Harleys, Riots, Collars And A Double Agent. 26th May

The Swan On The River

Last night we’d checked at the pub if it would be okay to stay another day hooked up on the mooring making use of the full 48hours, this was fine. Washing was done, the boiler switched to electric for hot water, the electric kettle used rather than gas.

Claiming just outside the hatch as her own

Tilly was given shore leave with one extra rule, not to go near the railway! I was pretty sure there would be enough to keep her occupied close to the boat not to worry about that climbable tree across the railway lines. She got busy under the brambles between the boat and pub.

When she came back for a drink we closed the doors as it was our turn to head of and explore, with a shopping bag to stock up for a couple of days.

Looking down Main Street

Littleport. We expected a village, farming at it’s soul. Instead we found it to be confused as to it’s size, motorbikes, tailoring and a mass riot amongst the barbers and take aways.

Arum Lilys seem to be popular round here

Back in 1086 Litelport was worth 17,000 eels a year to the Abbots of Ely according to the Doomsday Book. King Canute is said to have founded the village after being given shelter by a fisherman who later was made mayor.

In May 1816 the whole country was struggling to recover from the Napoleonic War, many soldiers returned from the fight to food shortages and unemployment. Local men gathered at The Globe public inn (now one of the two Co-ops). Fuelled by drink their frustrations grew into a riot, shops and houses were broken into and the mass marched on Ely. The Militia were called in from Bury and when order was returned 5 men were hanged, many deported, just about every family on the village was affected.

Times remained hard, many started to move away including William Harley who moved to the USA, his son William Sylvester Harley the co-founder of Harley Davidson Motorcycles. There now stands a sculpture in front of St George’s Church, sadly another church kept locked.

St Georges

On the corner of Globe Lane and Main Street stands a rather grand building with high chimneys and a thatched roof. The only thing giving away it’s former identity is a rearing black horse on the ornate decoration. A former Lloyds Bank built in 1930.

Hope Brothers set up a factory in the village in 1881, three stories for shirt and collar making in White Hart Lane, formed by Thomas Peacock. Ten years later 300-400 women and children were employed, housing had been built for his staff along with a library and social club. During the 40’s and 50’s the company made the England football kit and by 1979 the factory became the home to Burberry.

The Library

There is also the tale of Eddie Chapman a British double agent who was flown to England by the Germans to monitor the effect of V-1 and V-2 bombs and rockets on London. His plane was rerouted over East Anglia where a British fighter fired upon them, Eddie bailing out and making it to ground near Apes Hall, Littleport before the plane was shot down.

We did some shopping at the larger of the two Co-ops and walked back to the river via the station. The Littleport Town Sign is carved from wood by Jeremy Turner. It depicts the history of the town/village. I so hope the area isn’t known for domestic abuse with large cleavers!

Then round the Boat Haven moorings and across someone’s garden to the river bank. Here we avoided the cow pats and didn’t come across the fabled Black Shuck, but then again it wasn’t a dark moonless night.

We were surrounded

The moorings had got busy whilst we were out, we were now the filling in a cruiser sandwich. We chatted to the chap from behind who’d wanted to fill with water across the way at the end of the EA mooring. However a hire boat was moored there and despite there being loads of space behind them they had refused to pull back to make room. We’d be needing water in the morning, if they haven’t left by then we’ll breast up to fill our tank.

A diddy engine

The afternoon it was time to do a touch more on my little project. Things were threaded onto wire and then given a layer or two of tissue paper and pva to make them more solid and hold things together. Still quite a bit to do.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 narrowboat sandwich, 1 slight altercation, 1 stainless steel Harley, 1 sneaked through garden, 1 union jack jacket, 24 hours on hook up, 7 cows, 1 cat, 1369 vampires.

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