St George's Church, Littleport - - 112543.jpg
St George's Church
Littleport is located in Cambridgeshire
Location 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
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town ELY
Postcode district CB6
Dialling code 01353
Police Cambridgeshire
Fire Cambridgeshire
Ambulance East of England
UK Parliament
List of places
52°27′24″N 0°18′17″E / 52.4568°N 0.3046°E / 52.4568; 0.3046Coordinates: 52°27′24″N 0°18′17″E / 52.4568°N 0.3046°E / 52.4568; 0.3046

Littleport is a large village in East Cambridgeshire, within the Isle of Ely, Cambridgeshire, England.[3] It lies about 6 miles (10 km) north-east of Ely and 6 miles (10 km) south-east of Welney, on the Bedford Level South section of the River Great Ouse, close to Burnt Fen and Mare Fen. There are two primary schools, Millfield Primary and Littleport Community, and a secondary, Littleport and East Cambridgeshire Academy. The Littleport riots of 1816 influenced the passage of the Vagrancy Act 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]

The Littleport Riots of 1816 broke out after war-weary veterans from the Battle of Waterloo returned home, only to find they could get no work and 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 in 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 Barn.[10]

The second tier 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 tier is Cambridgeshire County Council.[10]

The parish belongs to the parliamentary constituency of North East Cambridgeshire.


Thomas Peacock, who founded the gentlemen's tailoring chain Hope Brothers, was born in Littleport in 1829. Peacock had a number of shops in London starting from his first shop in Ludgate Hill.[12] The first three-storey Hope Brothers shirt and collar-making factory was opened in the village in 1881 in White Hart Lane. By 1891 it was employing 300-400 women and children as workers. It had a social club and library. 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.[13]

From 1979 to 1983, Jim Burns guitars were based in Padnal Road in Littleport. They produced guitars such as the Steer, popularized by guitarist Billy Bragg.[14]

Little Ouse

Littleport Parish includes 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 the Church of St John the Evangelist have been converted into private dwellings.[15]

The lowest trig point in Britain is near Little Ouse; it sits at 3 ft (1m) below sea level.[16]


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.[17]

The nearest Met Office weather station is Cambridge NIAB.[18][19]

There are many additional local weather stations reporting periodic figures to the internet. For example, via Weather Underground, Inc.[20]


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]

Notable people

World War II

On 16 December 1944, British double agent Eddie Chapman was flown on a mission to Britain by the Germans in a fast and manoeuvrable small fighter plane, that took off from a forward Luftwaffe fighter station on the Dutch coast. The purpose of the mission was to monitor the accuracy of V-1 flying bombs and V-2 rockets falling on London and then to report back their effect on the morale of the population in order to improve the performance and devastation of the attacks. After following the bombs to London, Chapman's fighter rerouted to East Anglia to enable him to bail out over flat ground. The fighter had been converted for parachuting by cuttin a small trap door in the floor. The low-flying fighter was picked up by a British night-fighter and was attacked over the dropping zone. Chapman scrambled head first through the trap door, with his parachute initially getting stuck. Whilst floating down to the ground he witnessed the British night-fighter re-engage the German fighter, which then burst into flames and exploded in a fireball as it hit the ground killing the remaining crew. Chapman landed near Apes Hall, Littleport, in the middle of the night. He woke the farm foreman George Convine by banging on the door of the Hall. To avoid difficult questions, Corvine was told by Chapman that he was a crashed British airman and that he needed him to call the Police.

Local folklore and legends

Black dog hauntings

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 a 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.[24][25]

Cambridgeshire folklorist Enid Porter relates stories dating from the nineteenth 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.[26][27]

Cultural reference

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.[28]

See also