Bread or Blood! Littleport Riot 22 May 1816 remembered with village celebration and commemoration

Cathy Gibb-de Swarte dressed as George at Littleport

Cathy Gibb-de Swarte dressed as George at Littleport - Credit: Archant

Bread or Blood! Littleport Riot 22 May 1816 remembered.

Littleport marked the 200th anniversary of the rioting that began in Main Street on May 22 1816 with a day of commemorative events both celebratory and serious.

The parish council offices, the Barn, also the headquarters of the Littleport Society, was open for an exhibition of riot memorabilia, and the car park was occupied by 9 community stalls.

The 363MCC had a display of immaculately maintained big bikes, and on the ground in front of them stood a collection tin for their chosen charity, East Anglia Air Ambulance. President Mark Robinson in attendance and his fellow committee members were as well turned out of course as their bikes.

Phil Malkin of YPL welcomed people to his stall that set out all the different initiatives that his charitable company has set up.

As well as a second hand outlet and café in Granby Street, his cycle repair and sales outlet, and his regular auctions, Phil has just begun to host a Kung Fu club every Thursday, and a new children’s cinema club is coming soon!

Jo Abbs’ stall was promoting ThePort club for the youth of Littleport and raised £71 on the day.

Most Read

Timebank had a stall tempting people to join in their time-sharing schemes. Do some gardening for someone and you may get a curtain repair done or some fence painting, and so on.

The Camera Club was running a photographic competition at a pound a go. And if you wanted you could have your photo taken putting your head in a hole cut out of a board like the ones at the seaside but with a noose drawn round it!

Councillor Geoff Norman staffed the PULSE stall – the group set up to raise money for monitoring and life-saving equipment at St George’s Medical Centre.

Branching Out were doing a good trade selling items from their charity shop with store manager Simon Garner doing better than Aunty Wainwright in ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ – you couldn’t leave without buying something!

Littleport’s Scouts were also showcasing their activities.

Street Life and Emma Sharp were there with a local history project that’s focusing on high streets in World War Two looking for research volunteers.

The Littleport Society’s stall at the entrance to the Barn was excellent naturally.

But you have to hand it to the stall crewed by the time-travelling Fedarbs and Faulkners! Dressed in authentic 1816 garments they actually have historic skills.

Maureen, married to Paul Fedarb is a spinster, she spins thread, while Paul is an antique book maker and book-binder.

Karen Faulkner is a herbalist, Brian makes tools the old way – and had a hand-made wooden rake to show passers-by. Their son Karl is a soldier with a re-enactment group.

Adams Heritage Centre was busy all day in the centre of Littleport and Main Street was full of colourful dancing Morris sides all day long, some of whom performed in the Barn car park – and the Maypole dance was beautifully performed by the school children of Littleport.

There was a guided riot tour plus a sponsored walk from Littleport to Ely, in the rioters’ footsteps, organised by the Littleport Rotary, and it raised over £3,000 for the Food Bank and other good causes.

Then there was the surprise reappearance at the festivities by Littleport mascot, George the Dragon, who added to the jollity.

That night the Littleport village hall was filled for a screening of the Field Theatre Group’s ‘Riot in the Blood’. A new song penned by James Dylan Thomson, The Littleport Martyrs, was sung by him before curtain up. The event provided a moving end to the day’s remembrance.