1870s Poverty
Features Folk & Facts Bibliography Year is 1965

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Poverty in Lakenheath

Simpson, in his 'Retrospect for 1879' had this to say: "The season of 1879 has been disastrous to farmers and were it not for the vast foreign supplies from America and Russia famine would inevitably be added to the other evils which afflict at the present time Great Britain and Ireland. In our own district farms have been given up and one landowner who has been farming on his own account for several years, offers his farms without rent for the first year; he has evidently found the business an unprofitable one. In the Fen this year the Harvest was calculated not sufficient to pay the labour and on Friday, August 8th. Lakenheath Fen was inundated to the extent of 3000 acres by the breaking of the bank of that lode or stream which comes from Lakenheath near its junction with the Little Ouse and where the difference in size between the two rivers is not appreciable. The number of sufferers from this calamity is estimated at about forty and the amount of property destroyed or rendered valueless at 30,000"

It is obvious that with the majority of the population of Lakenheath at that time either directly or indirectly involved with or dependant on agriculture a series of bad harvests could have a devastating effect on the local economy. The 1880 season was somewhat better but a wet June and July, after a beautiful spring, delayed the harvest in the Fen which was not completed until October. This would have meant a poorer final harvest. 1881 was said to be another year "disastrous to agriculture although on the whole perhaps not to so great an extent as 1879 and 1880. On 17/18th. January there was one of the most violent storms of wind and snow ever recorded. The snow, mixed with blown sand, formed drifts 15 feet deep. Numerous trees were blown down and rooves damaged. Not until 1882 was there an improvement and a good harvest.

R.A.Silverlock. Feb. 2000.
see also School in 1878, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1883, Illness and Postscript



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