Plaque for Littleport benefactor to be unveiled

ONE of Littleport’s greatest benefactors, Thomas Peacock, is to be honoured with a plaque unveiled outside the factory he founded in the village in the 19th Century.

Members of the Littleport Society have arranged to have the memorial erected to Mr Peacock, at his former Hope Brothers shirt factory on White Hart Lane.

Former factory worker and Littleport Society member Maureen Scott has worked tirelessly to make sure that Thomas Peacock gets the recognition he deserves.

“He was a wonderful man,” she said, “He was one fantastic man. He became very rich but did not forget his roots. I have spent years researching him and his family, I think he was the greatest benefactor ever.

“He was ahead of his time, he built houses for his workers and family, he owned brick works at Gray Field in Littleport, and bought a lot of property in the town

“When he said he was going to manufacture cut priced shirts, people thought he was mad, but they went like a bomb; he had 24 shops and factories.

“He lived at The Grange in Littleport, it was one of the finest homes in the county, but his wife did not like country living, so they moved back to London.”

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Maureen worked at Hope Brothers for 31 years, and despite hating the job at first, she spent many happy years there. The factory later became Burberrys, and is now used for luxury flats.

Thomas was born in Littleport in 1829. After schooling, the young Thomas served an apprenticeship as a hosier at Robert Sayle in Cambridge before travelling across the breadth of the British Empire, to India and Hong Kong, before returning to England in 1869.

Shortly after he established his own shop in the capital and moved with his family to Littleport when the business began to thrive.

After seeing the poverty that was blighting the people of his native village, Peacock resolved to help and had a shirt factory built in 1882 to provide employment for the village’s young women and mothers. He named it the Hope Brothers factory.

In the months and years that proceeded, Peacock went on to purchase houses for his workers as well as recreation facilities, a library and gardens, eventually providing work for 400 women and girls in the village and surrounding area.

Peacock, the father of 14, died unexpectedly in 1895, but left a lasting legacy in the village, that will be honoured by the unveiling of the plaque on June 4 at 11.00am. The Ely Town Crier is expected to attend, and there will be an exhibition and refreshments in the village hall.