Here’s what was making the news on December 31 in years gone by - from all corners of Cambridgeshire

A stage for loading beet on Ouse near Littleport. Picture; SUBMITTED

A stage for loading beet on Ouse near Littleport. Picture; SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant

These are some of the local stories that made the news on this day in years past. You can read a fuller version with illustrations on my Fenland History on Facebook group

1904 12 31

The Master of Kedington Workhouse reported that nearly all the old men went one evening over Christmas and the greater part of them came home the worse for drink. One man was brought in a wheelbarrow, simply smothered with mud.

Where the men got their drink is a mystery, but apparently the inhabitants of Haverhill had been exceedingly generous. Many of the paupers were not entirely without money: one firm had sent a shilling to each of twenty men who used to be in their employment, others had received letters from friends enclosing stamps.

The result of the spree was an attack of dysentery among the men who had participated.

1904 12 31

Liquid air is no new thing in Cambridge for it was our own Professor Dewar who was the first scientist to obtain liquid in hydrogen. Its application to everyday life is new and emanates from the stage.

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The principal attractions at the Inventions and Trades Exhibition in the Corn Exchange will be Dr Savant's demonstrations of a kettle boiled on ice, eggs poached in one second, grapes instantly turned into hailstones and ice cream made over fire.

It is one of the most marvellous and astounding performances every placed before the public. # 04 12 31

1904 12 31

For some time Miss Wilson and her hard-working band of ladies have been daily allaying the pangs of hunger in hundreds of little children and their mothers in the Newmarket Road area of Cambridge by giving them free dinners.

Now their effort is brought to an end.

Not only are the financial resources exhausted but the staff have physically worked themselves out.

But on the very day that these free meals cease the CDN Shilling Fund commences its distribution of tickets for food, fuel and clothing, continuing the work they have been compelled to give up.

Subscriptions continue to come steadily in with cheques from Messrs Starr and Rignall photographers, Moore and Company tobacconists and the Cambridge Waterworks Company

1909 12 31

The with n250-year-old Tithe Barn in Shelley-Row, Castle End is to be pulled down to make way for new houses. It is still in good repair with patches of new straw used to mend the high and thickly-thatched roof.

It was used as a resting-place by the French prisoners taken in the Peninsular War during their journey to the prison camp at Norman Cross. Many people bought objects such as dice and dominoes they made from the bones of the meat supplied to them. The 'True Blue' in Hobson Street was also one of the billets. CWN 09 12 31

1926 12 31

The Great Ouse River Board heard that a number of stages had been erected on the banks of the Ten Mile River and the Wissey for loading sugar beet. The banks in many cases had been cut. Furthermore in loading the beet on to barges a quantity of earth was allowed to fall into the river.

It should be made clear this should not be done without the approval of the Board. Sir Fred Hiam proposed notices be printed so the factories could sent one to each farmer who contracted with them to supply beet.

1975 12 31

Living on a modern house on a St Ives estate just did not have enough character for Mr Peter Cracknell and his wife. So they have taken on the mammoth challenge of bring back to life a railway station at Bluntisham. Accommodation is not exactly tailor-made for a family at the moment. There is a booking hall, waiting room, a kitchen in a shed, a ticket office, three bedrooms, a yard and outbuildings.

'There aren't many houses with a platform at the bottom of the garden with a railway line as well. Most of our friends think we are crazy', he said.

You can make your own discoveries on my 3,500-page 'Cambridgeshire Scrapbook 1897-1990' from my Internet Archive site -

For Cambridge itself there's 'Cambridge 1888-1988: a Chronicle of an English University City' which is a detailed, 4,000-page record of development and change, arranged by topic

It's best to download them as a PDF file since it is much quicker to search

There are also thousands of actual articles and pictures back to 1688 in my Flickr Albums -

It's Mike's Library on Your Laptop - freely available for all to use (but only if you want to)

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