"ELY is a city and head of an episcopal see, the head of a union, county court district and petty sessional division and is the capital of the Isle of its name, in the Eastern division of the county, with a station on the Great Eastern railway, 72½ miles from London by rail and 67 north-east by road, 16 from Cambridge by road and 15 by rail; 26¾ from Lynn harbour and 13 from Newmarket by road; the Great Eastern railway affords ample means of communication with Cambridge and London, Huntingdon, Lynn, Peterborough, Yarmouth and Lowestoft, via Norwich, and through these places to all parts of the kingdom: there is also a short line from Ely to Haddenham, Sutton and St. Ives, and a branch to Newmarket, opened in September, 1879: there is navigation by the rivers Ouse and Cam to Cambridge, Lynn, Wisbech, St. Ives, Huntingdon and other market.
Ely was constituted a Local Board district 23 July, 1850, but is now governed, under the ' Local Government Act, 1894' (56 & 57 Vict. c. 73), by an Urban District Council.
Under the ' Public Health Act,' 1848 (11 & 12 Vict. c. 63), applied by Order in Council in 1850, the city has been drained and supplied with water, mainly by the zeal of Dr. Peacock, then dean: the works and pumping station are at Isleham, the supply being derived from springs in the chalk, and the water forced thence into a tank at Ely, from which it is distributed to all parts of the town. To cover the cost, loans were contracted with the Public Works Commissioners of £13,428 in 1885 and £6,000 in 1887, repayable in 60 half-yearly instalments. In 1891 the capital debt was reduced to £16,599. The town is lighted with gas from works in Station road, the property of the City of Ely Gas Company Limited.
The diocese of Ely was created in 1108, out of the see of Lincoln, the first bishop being Herveus, Bishop of Bangor, consecrated at Ely, 27th June, 1109: by an Order in Council, 19th April, 1837, the archdeaconries of Bedford and Huntingdon were transferred from Lincoln to Ely, and part of the archdeaconry of Sudbury from Norwich; and by a second order, 10th April, 1839, certain other parishes were transferred from Lincoln. The area includes Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire and part of Suffolk.
The boundaries of the city of Ely include 16,734 acres; the population in the Urban district in 1891 was 8,017; the areas of the parishes are - Holy Trinity, 3,798 acres of land and 35 of water; St. Mary, 3,459; Ely College, 33; intermixed lands rated to Holy Trinity and St. Mary, 8,916 acres; the rateable values are of Holy Trinity, £27,092; of St. Mary, £15,370; and of Ely College, £726. The population of the parishes in 1891 was - Ely College, 85; Holy Trinity, 4,864; and St. Mary, 3,059 (including 113 officers and inmates of the workhouse)."
[Description(s) transcribed by Martin Edwards ©2003 and later edited by Colin Hinson ©2010]