Littleport, Cambridgeshire

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St George's Church, Littleport - - 112543.jpg
St George's Church
Littleport is located in Cambridgeshire
 Littleport shown within Cambridgeshire
Area  28.46 sq mi (73.7 km2[1]
Population 8,738 (2011)[2]
   – density  307/sq mi (119/km2)
OS grid reference TL568868
   – London 67.4 mi (108.5 km)  S
District East Cambridgeshire
Shire county Cambridgeshire
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town ELY
Postcode district CB6
Dialling code 01353
Police Cambridgeshire
Fire Cambridgeshire
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament North East Cambridgeshire
List of places

Coordinates: 52°27′29″N 0°18′18″E / 52.458°N 0.305°E / 52.458; 0.305

Littleport is the largest village in East Cambridgeshire,[3] England, approximately 6 miles (10 km) north of Ely and 6 miles (10 km) south-east of Welney. It lies on the Bedford Level South section of the River Great Ouse, close to Burnt Fen and Mare Fen. There are two primary schools in the village; Millfield Primary and Littleport Community school.

The Littleport riots of 1816 were a factor in Parliament passing the Vagrancy Act of 1824.


With an Old English name of Litelport, the village was worth 17,000 eels a year to the Abbots of Ely in 1086.[4]

The legendary founder of Littleport was King Canute. A fisherman gave the king shelter one night, after drunken monks had denied him hospitality. After punishing the monks, the king made his host the mayor of a newly founded village.[5]

Littleport was the site of the Littleport Riots of 1816, after war-weary veterans from the Battle of Waterloo had returned home, only to find that they could get no work and the grain prices had gone up. They took to the streets and smashed shops and other buildings until troops were brought in.[6] St George's church registers were destroyed during the riots.[7] The remaining registers start from 1754 (marriages), 1756 (burials), and 1783 (baptisms). Some original documents relating to the riots are held in Cambridgeshire Archives and Local Studies at the County Record Office, Cambridge.[8]

In 2003, a Harley-Davidson statue was unveiled in Littleport to commemorate the centenary of the motorcycle company. William Harley, father of the company's co-founder William Sylvester Harley, had been born in Victoria Street, Littleport, in 1835 and emigrated to the United States in 1859.[9]


Littleport is a civil parish with an elected council. Parish council meetings are held in the village hall.[10]

The second layer of local government in Littleport was Ely Rural District from 1894 to 1974,[11] when East Cambridgeshire District Council was formed based in Ely. The third layer is Cambridgeshire County Council based in Cambridge.[10]

The parish belongs to the Parliamentary constituency of North East Cambridgeshire. For the European Parliament, it is part of the East of England constituency, which elects seven MEPs using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.


Thomas Peacock, who founded the gentlemen's tailoring chain Hope Brothers, was born in Littleport in 1829. The first Hope Brothers shirt-making factory was opened in the village in 1882. For a period in the 1940s and 1950s, Hope Brothers were also manufacturers of the England football kit. The factory was eventually taken over by Burberry.[12]

From 1979–83, Jim Burns guitars were based in Padnal Road in Littleport. They produced guitars such as the Steer, popularized by guitarist Billy Bragg.[13]

Little Ouse[edit]

Littleport covers the hamlet of Little Ouse which comes under the Littleport East ward. Little Ouse is now entirely residential: the former pub, the Waterman's Arms and church of St John the Evangelist have been converted into private dwellings.[14]

The lowest trig point in Britain is near Little Ouse; it sits at 3ft (1m) below sea level.[15]


With an average annual rainfall of 24 inches (600 mm), Cambridgeshire is one of the driest counties in the British Isles. Protected from the cool onshore coastal breezes east of the region, Cambridgeshire is warm in summer and cold and frosty in winter.[16]

The nearest Met Office weather station is Cambridge NIAB.[17][18]

There are many additional local weather stations reporting periodic figures to the internet. For example, via Weather Underground, Inc.[19]

Climate data for Cambridge (1971-2000 averages)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 44.6
Average low °F (°C) 34.3
Average rainfall inches (mm) 1.772
Source: Met Office


Littleport is 28.46 square miles (73.7 km2) in size making it the largest village in East Cambridgeshire by area. The city of Ely itself has the highest East Cambridgeshire population with Soham second and Littleport third.[1]

Historical population of Littleport[20]
Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901
Population 1602 1847 2364 2644 3365 3832 3733 3903 3571 4201 4221
Year 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001 2011
Population 4527 4526 4779 [21] 5182 5291 5293 5673 6282 7521 8738

Census: 1801–2001[1] 2011[2]

Notable people[edit]

Local folklore and legends[edit]

Black dog hauntings[edit]

Littleport is home to two different legends of spectral black dogs, which have been linked to the Black Shuck folklore of the East of England but differ in significant aspects.

Local folklorist W.H. Barrett relates the story set before the English Reformation of a local girl gathering wild mint from a nearby mere who was rescued from a lustful friar by a huge black dog, both of which were killed in the struggle. The local men threw into the mere the body of the friar but buried with honour the dog, which was said to haunt the area after that.[23][24]

Cambridgeshire folklorist Enid Porter relates stories dating from the 19th century of a black dog haunting the A10 road between Littleport and the neighbouring hamlet of Brandon Creek, according to which local residents would be kept awake on dark nights by the sounds of howling and travellers would hear trotting feet behind them and feel hot breath on the back of their legs. Local legend says that the dog was awaiting the return of its owner, who had drowned in the nearby River Great Ouse in the early 1800s. This haunting reportedly came to an end in 1906, when a local resident drove his car into something solid, which was never found, next to the spot where the dog's owner supposedly drowned.[25][26]

Cultural reference[edit]

Littleport provided the inspiration for Great Deeping, the imaginary location of the Paradise Barn children's novels by Victor Watson, set in the Second World War.[27]

See also[edit]


Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Research Group (2010). "Historic Census Population Figures" (XLS). Cambridgeshire County Council. Retrieved 19 June 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Key Figures for 2011 Census: Key Statistics. Area: Littleport (Parish)". ONS. 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Confirmed by the assistant clerk to the Littleport parish council who reiterated that towns have a town council; villages have a parish council
  4. ^ Domesday Book (1999–2010). "Cambridgeshire, Littleport". The Domesday Book Online. © Retrieved 19 June 2010. 
  5. ^ Beare, Beryl, England: Myths and Legends (Bath, 1999), p. 47. ISBN 0752529781
  6. ^ Strawson. "The Littleport Riots". Family website. Strawson family. Archived from the original on 2012-10-11. Retrieved 19 June 2010. [dead link]
  7. ^ T D Atkinson, Ethel M Hampson, E T Long, C A F Meekings, Edward Miller, H B Wells, G M G Woodgate (1953), Pugh, R B, ed., The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Cambridge and the isle of Ely, 4, Oxford University Press, pp. 95–102 
  8. ^ "County Records Office, Cambridge". Cambridgeshire County Council. 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2010. 
  9. ^ "Littleport Harley Davidson statue". 
  10. ^ a b ECDC (February 2010). Leaflet:Councillors, committees & meeting dates. The Grange, Nutholt Lane, Ely, CB7 4EE. 
  11. ^ A Vision of Britain (2004). "A vision of Britain between 1801 and 2001". University of Portsmouth and others. Retrieved 19 June 2010. 
  12. ^ "Littleport Plaque For Hope Brothers Factory". 
  13. ^ Gjörde, Per (2001). Pearls and Crazy Diamonds. Göteborg, Sweden: Addit Information AB. pp. 50–54. 
  14. ^ "Church of St John the Evangelist Little Ouse Littleport, Ely, Cambs". East Cambridgeshire District Council. 
  15. ^ "Happy 80th birthday to the trig pillar" Ordnance Survey
  16. ^ Greig, Dr. A.; Martin, J. (1998). "Cambridgeshire and Peterborough's State of the Environment Report: Chapter 11 Physical Background" (PDF). Cambridgeshire County Council. Retrieved 9 June 2010. 
  17. ^ Met Office. "Forecast:East of England". UK Climate Forecasts. Crown Copyright. Retrieved 5 June 2010. 
  18. ^ Met Office. "Historical Data:Regional:Cambridge NIAB". UK Climate Summaries. Crown Copyright. Retrieved 5 June 2010. 
  19. ^ Weather Underground (2010). "Ely, United Kingdom". Weather Underground, Inc. Retrieved 5 June 2010. 
  20. ^ Area in 1801 26.20 square miles (67.9 km2)
  21. ^ No census 1941 due to WWII
  22. ^ William Harley Retrieved 20 March 2015
  23. ^ Barrett, Walter Henry (1963), Porter, Enid, ed., Tales from the Fens, Routledge & Kegan Paul, ISBN 9780710010544 
  24. ^ James, Maureen (2014), "Of Strange Phenomena: Black Dogs, Will o' the Wykes and Lantern Men", Cambridgeshire Folk Tales, History Press, ISBN 9780752466286 
  25. ^ Porter, Enid (1969), Cambridgeshire Customs & Folklore, Routledge & Kegan Paul, ISBN 9780710062017 
  26. ^ Codd, Daniel (2010), "The Weird Animal Kingdom: Black Shuck and Other Phantom Animals", Mysterious Cambridgeshire, JMD Media, ISBN 9781859838082 
  27. ^ Series website Retrieved 20 February 2016.

External links[edit]