“Discovering Bourne” Pays Tribute to Bourne Historian, Rex Needle

It is almost ten years since the “Discovering Bourne” magazine first appeared and, in that time our readers have had the opportunity to discover so many of the town’s stories from the past.

This has been almost entirely due to the extraordinary work of former Fleet Street journalist and Bourne resident, Rex Needle, whose first contribution for this magazine was on the town’s Red Hall in September 2011.

Sadly, Rex passed away on March 22nd , 2021, aged ninety, following a short illness, with his wife of fifty-eight years, Elke, and son Justin by his side. He leaves behind a grandson Anton and two elder brothers but, in terms of his ‘back catalogue’, one enormous collection of fascinating historical documents, books and photographs will be his legacy for the future.

As a result of his knowledge and enthusiasm for the Heritage Centre, housed in Baldock’s Mill on South Street, Mr Needle was made an honorary member of Bourne Civic Society. Brenda Jones, the Chairman of the Civic Society and a neighbour of Elke and Rex, confirmed Rex’s role in ensuring that Bourne’s fascinating past should be kept alive for future residents of his adopted town.

Brenda explains, “He and his wife Elke would come to Baldock’s Mill most weeks to see what was happening and when the water wheel was being built by Jim Jones (her husband) he took lots of photographs and he was one of the sponsors for Jim, when Jim got the MBE. He was a very generous man and gave his time freely. His website which was up and running for many years was read all over the world, especially by people who had left Bourne but still wanted to know what was going on in the town. He will be hugely missed in Bourne.”

In January 2016, Rex was invited to share his opinions with readers of “Discovering Bourne”, as the incumbent in our “In the Hot Seat” feature. The following extracts may shed some light on the man who was to become one of Bourne’s favourite ‘adopted sons’:

“I was born in Peterborough and spent many years singing with the church choir which gave me a lifelong appreciation of sacred music”.

“The army taught me a code of discipline that I have tried to follow ever since, notably a respect for others, neatness and punctuality”.

Finally, when asked what he would change about his town…
“Additional parking space, to help visitors and to boost trade for local shops, and a north-south bypass for the A15; otherwise, our town centre will become even more dangerous than it is now, from traffic fumes and heavy vehicles, which is hardly a suitable legacy to leave future generations”.

Rex Needle – a man renowned locally for looking at the past, but here looking to the future!

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