2007: Ely’s New Year Revolution? Doubtful!

Image: Happy New Year

Yes, yes we know, it’s been forever (4 months in fact) and if we are honest writing regularly here never really happened in 2006 but things should be getting back to normal very soon, and we will (once again) regale you all with tales from the other side of Ely.

Why the lull in writing? General blog burnout and “lackoftimeandattention-itis”, a fall in contributor features and the local media’s obsession with the car parking debate (see ‘ETA v ECDC’ below) to name a few reasons.

Were we missed? Probably not, though one anonymous soul did find the time to email this: ‘Oi you lazy git, so nothning has happened since August? I hope you dont get any council tax funding for this pile of misspelt crap’. Misspelled crap? Oh, the irony!

Our interest is piqued again. We have several local history features planned including a pictorial look at St. Martin’s jam factory that once traded from Bray’s Lane in the ‘1930 onwards, thanks to recently discovered photographs and letters kindly donated by John Evitt.
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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!


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.

ECDC Commissions Lulu Quinn’s ‘Ely Sluice’

East Cambridgeshire District Council’s Planning Committee has today approved a landmark lighting project for Ely.
‘Sluice’ is a major artwork by Lulu Quinn, and has been commissioned by visual arts agency Commissions East. Utilising light and new technology, it will further enhance an important area of public space along the River Ouse by creating a new cultural attraction for visitors and residents to visit and admire by the Maltings.

The four-metre high steel sluice replica will project light images of water ebbing and flowing in synchronisation with the real river flow using data gathered from Norfolk’s Denver Sluice by the Environment Agency. There will also be actual sounds of water from speakers built into the structure as well as blue and white lighting to animate the artwork.


Alison Callaby, Team Leader – Town Centres at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: ‘Sluice’ is a unique artwork commission for Ely’s riverside, highlighting as it does the link between water management and the physical environment.
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Orchestral Play Day In Ely

Compared to Cambridge just down the road – and even Kings Lynn – Ely doesn’t have a huge amount of classical music going on. It’s sad, because there are a lot of talented people in the area and we have a cathedral with a wonderful choir. Anyway, most Ely people who want to play or even listen to classical music have to go somewhere else.

Image: Ely Sinfonia

As a way of remedying this problem, The Ely Sinfonia, Ely’s community orchestra, is putting on a play day on Sunday week, 28th January, 2007, that will allow aspiring local musicians to try their hand playing major orchestral works alongside more experienced teachers and semi-professionals.

The orchestral day, to be directed by well-known local conductor Peter Britton, will feature two exciting and challenging works, Dvorak’s New World Symphony and Chabrier’s Espana. It will be open to musicians of any age who play (or have played) a standard orchestral instrument and have reached grade V standard or above. It will take place at the City of Ely Community College, Downham Road, Ely, from 9am to 5pm and will cost £10 per player.

Anyone will be welcome who has the right ability, but the day will be a particularly useful re-introduction to playing for those who have left school and are missing active music-making. It will also provide an excellent chance for younger players who have reached grade V or above to find out what it feels like to play in a full-scale symphony orchestra. Players will sit along side regular members of Ely Sinfonia, who will act as mentors and help to keep them on the right track.

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WADS production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’

What a wonderful show it was! Witchford Amateur Dramatic Society under the directorship of Gaz Brown has certainly developed into a robust and highly successful company of talented entertainers.
In the recent production of the musical “The Wizard of Oz”, the charming tale is told of Kansas-born Dorothy thrown into an imaginative world of witches, Munchkins, the Wizard of Oz and the like. Acting, music and choreography were of a very high standard making this one of the most enthralling shows this company has produced. The characters lived and breathed their parts, their singing was tunefully effective and the full-bodied band was particularly sensitive to the needs of the singers and dramatic developments. Stage movements were exceptionally effective and slickly manoeuvred.

Katharine Hardman played a sweet and innocent Dorothy and was well supported by a lovable Scarecrow (Adrian Peberdy), an appealing, sorrowful Tin Woodman (Ian Peckham) and a colourful Cowardly Lion with hilarious affectations (Steve Barker).

The strong cast moved swiftly through fascinating scenes that brought the drama to life. The resolute private (Maisie Peckham), the confident Mayor of the Munchkins (Sam Robbins), the fantastic Wizard of Oz (Ivan Green) and polished performances by hosts of Munchkins, Jitterbugs, Generals and Snowflakes were memorable highlights. The enchanting Lullaby League and Lollypop Guild and the secure harmonies of the Adult Chorus were additional high spots.

Evil witches (Sarah Boor, Helen Walker and Lisa Barker) gave us delicious terror-provoking moments and were contrasted well by the charming good witch (Claire Mead).

Other notables were Lord Growlie (Jason Oddi) with his posh accent, Tibia (Caroline Heppell), Aunt Em (Karin Peberdy), Farmhand Joe (Joe Robbins) and Uncle Henry (Neil Pilling). Invaluable contributions were also made by Scott Haddow, Pamela Brown, Carol Robbins and Harriet Maddox.

There was no doubt that a great deal of work went into this production and producers David Hardman, Lisa Barker and Adam Bonner and their team should be well pleased with the results.

Splendid scenery, costumes and lighting combined with the huge cast of all ages also helped to make this production one of the finest I have seen.