ECDC Planners Reject New Town ‘Mereham’

Image: Mereham - Town's End Village

In a widely expected move, ECDC Planning Committee rejected the planning application by Multiplex Stannifer to build the 5000+ homes and 8000 sq.m of retail development on land adjacent to the A10 between Stretham and Wilburton (full details below).

The New Town (illustrations confirm the influence of the Simpsons hometown of Springfield), to be called Mereham, which will be made up of 5 neighbourhoods (Red Hill Park, Snoot’s Common, Brook End, Town’s End Village & Low Fen Village) has provoked outrage from village communities living close to the proposed site worried that the infrastructure won’t sustain a development of this size and that it would have a detrimental affect to the rural life these communities live. Action groups such as the ‘Wilburton Action Group Oppose New Settlement’ (Wagons) have attracted wide media attention, Carol Massey, of Wagons, voiced her concerns: ‘Our children are able to enjoy idyllic childhoods playing in fields and enjoy a rural way of life. If this went ahead it would ruin Wilburton for future generations’. Placcards seen at a recent meeting proclaimed ‘We Say No To SATANnifer’ and ‘Mereham Means Mayhem’.

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Ely’s Forgotten Bands: The Sokkets

Image: 'IT' magazine

OK, this isn’t strictly one of Ely’s forgotten bands but I thought it would be fun to publish an interview I done for Chris Hunt’s Sixth Form mag ‘IT’ back around 1980. It was firmly tounge-in-cheek as the band John Glover, Mark Pettifor and myself were in were, well basically crap and could barely hold a guitar chord between us.

We got together in the late 70s, 3 friends with nothing to do in Little Downham of an evening. Mark’s parents put up with our noise for a number of years but never complained. As I mention were crap but Mark’s parents alwasy gave us encouragement.

I went to Ely Sixth Form in September 1979 (I dropped out some six months later) and met Chris Hunt, he was doing a new school mag and interviewed me. Here is that tounge-in-cheek interview…

The Interview

A starling and revealing interview with Carl (spelt with a ‘K’) – ‘The Bottom’ Bedingfield, bass guitarist of the Sokkets.

Yes, at no expense spared … well not much anyway, we bring an almost exclusive interview with the immortal and legendary not Paul McCartney. In those obscure days of the early ’80’s Karl riveted to fame with his group the Sokkets, who have recently been appearing at the local Fordham coffee bar but who now find themselves unexpectedly free for the rest of the decade. This interview tells of the music (?), lives, loves and hat measurements of the amazing Sokkets. (Look out for hidden drugs references).
The group itself, Karl tells us, was formed without him back in those obsolete days of spring ’78. The days of flower power, the hippie and Don Revie had a large influence on the band, in this it’s early development. The original line-up was Mark Pettifor, (lead guitar and backing vocals) John Glover (lead vocals and Harmonica) and Paul Cornwall on bass guitar. After the arrest of the bassist, Cornwall, on a drugs charge, Karl entered the group. ‘This was’ Karl admitted later ‘my big break and I leaped at the beckoning chance of stardom’.

Image: The Sokkets

The rise was slow, with constant rehearsals in the bedroom of the lead guitarist, for which they occasionally earned the applause of his family downstairs. This was an early indicator of their great commercial potential. It was at about this time that they recorded their first LP ‘Live Wires’. Although it was a commercial failure, it did receive immense critical acclaim from the group itself. “It was brilliant”, stated a modest Karl after the first recording session.

Unfortunately, the barman did not know when he was onto a good thing and just threw them out.

Their second LP ‘Enquire Within’ was recorded in the same manner as ‘Live Wires’ and although a big release was planned, culminating in the signing of a recording contract at the gates of Buckingham Palace, nothing ever became of this.

Content with two LP’s under their belt, the Sokkets decided to join the club and pub circuit, doing some surprise concerts. Their first surprise concert was held in a pub, into which they had wandered one night after rehearsals. Unfortunately, the barman did not know when he was onto a good thing and just threw them out. Although no further gigs are planned, a major rehearsal at Little Downham Village Hall is on the cards, and the prospect of a recording contract, Karl tells us, is imminent.

Image: John Glover - The Sokkets

The group list foremost among their influences, alcohol and themselves – the Sokkets. With the line-up now finally settled – despite the absence of a drummer – and with fame and fortune safely in their pockets, all that is left for them to do is to make a spectacular breakup amongst lawsuits and to stage a comeback in two years time.

No matter what happens to the Sokkets, their music will live forever – the classic songs ‘Don’t blink at the ink’, ‘We hate James Bromley’ ‘X2-04’ and ‘To be Frank, Brian’ will join the immortal classics of the Beatles, the Stones and Wreckless Eric?

‘Thank you Karl, you can go as soon as you’ve been untied’. Chris Hunt

Image: The Sokkets Video

Podcast: The Sokket’s Music (?)

Our featured tracks by the Sokkets are pretty rough as they were recorded on a little radio cassette player (remember them?) on a super cheap blank cassette around 1978/79. The songs are ‘We hate James Bromley’ and ‘My Fleas Got Dogs’ which was stopped mid-way by Mark’s sister Janine as she said the ceiling was shaking. Be warned these are as bad as I said!

We Hate James Bromely
This was a guy at school we didn’t like for some reason, can’t remember why.

[audio:http://www.elyonline.co.uk/downloads/sokkets/jb.mp3]

My Flea’s Got Dogs
John done a lot of make-them-up-as-I-go-along vocals, this one was fun.

[audio:http://www.elyonline.co.uk/downloads/sokkets/fleas.mp3]

One Man, A Scanner, One Shoebox Of Negatives

Santa was kind enough to bring me a shiny new negative scanner this Xmas, so I have been delving into my battered old shoebox full of negatives that have sat at the top of the wardrobe for the last few years. Although I have lost many actual photographs over the years I always made a point of storing the negatives but was always too tight to get reprints. Over Xmas I began the task of turning my negatives into digital prints – Most of my photographs date from 1979-1992.

Karl and Chris (1983)

It is interesting to see my photographic metamorphosis from ‘kid with a 110 instamatic camera’ to having aspirations of being the next ‘David Bailey’. The biggest kick is rediscovering photos I took in the 80s; especially photos of my ‘Mod Revival’ years (1979-1984) and of friends enjoying the many Xmas parties we attended at the Ely Rugby Club & Ely Community College.

Quality of negatives ranges from pretty poor (that would be the 110 camera) to good. So take a look at my Flickr photo gallery and take a trip with me down memory lane.

Its an end of an era for me really as I do not see me ever using film again now we are in the digital age.

In the right sidebar of this site you can see thumbnails of my latest uploads along with selected photosets. As well as old photographs you will also see a good selection of recent images such as those of the Ely Folk Weekend.

You can visit my Flickr Gallery here

Drop a comment if you feel inclined, it would be nice to get a little feedback on ‘my life in pictures’.

Raffle Shenanigans At Ely Charity Disco

Image: Lee Gillett

With no real news of any importance (parking debate & Mereham on hold here for a while) and January being the depressing post Christmas month it is; Ely Online decided to bring a little cheer to January 2006 by delving into the audio archives of Karl Bedingfield.

Ely Online came across the mixtapes of a charity disco Lee Gillett and myself (Karl Bedingfield) done on May 15th 1999 at Ely Rugby Club (an old haunt of ours from the early 80s). I was the Selector & Lee the MC, the disco was to help raise funds for a friend’s child who had autism.

The night was an absolute sell-out, Selector & MC were unstoppable, the dance floor was packed, the alcohol flowed freely and to raise additional funds raffle tickets were sold and the raffle draw was held at 10pm. Bad move. ‘F**k the raffle, we want to dance!’ – cue heckling and a very funny raffle draw courtesy of Lee Gillett.

[display_podcast]

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Do As I Say, Not As I Do!

Image: The White Hart

Now I don’t wish to appear sardonic, but ECDC have served an enforcement notice on John Borland’s boardered City Centre shop stating: ‘The property is unsightly, has been neglected appearance, and has a detrimental impact on the street scene’.

This wouldn’t be the same ECDC that enforced the closure of many retail units along Market Street some fifteen years ago to accommodate their now aborted plans to have a sheltered shopping centre where ‘The Cloisters’ and ‘Waitrose’ now stand?.

At one point a whole row of retail & business dwellings stood empty for many years. In this time we lost Ely’s Post Office, The White Hart Hotel, Thornhill’s, Dyversion, The Co-Op Food Store & Department Store. Just a little further down Market Street we also lost the Bus Station Ticket & Waiting Room.

Could it be the same council?

Image: Market Street, Ely

Nah, couldn’t have been!

Image: Market Street, Ely