30th November 2016

Frederick Frank was born in October 1856, in Wurttemburg, Germany. He came to England in 1871, at the young age of 14. Why he came is unclear although political unrest in Europe and that his mother had died may have been contributory factors. He may have spent the first 10 years in England in Hull, Wisbech or Boston however on the 1881 census, we find him living with his uncle in Boston. On the census he was recorded as an unemployed pork butcher. He became involved in a butchers business in Boston under the name Frank and Co. He married Rosina Kantenwein in Hull, came to Peterborough and started business as a pork butcher in Westgate taking over an existing business from Louis Schoeppler.

Frederick Frank

Frederick Frank – Westgate Butcher’s Shop

Frederick served the people of Peterborough and developed his business although he never applied for British Citizenship. At the outbreak of War in August 1914, all aliens were required to register at the Police Station. Frederick went to the Police Station in Milton Street and complied with the instruction.

Across the country anti-German feeling was very strong and Peterborough was no exception. On Thursday 6th August a crowd gathered outside the shop in Westgate and nothing more than the singing of patriotic songs, jeering and shouting occurred. On Friday 7th August rumours spread that Frederick had made derogatory remarks about King George V. The rumours were followed with thoughts that people would give Frederick a rough time during the evening. As a crowd gathered in Westgate for a second evening it seems that alcohol played a part when someone threw an object breaking one of the shop windows.

Others followed and soon a near riot developed. The chief constable was in attendance and he telephoned the Mayor, Sir Richard Winfrey, who arrived on his bicycle, and read the riot act. The Northampton Yeomanry were in Peterborough and they assisted the Police in restoring order. Much damage was inflicted on the shop and the stock of sausages and pork pies did not escape attention. The crowd was eventually pushed back to Westgate corner. The mob went to Frederick’s home in Fletton Avenue and attacked it which forced the family to escape to next door and then away from Peterborough to relatives.

Riot Crowds

Riot Crowds

The damaged stock was auctioned on the Saturday afternoon but sausages were thrown round the tram wires and pork pies used as footballs.

On Saturday evening Westgate again saw a crowd but it turned its focus on other business premises. The Salmon and Compass public house in Long Causeway was attacked. On their way to church on Sunday many people walked by the Westgate shop to inspect the damage which by then had been boarded up.

Following the incident, twenty-four men were brought before the local magistrates’ court, three were sent to prison, some were fined, others were recruited to the army and the rest were bound over to keep the peace. Frederick placed an advert in the local press offering £100 reward for anyone who could prove that he had said anything about the King.

His business carried on until in October he was told by the Police to be at Peterborough North Station for an evening train to York where he would be interned at the Leeman Road camp. How long he was there is not known as the records were destroyed by a German bomb in World War Two. On reflection Frederick must have wondered why all these things had happened to him and why the people of Peterborough had turned on him in such a vicious way especially as two of his sons had served in the British Army. His wife Rose never moved from the family home and remained in Peterborough.

Riot damage to the shop

Riot damage to the shop

The business in Peterborough was sold and after his time of internment Frederick moved to Leicester where with his two sons, Leonard Frank and Frank Charles Frank, he opened a pork butchers shop. Frederick died in 1922 and the two sons moved back to Peterborough in 1928 when they opened a shop at 50 Bridge Street changing the trading title to Frank Brothers. Eventually the business was moved back into Westgate in a shop next door to the original one. In June 2014 the business was sold with the Frank name disappearing being replaced with Grassmere.

The shop at Wisbech which had the title of G. W. Frank belonged to Frederick’s son George W. Frank who was put on a train at Peterborough with a pig and sent to Wisbech to make his own way in the world!!

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