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Peterborough Shaken by an Earthquake

1884

Information

There was a large earthquake in Colchester, Essex, on 22nd April, which was felt in Peterborough and Crowland. It caused the chandeliers in houses on Lincoln Road to jingle.





Excessive Heat

1884

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The weather in the second week of August 1884 was described at the time as excessive. The heat in Peterborough was recorded at 140 degrees Farenheit (60 degrees Celsius) in the sun and 90 degrees Farenheit (32 degrees Celsius) in the shade. It reached 150 degrees Farenheit in Greenwich!





Britain Abandoned

180,000 to 70,000 years ago

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Before 11,700 years ago Britain was subject to violent swings in climate and environment and occupation was patchy. Between 180,000 and 70,000 years ago there were no humans of any species living here, Britain was abandoned.





Leedsichthys, the Big Jurassic Fish

150 million years ago

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The Jurassic sea was home to the biggest species of fish ever known, Leedsichthys problematicus This bony fish would have grown up to 16 metres in length, and is thought to have been a filter feeder, living on plankton and krill. In 2001, the most complete skeleton of Leedsichthys was discovered in the Star Pit brick quarry near Peterborough. A team of fossil experts excavated the creature, over a period of 2 years.  Over 1800 bones were collected. The specimen is now part of the Peterborough Museum collections.





Resources

Peterborough Pavement and Improvement Commission

1790

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It sounds inconsequential but the filth of Peterborough city centre was notorious. Since medieval times horses, cattle and butchers had left their mark. The stench of the organic silts was still present when archaeologists recently examined the succession of surfaces underlying today’s Cathedral Square. The Peterborough Pavement and Improvement Commission, a new organisation comprising 33 local men, effectively became the local government until 1874. They set up toll bars to raise funds. Activities such as “sale and slaughter of beasts” were restricted to specific streets; houses on either side of Minster Gate were demolished; footpaths were reserved for pedestrians; drainage was installed.





Resources

When Cow Dung Fuelled the City

1698

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When Celia Fiennes travelled through the city in 1698 she noted that local people near 'Mrs St John's house' (Thorpe Hall) were using cow dung for fuel: 'as I passed the Road I saw upon the walls of the ordinary peoples houses and walls of their out houses, the Cow dung plaister'd up to drie in Cakes which they use for fireing, its a very offensive fewell (fuel), but the Country people use Little Else in these parts.'  Cow dung was a free and effective fuel for the people of rural Peterborough, but the smell would not have been popular! There had been a shortage of wood since the 1550's, so burning cow dung was a sensible alternative for the very poor who were unable to afford expensive wood supplies, or cut down their own wood. Other alternatives for fuel would have included peat, charcoal and coal, none of which were particularly pleasant on the eyes or lungs. Animal dung has been used as a fuel since prehistoric times, with evidence from the Ancient Egyptians using dung as fuel and even references to it being used in the bible. Many areas of the world use animal dung as fuel.





Peakirk Wildlife Park Opens

1957

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Peakirk Wildfowl Park was situated to the north of Peakirk. It owes its existence in part to a natural spring on the site and the building of the adjacent railway line. The spring had provided a wetland perfect for osier beds. In the 1840s the Lincolnshire Loop railway line was constructed next to the site. Gravel was extracted from the land in Peakirk for its construction. As the gravel was extracted, small islands were left behind in the main lake. This allowed the land to be used again as osier beds. In 1957 the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust opened a wildfowl park on the site, utilising the unique landscape features of the site. It was home to around 700 water birds, some of which were exceedingly rare or endangered. At its peak visitor numbers were around 64,000 per year. By the late 1980s visitor numbers tailed off and the business was sold in 1990. In 1991 it was renamed the Peakirk Waterfowl Gardens whilst run by the East of England Agricultural Society, but it was not a successful business. It eventually closed in 2001, the birds being transferred to other parks. It is now a private home.





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