Royal visits and long-serving farmhands - a nostalgic step back in time

King visits Burwell Fen Battlefield: June 15, 1942

King visits Burwell Fen Battlefield: June 15, 1942. Their Majesties the King and Queen on Saturday paid a visit to reclaimed fen land in Cambridgeshire, and saw for themselves the magnificent work that is being carried out by the Cambs War Agricultural Executive on the vital food front. Indeed the whole five thousand acres at Swaffham Prior Fen and Adventurers Fen, Burwell is nothing more nor less than a battlefield where men and women, armed with the latest weapons of agriculture, are carrying out relentless warfare against rushes, scrub, bog oaks and flooding. Considerably more than half the 5,000 acres was derelict in 1939; the remainder produced only moderate crops. - Credit: MIKE PETTY

Royal visits feature heavily in our look back at Fenland history with Mike Petty reminding us of two memorable occasions in Ely and Burwell. 

Worlds Fattest Girl at Midsummer Fair, 1929

Worlds Fattest Girl at Midsummer Fair, 1929 - Credit: MIKE PETTY

We also look back at a salvage theft in the late 1940s, a water supply objection and 'world's fattest girl' at Midsummer Fair in the late 1920s.

Princess Margaret at Ely: June 22, 1959 

Princess Margaret at Ely: June 22, 1959. Princess Margaret, Colonel-in-Chief of the Suffolk Regiment, visited Ely Cathedral to dedicate a Roll of Honour of the names of the 20 officers and 740 other ranks of the Cambridgeshire Regiment who did not return from the ill-fated Malayan campaign 17 long years ago. She was very excited to see the Cathedral at last because she had glimpsed it from the train but never before been inside. - Credit: MIKE PETTY

You can follow Mike Petty’s research through his Facebook page, Fenland History on Facebook.  

King visits Burwell Fen Battlefield: June 15, 1942

King visits Burwell Fen Battlefield: June 15, 1942. Their Majesties the King and Queen on Saturday paid a visit to reclaimed fen land in Cambridgeshire, and saw for themselves the magnificent work that is being carried out by the Cambs War Agricultural Executive on the vital food front. Indeed the whole five thousand acres at Swaffham Prior Fen and Adventurers Fen, Burwell is nothing more nor less than a battlefield where men and women, armed with the latest weapons of agriculture, are carrying out relentless warfare against rushes, scrub, bog oaks and flooding. Considerably more than half the 5,000 acres was derelict in 1939; the remainder produced only moderate crops. - Credit: MIKE PETTY

Water opposition: June 16, 1922 

Water opposition: June 16, 1922. Ely rural water supply public inquiry, Stretham & others object. Holland Porter, representing Stretham opposed scheme as was it unnecessary. Mr Savidge of Stretham who was deaf & unable to hear any of the evidence caused great amusement in his vigorous condemnation of the existing water supply and declared he was willing to pay anything to secure improved conditions. Mr Savidge, who said he was a baker, urged that whenever it rained the water supply was muddy... "I cannot drink it nor can I get other people to eat it". - Credit: MIKE PETTY

Salvage theft: June 23, 1947 

Salvage theft: June 23, 1947. The temptation caused by a salvage dump containing equipment which was expected by two men to be "broken up and thrown away" led to their appearance at the Cambs Petty Sessions on Saturday. Defendants pleaded guilty to being concerned in stealing four petrol motors and generators to the value of £40 from the salvage dump at Waterbeach Aerodrome. - Credit: MIKE PETTY

Long-serving farmhands June 23, 1973 

Long-serving farmhands: June 23, 1973. Two farm workers with 106 years’ service between them will be presented with long-service awards at the East of England Show. Mr Bertie Cowl of Soham can look back on 52 years on the land, most of them working for the same employer. Mr Harry Pryor can look back on an almost unbroken span of 54 years on the same farm at Great Shelford. Mr Cowl was born in Soham Fen. When the late Mr Herbert Bedford took over Fletcher's farm he joined him and has been there ever since. As farming has become more mechanised Mr Cowl has one special regret: "I particularly miss horses", he said. - Credit: MIKE PETTY


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