In our third instalment featuring video from the BBC’s Countryfile in Ely episode we present what was arguably the most interesting segment of the show featuring Ely’s one and only remaining eel catcher, Peter Carter.
Peter Carter uniquely tells how eels are caught still using the same traditional traps that were used throughout his family for centuries. The segment ends with a trip to Ely’s ‘Old Fire Engine House’ to see how this highly regarded restaurant prepares eels for it’s customers.
Ely was once known as the ‘Isle Of Eels’ a translation of the Anglo Saxon word ‘Eilig’. It was named so because of Ely’s early history based around the trade of eels, indeed the segment states that the Domesday Survey of 1087 (The domesday book, prepared in 1086 at the order of William the Conqueror, gives a detailed and comprehensive picture of transition from Anglo-Saxon to Norman rule over England.) stated that 52,000 eels were caught on the river Ouse in one year alone. Later documents record many thousands of eels being supplied to the monarch and other wealthy customers in London and elsewhere.
The final instalment will feature a little known story on how Ely hosted the Cambridge/Oxford boatrace during World War 2.