Our Ely at 50

With the tumultuous last few years, we have been more conscious than usual that we have been living through a period that will be recorded in the history books. But some of the most fascinating stories in history are those of everyday lives and of changes that have happened gradually and without a lot of fanfare.

This exhibition looks at the last 50 years of history in Ely and the immediate area. While it had long been known as a city, particularly due to the magnificent cathedral, Ely’s city status was officially confirmed in 1974. On April 1st 1974 Queen Elizabeth II granted the letters patent to the civil parish. As this anniversary approaches, we felt it would be a good time to look around at how Ely has changed in this time.

Since 1974 there have been physical changes to Ely. Businesses and shops have closed, and opened, and moved premises. Several cinemas closed, and then one opened. Bypasses were built, first at Angel Drove, then the A10 to Littleport, and most recently the southern bypass.

We’ve taken part in national celebrations, from the Silver Jubilee in 1977 through the Olympics in 2012 to the Platinum Jubilee. We’ve mourned national and local figures of great significance. We’ve had royal visits from the Queen, from Princess Diana, Princess Margaret and from the King when he was Prince Charles.

There have been storms and floods, and there have been celebrations. New sculptures and new buildings, and learning about our past. Antiques Roadshow and Time Team both filmed in Ely.

And of course Ely itself has expanded enormously, with large housing developments particularly on the north and west sides of Ely, including new schools and community facilities.

We would love to hear from you about your thoughts and memories of the last 50 years in Ely and there is a book of memories in the exhibition gallery where you can record and share your thoughts about Ely’s recent decades.

This exhibition has been created with the work of Ely Museum’s Young Curators’ Club.