Not breaking news: Vicar has lucky escape, station closes and hotel sold

George Dimock, barber

George Dimock, barber - Credit: Archives

This week our journey through the archives takes in a vicar’s narrow escape at a level crossing and tramway traumas.  

We also go back to 1965 and the closure of Soham rail station (soon to re-open of course). 

Then we find out about a village barber called Mr Dimock (only one ‘M’ as the records prominently reminds us).  

And how much might you have needed to buy the Lamb Hotel, Ely? In 1843. 

All part of our trip back in time, only made possible by the expert tutelage of historian Mike Petty, to whom we as always give our thanks.   

Prickwillow Vicar's escape at Adelaide Crossing, 1884 

On Saturday even the Rev. O. H. Mosley was driving to Ely, accompanied by his governess, Miss Lawson. 

Most Read

They narrowly escaped destruction at the level crossing on the Peterborough line.  

On reaching the crossing, the gates were opened to allow him to pass. The attention of the gateman was fixed on the lights of a distant up goods train. 

And he failed to notice the approach of a down express, until it was close at hand. 

In the meantime, Mr. Mosley had driven half way over the line, unconscious of the danger.  

The gateman, perceiving the peril, with great presence of mind, sprang aside and shouted a warning.  

Mr. Mosley was just able to back his horse clear of the rails as the express crashed full speed through the gate.  

The fragments of timber and ironwork were scattered to great distance, and. fortunately, nobody was struck.  

The three level crossings on the Prickwillow Road are, not without reason, a source of alarm to many who have occasion to use them: and it is no means a rare thing observe the gates in shattered condition.  

If the dangerous evil of these level crossings is one which the unfortunate dwellers in the fen are doomed to out up with, it will be only fair that the railway company should use all the scientific appliances at their command, and thus reduce the danger. 

Cottenham-Chesterton Tramway like that at Upwell, 1884 

Chesterton Local Board heard that Mr Ivatt of Cottenham proposed the plan to lay a tramway from Cottenham, Histon, and then on to the Wheat Sheaf, at the corner of Huntingdon Road. 

It was with a view to ultimately carrying it down Victoria Road to the junction at Chesterton. 

They first of all tried to get a light railway, and then they attempted to get the main line to their place.  

They then thought that perhaps a tram-line might he of some good. It was thought they might have a light tramway laid by the side of the road, similar to that they had from Wisbech to Upwell. 

Several gentlemen had paid a visit to Wisbech to see the tramway there and believed the tramway was about the best thing they could have.  

At Wisbech the tramway ran by the side of the railway for about a quarter of a mile, then it crossed the road, and ran along one side of it on the grass.  

Mr. Ivatt described their ride from Wisbech to Upwell, pointing out that the tram-cars stopped whenever anyone wished to get up or down, while there were various sidings on the line of route.  

On the return journey to Wisbech a number of trucks were brought hack, besides a quantity of goods. Every convenience was afforded to the general public for the transfer of their goods. 

He considered a tramway was far better than a railway, for in the case of the latter, they would only have about two trains per day, but with the tramway there were six journeys each way.  

The tramway speed is limited to eight miles per hour … horses did not appear at all frightened & seemed to take no notice of the trams at all, the engine was covered in.  

The engine, which would be noiseless, would be covered in and consume its own smoke 

A question was raised as to whether the tram-line should go from Cottenham to Oakington, but they did not want to go there particularly. 

The Board decided to refer it to a committee. 


Fatal Accident to a Horse. 

A tram-train on the Wisbech and Upwell Tramway caused an unfortunate accident. 

Mr. John Hunt, carter, of Wisbech, was proceeding to take a load of wood to Welney, for Mr. Charles Chapman, with his timber-trolley drawn by two horses. 

When going along the Elm Road, the animals became frightened by a special goods tram from Upwell.  

The trolley was descending the slope of Newcommon Bridge, and the noise of the steam caused both horses to start off.  

The fore horse swerved round; but the shaft horse, which was blind, ran into the ditch opposite, and the shaft being forced through its neck, caused its death in a short time. 

Steam train Wisbech

Steam train, Wisbech - Credit: Archive

Soham Station used by six passengers - July 22 1965 

The Ministry of Transport has consented to the withdrawal of rail passenger services between Ely and Newmarket which involve the closure of Soham and Fordham stations. 

He says the closure would cause mainly inconvenience and the effect on six people who travel daily from Soham to Cambridge would be reduced by the extension of the existing bus service. 

This is the Eastern Counties service 122 leaving Soham at 7:36 a.m. and arriving at Drummer Street Cambridge 8:42 a.m. which is to be carried on to the railway station in time to connect with the 9 a.m. train to Liverpool Street 

The decision was accepted by the parish council with one query: It's all very well getting out but can people get back at night?  

Soham station, 1930

Soham station, 1930 - Credit: Archive

Old school photo

The school photo is of a group from Ely High School, from around 1943

The school photo is of a group from Ely High School, from around 1943 - Credit: Fred Cummings

The school photo is of a group from Ely High School, my mum Henrietta Hitch as she was then probably around 1943, later Henrietta Howard on marriage, is on the top row third from the right. (From Freda Cummings)

Stretham: George Dimock 

“Stretham: A Feast of Memories by Beatrice Stevens was published by Providence Press in 1989. 

George Dimock, barber

George Dimock, barber - Credit: Archives

Another George became the village barber. He was George Dimock and, like the other George, he overcame a severe disability to become a useful member of the community. 

He was George Dimock, with a single 'M' unlike other families who used the double letter.  

George had been a cripple since the age of five, his disability being the result of a serious illness.  

It was never expected that he would walk again but, with medical skill and a small boy's perseverance, he did.  

Young George had hoped to be a carpenter but, when this wasn't possible, he began as apprentice to a hairdresser, Dobson's of St. Mary's Street, Ely, his first wage being two shillings (ten pence) a week.  

And when this was increased by another shilling nearly all of the original two shillings was deducted for insurance stamps. 

In 1929 his father, also George, who had seven other children, encouraged him to start his own business and for fifty years he had a little shop in Ely Road where people met for a good gossip as well as for a haircut and shave.  

And George, always genial, listened and added his own comments. The shop had previously been occupied by cobbler, Fred Curtis, of whom we shall hear more. 

For some years George and his wife with their son, Brian, lived at Akeman House, which had been the home of brewer William Henry Sennitt and, later, Holland Rose Porter.  

After such a spacious home George was content to end his days alone in a Council bungalow, a widower.  

But, although alone, he never seemed lonely for like George Spicer he found congenial company among friends at the village pubs. 

George's ability as a hairdresser - note the promotion from barber - earned him a contract at the R.A.F. Hospital in Ely and he developed his village business by selling second-hand goods.  

The shop was now a veritable treasure-house for those who liked to browse.  

There were dusty books, pictures, old chairs, a pram, toys for the children, some of whom must have been a nuisance but George had endless patience.  

His stock was so great that it overflowed on to the pavement but the Parish Council looked on with an indulgent eye.  

They knew, like everyone else, if you wanted something cheap you went to "Pudden's". He could nearly always oblige. 

Longest Road Inquiry ends -  July 19 1972 

Men at work on the Northern Bypass, 1978 

Men at work on the Northern Bypass, 1978 - Credit: Archive

It was the end of the road for the Cambridge By-pass inquiry yesterday.  

It died in the afternoon at the tottering age of 72 days - and no-one shed a tear. 

It had lingered through six tedious months and had achieved notoriety as the longest public inquiry into a road scheme ever held in the British Isles.  

There were 76 objections and scores of witnesses and counter- objectors and every nook, cranny and cubby-hole of the by-pass project was explored to the horizons of desperation and beyond. 

It was the Inspector who raised the point which had occurred to everyone but which no one liked to mention. "I do hope that I survive long enough to write my report", he remarked casually one afternoon, "For all your sakes" 

Black Horse flooding - July 20 1933

Black Horse Drove School 1971 

Black Horse Drove School 1971 - Credit: Archive

Black Horse Drove school becomes badly flooded, not only with surface water but with sewage, councillors heard.  

Since so many more houses had been built on the higher land at Littleport a tremendous amount of sewage comes down whenever they got a heavy storm and settles in the playground. 

Tenders were received for the erection of a branch library at March together with a new senior school which will be named the Hereward School. 

Lamb Hotel for sale - ‘Ely Chronicle’ February 18 1843 

Lamb Hotel, Ely, for sale - but when and for how much?

Lamb Hotel, Ely, for sale - but when and for how much? - Credit: Archive

Lamb Inn, Ely: A First Rate, Family Hotel and Posting House 

To Be Let by Auction, by C. M. Bidwell: The Old established and well-accustomed Inn, Family Hotel, and Posting-house, called the Lamb at Ely. 

It comprises handsome Entrance, well situated Bar, commercial Room, Market Room, Large Dining Room, and four other excellent sitting rooms, and capable of making up twenty beds, large and convenient Kitchens and extensive Cellarage. 

The yard is spacious, and contains two Lock-up Coach-houses, capital Stabling for Thirty Horses, suitable and well-arranged Offices, with Convenient Tap, fronting Market Street. 

The above establishment stands in a most eligible situation at the junction of the roads leading from Lynn, Cambridge and Newmarket, which must at all times command the principal trade, as an Inn and Posting house. 

It has long been reputed one of the first and best frequented Houses in the Country, and has been for the last fourteen years in the occupation of Mr Beecroft, the present tenant who is retiring from business.  

There is no probability of any railway being carried sufficiently near to prejudice the trade or posting of this House, and the completion of any of the projected lines will considerably improve it. 

Downfield Infernal Machine - July 18 1934 

Downfield windmill 1930s

Downfield windmill, 1930s - Credit: Archive

A complaint was received about a wireless set at Downfield, Soham. 

This was a quiet, rural housing site where the people should be happy and comfortable.  

But one person had got an infernal machine called a loud speaker and was operating his wireless set at high volume. Such people should be put in the middle of a 40-acre field. 

Everybody paid the rent and had a right to peace and quiet, so a letter should be sent stating that the nuisance should be stopped.