Imagine news without pictures; yet in the infancy of newspapers this was the norm. It took the imagination and determination of Herbert Ingram, a Boston man, to change the way news was presented. Born in the town on 27th May 1811, this son of a butcher was brought up in poverty after his mother was widowed. Educated at Laughton’s Charity School which then operated in the south-west chapel of the Stump, he later went to the National School in Pump Square before becoming an apprentice printer to Joseph Clarke, who had premises in the Market Place.
At the age of 21 he moved to London where he met Nathaniel Cook, who later married his sister. Nathaniel’s literary skills and Herbert’s technical ability resulted in the two forming a partnership as printers, newsagents and stationers in Nottingham. Noticing that the sales of the newspapers in their shop rose when they carried woodcut illustrations, Herbert started a topical newspaper with copious pictures. In 1842 The Illustrated London News was born, selling at an affordable 6d a copy. The paper has remained in circulation ever since.
Ingram returned to Boston and devoted considerable time in working for the betterment of the town. He was prominent in the founding of the Boston Water Works which, in 1849, provided for the first time the town with a reliable supply of fresh water. He also ensured that Boston and its port were connected to the national rail network. Moreover he was instrumental in the restoration of the Stump and paid to have the east window restored. In 1856 he stood for Parliament as the Liberal candidate in a by-election which he won with the help of Mark Lemon, editor of Punch.
During 1860, Herbert and his eldest son went on a holiday to Chicago where they took a trip on Lake Michigan. On the night of 8th September a violent storm arose and the Lady Elgin on which they were sailing collided with another schooner. There were few survivors. Ingram’s body was brought back to Boston and greeted by a huge crowd. He was buried in the recently opened Cemetery where his grave is marked by a red marble obelisk. Two years later a 10 foot high marble statue of Herbert Ingram holding a copy of The Illustrated London News was unveiled in the Market Place, paid for by public subscription. In its pedestal is a carved figure of a girl holding a water urn, commemorating his achievement in bringing water to the town.