"WISBECH comprises the parishes of St. Augustine, St. Mary, and St. Peter, it is a seaport, municipal borough, market town, the head of a union and county court district, with stations on the Midland and Great Northern Joint railway and London and North Eastern railway, 87 miles foam London, 40 north from Cambridge, 116 from Birmingham, via Peterborough and Blisworth, 22 east from Spalding, 63 from Northampton, 34 from Stamford, 23 from Ely, 7¾ from March, 21 from Peterborough, 15½ west-south-west from Lynn and 64 from Norwich, via Lynn, in the hundred, petty sessional division, liberty of the Isle of Ely, rural deanery and archdeaconry of Wisbech and diocese of Ely; it is also the seat of the January and July quarter sessions for the liberty of the Isle of Ely, and of the petty sessions for the hundred, and is on the borders of Norfolk, within a few miles of the sea, to which it has access by the navigable river Nene, which intersects the town, the larger portion being on the south side of the river; the banks were strengthened with piling, during the year 1890-91, at a cost of £20,000. The thoroughfares facing the river are known chiefly as the North and South Brinks. By the Wisbech canal, the town has also water communication by the Ouse with Cambridge, Hartford and London.
The branch line of the London and North Eastern railway from the main line to Wisbech harbour has materially assisted the development of the timber and coal trade of the town, and there is also a steam tramway from Wisbech station to Upwell for the conveyance of goods and passengers. The Midland and Great Northern joint line from Peterborough, which joins the London and North Eastern line at Sutton Bridge, affords an additional means of inter-communication, and by means of these railways the town is rendered one of the most desirable ports for carrying on shipping transactions between the Midland Counties and the Baltic Sea. The London, Midland and Scottish line has also a tramway into the Old Market. The railway stations are about half a mile from the centre of the town, the Midland and Great Northern joint station on the north, and the London and North Eastern on the south, but street railways communicate with the warehouses on the north side of the town, so that the railway trucks can be loaded or unloaded direct out of the warehouses and ships without cartage expenses.
Vessels of 3,000 tons can enter the port.
Fishing boats and their implements are distinguished by the letters W.I. Since 1852 the quays have been much improved by the erection of new wharfage, at an expense to the town of about £60,000, and an iron bridge erected, which spans the river in the centre of the town.
The chief trade is in importing timber and general merchandise. The chief exports are coal, corn and general merchandise. In the surrounding district both flowers and fruit are largely grown, the latter consisting chiefly of strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries. apples, pears and plums; potatoes, asparagus and mustard seed are also grown. There are planing and sawing mills, breweries and printing offices.
The town received its earliest charter from Richard I. and this was confirmed by later sovereigns, including Edw. VI. and restored, after forfeiture, by James I. For municipal purposes the borough is divided into north and south wards, and, under the provisions of the Municipal corporations Act, 1835 (5 and 6 Wm. IV. c. 76), is governed by a Corporation, consisting of a mayor, six aldermen and 18 town councillors; other officers include a treasurer, town clerk, town chamberlain, charitable trusteec, harbour master and a superintendent of police. Wisbech has a separate commission of the peace. The town is lighted with gas and electricity, and supplied with water from chalk springs at Marham, in Norfolk, 21 miles distant. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners are lords of the manor of Wisbech Barton, which extends into the following parishes, Wisbech St. Peter, Wisbech St. Mary and Leverington (including Parson Drove and Guyhirn), Tyfid St. Giles, Elm, Upwell, Outwell and Welney; and are also lords of the manor of Wisbech Rectory, which extends into Wisbech St. Peter and St. Mary.
The soil is loam; subsoil, clay. Fruit and market garden produce are extensively cultivated, and there is some land in pasturage. The area of the municipal borough and civil parish is 6,435 acres of land, 42 of water, 46 of tidal water and 20 of foreshore ; the population in 1921 was 11,321.
The population of the wards in 1921 was:- North, 6,022, and South, 5,299."
[Description(s) transcribed by Martin Edwards ©2003 and later edited by Colin Hinson ©2010]