Let’s talk about Chatteris

Chatteris is an unpretentious small market town on the western border of the Isle of Ely, about nine miles south of March and twelve miles north-west of Ely.

The Ely road is known as Ireton’s Way having been constructed by Henry Irton, a Parliamentary general in the Civil War, to convey troops from Chatteris to Ely. Oliver Cromwell was born in Huntingdon, about 15 miles to the south-west.

Further information:

Chatteris - Cambridge Community Archive Network

British History Online - North Witchford Hundred: Chatteris

We moved here in 2004 as at that time I relocated my office to Bury St Edmunds. Although some distance away, driving to Bury St Edmunds was a doddle compared with driving across London each day, which was what I was doing before we moved.

Our house is in one of the many small yards that can be found in Chatteris. It is built on the site of a former ginger beer factory, owned by a Mr Charles Porter. The 1901 census shows the following members of the Porter household:

Charles Porter - Head of family - Brewer - Age 45
Annie Porter - Wife - Age 34
Charles William Porter - Son - Employed at Brewery - Age 14
Horace Porter - Son - Apprentice Pattern Maker - Age 15
Alec Edwin Porter - Son - Clerk - Age 14
Gertrude Annie Porter - Daughter - Age 10
Archie Porter - Son - Age 9
Constance Eve Porter - Daughter - Age 7
Kathleen A M Porter - Daughter - Age 5
Reginald Porter - Son - Age 3
Victoria Mildred Porter - Daughter - Age 3
Florence Irene Porter - Daughter - Age 1
William Porter - Uncle - Age 72
Susan Brown - Servant - Age 16

Porters Yard

Porters Yard

Porter's Yard is one of many small yards off Chatteris High Street. Its name derives from the family that owned a ginger beer factory in the Yard. The old abandoned factory can be seen in the background of this photograph.

Our house is built on the site of the factory.

Charles Porter

Charles Porter along with two of the bottles that I found when digging over our garden. I uncovered only two intact examples, one earthenware and the other glass. The glass bottle has a marble in the throat that was forced into a restriction by the pressure of the gaseous ginger beer, thus retaining its fizz.


Archie Porter

At the turn of the last century as a local producer Mr Porter could operate a profitable business but with the growth of larger soft drinks companies these small businesses became non viable.

This photograph is testament to how things have changed.



An advertisement for Archie Porter's high class mineral water that shows that the business was established in 1882.
There clearly weren't that many people with telephones in Chatteris at the time judging by the telephone number CHATTERIS 101.
Kindly provided by Chatteris Museum.

Porter family photo

Unfortunately there is no detailed information about this photograph other than the title, so we don’t know who was emigrating, or who’s who!
It is, however, a fine photograph of the age and another piece of history.
Chatteris no longer has a station.
Photograph kindly provided by Chatteris Museum.

yard photo
Yard photo?

I have no details of this photograph other than that it relates to the Porter family and was probably taken in Porters Yard.
There are certainly a number of barrels on show.
Once again a window on a very different time.
Photograph kindly provided by Chatteris Museum.

In town

Being an ancient town there are a number of interesting old properties. These tend to be tucked in between more modern buildings.

The cottage featured in the first two images has, as you can see, undergone quite extensive exterior refurbishment. Speaking to the current owner I learned about the serious fire in 1864, known as the Great Fire of Chatteris, that destroyed a large number of properties in that area but stopped short of the cottage itself. Quite a miracle.

Out of town

Chatteris is surrounded by arable land that is criss-crossed with drains from when the fens were drained by Dutch engineers centuries ago.

It’s quite a barren landscape but has its own form of beauty, especially in autumn colours.  What sets the region apart are the amazing skyscapes that can be seen across the flat countryside.