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Thorney, Cambridgeshire

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Title: Thorney, Cambridgeshire  
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Subject: List of Anglo-Saxon saints, The Fens, B roads in Zone 1 of the Great Britain numbering scheme, Peterborough, Jack Watson (actor)
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Thorney, Cambridgeshire

Signpost in Thorney
Thorney is located in Cambridgeshire
 Thorney shown within Cambridgeshire
OS grid reference
Shire county Cambridgeshire
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Peterborough
Postcode district PE6
Dialling code 01733
EU Parliament East of England
List of places

Thorney is a village about 8 miles (13 km) east of Peterborough in the City of Peterborough unitary authority, England, on the A47. Historically it was part of the Isle of Ely, which was considered part of Cambridgeshire but was transferred into the former county of Huntingdon and Peterborough and remained part of the Peterborough district into the transfer to Cambridgeshire and when it became a unitary authority in 1998.

Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin and St Botolph, Thorney
Old Post Office Thorney
Bedford Hall

Tracing its roots back to around 500 AD when it started out as a Saxon settlement, the existence of Thorney Abbey made the settlement an important ecclesiastical centre for a long period of time, and until 2014 was the most northerly point of the Anglican Diocese of Ely. In 2014 it was transferred to the Diocese of Peterborough.

Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries the estate became crown property and it was granted to John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford in 1550. At this time only a few hundred acres of the land was cultivatable. In the 1630s Francis Russell, 4th Earl of Bedford spent a reputed £100,000 draining the fens, bringing almost all of the estate and parish of nearly 18,000 acres (7,284 ha) into agricultural use. A community of Walloon Protestant refugees, originally from areas of Flanders that are now northern France, was settled here in the 17th century with their own church and minister, employing the ruins of the abbey for services in their own language.[1] The Walloons had expertise in fenland drainage. The Russell family's rents from the Thorney estate increased from £300 in 1629 to £10,000 by the early 19th century. The family, whose main seat was at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire, occasionally resided at the manor house in Thorney village, which was known as Abbey House. The estate was sold to the tenants in 1910.

Much of the village was built at the command of the Dukes of Bedford, who wished to have a healthy place in which their estate workers could live. In the mid 19th century many buildings were added to the designs of the architect S.S. Teulon, himself a descendant of Huguenots. This explains the uniformity of the housing in the original centre of Thorney.

The 7th Duke of Bedford's model agricultural village included a modern water supply and sewerage scheme. This neo-Jacobean Tankyard building, now known as Bedford Hall, includes a 96 ft high water tower, erected in 1855,[2] that supplied fresh water to the village. The building houses Thorney Heritage Museum, part of the Greater Fens Museum Partnership.

The windmill on the outskirts dates from 1787 and contains six floors; it originally had six sails. During the war four German prisoners of war used it as a base during the day while working the land.

The village had a railway station on the old Peterborough to Wisbech line, and an additional station in the Parish at Wryde. The station and the line were closed in the early 1960s. Little evidence to suggest a rail link now remains, apart from level crossing gates at the side of Station Road; these gates are apparently not the original ones, the originals being much larger.

The A47 bypass opened in Winter 2005. The opening of the bypass has made the village much quieter.

The village's local school is the Duke of Bedford Primary School which is located next to Wisbech Road. There is also a specialist school at Park House for children with special educational needs.

Village magazine

The village has a magazine called the Thorney Post, which is printed three times a year. The magazine has its own website which carries news and an events section for the village.

Wind energy in Thorney

In 2010, planning permission was given for two wind turbines on land at French Farm, near French Drove[3] in Thorney parish. In 2011 REG WindPower announced plans[4] to install a further four wind turbines at the French Farm site.

As of 2013, other windfarms are proposed at Gores Farm, Willow Hall, Nuts Grove and Wryde Croft.[5]

Air accident

On 28 August 1976, a United States Air Force Lockheed C-141 Starlifter, 67-0006, on a flight from McGuire Air Force Base to RAF Mildenhall crashed near the village; the aircraft entered bad weather and the pilots lost control of the aircraft. The accident killed all 18 passengers and crew on board.[6][7][8][9][10] A memorial is maintained on Thorney Dyke, for the lost aircrew.[11]

Famous people

  • Alec Goodman – Grand National winning jockey 1852 on Miss Mowbray & 1866 on Salamander, lived here, farming at Bar Pasture Farm, English Drove Farm and Willow Hall Farm, although born in Upwell on 30 July 1822. First farmer on Thorney Estate to introduce steam ploughing in 1865. Moved to Nottinghamshire in 1879. Retired to Leamington Spa in 1884.
  • Ron Jacobs – Rugby Union – played for England, Barbarians and Northampton. President of the RFU 1984 who took England on tour to South Africa also farmed in Thorney. Thorney RUFC play at Ron Jacobs Field.
  • Pam Sly – 1,000 Guineas winning trainer in 2006 with Speciosa, the first British female trainer to win a Classic race.
  • Vernon Watson aka "Nosmo King" (Music Hall act) – buried in Thorney Cemetery, father of Jack Watson.
  • Jack Watson – actor who starred in Coronation Street, This Sporting Life and The Wild Geese was born in Thorney in 1915.

See also


  1. ^ Cambridgeshire, EnglandGenWeb Project rootsweb
  2. ^ "The Tankyard Buildings, Thorney" Fens Museum Partnership
  3. ^ "French Drove". 
  4. ^ "French Farm Wind Farm". 
  5. ^ "Newborough Landscape Protection Group". 
  6. ^ Aircraft accident Lockheed ASN
  7. ^ "Spokane Daily Chronicle". Google. Retrieved 16 May 2011. 
  8. ^,3311658&dq=peterborough+plane+crash&hl=en
  9. ^,5104955&dq=peterborough+plane+crash&hl=en
  10. ^,4484455&dq=peterborough+plane+crash&hl=en
  11. ^

External links

  • Parish history (from the Victoria County History) at British History Online
  • Thorney Parish Council
  • Thorney Heritage Museum
  • Thorney Football Club
  • Thorney Rugby Club
  • Thorney Abbey Fields Community dig
  • Some of Thorney's Huguenots
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