Local historian John Pryke writes his second piece on life in the 19th Century in Fordham.

As the 19th Century dawned, the population of Fordham was around 700, with most dwellings situated in the main thoroughfare.

The next 40 years would see the population double, but this figure was reduced by around 200 after outbreaks of Cholera and Diptheria. Some folk also left the area to find work in the North.

Fordham Junction Railway Station opened on September 1, 1879. It was constructed on the Ely to Newmarket line of the Great Eastern Railway Company. The line to Cambridge (Barnwell Junction) opened five years later.

The Fordham to Mildenhall line, via Isleham, opened on April 1, 1885.

The station had one of the largest goods facilities in the area. The entire site covered five acres. During the war years, trains transported ammunition and other materials to airfields in the area.

The station operated for more than 85 years until Government cutbacks forced its closure.

Various charities were formed, including the Hetty Roper Charity and Farmer Eyre Coote who donated coal and blankets for the poor and needy in wintertime.

The Fordham Mission Band was formed around 1890 and the parish council in 1894.

The Vestry looked after village affairs before the council came to fruition and village allotments were created two years later.

Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee was celebrated in style in 1897 with a public tea in the school playground and sports events in the grounds of Fordham Abbey, followed by a bonfire and fireworks in the evening. 

The Victoria Hall and Hayward Institute opened on Easter Monday 1898. The facility was made possible by the Reverend Tansley Hall who donated two cottages and £500.

Cyril Dunn-Gardner of Fordham donated an area of land for the site. The cottages were previously used as a meeting place for the Village Institute and other organisations. But it was considered a much larger venue was required for local events.

Local builders, H.Boon & Co constructed the building in 16 months with most materials being transported by train and then by horse and cart to the site.