New Cycle Path Proposed For Ely

Keen cyclists in Ely could be set to benefit from a new section of cycle path if it receives approval from Council Chiefs next week.

The upgraded footpath/cycleway linking Lynn Road to High Barns, if funding is approved will mean a safer journey for cyclists and pedestrians who use the existing path. New lighting and surfacing will make the link way more attractive, especially for parents taking their children to Spring Meadow Infant School and St Mary’s Junior School.

The scheme is a joint initiative between East Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council who will match fund the expected £100,000 required for the project.

Councillors will be asked to approve funding for the scheme at next week’s Environment and Transport Committee before going before the East Cambridgeshire Traffic Management Area Joint Committee on 28th January. If funding is approved work will begin later this year.
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The Boat Race Founders’ Ely Celebrations

Commemorating Charles Merivale (Dean of Ely 1869 – 1893) and Charles Wordsworth (Bishop of St. Andrews 1852 – 1892) who inspired and rowed in the first Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race in 1829

On 8th March we will celebrate Charles Merivale’s bicentenary and recognise the important part that he and his good friend, Charles Wordsworth, played in establishing the Oxford & Cambridge University Boat Race. The annual encounter is now watched by thousands of people from the banks of the River Thames and viewed by a television audience of many millions around the world.

As you can see from the timetable below, a full day of events is planned for everyone to come to, and I am particularly pleased to welcome those members of the Wordsworth and Merivale families who are able to be with us on this very special day.

Our corporate, civic and private sponsors, and the many event supporters, have enabled us to arrange an interesting programme for you, and on behalf of the society, I thank them all for their generosity.

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Ely’s ‘Johnny Cashback’ Play Highpoint Prison

Ely-based Ca$hBack play the music of Johnny Cash and recently commemorated the 40th anniversary of the legendary Folsom Prison concert which took place on January 13th 1968 by playing a concert inside Highpoint Prison, Suffolk on January 13th 2008 – 40 years to the day after the original concert. The gig was a big success.


The Radio Interviews

There was tremendous media interest in the Highpoint concert. Here is a selection of the radio interviews.


Further band and booking information can be found on CA$HBACK’s website:

Babylon Gallery To Close! Ely Cinema Survives!

Back in October we wrote about the slashing of funds to ADeC. One of the theories we discussed was that the council wanted to sell Babylon Bridge House for development. Well, Babylon Gallery is to close at the end of it’s current program. It looks increasingly likely the building will be sold. We’ll have to wait and see whether thats to developers. Here is ECDC’s press release about saving Ely Cinema:

There will be a cinema at the core of the final arts solution for East Cambridgeshire, the two organisations responsible for arts delivery in the District have announced today.

East Cambridgeshire District Council and ADeC (Arts Development in East Cambridgeshire) have been holding a series of meetings to determine the future priorities for the District.

In the latest meeting, both organisations agreed a cinema was key to the future of arts in the District and would be a major priority in the new arts service for East Cambridgeshire.

Councillor Peter Cresswell, Chairman of the Community Services Committee, said: “Our meetings with ADeC have been very constructive over the last couple of months and we have come to agree on many points. We both realised we could do nothing without listening to what the residents of East Cambridgeshire wanted. They have told us loud and clear that they see a cinema as being vital to the arts in the District.
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Ely Folk Festival 2008 Box Office Now Open

After last year’s gloriously successful festival, plans are well under way for an even more exciting festival line up this year including Show of Hands, Martin Simpson (Best album and best original song Radio 2 Folk Awards 2008) Spiers & Bowden, Boo Hewerdine, Saor Patrol, Mawkin:Causeley and many more.

There is also an opportunity for those with talent to enter the band competition with the winners appearing on Main Stage 1 to open the festival on the Friday night. For further details see the website.

Tickets are now on sale online at or by calling 01353 669985.

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!”
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The Chronicle Of A 200th Anniversary Celebration

The Boat Race Founders Society was very pleased that so many of the Merivale family were able to participate in the celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of Charles Merivale’s birth. The Wordsworths were thinner on the ground, but the quality of those attending more than made up for the quantity.

It was good to welcome you all to the local communities of Ely and Cambridgeshire, and we hope we helped you re-establish some historic family links with Harrow School, the University Boat Clubs, Ely Cathedral, Glenalmond College and St Ninian’s Cathedral.

From time to time I am sure we will find good reasons to meet again, and I urge our younger members to plan ahead for another memorable party on the 10th June 2029, at a venue of their choosing.

To read the full chronicle please read this PDF file or to download click link below.

Armed Robbery At Ely Tescos

Armed raiders targeted a security van at Tesco in Ely yesterday afternoon.

Offenders, who were believed to have been armed with a shotgun, struck a blue Group 4 Securicor van in the city just after 4pm.

Police cordoned the area off with trolleys and a helicopter was deployed to search the local area.
The offenders made off in a black Subaru, which was dumped in Potters Lane, near Angel Drove.

They exchanged the Subaru for a BMW and drove off along the A10 towards Cambridge.

When they were south of Stretham, near Gullivers Restaurent, they collided with another vehicle, but they pulled away and drove straight off.

Detective inspector Adam Gallop said: “If anybody was driving behind this BMW or saw the drivers or their direction of travel please contact police at Parkside police station.”
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Ely Will Be Eeltastic This Saturday

Ely will be eeltastic this Saturday for the city’s fifth Annual Eel Day.

The day, to celebrate the humble eel, brings together a whole range of activities from eel throwing (don’t worry they are handmade toys) to 17th century re-enactments to highlight Ely’s heritage and historic association with the eel.

Starting at 10.30am, a carnival like procession led by ‘Ellie the Eel’, Ely’s Samba Band and 10 Town Criers will start from Cross Green next to the Cathedral and head along part of the City’s Eel Trail Heritage Walk, down to the Waterside. The procession will end in the Jubilee Gardens where a whole host of eel related events are planned.

Along with eel throwing, there will be puppet making, pottery making and tanks of real eels for everyone to learn about.

Tracey Harding, Tourism Team Leader at East Cambridgeshire District Council said: “The day is all about celebrating Ely’s culture and traditions and encouraging awareness and use of the Eel Trail. We hope to continue to build on this unique event each year and involve more and more businesses and organisations and further raise the profile of the Isle of Eels.

“This year’s procession sees the return of 10 visiting Town Criers in all their finery, as part of Ely’s Town Crier’s competition. The criers will gather on Palace Green for the first cry of the day at noon. Eight judges have been carefully selected from the local community and each one has a particular criteria to judge the criers performance on. The second cry of the day will be held in Jubilee Gardens at 3pm and the winners will then be announced.
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Ely Maltings Closed For 6 Months

The Maltings, the historic centre for conferences, exhibitions and banqueting in Ely has now closed for six months for essential repairs.

The Council informed the public last year that the building was coming up for a scheduled refit of it’s roof in May and the building would need to close to protect the public for a period of up to six months.

The repair work will coincide with the end of the District Council’s contract with Eliance who currently provide the catering and exhibition facilities at the Maltings. The Council is currently looking into the various options for the future of the building but has confirmed that it will continue to house a cinema when it reopens.

The Maltings, built in 1868 for the brewery of Ebenezer William Harlock, is a grade II listed building. The work which is set to begin next week will include reinstating an original pattern on the four slopes of the tower roof using a combination of traditional details.

Councillor John Humphreys, Chairman of Asset Management Committee, said: “We tried to give people as long a warning as possible about the closure of the Maltings in October last year as there are so many events which take place at the building. People have been very understanding about the need to get this work done and it will begin immediately to repair the roof.
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Ely Urbex

UrbanX is an Ely based urban explorer.

The definition of an urban explorer: the study of parts of civilization that are normally unseen or off-limits, such as abandoned structures, drains, sewers, tunnels, etc.

UrbanX writes…

How often have you looked at the urban environment in Ely? I mean really looked, not just at the tourist trail of our beautiful Cathedral, Oliver Cromwell’s house, or Ely’s fabulous riverside views, but the truly hidden gems that abound within this ship of the Fens? I started really looking at our city during the balmy evenings of last spring, when the sky finally kicked off its winter overcoat and Ely sprang into consciousness. It was during this time that, whilst mulling over thoughts about the transient nature of architecture and sociological history, fate led me to my great discovery, the art of urban exploration.

Image: Station House, Fordham

Station House, Fordham © UrbanX 2008

Urban exploration is about pushing the boundaries of art and life, pushing oneself to discover new places and capture them for posterity. Photography allows us to document the beauty of these hidden landscapes, to revel in their richness and to contemplate their former states, before they fall into oblivion and out of our reach forever.

Image: They didn't come home

They didn’t come home © UrbanX 2008
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The Best Dance Event In Ely…Ever!

Axwell and Utah Saints are the latest acts to join the star studded line-up for Dance Island 2008.

Image: Dance Island 2008

Swedish house legend Axwell is the first among a list of names to be added to the Koolwaters house arena who will be joining Stonebridge along with Kate Lawler and local stars The BeatThiefs.

Dance music pioneers Utah Saints make a long awaited comeback to the festival circuit for 2008 and will be joining the already massive house line up.

As if this wasn’t enough, Judgement Sundays resident Micky Slim and Deepgroove join Koolwaters residents Marc Vedo and Jaxson have also been announced as additions to the Koolwaters arena.

Early bird tickets have already sold out and standard tickets are flying out of the door, so make sure you don’t miss out on Dance Island 2008 by getting your ticket from soon.

Dance Island 2008 is set to take place on 5th July near Ely, Cambridgeshire.

With a 10,000 capacity, 5 arenas hosted by BIG, Slinky, Natural Born Ravers, Raindance and Koolwaters, an outdoor stage hosted by Kiss FM and world class DJs, including Audio Bullys (Live), Stanton Warriors, Freemasons, Mauro Picotto, Agnelli & Nelson, Dave Pearce, Tidy Boys, Audio Surgery, Kutski, Dougal & Gammer, Baby D, Ratpack, Mark Doyle and Big Ben, this festival will be East Anglias biggest electronic music event of the year.

Dance Island is already making waves in its debut year, featuring as 13th best festival in the latest edition of clubbing bible Mixmag, ahead of the likes of Gatecrasher Summer Sound System, Escape in the park and many more established festivals.

Ely Folk Festival 2008 A’ Comin’

The 23rd Ely Folk Festival takes place over the weekend of Friday 11th July – Sunday 13th July.

This will be my 8th visit to the Festival and, I’m ashamed to say, it should be my 23rd. It wasn’t until I was invited along to pen some words (from a non-folkie viewpoint) by Ely Online that I took off the blinkers and saw beyond the stereotype of beards, rainbow-coloured waistcoats and men waving hankies around. Of course, all that is on offer at the festival but there’s also a lot, lot more. The Ely festival features a wide variety of styles, all which fit into the broad church of folk.

This year’s line up is no exception with an impressive guest list and programme of workshops, concerts, displays, ceilidhs and children’s entertainment. I’m looking forward to watching guitar maestro Gareth Pearson (a big hit at last years festival), The Mighty ‘Show of Hands’, local bands Lightening Jack and the Wide Glide Band, Last Night’s Fun, Boo Hewerdine, Spiers and Boden and the extremely noisy percussion band Saor Patrol.

The amply stocked beer-tent and food stalls will keep me fuelled for the weekend and Jan’s Blackboard Van will keep me occupied if I fancy drawing a picture on the side of a lorry. Music, beer, food and men waving hankies – what more could you possibly want? See you there.

Read last year’s review for a taster.

2008 Ely Folk Festival On Course To Sell Out

Ely Folk Festival is on course to sell out before the festival weekend for the first time in its 23 year history. Happening from 11th – 13th July at Ely Outdoor Centre the festival boasts a superb line up including Show of Hands, Martin Simpson, Spiers & Bowden and Boo Hewerdine, promising the best festival yet. Festival organiser Trish Reed said ‘Anyone hoping to come along is encouraged to book now to avoid disappointment in the event that the festival sells out’

If you can’t get to the festival itself, don’t miss the procession in Ely town centre from 11am on Saturday an amazing sight with a colourful array of Morris sides, headed by Saor Patrol with drums and pipes.

Tickets are on sale on line at or by calling 01353 669985.

Image: Saor-Patrol

Ely Online will also release it’s annual podcast – Folkin’ Hell, It’s Festival Time v3.0 next weekend. Stay tuned. In the meantime here is our first volume from 2006. Enjoy.



  1. Intro by Carol Batton
  2. Young Hearts Run Free – Nancy Wallace
  3. My Aunt Edna – Bonnie Koloc
  4. Bones For Doctor Swah – Wooden Wand
  5. Don’t Be Upset – Jeffrey & Jack Lewis
  6. Help Me Find Myself – Tudor Lodge
  7. Graveyard – Forrest
  8. Diamond Day – Vashti Bunyan

You can listen to the mix streamed online by pressing the play button below, broadband is your friend for this. If you don’t see the player below then you don’t have the Flash Player installed, that can be remedied by going here.

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…

Companies Tender To Run The Maltings

The first round of the process to find a new company to run the Maltings, the historic centre for conferences, exhibitions and banqueting in Ely, has been completed with seven companies short-listed for the next stage.

An independent external consultant vetted the 12 initial expressions of interest, looking at areas such as the ability to invest in the building and whether they would be capable of running a prestigious community venue.

The seven short listed companies, which were unanimously agreed by all parties at Policy and Resources Committee, will now have 50 days to submit their full tender ready for a final decision to be made so the building can reopen later this year.

The short listed companies are: Crown Group (UK) Ltd, Duchy Catering, Sedoxo Prestige, Digby Trout Restaurants (Elior), Alfresco, Yes Dining and Leiths (Compass).
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Ely Folk Festival Review 2008

Image: The Gang

Armed with stubby pencils, scraps of paper and a camera Ely Online once again ventured down to The Ely Folk Festival to capture the spirit of the event. With me (John Glover) on words and Karl Bedingfield (on the piccies) we hope to give you a slice of the weekend from a non-folkie angle. Holly and Mike were camping and completed the Ely Online team.The forecast was dodgy but the list of bands was great. For my diary of the weekend, read on:
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‘Private Eye’ Exposes ECDC Members Greed

Satirical magazine ‘Private Eye‘ shamed ECDC’s greed in their August 8th issue (No. 1216) as part of the ‘Rotton Boroughs’ section. It reads…

“Council staff around Britain went on strike last month over a 2.45 percent pay rise. Happily their paymasters have felt less constrained in awarding themselves more generous rises.”

“At East Cambridgeshire district council senior members have just trousered a modest 94 percent increase in their allowances, while at the same time cutting the arts budget by £70,000 and forcing the closure of a gallery in Ely. The 94 percent is for committee chairs, with ordinary members getting a mere 10 percent rise, costing the council £22,000.”

Fancy A Free Guided Tour Around Ely?

Visitors and residents of Ely can experience a free guided tour round Ely this Sunday as part of Open Heritage Weekend.

With tours departing from 11am outside Oliver Cromwell’s House in Ely, people can hear about the potted history of the city, the massive impact of the cathedral and how the Riverside has changed over time from commerce to leisure.

There is no booking necessary and the tour lasts approximately one and a half hours.

Tracey Harding, Tourism Team Leader at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “The Open Heritage Weekend is a great opportunity to learn about the history of the places on your very doorstep – for free. I speak to many people who have lived in Ely for years and who don’t really know the amazing history of this small but magnificent city. So this Sunday you have your chance to be taken round the ancient streets by one of our very best guides.
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Ely Schoolgirl Vies For Miss Teen Queen UK Crown

Image: Miss Teen Queen UK

A local schoolgirl, Jade Gillett from Ely, has a chance at being crowned Miss Teen Queen UK. The 15 year old entered the competition for fun and was really pleased and surprised when she realised she had been chosen to go to for a photo shoot along with 80 other young girls who also qualified from over 5000 entrants.

The competition gives girls from all walks of life and backgrounds the chance to experience the exciting world of modeling, and the opportunity to take part in a professional photo-shoot at a top London studio with a renowned team of top stylists and photographers. It is a once in a lifetime chance that most girls can only dream about.

Jade is now at the public voting stage and is therefore trying to get enough votes to get through to the grand finale which will be hosted by two surprise celebrities. The finale will also have a panel of judges made up of sponsors and celebrity personalities. There will be two winners from each category, ages 16-19 for the queen title and 13-15 for the princess title, who will receive their sashes and tiaras along with their prizes.

Jade will be representing the Cambridgeshire region, and would love it if locals support her by voting for her. This can be done by calling 0901 656 1530 then pressing 02 or by texting Jade Gillett to 84205.

You can also see Jade on the website

Voting closes at 11.30pm on the 31st October.

We are official!

Hurrah!! Word came through from the Transition Network HQ in sunny Totnes yesterday. Our application for official Transition Town status has been accepted… Upwards and onwards!

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We are official!

Transition Ely at the library

Our display at the library went up last week and hopefully will stay until the new year. I dropped in today to deliver some updated leaflets, almost all the ones left at the start of the week had gone, a good sign I think. Here’s my boy Harry at the display. Transition Ely stall at Ely library

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Transition Ely at the library