Q&A: Grantham’s Courtney Finn

Courtney Fin, of the Grantham Civic Society, takes part in the Santa Fun Run in Grantham. Photo: Ian Selby
Courtney Fin, of the Grantham Civic Society, takes part in the Santa Fun Run in Grantham. Photo: Ian Selby

Few people have a greater passion for community service in Grantham than Courtney Finn.

As a dedicated historian he is particularly proud of his work with Grantham Civic Society, where he has responsibility for installing blue plaques and sign boards.

Mr Finn also finds time to be chairman of the finance committee for St Wulfram’s Church, a governor at King’s School, a member of Grantham Rotary Club and also Grantham 40 Plus Club, for former Round Tablers.

Married to Elizabeth, the couple have three children and eight grandchildren.

How do you find the time to represent some many community organisations?

Quite often my wife says to me ‘who are you working for today?’ My wife helps me enormously and I enjoy everything I get involved with.

Where did your love of history come from?

I studied economic history at Leeds University and that basically turned me into being interested in history. Grantham has such an amazing long history, it is really fascinating. I also have a great interest in history from the 14th century.

You have responsibility for the town’s blue plaques. Are there any new ones due to be put up?

We have one planned for Arthur Harry Blissett, who was a member of Captain Scott’s Discovery Antarctic expedition from 1901 to 1904. We found out he was born in Grantham and lived at 48 Manthorpe Road - the street has since been renumbered and his house is number 30. British Sugar is among the sponsors for this plaque and we are just waiting for the money to be available.

Another possibility is a plaque for Alan Roulstone, who was a very talented artist who travelled the country in the 1950s doing pen and ink drawings of pubs and inns and then selling them to the owners. He went to The King’s School and lived next door to the shop Margaret Thatcher grew up in on North Parade.

Are there any information boards planned in the town?

Manthorpe Road is quite a historic area of the town because that is where the famous Grantham Windsor Chair industry was based. We are considering whether to look into putting up a sign board to show this.

Any other major projects planned by the civic society?

We are working on an information board detailing the history of the railways in Grantham. This would tell the story of the old steam trains, give details about the famous crash which killed 14 people in 1906 and also the Mallard train which used to come through the town.

We would like to put the board up in September to coincide with the Grantham Rail Show and I plan to ask Michael Portillo to unveil it as he is a former Minister of Transport and has made countless television programmes about the railways.

It would be nice to have the Mallard there too as it is the 75th anniversary this year of it breaking the world speed record for steam locomotives.

Are there plans for a blue plaque outside the shop where Margaret Thatcher grew up?

English Heritage guidelines state you should wait 20 years after someone’s death, a period of ‘mature reflection’, so it will be some time before we do put one up.