Wisbech, Cambridgeshire - Kelly's 1883 Directory
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Cambridgeshire - Wisbech

Kelly's Directory for Cambridgeshire, Norfolk & Cambridgeshire, 1883, p.132-143.

WISBECH, one of the most considerable and thriving towns in the county, is a polling place for the county, a market town, head of a union and county court district, and railway station, in the hundred and rural deanery of the same name, liberty of the Isle of Ely, and peculiar archidiaconal jurisdiction of the bishop of Ely: is the seat Of the January and July quarter sessions for the liberty of the Isle of Ely, and of the petty sessions of the hundred. It is on the borders of Norfolk, within a few miles of the sea, to which it has access by the navigable river Nene which makes it a port. By the Wisbech canal it has also communication by the Ouse with Cambridge, Hertford and London. It is 87 miles from London, 40 north from Cambridge, 116 from Birmingham, viâ Peterborough and Bixworth, 22 east from Spalding, 63 from Northampton, 34 from Stamford, 23 from Ely, 7¾ from March, 21 from Peterboroough, 15½ west-south-west from Lynn and 64 from Norwich viâ Lynn.

The river Nene intersects the town, the larger proportion of which is on the south side of the river. The thoroughfares facing the river are known chiefly as the North and South Brinks; and further extensions are styles quays and parades.

The Great Eastern Railway Company have a branch railway from their line to Wisbech harbour, a convenience which has materially assisted the development of the timber and coal trade of the town: the same company is also constructing a steam tramway from Wisbech station to Upwell for the conveyance of goods and passsengers. The Midland railway has a line from Peterborough, which communicates with the Great Northern line at Sutton Bridge; 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 Midland has also a tramway on the west bank of the river into the Old Market. The railway stations are about half a mile from the centre of the town, the Midland on the north and the Great Eastern on the south; but street railways have been formed to communicate with the warehouses on the north side of the town, so that railway trucks can be loaded direct out of the warehouses and ships without cartage expenses.

The chief trade is in shipping, imported corn, potatoes, bones, wool, seeds, coal, timber and iron: and the chief exports are corn, coal and salt, the latter arriving from Worcestershire by the Midland railway: it is in a great fruit growing district, gooseberries, apples, pears, plums and raspberries being the chief, also potatoes and asparagus are largely grown for the London and provincial markets. There are also planing and sawing mills, breweries, rope works, printing offices, numerous wind and some steam corn and oilcake mills, coach building and agricultural implement works, nurseries &c. Vessels of 500 tons enter the port, The average number of vessels from foreign ports for the past seven years entered inwards, is about 175. Extensive improvements of the quays by the construction of new wharfing have been executed since 1852, at an expense of about £60,000 to the town, and an iron bridge which spans the river in the centre of the town has been erected.

In 1882, 154 vessels, from foreign ports, with a tonnage of 41,010 tons were entered inwards; and 59 vessels with a tonnage of 9,564 tons were cleared outwards, and coast vessels, 189, with a tonnage of 11,076 tons.

The town is governed by a municipal corporation and is formed into two wards, North and South, with a mayor, six aldermen, eighteen town councillors, a separate commission of the peace, a treasurer, town clerk, town chamberlain, charitable trusteers, harbour master and superintendent of police. The Corporation act as the Urban Sanitary Authority. The borough police force consists of a superintendent, three sergeants and seven constables. There is also a Board of Health for Wisbech and Walsoken for main sewerage, six members of which form the Board of Health for Walsoken. The town is well lighted with gas, and supplied with water from chalk springs at Marham, in Norfolk, 21 miles distant: it contains a number of good houses and well stocked shops. The Market place is a fine, open, spacious street; the pavement and portions of the street are flagged. The Crescent is a handsome street, with shrubs and trees in the centre. The Old Market, in which the corn merchants' offices are chiefly sited, ia also a fine, spacious square.

The church of S. Peter & Paul which was restored in 1858, at a cost of £4,200, is in the Early Norman and Perpendicular styles, having chancel, double nave with flat roof, transept, a large square tower with 10 fine-toned bells, south porch, font, clock and organ, reconstructed and enlarged in 1873, at the cost of £650; the clock was erected by Mr. James Dann, of this town, at a cost of about £400; in the chancel floor is a brass of Sir Thomas Baunstone, constable of Wisbech castle. The register dates from the year 1558. The living is a vicarage, gross yearly value about £1,000, with residence, in the gift of the Bishop of Ely and held since 1867 by the Rev. John Scott M.A. of Caius College, Cambridge, honorary canon of Ely and rural dean of Wisbech.

St. Augustine is an ecclesiastical parish, formed in 1870 from the civil parishes of St. Peter Wisbech and Leverington. The church, erected in 1808-9 and opened in May, 1869, is a brick building, with stone dressings, in the Early English style: the cost was about £4,000, defrayed by subscription: it has a chancel, nave, aisles and bell turret with 1 bell: in 1878 a handsome reredos was erected, composed of richly cut stonework, the panels being filled in with glass mosaic, consisting of a central cross with figures of three angels on either side, bearingon shields the instruments of the Passion. The living is a vicarage, nett yearlyvalue £360, with residence, in the gift of the bishop of Ey and held by the Rev. Arthur Izard M.A. of Trinity College, Oxford.

The Chapel of Ease is in the Old Market: it is an octagonal brick building, with an ornamental roof and stone facings, with pinnacles, embattlements and entrance porch, The living is a perpetual curacy, gross yearly value, £400, from 265 acres of glebe, in the gift of trustees and held since 1877 by the Rev. Charles Cecil Sumner B.A. of Caius College, Cambnridge.

The Catholic chapel, Gaol lane, dedicated to Our Lady and St. Charles Borromeo, was built in 1854; ir is the Decorated Gothic style, and consists of chancel, nave and aisles. The Society of Friends Meeting House, North brink, was built in 1854. The Particular Baptist chapel, Upper Hill street, was erected in 1859: it is atone building, in the Early English style, and cost about £4,000, with was defrayed by voluntary subscriprions; it will seat about 600 persons. The General Baptist chapel, Ely place, was built in 1873. The Congegational chapel, Castle square was built in 1818. The Primitive Methodist chapel, Church terrace, was built in 1868. The Wesleyan chapel is in the Crescent. The United Methodist Free Church, Little Church street, was built in 1869-70; it is a red brick building, with stone facings, and cost about £2,500 The Baptist chapel, Victoria road, is a brick building, erected in 1856.

There are two cemetaries, one belonging to and situated near the church, and the other on the Leverington road, each with a mortuary chapel and grounds planted with shrubs and evergreens.

The Burial Board, comprising the members of the Borough Council, have formed another cemetary at Mount Pleasant, containing an area of 11 acres, portion of which is let off until required for burial purposes; is had one mortuary chapel, and was opened October 31, 1881.

The Corn Exchange is situated on the North brink; and includes, in addition to a spacious and handsome Exchange sales room, the offices usual to such establishments: the Borough Police offices are adjoining; a Cattle Market covering a large area of ground was formed at a cost of £2,000, on the site of the old one, in Chapel road and near to the Corn Exchange; the corn market day is Saturday, when sometimes 12,000 quarters of wheat have been sold: the cattle markets are held on Thursdays and Saturdays weekly; the fair days are the Saturday after the end of Lynn February 14th fair, which lasts fourteen days; Thursday before Whit-Sunday, and July 25 for horses and August 12 for beasts; Wednesday about the middle of September for hiring.

The Public Hall, Upper Hill street is a fine lofty and spacious room; and is used for concerts, public meetings and other purposes.

There is a Custom Hosuse, with a collector and controller and a small establishment. The "United Good Fellowship" (No. 809) Lodge of the Freemasons, to which there is a Chapter attached, holds its meetings at the "Rose and Crown," on the 4th Thursday in the month.

The E Company of the 1st Cambridgeshire Volunteers is stationed here,

The Fire Brigade consists of one superintendent and 23 men: the apparatus comprises 3 manual engines and a fire escape; the engine house is 1 Lower Hill street, the keys of which are kept at the Borough Police office and by the superintendent, Mr. Archer, North street.

A park, or pleasure grounds, comprising an area of 18 acres, planted wiith shrubs, flowers and evergreens, was opened in 1870, at a cost of £3,769 18s. 10d. of which the land cost £2,400, the remainder being espended in enclosing and ornamenting; adjoining and overlooking the park is the North Cambridgeshire Cottage Hospital, a brick building, with lodge and detached residence for the surgeon, opened Nov. 22, 1873, built and furnished by the munificence of Miss M. E. Trafford Southwell, of Honington Hall, Grantham, at a cost of abut £8,000; she likewise endowed it with £6,000, to which have been added donations from Messrs. Peckover and other families in the town and neighbourhood to the amount of £4,000: it has beds for 26 patients.

A Fever Hospital was established in 1875, at Mount Pleasant.

The Museum and Literary Institution, in Museum square, is open from 11 to 5 in summer, and 11 to 4 in winter, and on Thursday evenings from 7 to 9, The Literary Institution was established in 1781, and the Museum in 1835, and were amalgamated in 1877: among the antiquarian and art collections are Egyptian antiquities, Celtic flint and bronze implements, Roman-British querns and urns, and Anglo-Saxon fibulae; it also has a splendid assemblage of ceramics, bijouterie, and articles of vertû these, with a fine collection of coins, were bequeathed to the museum in 1869, by the Rev. C. H. Townsend: in British ornithology the collection, comprising many rare Fen birds, is nearly complete; the marine and fresh water fish taken in the river and Wash are extensive and curious; there are also some fine mineralogical and geological specimens, and collections of natural history.

The Working Men's Club and Institute, Lower Hill street, originally a private dwelling house, was opened for its present objects on January 4th, 1865, and subsequently enlarged by the addition of a new front, large hall, class rooms, gymnasium, and clock tower, with large bell, to which was added afterwards a fine set of chimes, consisting of 15 bells, which play 24 melodies; the bells were cast by Mrs. John Warner and Sons, of London, and the clock works supplied by Mr. James Dunn, of this town, who erected the whole; the building consists of lecture hall, reading, smoking, refreshment, conversation, and class rooms, library, gymnasium, and residence for hall keeper. In connection with the institute are a savings bank, coal and Christmas clubs: also clubs for cricket, football, gumnastics, draughts and chess, and there are French, natural history, discussion, reading, bible and educational classes. The present number of members is 1,034, and the number of books in the library about 4,000.

The Memorial to the late Thomas Clarkson M.A. a native of Wisbech, the indefatigable advocate of the abolition of the slave trade, was erected from the design of the late Sir George Gilbert Scott R.A.: the memorial stone was laid on the 28th October, 1880, and unveiled on the 1st November. 1881: the memorial consists of a statue, mounted on a platform, with a Gothic canopy, and spire, 68 feet high: on three sides of the base are carved bas-reliefs, representing respectively Wilberforce, Granville Sharp, and a manacled slave in a beseeching attitude: the fourth side bears the inscription, "Clarkson, born at Wisbech, 1760." The cost of the memorial was £2,055, raised by subscriptions.


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 DroveParson Drove and Guyhirne), Tydd St. Giles, Elm, Upwell, OutwellWelney, and are also lords of the manor of Wisbech Rectory, which extends into Wisbech St. Peter and Wisbech St. Mary.

The soil is loam; subsoil, clay. Chief crops, wheat, market garden produce and pasturage. the acreage is 6,432; rateable value, £36,901; gross estimated rental £46,097; the population in 1881 was 9,249.

WALDERSEA is a district consisting of about 5,500 acres, the whole of which is drained into the river Nene by an engine of 120 horsepower; the engine house is on the South brink, about 3 miles from Wisbech.

NEW WALSOKEN, in the county of Norfolk, is an eastern portion of Wisbech, and is separated from it by the Wisbech canal, over which are bridges connecting the two places, The names of residents in New Walsoken are given with the Norfolk Directory.

O F F I C I A L    E S T A B L I S H M E N T S,     L O C A L     I N S T I T U T I O N S   &c.


Savings Bank & Govenment Annuity & Insurance Office, 30 & 31 Market place.

Postmaster—John Goward.

8.30 p.m.
Mails dispatched to
Letters can be posted
Letters can be registered until
without extra charge until with an additional
halfpenny stamp until
Tydd, Long Sutton
Sutton Bridge cart
Emneth, Outwell
Upwell & Welney
Wisbech St. Mary
Guyhirn, Parson
Drove, Sutton
Edmunds & Ged-
ney Hill cart
4.10 a.m.
Rural Posts
5.30 a.m.
London & all parts
7.15 a.m.
7.20 a.m.
7.0 a.m.
Lynn & March
10.25 a.m.
10.30 a.m.
9.55 a.m.
London & all parts
11.0 a.m.
11.15 a.m.
11.30 a.m.
Sutton Bridge
12.15 a.m.
12.20 a.m.
11.45 a.m.
London & all parts
2.40 p.m.
2.45 p.m.
2.10 p.m.
Lynn, Norwich
& all Suffolk
3.45 p.m.
3.50 p.m.
3.15 p.m.
North Mail
5.45 p.m.
6.10 p.m.
5.15 p.m.
London & all parts
9 p.m.
9.25 p.m.
Mails received from Delivery commences at  
London & all parts
3.0 a.m.
7.0 a.m.
8.30 a.m.
9.15 a.m.
11.40 a.m.
12 noon
Sutton Bridge
4.45 p.m.
5.0 p.m.
London & all parts
4.40 p.m.
.0 p.m.
Rural Posts
8.0 p.m.
*7.0 a.m.

* The following morning

MAYOR—William Martin Rust
DEPUTY MAYOR—Thomas Patrick


Term of Office expires, 1883 Term of Office expires, 1883
William Groom Frederick Ford
Alfred Bates William Cross
John William Stanley John Minnitt Mason


North Ward South Ward
Term of Office expires, 1883 Term of Office expires, 1883
Henry Farrow Frederick Bray
George Wilkinson John Leach
John Crabtree John Thomas Baker
Term of Office expires, 1884 Term of Office expires, 1884
Charles Gane Thomas Pulley Maxey
Alfred English Thomas Patrick
John Crabtree Charles Benj. Atkinson
Term of Office expires, 1885 Term of Office expires, 1885
William Martin Rust (mayor) John Goward, jun.
George Dawbarn George Carrick
Wm. Shepherd Collins Fredc. Nathan Sharpe


Transcription Copyright ©E.C."Paddy" Apling, August, 2014

Wisbech Community Web-site
More on Wisbech St. Peter [Alan Gresley]
Church of St. Mary [Ben Colburn & Mark Ynys-Mon]
Church of SS Peter & Paul [Ben Colburn & Mark Ynys-Mon]
Wisbech Genealogical Records [Forebears]
More on Wisbech [GENUKI]
Return to villages index
Paddy's home page