[Transcribed and edited information mainly from Kelly's Directory of Cambridgeshire 1929]
"PRICKWILLOW is a hamlet and ecclesiastical parish, formed April 5, 1878, from Holy
Trinity and St. Mary parishes, Ely, Littleport, Cambridgeshire, and Lakenheath and
Mildenhall, Suffolk, and part of Norfolk, 4 miles north-east from Ely station on
the Cambridge, Ely and Norwich section of the London and North Eastern railway and
4 south-east from Littleport, in the petty sessional division, union, county court
district and rurl deanery of Ely, archdeaconry of Wisbech and diocese of Ely. This
hamlet is on the river Lark, which rises at Bury St. Edmunds and here joins the river
Ouse; the Lark is spanned within the parish by two bridges.
[Description(s) transcribed by Martin Edwards ©2003 and later edited by Colin Hinson ©2010]
[mainly from Kelly's Directory of Cambridgeshire 1929]
Owing to exhaustive draining, the soil in this district sinks nearly two inches
yearly; the schools and vicarage and houses are built on piles. Two steam pumping
engines and two oil engines are in the village and two in Burnt Fen; the average
discharge is 150 tons per minute into the river Lark. There are several small landowners.
The soil is fen; subsoil, clay. The land, which is all fen, is chiefly arable. The
population in 1921 was 1,303 which extends into Suffolk."
The Prickwillow Drainage Engine Museum
- A succession of pumping engines have been sited at Prickwillow; the Side Lever Steam
Engine in 1831 was followed by the Beam Steam Engine in the 1880's (both of which
are lost). This was replaced by the magnificent 1929 Mirrlees, Bickerton and Day
Diesel, which was used until the 1970's when its work was taken over by modern diesel
and electric pumps. This impressive machine is now the centrepiece of the Museum
and can be seen working on special run days.
- All burials took place at Ely.
- The Census Records for Ely Holy Trinity, of which Prickwillow is part, from 1841-1891,
can be found in the Cambridgeshire Archives. In addition the 1851 Census for Ely
Holy Trinity is available in full transcript form, on microfiche, from the
Cambridgeshire Family History Society Publications list
- St. Peter's Church, Prickwillow.
- "The church of St. Peter, built about 1868 on a foundation of wooden piles, is a
cruciform edifice of brick and flint in the Early English style, consisting of apsidal
chancel, nave with transepts, south porch and a central turret with short spire containing
one bell, dated 1691, formerly in Ely cathedral; the stained east window is a memorial;
the font of Italian marble, also brought from Ely cathedral, and said to have been
designed by Sir Christopher Wren, is dated 1693; there are 350 sittings. There being
no churchyard here interments take place at Ely. The registers of births and marriages
date from 1873. The living is a vicarage, net yearly value £325, with residence,
in the gift of the vicar of Holy Trinity, Ely, and held since 1921 by the Rev. John
King Cecil Payne A.K.C. There is a Baptist chapel, erected in 1875, and one for Primitive
Methodists, erected in 1894. St. Peter's Hall, an old building, formerly a Wesleyan
chapel, is now used for meetings of a religious and social character."
[Kelly's Directory - Cambridgeshire - 1929]
- Prickwillow Primitive Methodist Church
- The church was built in 1894 and contains two foundation stones dedicated to the
Edwards family. One stone was laid by Rev. A.W.Edwards and Mr. A.G.Edwards (Arthur
and Albert George Edwards), and the other stone was laid by Mr. S.E Edwards of Manea
on 18th September 1894. The church is currently being used as a residential building.
- Church of England
- Prickwillow, St Peter:
Registers are at the church from 1864, burials at Ely.
- Primitive Methodist Church:
Records exist at the Cambridgeshire Archives for the
Ely Primitive Circuit of which Prickwillow is part.
- Prickwillow sits on the rodham of the Cam-Ouse which originally ran eastwards from
Ely, meandering to Prickwillow before swerving west to Littleport. St, Peter’s
Church, which dates from 1868, was built on piles and due to the high water table,
burials take place at Ely. The vicarage was built with two steps up to the front
door but the sinking of the peat resulted in the building of many more. Plantation
Farm and Peacocks Farm, to the east of the village off the A1101, were scenes of
archeological digs in the 1930’s that established the remains of Roman and three
earlier levels of prehistoric human habitation.
- The area near the new road bridge over the River Lark is pretty and well kept and
close to the main points of interest in the village - the church, Prickwillow Pottery
and the drainage engine museum. The museum was set up in 1982 to save the large diesel
engine dating from 1922. The building originally housed a steam pumping engine and
now, apart from the large Mirrlees diesel, contains other diesels, dating from 1919,
recovered from local pumping stations and restored by volunteers. The Mirrlees is
demonstrated on several days throughout the year.
The Cambridgeshire Fens - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
- "This was once a tiny settlement beside the River Ouse, but when the course of this
river was changed in 1829, Prickwillow was expanded over the silt banks of the old
course. A school was built in 1862, and a church in1866, both on piles. It is six
miles to Isleham across the fen and two windmills once drained it along with Soham
Mere, but once the river was redirected towards Littleport a steam pumping engine
was installed at the head of the drain in 1831. A second station was built beside
it in 1880 and its steam pump was replaced by diesel in 1924."
FEN and MARSHLAND VILLAGES - Anthony Day
Published by S.B. Publications ISBN : 1 85770 041 4
- BURNT FEN
, 4½ miles distant, is a hamlet with a station, called Shippes Hill, on the
Ely and Thetford section of the London and North Eastern railway. St James’s
Mission church, built in 1891, at a cost of £420, is an iron structure, consisting
of chancel, nave and aisles, and affording 250 sittings.
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