Archived reports of meetings in 2013

4th December

March Station and Railway Update with Alan Neville & Adrian Sutterby

Alan Neville of the Greater Anglia Train Operator Company and Adrian Sutterby of the Friends of March Railway Station updated the March Society about progress over the past year on the local railways and with the work on March Station.

Alan reported that he is now responsible for overseeing the management of 18 Railway Stations in the Greater Anglia area and so is involved in issues relating to Cross Rail in London, HS2, Great Western electrification and improved platforms at several stations including Peterborough. He commented that the UK rail network is the safest in Europe and highlighted some of the awards and recognition received locally. These included 'Station Adopter' awards for stations doing well, Customer Service awards and the 'Train Operator of the Year' accolade

Across his region the number of train passengers had increased but the need for more carriages had not been met because of lack of funding. He is aware of the street parking issues around March Station but emphasised that the Train Operating Companies are powerless to intervene because parking on public roads is a local authority issue.

Adrian presented photographs demonstrating the progress made to March station by groups of volunteers. The disused part of the Station has been cleared, rail lines laid down, the footbridge painted and tubs of flowers installed and maintained. The flower displays had led, in July, to the award of 'Best Business Garden'. The next step is to re-furbish the disused rooms at the back of the Station so that they may then be used by community and other groups. Thank you to Alan and Adrian for a very interesting and enjoyable evening.

friends of March Railway Station at work

6th November

A Look at Old March Postcards with David Edwards

David Edwards showed his interesting collection of old postcards of March town to members of The March Society at their November event. He estimates, from the scenes shown, that some of the postcards are pre- First World War. The majority of his collection was taken in the thirties but with some from the fifties. The postcards caused much interest and members were able to share their own reminiscences and add information.

Postcards were shown of March's many splendid Churches and Chapels, the Stone Cross and historic scenes of the Market Place, Broad St, High St, Nene Parade, West End, Station Rd and Dartford Rd.

Thank you to David for a very pleasant evening. As well as the new buildings, Broad St/High St, Station Rd and Dartford Rd were pictured as empty and dusty main roads. These old postcards demonstrate how March is continually changing.

2nd October

Library resources for researching the history of March with Alison England

Alison England, Cambridgeshire's Community Engagement Librarian, gave an extremely interesting and informative talk to the March Society about how to research March's history. Alison demonstrated the numerous resources freely available in March Library but explained that most local historical material relating to Fenland was stored in Wisbech Library because of its larger size. The 'Fenland Collection' is only available at Wisbech.

Archive material for the county is available in Cambridge in Shire Hall and in the Cambridgeshire Collection in Cambridge Central Library.

Libraries display only a very small proportion of the historical books and pamphlets that are available and filed there. Old maps of the March area are stored in the map cabinet at March library.

The public may carry out research using other materials stored in the library: newspapers, directories, photographs and censuses.

Alison gave many examples of what may be accessed through the Cambridgeshire Libraries website. This includes free access to historical document sites that would normally require a subscription fee

The Libraries and Archives Services work closely together - the main difference being that the latter stores original documents that may be irreplaceable.

Alison England & MS members

4th September

Peterborough in Detail

Peterborough Civic Society published their book in November 2012 celebrating the fascinating architectural detail of distinctive local buildings in Peterborough and its villages with superb photographs, taken and supplied by members of the Peterborough Photographic Society. Members of the society gave an illustrated talk about how and why they created this book, and their experience in marketing it.

7th August

Street Audit - A summer evening stroll along Nene Parade.

A large group of members of The March Society took part in a community Street Audit and evening walk along Nene Parade in March in August. This was a new initiative aimed at giving groups of residents an opportunity to influence the environmental quality of the streets in their neighbourhood. The group had a very enjoyable stroll in the evening sunshine along Nene Parade discussing together the good features as well as identifying and recording anything which needed improving.

The group agreed that Nene Parade is a very attractive location, in many ways very rural with its wildlife and attractive riverbank. However overgrown riverbanks spilling onto, and obstructing the road added an air of neglect along parts of the street. Riverbank vegetation has been entirely removed in one place which the Society was told was caused by overuse of chemicals preventing regrowth.

Reference was made to the considerable wildlife along the river and its banks, including ducks, swans, geese and moorhens. A water rat at a water outlet was also seen by the group.

There are many attractive historic buildings, houses and cottages, dating back to at least the sixteenth century and including the Grade 2 listed The Ship public house. Sadly there are also neglected empty homes, two of which were noted as having been empty for at least ten years and these detract from the appearance of this riverside walk. The area from the bridge to Sainsbury's is in the conservation area. While many interesting and useful businesses are housed in the heritage buildings, there was considerable discussion by the group on the subject of appropriate shop signage and the use of UPVC windows. The group felt generally that windows and doors should look appropriate, whether of timber or UPVC. The UPVC windows are now of such a standard that it is difficult to see whether they are of timber or not. However it was felt strongly that listed buildings must have timber window frames and doors.

It was felt that traffic signs need attention in Nene Parade. Many members of the group had not seen the sign 'Cyclists Dismount' amongst the other signs at Wigstone's Bridge and it was not generally realised by the public that they could be fined for cycling over the bridge. Faded painted road signs such as 'END' and 'KEEP CLEAR' together with the disappearing yellow lines are all in need of a repaint. The sign for no motorbikes and cars is in need of cleaning.

Cracks from subsidence along the pavement and road need attention, as do the fences, broken and with large gaps from missing wood, caused by vandalism, traffic and neglect.

There was an absence of litter apart from a group of black bags along a fence, and the bags were removed by the council on the day after the walk.

The group enjoyed a very pleasant walk in an attractive area of central March and felt the issues to be addressed were the fading road signs, the broken fences, disturbing cracked pavements and road along the middle of the walk, the empty buildings and the signage and proliferation of UPVC windows and doors in the conservation area.

If you are interested in taking part in these walks and would like to suggest a particular road or street, please contact us.

nene parade

3rd July

AGM and Talk by Edna Stacey entitled "It all began in March - the story of Victor Canning"

6th June

A River Trip with Fox Narrowboats

A group of members and guests of The March Society enjoyed a very pleasant evening narrow boat trip along the Nene River though March courtesy of Fox Narrowboats.

The journey provided a different and very interesting perspective of March as seen from the Rive Nene and cameras were in constant action throughout the one hour return trip.

Many water birds were out in the evening sun, including ducks, moorhens, geese and even a cormorant fishing in the river.

A fascinating film about travelling on the waterways through March and surrounding villages, completed a memorable evening.

Contributions were donated by the group to the Sue Ryder Hospice as Fox Boats are currently organising events to raise funds for this Charity.

Thank you to Tracey, Paula and family for a wonderful experience.

coming under the town bridge and link to video gathered with Jenny


1st May

A Wander through Elm History with Dorothy Papworth

Walk through Elm to visit the church

3rd April

Norwood Road Nature Reserve with Spencer Holland

6th March

History in Pictures with Martin Edwards, of Cambridgeshire History

6th February

Churches and development in March: Quinton Carroll

Quinton Carroll, Cambridgeshire County Council's Senior Archaeologist whose specialist field is Church Archaeology, talked to members and visitors of The March Society about the development of March and its church buildings.

Before focusing on the four Churches in March, he described how church architecture styles had changed over the course of some 1500 years starting with the Normans pulling down most of the wooden churches and building stone ones.

Romanesque, Transitional, Early English & Gothic influences are still evident in many church buildings.

Within March, early life centred round St Wendreda's but the 'centre of gravity' of the town moved out northwards towards the river and, with the coming of the railway, the area surrounding the churches of St John's and St Mary's. Focus spread outwards towards West Fen and the building of St Mary Magdalene chapel, before reverting back to the area around St Peter's.

The true identity of Wendreda - was she a princess or related to Ethelreda - is still a mystery.

Quinton commented that the Churches in March were really well built and that many churches could not have withstood the huge fire that had engulfed St Mary's in recent times.

9th January

England's Changing Vernacular Architecture

English Heritage's Historic Places Advisor, David Grech, gave the March Society a fascinating talk about a 600 mile walking and sketching journey he had completed across England, looking at buildings from the South-East to Cumbria.

David illustrated the talk with many of his own superb coloured sketches illustrating a wide variety of houses and buildings that were constructed in locally sourced materials.

His journey started at Beachy Head, Sussex and cut through Central England, ending at St Bees Head, Cumbria. David demonstrated how the rich and varied geology across the country has had a profound effect on our vernacular architectural heritage. Different varieties of flint, slate, chalk, clay, limestone, sandstone are to be found across the Country and so buildings were constructed with these materials in local styles.

His walk is documented in a book entitled 'Head to Head - the Sketchbook of a Walk Across England'

an extract from David Grech's book. ©David Grech

An extract from David Grech's book. ©David Grech.