Maundy Money, jam factory, baby's death and Mepal missiles

The Queen arriving for Maundy Money distribution, missiles through Mepal and the black out in Cambridgeshire

The Queen arriving for Maundy Money distribution, missiles through Mepal and the black out in Cambridgeshire - Credit: Mike Petty/Archant

Back into the archives and the Queen in Ely handing out Maundy Money, baby found dead in a privy and Great War black-out.  

Some of the historical moments we reflect on as we share some of Mike Petty’s jottings from his Fenland History on Facebook.  

Queen Maundy Money at Ely - April 16 1987 

The Queen in Ely to hand out Maundy Money

The Queen in Ely to hand out Maundy Money - Credit: Mike Petty

Huge crowds turned out to welcome the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh as they arrived in Ely for the Maundy Service. 

The year was 1987, and it was only the third time a reigning monarch has been to the city in 700 years and everyone was determined to make the visit an occasion to remember. 

The Royal couple drove to the cathedral in a glass topped Rolls-Royce. Their route along Back Hill was lined with cheering, flag-waving crowds.   

Sanitary Condition of Ely villages, Cambridge Independent Press, September 26,1885 

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An Inspection of the sanitary conditions of Ely Rural Sanitary Authority showed some house accommodation was fearfully defective, especially the Feofee houses which are usually old, cramped, dilapidated, and ill-ventilated.  

At Downham five people slept in a badly ventilated garret. 

Stretham, population 1,076. Water is obtained from wells; there is a public pump. The ‘Feoffees’ houses are damp; a privy is built against one of them, close to the window. Mortality is high for a district so favourably situated. 

Wardy Hill: the only water supply is from one open pond now nearly dry. 

Downham: water polluted and genuinely bad. Feoffees in a bad sanitary condition; cottages overcrowded; bad ventilation and insufficient privy accommodation 

Littleport: An inquest was held on the body of an infant female child, which was found in a privy.  

A police officer stated went to Priscilla Martin’s privy and found a baby floating in the soil. The child was much decomposed.  

A surgeon stated he had examined the child and had no doubt but it was born alive. There was privy filthy in the stomach.  

The jury returned a verdict that the child was born alive but how or by what means it came to its death did not appear 

Ely Jam Factory canning – Ely Standard, April 15, 1938 

Former jam factory, Ely

Former jam factory, Ely - Credit: Mike Petty

After several years of idleness, the jam factory in Brays Lane, Ely belonging to the National Canning Company is once again to spring into activity.  

It has been taken on lease by Saint Mary Merchants’ Preserving Company of Slough who contemplate opening it in about three months.  

With the exception of key positions, the labour employed will be local, and this means about 100 chiefly females will be engaged.  

Black-out: police can seize cars – Ely Standard, January 29, 1915 

To guard against danger from hostile aircraft the War Office has ordered that Cambridgeshire must remain shrouded in darkness at night time.  

No light shall be visible from any house or building or in the streets from 5pm to 7:30am. All public lighting has been abolished.  

Any police officer may stop and seize any vehicle which does not carry lamps in compliance with the order. 

Soham Soldier Shot by Sniper - Ely Standard, January 29, 1915 

Rifleman Albert Boyce

Rifleman Albert Boyce - Credit: Archant

We regret to record the death of Rifleman Albert Boyce, son of Mr. And Mrs. William Boyce of Station Road, Soham, as a result of a gunshot wound in the head received in the trenches.  

He had served 10 years in the Rifle Brigade and was given 48 hours leave on arriving in England from India. 

His extremely perilous duties in charge of a machine gun undoubtedly attracted the attention of the enemy's snipers.  

A letter from the base hospital contains the information: he lingered for about three days after he was struck, but was never really conscious.  

Mepal Missiles arrive - Fen Times April 16, 1959 

Missiles pass through Mepal

Missiles pass through Mepal - Credit: Archant

Looking like a gigantic cigar, a tarpaulin-covered ‘Thor’ rocket – minus its warhead of course – passed through Ely en route to the Mepal rocket base.  

The 90-foot transporter with pilot drivers at the rear to ensure negotiation of the highway, was escorted by the R.A.F. police.  

 The ‘Thor’, produced in America, has a range of at least 1,500 miles.