Fenland Collection

The Fenland Collection is based at Wisbech Library, with satellite collections at Ely and March libraries, and is a comprehensive resource of printed material relating to the geographic area of the Fens. Over 4000 items cover many aspects of life in the Isle of Ely, West Norfolk and South Lincolnshire.

Available at the Fenland Collection

Our special collections

Wisbech library holds a special collection on Thomas Clarkson, a leading campaigner against the slave trade who was born in Wisbech, as well as wider resources around the Abolition of Slavery in the British Empire.

Ely library is home to books and other resources about the history of Ely Cathedral.

Archive resources for the Cambridgeshire Fens are held at Cambridgeshire Archives and at the Wisbech and Fenland Museum.

Illustration of the Clarkson memorial in Wisbech
Clarkson memorial, Wisbech (1873)

Books and Pamphlets

The Fenland Collection contains over 4,000 books and pamphlets including:

  • Town and village histories

  • Historical Trade Directories and Electoral Registers

  • Victoria County History


Newspapers

The titles listed below under each library are all on microfilm; no original historical newspapers are held in these libraries. Visitors are advised to book in advance to use the microfilm reader/printers to avoid disappointment.

Maps

Ordnance Survey

Wisbech, March and Ely libraries each hold Ordnance Survey maps covering their own area. These maps range in scale from 1:500 to 1:10,000 and date from 1886.

Landranger, Pathfinder and Explorer maps, geological and land use maps are also available.

Historical maps

Wisbech Library has print maps of the county and Fenland region from the 17th - 19th centuries.

Goad Plans

Goad plans of Wisbech town centre from 1969 onwards are available. March and Ely libraries also hold Goad plans for their own town.

Section of OS historic map of Wisbech
Ordnance Survey map section Wisbech (OS County Series, 1880s)

Photographs

The Fenland Collection holds a small collection of photographs, but many more are available in the Cambridgeshire Collection and you can use the online library catalogue to search for these.

The Lillian Ream Photography Collection

Between 1907 and 1971, the Lilian Ream studio took an extensive series of photographs documenting the people and lifestyles of Wisbech.

The value of the surviving photographs as social documents is immense. They offer a unique insight into the past, bringing to life the ordinary people, places and day-to-day activities of this Cambridgeshire market town.

The collection is recognised as being one of the best of its type in the country, and its national importance has been recognised by experts from the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television. Cambridgeshire Archives and Local Studies is proud to be able to work with the Lilian Ream Trust to bring you an online catalogue of 2,500 of these photographs.

Wisbech library is an access and ordering point for the collection.

Visiting the Fenland Collection

Opening hours

Wisbech library
Monday 9.30am - 1pm
Tuesday 9.30am - 7pm
Wednesday 9.30am - 5pm
Thursday 9.30am - 5pm
Friday 9.30am - 5pm
Saturday 9.30 am - 4pm
Sunday Closed

 View opening hours for Ely library and March library

Contact us

Wisbech Library 
5 Ely Place 
Wisbech 
PE13 1EU

Email: localstudies.fenland@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

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