Wisbech, Cambridgeshire

Wisbech Map

Town Centre


By 1700 Wisbech probably had a population of around 2,500. By 1800 it had risen to 4,700. That may seem very small to us but by the standards of the town it was a fair sized market town.
Wisbech continued to prosper in this century. Peckover house was built in 1722. It got its name in 1794. In that year it was purchased by a banker named James Peckover. The house was given to the National Trust in 1948.
In the 18th century Wisbech became a genteel and prosperous town. It was still a busy port. Grain was exported. Rape- seed was ground to oil and exported from Wisbech. There was also a brewing industry. The building that now houses Elgoods Brewery was erected about 1790. A theatre was built in Wisbech in 1793. Today it is the Angles Centre.


In the 19th century life in Wisbech continued to improve (at least for the well off). An act of parliament of 1810 gave Wisbech corporation powers to pave, clean and light the streets. Following this act the town hall was built.
In 1816 a builder named Joseph Medworth built the present 'castle' in Wisbech. Then from 1832 the streets of Wisbech were lit by gas.
Leverington Road cemetery was laid out in 1835. It was followed by another cemetery, which was laid out at Mount Pleasant in 1881.
Meanwhile a museum opened in Wisbech in 1835 and the railway reached Wisbech in 1847.
Like other towns Wisbech suffered outbreaks of cholera in 1832, 1849 and 1854. After the outbreak in 1854 the corporation began building sewers and created a piped water supply. In 1870 The Park was opened. North Cambridgeshire Hospital opened in 1873. An outpatients department was added in 1904 and a children’s wing was built in 1936.
The Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady and St Borromeo was built in Queens Road in 1854. St Peter and Paul's Church was restored in 1858 and a clock was added in 1866. St Augustine’s Church was built in 1869.
A corn exchange where grain could be bought and sold was built in 1858. In 1881 a memorial was erected in Bridge Street to Thomas Clarkson 1760-1846, who was born in Wisbech and fought against slavery. The memorial was designed by the architect Sir Gilbert Scott 1811-1878.
In the first half of the 19th century the population of Wisbech more than doubled. It reached 10,500 by 1850 but it then levelled off. In the 1830's a new working class suburb began to grow at New Walsoken. In the 1840's Ruby Street was built. So were Henry Street and Whitby Street. Both were named after Henry Whitby who owned land in the area.
In the second half of the century, despite the levelling off in the population, new houses were built around Victoria Road. Growth also spread along Lynn Road. Also in the late 19th century Queen Street and the surrounding roads were built. In 1881 a monument was erected to Thomas Clarkson who fought for the abolition of slavery.
Meanwhile the photographer Lillian Ream 1877-1961 was born in Wisbech.
The port of Wisbech continued to prosper. In 1852 new wharfs were built by the river. In 1890 the banks of the River Nene were strengthened by piling. Grain was still exported. Coal and timber were imported. There was also a woodworking industry in Wisbech. The wood was sawn and covered in creosote. Off cuts from the timber industry were used to make baskets for the fruit industry. Other industries in Wisbech in the 19th century were brewing and making farm machinery.


In the 20th century industries in Wisbech included canning, brewing and light engineering. In 1921 a war memorial was erected in Wisbech. In 1931 a concrete bridge was built over the river. By that year the population of Wisbech had risen to 12,000 and it continued to rise steadily. In the second half of the 20th century a new suburb grew on Mount Pleasant Bank. Wisbech Rugby Club was founded in 1947. Wisbech remained a busy port. However leisure craft became increasingly important and it is now a popular port for yachts.
A new library was built in Wisbech in 1975. Horse Fair shopping centre was built in 1988. The Octavia Hill Birthplace Museum opened in 1995. It commemorates Octavia Hill 1838-1912 who helped found the National Trust. Today the population of Wisbech is 20,000.

70 North Brink
70 North Brink today. This was William and Mary Ann Freear's home in 1871
18 Wilberforce Rd
and 18 Wilberforce Road...their home in 1911...as it is today

Wisbech 1900
Part of Wisbech C. 1900
Wisbech Quay 1905
Wisbech Quay 1905
The Brinks 1907
The Brinks, 1907
The Brinks 1916
Wisbech 1916
Thw Quay 1927
Wisbech Quay, 1927
New Bridge 1935
New Bridge and Nene Quay in 1935

Wisbech: (1887, John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles)

Wisbech.-- (or Wisbeach), mun. bor., par. (Wisbech St Peter), market town, and port, Isle of Ely, Cambridgeshire, on river Nen, 22 miles NE. of Peterborough, 6432 ac., pop. 9249; P.O., T.O., 3 Banks, 3 newspapers. Market-days, Thursday and Saturday. The river, which is crossed by an iron bridge, and is joined to the Ouse by the Wisbech Canal, has been greatly improved for navigation, and admits of vessels of between 400 and 500 tons discharging their cargoes near the town. The chief trade is in the export of agricultural produce, and the import of timber, coal, &c. (For shipping statistics, see Appendix.) The ancient parish church has a double nave and a fine detached tower. A monument has been erected to Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846), the slavery abolitionist, who was a native. Wisbech acquired a castle in 1071 from William the Conqueror. Between the years 1236 and 1614 Wisbech was four times inundated by the sea. It was made a mun. bor. in the time of Edward VI

St. Mary's Church
St. Mary's Church
St-Mary's Church
Church of St. Peter & St. Paul