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.
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.
Whilst 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.