Wisbech & Fenland Museum – Ports, Waterways and Railways of East Anglia

Our next talk is by Tony Kirby in Wisbech Library at 2pm on Thursday 20th April.

Ports. Waterways and Railways of East Anglia, 1700 to the present

Down to the middle of the 19th century, the economic life of East Anglia revolved around the many ports along its coast, from Boston and Spalding round to the Thames Estuary, and the navigable rivers that served inland towns and villages. In this talk, Tony Kirby explores how this traditional pattern was disrupted by the railways, which largely destroyed coastal shipping from the 1840s onwards and led to the eclipse of some ports, such as Blakeney and Cley, and major problems for the survivors, such as Wisbech and Lynn. Once the linchpins of the regional economy, their place was taken by the new railway centres, notably March and Peterborough. Some ports, such as Harwich and Yarmouth on the other hand were re-invigorated by the railways, and even Wisbech and Lynn eventually acquired a new hinterland and trade flows thanks to the Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway. And today, railways and ports remain interlinked: marshalling at March is a thing of the past, but there is a steady flow of intermodal (container) traffic to and from Felixstowe.

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