Stretham Old Engine

The Stretham Old Engine.

It’s been there on my horizon every time I visit my parents. Every time I pass it, I think ‘I’ll visit that soon’. By complete chance, today was that day.

The Stretham Old Engine, which sits on the banks of the Old West River is now in the hands of The Stretham Engine Trust, who open it for a few days each year to the public. By complete chance, I happened to find the website and saw that it was open this afternoon.

Long gone are its days of steam – the engine became redundant when it was replaced by electric pumps along the bank of The River Cam. However, this doesn’t stop The Trust from lovingly taking care of this beautiful example of industrial innovation.

The Engine Wheel

Years ago, someone told me that there was a Yarrow mentioned on a plaque here. This had slipped my mind until I was already driving through Wilburton on my way to Stretham village.

Sure enough, there on the front of the engine room, sits a plaque to commemorate the building’s construction in 1831. Amongst the names, is a ‘J Yarrow’ listed as one of the commissioners.

Whether this ‘J Yarrow’ is John Yarrow or James Yarrow, I’m unsure, but both would have had an interest in the drainage of the fens as the family were substantial land owners in the area.

Erected in 1831Whilst the guidebook and exhibits don’t appear to mention the full name of Mr Yarrow, and there’s no mention of who it might be online, I’m sure that there’s some documents somewhere that will soon provide the answer as to the full names of those commissioners.

It’s nice to feel that my family played a pivotal role in shaping this part of the landscape.

Check out the rest of my photos and a video of part of the engine in action.

Littleport Society forthcoming events calendar

The Littleport Society shieldI’ve just received the latest Littleport Society magazine and they are currently confirming the following calendar dates – all of which take place at 7.30pm at the Village Hall.

  • 4th December 2009 – Society Bookstall at the late night Christmas shopping
  • 5th January 2010 – Tessa West – Life of a Huguenot family in the Fens in the 1600s.
  • 2nd February 2010 – AGM and a chance to view the Littleport Master Plan – followed by a slide show by Bruce Frost.
  • 2nd March 2010 – Gordon Easton – Growing up in the Fens – a humble tiller of the soil.
  • 6th April 2010 – Bill Wittering – History of the royal mail

Please check with the Society before travelling long distances – they reserve the right to cancel/change the schedule of events at short notice.

New season of Littleport Society meetings announced.

I’ve just received the latest edition of The Littleport Society magazine, so thought i’d share the event info with you that covers the next few months. I’ve been a member of the society for years now and they are exceptionally helpful.


  • 1st September: Alan Litshel – “Bottles 1870-1920”
  • 6th October: Hilary Ritchie – “History of nursing at Addenbrookes Hospital”
  • 3rd November: Malcolm Gaskill – “The Devil in Cambridgeshire – the witch hunting campaign 1645-1647”
  • 1st December : Iain Harvey – Christmas organ concert (in St George’s Church)


  • 5th January: Tessa West – ‘Companion to Owls – life of a Huguenot family in the fens in the 1600s’
  • 2nd February: AGM and member’s short talks
  • 2nd March: Gordon Easton – ‘Growing up in the fens – a humble tiller of the soil’
  • 6th April: Bill Wittering – History of the Royal Mail
  • 4th May: Peter Carter – The Last of the Eel Catchers
  • 1st June: Gerald Siviour – East Anglia Railways – the last 50 years.
  • 6th July: Mike Petty – ‘Fenland History on your computer – the library on your laptop’

All meetings are held on the first Tuesday of each month (except for August when there are no meetings) at 7.30pm at the Village Hall, Victoria Street, Littleport, Cambridgeshire. Non-members are welcome.

Please note that events/talks are subject to change.

%d bloggers like this: