St. Martin’s Jam Factory, Ely

Image: Jam Label

If you go back several decades you may be surprised to learn just how industrious Ely was. It had a well renowned brewery, ‘Ely Ales’ and Ely was also had a major Sugar Beet Factory built in 1928 by Joanness Van Rossum (The factory closed in 1981). And for nearly twenty years (from 1939 to late 1958) Ely had it’s own Jam Factory at the end of Bray’s lane. The factory was called St. Martin’s Jam Factory.

Late last year Ely Online received an email from the nephew of St. Martin’s Jam Factory’s managing director (Arthur Strevens). The email read:

“My uncle, Arthur Strevens, was Managing Director of the St Martin’s Jam Factory for many years in the 40s & 50s. My wife was his executrix, and when he died we ended up with various boxes of records and some small artifacts from the factory (Ely & Grimsby). We were reluctant to throw them away in case they might be of interest to local historians, but never got round to doing anything about it!”
Read more

Timeslip: Spy Was Parachuted Into Ely

Image: Agent Zig Zag

A British double agent offered to assassinate Adolf Hitler in a suicide mission but his plan was rejected by MI5, archive papers reportedly have revealed.

Edward Chapman, known as Agent Zigzag, was a burglar and expert safe blower before the Second World War.

He was jailed in Jersey and captured by the Germans in 1940 during their occupation of the island. Once imprisoned, he offered to act as a spy for the Nazis.

Chapman was trained by German intelligence and parachuted into Ely, Cambridge, in 1942 where he immediately turned himself into the British authorities.

He was taken on by MI5 as a double agent and it was then that he put forward his plan to kill Hitler.

According to National Archive papers seen by The Times, Chapman, then 27, made the offer to his case officer Ronnie Reed.

He said his German spymaster Stephan von Groning, known as Dr Graumann, had promised to take him to a Nazi rally if he completed a mission successfully in Britain.

Chapman said his reward would be to be placed “in the first or second row” at the rally, close to Hitler’s podium.

“He believes I am pro-Nazi,” the double agent said. “I believe Dr Graumann will keep his promise.
Read more

Court In The Act: Ely Mods, Rockers & Skins

Image: Mark and Chris at Ely Magistrates Court (1982)

In an occasional feature Ely Online peeks into the archives of our local newspapers to discover just what trouble Ely’s teenagers got into with the police and the courts in the early-80s. This month we focus on the Ely Mods and their altercations with Soham Rockers and Lakenheath Skins.

Twenty Six years on and its hard convey the diffidence an Ely Mod lived with around 1979-1982. Going to Ely on a Saturday afternoon/evening could bring you unwanted attention (laughing at the way we dress – too smart and clean) from any number of clique’s: rockers, skins, punks, and even the occasional teddy boy. Back then it wasn’t uncommon for fights to break out in the street, disco or pub, that’s not to say the mods never started any trouble, of course they did. The mods went to the weekend discos at Little Downham, Ely and Littleport and trouble was never far away. Most of the mod’s hostility was aimed at Soham’s rockers and (to a lesser extent) Lakenheath Skins who crossed into the Ely neighborhood when they dated local girls.

Here are a few related court cases that were featured in the Ely Standard and Cambridge Evening News. The names have been abbreviated, if you were around back then you will know who’s who.

Be sure to check the footer of the page for an Ely Mod’s slideshow.
Read more

Ely’s Forgotten Bands: The Approachable Pigeons

Image: John Glover and Lee Gillett

In 1982 Lee Gillett and John Glover formed a band – The Approachable Pigeons. Multi instrumentalist Lee had previously played in Herod’s Race, Wild Party Productions and other bands on the local scene. John had shouted for another local band, The Sokkets, and continued to write dodgy lyrics in his bedroom whilst listening to Elvis Costello and The Jam. John takes up the story:

Read more