Resident attracts global attention in bid to unearth history of East Cambridgeshire village

PUBLISHED: 17:45 03 September 2020

Robin Pearl has attracted interest on an international scale in his bid to unearth some of Little Downham’s history. Picture: SUPPLIED/JEAN HARRISON/ROBIN PEARL

Robin Pearl has attracted interest on an international scale in his bid to unearth some of Little Downham’s history. Picture: SUPPLIED/JEAN HARRISON/ROBIN PEARL

Archant

A resident who was keen to learn more about his village has been inundated with interest from people around the world in a bid to unearth some of its history.

Postman Walwyn Hull. Picture: SUPPLIED/JEAN HARRISONPostman Walwyn Hull. Picture: SUPPLIED/JEAN HARRISON

Robin Pearl from Little Downham near Ely has been researching and sharing archive material to capture how the village has developed over time.

Robin, who has lived in Little Downham for nearly 30 years, wanted to find more information about the village’s past over the last two years in order to write more articles for the monthly parish magazine.

“A couple of months ago during lockdown, I took on a project where I put up pictures of old houses on the village streets, asking what they remembered about Little Downham, the history of those houses and the people who lived there,” he said.

“I thought I need to get this captured somehow or it will get lost because it covers interesting developments in the village.”

The Lofts family, where father Ben and daughter Eva were well-remembered in the village, as Ben was heavily involved in many local organisations. Picture: SUPPLIED/JEAN HARRISONThe Lofts family, where father Ben and daughter Eva were well-remembered in the village, as Ben was heavily involved in many local organisations. Picture: SUPPLIED/JEAN HARRISON

Last month, Robin and John Clarke who contributes to the Cambridgeshire Community Archive Network waded through a range of village archive material they were keen not to waste.

Vintage photographs and minutes from Women’s Institute meetings were included, as well as articles and images printed in the Ely Standard newspaper, which Robin has wanted residents to help identify.

“We decided we should sort through this material, trying to get as much as we can for the archives in Ely or it will go to the skip,” he said.

“People will email me from around the world and say they’ve come across this photograph or information, and that their family is from Little Downham. I got some mystery photographs I put on the website and got flooded with responses.

The origins of the Little Downham village hall renovations believed to have been taken in the 1960s. Picture: SUPPLIED/ROBIN PEARLThe origins of the Little Downham village hall renovations believed to have been taken in the 1960s. Picture: SUPPLIED/ROBIN PEARL

“People were interested on what I know, so I thought it would start another project and give people more to talk about.”

MORE: Learn about city’s history by joining Ely Heritage Open Days tours, walks and talks - and they’re all free of charge

Robin has been encouraged by villagers to write a book on the village’s history, which he said is halfway through writing.

However, he believes his latest projects have helped provide a more personal benefit.

The bakery staff of Mr A. J. Sennitt and his family, pictured in the Ely Standard newspaper. Picture: SUPPLIED/ROBIN PEARLThe bakery staff of Mr A. J. Sennitt and his family, pictured in the Ely Standard newspaper. Picture: SUPPLIED/ROBIN PEARL

“It brought together a lot of people who have lost touch with each other. People who have moved away were posting comments and saying that they remember certain people and getting back together on Facebook,” Robin said.

“Everybody has been interested and a lot of people have said that this needs to be written down and ‘we should write a book’, and I have taken that on board.”

If you can help Robin with his projects, email him at robinpearl@btinternet.com.

A thatched cottage located on Main Street in Little Downham. Picture: SUPPLIED/ROBIN PEARLA thatched cottage located on Main Street in Little Downham. Picture: SUPPLIED/ROBIN PEARL

You may also want to watch:


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ely Standard. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Ely Standard