COMMENT: Lyn of Littleport by Lyn Guest de Swarte
PUBLISHED: 10:11 20 April 2016
Everyone knows that Littleport is expanding. Well it's been expanding since 1086 when 31 people were listed as making their home here in the Domesday Book.
The mind boggles at the make-up of those households though. There were 15 villagers, eight cottagers – and eightslaves.
Now, slaveless and a mere nine hundred and thirty years and 4,000 plus houses later, we’ve got the prospect of another 600 going up – and yet another tree coming down. Well it is only one I hear you say.
But trees are a bit thin on the ground in Littleport if you’ll forgive the pun.
This tree is growing on land bought from a farmer for afore mentioned new-builds. It turns out that although it has had the misfortune to be diagnosed as diseased and damaged, and gets the chop, you could say sacrificing a tree may seem to be a propitious move for the urban estate planners; given the old country ways, dare I mention the displeasure of the Green Man, it could have a reverse effect! .
Littleport being a rural parish it isn’t surprising that there are some farmers on its council – but none of them are selling off land to property developers - so there’s no conflict of interest in any decisions they make before you ask.
Thing is, it’s developing into a hot topic of conversation around the village and on our Littleport based Facebook pages.
People are wondering out loud about the impact of siting 600 two-car families behind Grange Lane that’s on the Millfield school run, among other road-using considerations.
Wider concerns being voiced is services infrastructure, like the three weeks one man was told he’d have to wait to see his named doctor at the medical centre.
Everyone also knows that Littleport is a veritable hotbed of charitable impulses. You can’t go anywhere hardly without having a collecting tin on a counter, bar, shop or café; or the function you go to either being held for charity, or holding a raffle for a charity.
The Rotary is here and Littleport Lions and newest is ThePort organised by Joanne Abbs-Coe.
Two charities that have actual premises in Littleport are YPL and Branching Out.
Phil Malkin, who actually hails from Littleport, runs YPL, aka Young People Littleport, to provide courses, classes and other opportunities for the younger generation.
He fundraises constantly with regular auctions at his place in Henry Crabbe Road and has a café and second-hand shop in Granby Street. You can also buy a bicycle or get yours repaired.
Susan Wiggans is general manager for Branching Out that has a shop in the High Street supporting their fantastic purpose built facility in Grange Lane for adults with learning difficulties.
Both YPL and Branching Out are happy to receive donations of your surplus to requirements clothes, furniture and bric a brac, so Littleport’s houses can not only be cleared of clutter but feeds into our need to help others with very little effort!
Branching Out’s shop has been transformed by its manager Simon Garner into a vintage emporium worthy of a visit for its own sake – but you will definitely leave with some irresistible treasure that will go towards making a difference to their clientele’s quality of life.
In case you didn’t know we are a musical lot too. There’s the Littleport Community Choir and the Littleport Lyrics and many individuals with exceptional talent.
And to name but a few of them, next time you visit the Co-Op in Wisbech Road you could be served by the leader of the innovative group, ‘God Hates Astronauts’, Jordan Powell. Giles Philbey, E flat bass tuba player, with Littleport Brass and fundraiser extraordinaire who had his head shaved for a children’s cancer charity, used to work in McColls in Main Street and is now at college.
If you want to learn violin or piano, celebrated virtuoso Darrell Richings is your man (whose great uncle George Strickson was a speed skating champion and won the Littleport Cup on the Moors in 1907) and concert pianist Neil Colledge has chosen to live in Littleport too.
You’ll have heard of Kathryn Buck. She is a singer on a mission – to bring cool jazz to Littleport in her monthly Wednesday Jazz Club open mic nights at the Swan – and she has been asked to sing the National Anthem at the lighting of the beacon – 8.30pm on April 21 outside the leisure centre on Camel Road - to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday. (That’s after the ‘Royal Quiz’ in the leisure centre at 7pm).
By the way Littleport was singing the night the Queen was born in 1926. The Littleport Choral Society portentously sang Elgar’s ‘Banner of St George’ at the Constitutional Hall in Main Street.
At that time nobody knew that her uncle would abdicate and that she would ascend to the throne after her father died in 1952, in the house where he had been born, Sandringham, only 28 miles from here.
Another royal story? Graffiti came to Littleport. Children’s play park. One man and his bucket, a ‘prince’, unasked and of course unpaid, charitable impulses ablazing, first name shared with a Mr Fawkes, scrubbed it clean. Now that’s what I call good news!