Little London History

PUBLISHED: 14:03 21 September 2010

REG Kemp's interest in preserving the 19th century cottages in the old Little London area of March resurrects a tragic time in the town's long history.

REG Kemp’s interest in preserving the 19th century cottages in the old Little London area of March resurrects a tragic time in the town’s long history.

In 1849-50 Little London, an extensive area of cottages, pubs and dosshouses was the hotbed of a devastating outbreak of cholera and typhoid. For several years March suffered from these visitations caused by insanitary ditches and heavily contaminated public and private wells.

That particular period accounted for 441 deaths from these and other diseases, including malnutrition, over almost 12 months.

The government rated March then with a population of about 5,000 as having the highest mortality rate in the country. Inspectors had never seen anything as bad.

The existing old cottages witnessed the trauma of the times and were indeed part of it.

March has lost several old buildings: a cottage in Church Street (1658), the 18th century White Lion Inn, and lately Eastwood house of early 19th century origin.

Several cottages - The Long Eight - in the Avenue built of bricks from Norman Cross prisoner-of-war camp where Napoleon’s soldiers were incarcerated were demolished. Fortunately one was saved in Field Baulk.

I regard Little London’s cottages as a fitting monument to the hundreds of March citizens that died in squalid circumstances 160 years ago.

New cemeteries were found to contain them.

It would be gratifying were the buildings preserved.

TREVOR BEVIS

St Peter’s Road

March

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