Royal Mail To Close Post Offices In Ely, Little Downham & Soham

In a move likely to create chaos for the postal needs of people in Ely, Little Downham & Soham, the Royal Mail is to close the Post Offices of St. Johns Road, Ely, Main Street, Little Downham & Hall Street, Soham.

This will leave the Post Office in High Street Ely to meet the demands of Ely’s ever growing population. If you had the misfortune to use this Post Office you will be aware of the miserably long queues. How on earth it will cope with the sudden increase of trade is anyone’s guess.

The Royal Mail are so far out of touch with the public that they fail to realise that the success of local shops and of post offices is intertwined. Take for example Little Downham Post Office, the closure will hit the elderly and the very poor, who are dependent on a local service to pay bills and receive cash which also supports the continued existence of the local shop.

None of the post offices named will close immediately Post Office bosses insist they have drawn up the list initially for public consultation, and that people will have until August 26 to give their views on whether the services should be ended or not.

We understand that an official announcement will be made on Tuesday about these forthcoming closures.

The fight begins…

Timeslip 1970: Little Downham & The Giant Balloon

When one recollects childhood memories, invariably there are many that standout. For me – growing up in Little Downham – these included my first day at Feofee’s primary school, the tragic death of Susan Cockerton (Susan and my Auntie Steph used to babysit me) in April, 1968, a little shop forever frozen in time called ‘Lofts’, making houses out of straw bales in the field bordering on our house (sorry Mr. Parsons!), fishing down the ‘Hurst’ and the ‘giant hydrogen-filled balloon’ that drifted over our primary school in September, 1970.

I was recently researching old Ely Standard news via microfiche at Ely library when I came across the original story. Here is that story. I am sure many people who attended Feofees in 1970 will remember this day.
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Look East Visit Little Downham Pub (1984)

1984: Arcade games such as Space Invaders, Galaxian and Donkey Kong were worldwide hits but one enterprising local businessman decided to ignore that trend and bring the excitement of lawn bowls to the table. Ladies and Gentleman I give you Jack High Table Bowls!

[MEDIA=8]

It’s as near outdoor bowls as you are going to get.

An Anchor Regular

Look East’s cameras visited Little Downham’s Anchor Pub and interviewed some regulars on their views of Jack High Table Bowls. Many people will recognise the faces in the film, indeed my own brother Neil can be seen along with Ian Kidd, Nicholas Atkinson, but can anyone identify any of the other regulars? Leave a comment if you can.

Memories Of Little Downham’s ‘Lofts’ Shop

When one recollects childhood memories, invariably there are many that standout. For me – growing up in Little Downham – these included my first day at Feofee’s primary school, the tragic death of Susan Cockerton (Susan and my Auntie Steph used to babysit me) in April, 1968, the ‘giant hydrogen-filled balloon’ that drifted over our primary school in August, 1970, making houses out of straw bales in the field bordering on our house (sorry Mr. Parsons!), fishing down the ‘Hurst’ and a little shop forever frozen in time. That shop was ‘Lofts’.

Image: Mrs. Hillen

‘Lofts’ closed sometime in the late 80s. It was a childhood memory that had not – physically – changed since my earliest visits on the way to primary school in the late 60s. Truth is, it probably hadn’t changed that much from the day it opened in the early 1900s!

Loft’s was a small dark foreboding place lost in the modern world; an amalgam of Royston Vasey’s ‘local’ shop in The League Of Gentlemen and Arkwright’s store in Open All Hours. But to a child in the late 60s and early 70s that lived east of St. Leonard’s Church it was first stop (we were to lazy to walk to ‘Barlows’ or ‘Proctors’) on the way to school or the ‘field’ (playing field), you see, the shop had a lot of sweets, in the big front window and the jars on the back wall, it also had Corona fizzy and Lyon’s ice lollies. What more could a kid wish for?
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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]

Bull Shaving

With Whitsun fast approaching I’d like to share something with you all that I read in a dusty old parish magazine recently. It would appear that in Little Downham they had a singular way of celebrating the day. This quote is from an old gentleman in the village who remembers the tradition with startling clarity:

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