Award winning East Cambridgeshire historian publishes book on Ely’s agricultural history

William Franklin, the author

William Franklin, the author - Credit: Archant

An award-winning historian from East Cambridgeshire is to release a book on Ely’s agricultural history.

An Agricultural History of Ely

An Agricultural History of Ely - Credit: Archant

William Franklin’s ‘An Agricultural History of Ely’ has been published by the Ely History Publications Board.

The author said: “My new book focuses on the agriculture of the two parishes of Ely, the parish of Stuntney and Chettisham throughout time.

“It is packed full of information on a subject (agriculture) that was of paramount importance but not often appreciated properly in most historical books.

Mike Petty, of Fenland Family History, said of the plot: “Fenland farming is undergoing a revolution. Hundreds of acres of rich, black soil that has been nurtured by generations of farmers with the assistance of wind pumps, steam pumps, diesel pumps and - now - electric pumps are growing not crops of sugar beet, celery or wheat but sunshine.

“For centuries the land was divided up into strips that were farmed by individuals in agreement with their neighbours - all planting the same crop in the same area.

“But then the larger landowners started to change the tradition - enclosing those strips to create fields where they could graze livestock. The Ely fields had names - Highflyer Paddock, Dog Kennel Wood, Dovehouse Field,

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“As agricultural practices changed and machinery did what manpower had previously done so another revolution was needed.

“It came in 1844 when a meeting was called in Ely which would tear up the map of the countryside and reallocate land - the process of Parliamentary Enclosure.

“It was a period of meetings, agitation and massive change. New roads were laid out, footpaths created and plots of ground allotted to those individuals whose very way of farming was changed for ever.

“So how did it all work; who did the allotting, who got what bit of land. And what happened to those who lost out?

“These are some of the issues covered in William Franklin’s new book.

“If your family farmed the land, this is something that should be on your Christmas present list.”

Visit and search William Franklin ‘An Agricultural History of Ely’ to buy the book in paperback for £12.99. It can also be bought at Burrow’s Bookshop and Topping Booksellers in Ely.