry, no easy access to the sea and was poorly placed. As a consequence of this, while the rest of the country was beginning to prosper in the beginning of the 1700s, Lincoln suffered immensely, travellers often commenting on the state of what had essentially become a 'one street' town.

Georgian Age

By the Georgian era, Lincoln's fortunes began to pick up, thanks in part to the Agricultural Revolution. The re-opening of the Foss Dyke canal allowed coal and other raw materials vital to industry to be more easily brought into the city.

As well as the economic growth of Lincoln during this era, the city boundaries expanded to include the West Common. To this day, an annual 'Beat the Boundaries' walk takes place along the perimeter of the common.

Industrial Revolution

Coupled with the arrival of the railway links, Lincoln boomed again during the Industrial Revolution, and several world-famous companies arose, such as Ruston's, Clayton's, Proctor's, and William Foster's. Lincoln began to excel in heavy engineering, building diesel engine trains, steam shovels, and all manner of heavy machinery.

20th century

Lincoln was hit by a major typhoid epidemic between November 1904 and August 1905 caused by polluted drinking water from Hartsholme Lake and the River Witham. Over 1,000 people contracted the disease and fatalities totalled 113, including the very man responsible for the city's water supply, Matthew Robinson of Baker Crescent. Westgate Water Tower was constructed to provide new water supplies to the city.

The first tanks were built in Lincoln

In the world wars, Lincoln switched to war production. The first ever tanks were invented, designed and built in Lincoln by William Foster & Co. Ltd during the First World War and population growth provided more workers for even greater expansion. The tanks were tested on land now covered by Tritton Road (in the south-west suburbs of the city). During the Second World War, Lincoln produced a vast array of war goods, from tanks, aircraft, munitions, and military vehicles.

Ruston and Hornsby produced diesel engines for ships and locomotives, then by teaming up with former colleagues of Frank Whittle and Power Jets Ltd, in the early 1950s, R & H (which became RGT) opened the first ever production line to build gas turbine engines for land-based and sea-based energy production. Hugely successful, it has become the largest single employer in the city, providing over 5,000 jobs in its factory and research facilities, making it a rich takeover target for industrial conglomerates. It was taken over by GEC in the late 1960s with diesel engine production being transferred to the Ruston Diesels division in Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire of GEC at the former Vulcan Foundry, which was eventually bought by the German MAN B&W Diesel in June 2000.

Siemens Pelham Works

It merged with Alstom of France in the late 1980s, then in 2003 was bought out by Siemens AG of Germany, now being called Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery. This also includes what is left of Napier Turbochargers. Plans were announced early in 2008 for the construction of a new plant just outside the city boundary at Teal Park, North Hykeham [5]

In the post-war years after 1945, new suburbs were built, but heavy industry declined towards the end of the 20th century, mimicking the wider economic profile of the United Kingdom. More people are nevertheless still employed today in Lincoln building gas turbines than anything else.


Lincoln's economy is based mainly on public administration, commerce, arable farming and tourism, with industrial relics like Rustons (now Siemens) still in existence. However, many of Lincoln's industrial giants have long ceased production in the city, leaving large empty industrial warehouse-like buildings. More recently, these buildings have become multi-occupant units, with the likes of Lincs FM radio station (in the Titanic Works) and LA Fitness gym taking up space.

Like many other cities in Britain, Lincoln has developed a growing IT economy, with many e-commerce mail order companies setting up in or around the place. A plethora of other, more conventional small industrial businesses are located in and around Lincoln. One of the reasons for building the University was to increase inward investment and act as a springboard for small companies. The University's presence has also drawn many more licensed premises to the town centre around the Brayford Pool. A new small business unit next door to a University accommodation building, the Think Tank, opened in June 2009.[6]

County council building on Newland

The Extra motorway services company is based on Castle Hill, with most new UK service areas being built by Swayfields who are the parent company. There are two main electronics companies in the town: Chelmsford-based e2V (formerly Associated Electrical Industries before 1961) is situated between Carholme Road (A57) and the Foss Dyke next-door to Carholme Golf Club;[7] and Dynex Semiconductor (formerly Marconi Electronic Devices) is on Doddington Road (B1190) near the A46 bypass just inside the borough boundary, and near North Hykeham.

Retail parks

The Collection

Over the last few years, Lincoln has also seen rapid development in its retail sector, in an attempt to keep people shopping in the city and to compete with the neighbouring cities of Nottingham and Sheffield. Around the Tritton Road (B1003) trading estate, many new businesses have begun trading from large units with car parking. Lincoln has a choice of five large national supermarkets. The recently developed St Mark's Square complex has Debenhams as the flagship store and has an accompanying trading estate with well known chain stores such as Bhs.

Another development is also expected to be completed by 2011/12 called Lindongate which includes plans for a new department store, shops, hotel, apartments and new transport facilities. The viability of proposed developments such as this may, however, now be called into question by the sudden economic downturn starting late in 2007. The scheme depends on a continuing demand for retail space, and a continuation of a strong housing market, but by mid-2008 both of these factors had become conspicuously absent.


A view up Steep Hill towards the historic quarter of Bailgate.

The city is a tourist centre and those who come do so to visit the numerous historic buildings including the Cathedral, the Castle, the Medieval Bishop's Palace and the specialist shops of Steep Hill and Bailgate.

The Collection, of which the Usher Gallery is now a part, is an important attraction. Housed partly in a recently opened, purpose-built venue, it currently contains over 2,000,000 objects, and was one of the four finalists for the 2006 Gulbenkian Prize. Any material from official archaeological excavations in Lincolnshire is eventually deposited at in The Collection so it is growing all the time.

Waterside Empowerment 2002 sculpture

Other attractions include the Museum of Lincolnshire Life and The Sir Joseph Banks Conservatory at The Lawn, adjacent to Lincoln Castle. Tranquil destinations close by include Whisby Nature Reserve and Hartsholme Park, while noisier entertainment can be found at Waddington airfield, Scampton airfield (base of the RAF's Red Arrows jet aerobatic team), the County Showground or the Cadwell Park motor racing circuit near Louth.

Because of its climate, Lincoln attracts many of its tourists in summer, but also during the second weekend of December when the Bailgate area of the city holds its annual Christmas Market in and around the Castle grounds. The market is based upon the traditional German-style Weihnachtsmarkt as found in several German cities, including Lincoln's 'twin town' Neustadt an der Weinstrasse.

Topography: 'Uphill' and 'Downhill'

The city of Lincoln is built at the point where there is a gap in the Lincoln Cliff (a limestone escarpment running north-south and rising to 200 ft/60 m in height, also sometimes called the 'Lincoln(shire) Edge' or 'Lincoln Heath'). The River Witham flows through this gap. Lincoln is thus divided informally into two zones, known locally as uphill and downhill.

Uphill Lincoln

The uphill area comprises the northern part of the city, on top of the Lincoln Cliff (to the north of the gap). This area includes the historical quarter, including the Cathedral, Lincoln castle and the Medieval Bishop's Palace, known locally as The Bail (although described in tourist promotional literature as 'The Cathedral Quarter'). It also includes residential suburbs to the north and north-east. The downhill area comprises the city centre (located in the gap) and the suburbs to the south and south-west. The aptly named street Steep Hill connects the two (although it is too steep for vehicular traffic, which must take a more circuitous route).

This divide marks out Lincoln from other historic cities in England and elsewhere in Europe. Whereas in most such cities, the chief historical buildings (cathedrals and castles) tend to be centrally located and intermingled with the present-day city centre, in Lincoln they are separate.

Downhill Lincoln and the cathedral

The divide was also once an important class distinction, with 'uphill' more affluent and 'downhill' less so. This distinction dates from the time of the Norman Conquest, when the religious and military elite occupied the hilltop. The construction and expansion of suburbs in both parts of the city since the mid-nineteenth century has diluted this distinction, nevertheless 'uphill' residential property continues to fetch a premium, and is almost invariably referred to as such in literature emanating from local estate agents. Membership of noted uphill organisations such as the Lincoln Astronomical Society, the Lincoln Backgammon Club, the Lincoln Uphill Gardeners' Club and the Lincoln Waits is seen as a mark of local success, and much prized.

In the UK government scale of economic deprivation for district councils which varies 1 to 5, Lincoln and Boston have been graded as 4. However, this is an average figure, with 'uphill' Lincoln being more likely to be around 2.



Lincoln Central

The station has five platforms and has a steady flow of trains and passengers passing through. Trains run to a range of destinations including Newark-on-Trent, Grimsby, Nottingham, Leicester, Sheffield and Peterborough. Unfortunately the electrification of the East Coast Mainline (ECML) in the late 1980s saw the demise of direct services from Lincoln into London King's Cross, forcing a change at Newark or Peterborough for services via the ECML to London King's Cross or changing at Nottingham for services via the Midland Main Line (MML) to London St Pancras.

In December 2008, a direct return service to London began again, operated by East Midlands Trains, running direct from Lincoln Central to London St Pancras via Nottingham and Leicester railway stations. The Midland Main Line route takes three hours, significantly longer than changing at Newark North Gate, or driving down the A1 road.

From late 2009, East Coast is scheduled to provide a two-hourly direct service to London Kings Cross.

Level crossings

The railway crossing on the High Street.

Electrification of the East Coast Main Line prompted an increase in traffic that has led to many of the goods trains running between Doncaster and Peterborough being diverted through Lincoln. This coupled with goods traffic between the Midlands and the ports and oil refineries in the Grimsby, Immingham and Killingholme area and local passenger services operating in and out of Lincoln Central railway station, has led to the High Street level crossing (which cuts the central shopping area in two) being closed for up to 22 minutes out of every hour.[8] Improvements in the station area in 2008 may have sped up the goods traffic through Lincoln.[9]

The city's MP and the Chamber of Commerce have suggested that this may be deterring inward investment by new employers.[10] This has been an issue in Lincoln since the 1860s according to Hansard records.

Up until 1986 a second level crossing crossed on the High Street outside the (now closed) Lincoln St. Marks railway station.


The A46 was upgraded to Lincoln in 2003

The £19-million A46 bypass opened December 1985. It is currently exceeding its designed capacity from the North Hykeham roundabout (A1434) to the B1378 Skellingthorpe Road roundabout, especially in the summer on weekends. For many decades Lincoln was barely connected to the UK trunk road network until the A46 to Newark was remodelled as dual carriageway in July 2003 at a cost of £28M, which has made the city more accessible for business. This was largely due to lobbying from Gillian Merron: Boston's much needed bypass has had less conspicuous government support. Lincoln has its own bypass problems however as funding for the A15 eastern bypass was reviewed in 2006 by the East Midlands Regional Assembly and the bypass was postponed several years with it unlikely to be built before 2016.


Higher education

Lincoln has two higher education institutions, the older being Bishop Grosseteste University College, which started life as a teacher training college linked to the Anglican Church in 1862. During the 1990s, the college branched out into new subject areas with a focus on the arts and drama. Bishop Grosseteste College as it was became a University College in 2006 when it was awarded taught degree powers, meaning that students graduate with degrees from BGUC and not the University of Leicester previous. A granduation celebration takes place every year in Lincoln Cathedral. Bishop Grosseteste University College has no links with the University of Lincoln.

The larger University of Lincoln started life as the University of Lincolnshire and Humberside in 1996, when the University of Humberside opened a Lincoln campus next to Brayford Pool, attracting additional students to the city. Lincoln Art College (which was Lincolnshire's main outlet for higher education) and Riseholme Agricultural College, which had previously been part of De Montfort University in Leicester, were absorbed into the University in 2001, and subsequently the Lincoln campus took priority over the Hull campus.

Most buildings were built after 2001.[citation needed] The university changed its name to the University of Lincoln in September 2002. In the 2005/6 academic year, 8,292 full time undergraduates were studying at the university.[11] Around 2002 there was considerable local annoyance with students' residences in the West End area. This subsided with vast numbers of student flats being built next to the Foss Dyke and Brayford Way B1273 bridge. Student life has resulted in the building of the Engine Shed theatre complex on Brayford Wharf East.

Further education

Further education courses in Lincoln are provided by Lincoln College, which is the largest education institution in Lincolnshire, with 18,500 students, of whom 2,300 are full time.[12] Also, Lincoln has an Access To Music branch, situated above Pulse and Ritzy, on Flaxengate.


The school system in Lincoln is anomalous within Lincolnshire despite being part of the same Local Education Authority, as most the rest of Lincolnshire retained the grammar school system. Other areas near Lincoln, such as North Hykeham, Branston and Cherry Willingham, also have comprehensive schools. Lincoln itself had three grammar schools until September 1974. In 1994, the Lincolnshire County Council proposed to convert the City School (on Skellingthorpe Road) into a grammar school, but some protesting (pro-comprehensive) parents caused a change of heart.

Former Lincoln Christ's Hospital Girls' High School

Since 1992, Lincoln has had a newly-built secondary school, the The Priory Lincolnshire School of Science and Technology, which although a comprehensive, gets A level results better than five Lincolnshire grammar schools. Many Lincoln comprehensive schools have been underperforming, particularly the Joseph Ruston School in Boultham. Another school in Lincoln is Saint Peter and Saint Paul Catholic High School.


The local newspaper is the Lincolnshire Echo, and the local radio stations are BBC Radio Lincolnshire on 94.9FM and its commercial rival Lincs FM on 102.2FM. The newest addition to the local airwaves is Siren FM, which broadcasts on 107.3FM from the University of Lincoln. BBC Look North have a bureau in Lincoln as an integral part of their coverage of Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire. There are three TV reporters based in Lincoln serving both BBC Look North and East Midlands Today.


Lincoln has a professional football team, Lincoln City F.C., nicknamed 'The Imps', which plays at the Sincil Bank stadium on the southern edge of the city. The collapse of ITV Digital, which owed Lincoln City FC more than £100,000, in 2002 saw the team faced with bankruptcy but it was saved after a massive fund-raising venture by the fans that returned ownership of the club to them where it has remained since. The club was famously the first team to be relegated from the English Football League, when automatic relegation to the Football Conference was introduced from the 1986-87 season. Lincoln City regained its league place at the first attempt and has held onto it since.

Lincoln City were notably the first club managed by Graham Taylor, who managed the English national football team from 1990 to 1993. He was at Lincoln City from 1972 to 1977, during which time the club won promotion from the Fourth Division.

The club's apex arguably came in 1982, when they finished fourth in the Third Division and narrowly missed out on promotion to the Second Division.

Lincoln City has a female counterpart, Lincoln City L.F.C. ('The Lady Imps')

Lincoln is also home to Lincoln United F.C, Lincoln Moorlands Railway F.C. and Lincoln Griffins Ladies F.C..

Famous citizens

Restaurant and former car showrooms designed by Sam Scorer
Tennyson's statue outside the cathedral

Twin towns

See also





Further reading

  • Francis Hill, 1948. Medieval Lincoln (Cambridge: University Press)

External links



Tourism and pictures


Local business and trade

Local music and art

Local organisations

Simple English

Lincoln is an old city in Lincolnshire, England. Lincoln has a cathedral that is one of the biggest in the world.[needs proof] Lincoln has a population of 101,000 people.[1]



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