Fenland Families

Fenland Families

Following my first book on the history of the Fens many readers inquired as to the people who inhabit this enigmatic part of England.

Farming and horticulture has always been the core industry here and the people who manage and work the land have been it's custodians for centuries. This is evident by the landscape and its farms, but what is not so evident are the non farming businesses, trades and professions who service the farmers and it populace. Over the past half century we have seen a dramatic decline in this sector of our society not only in the Fens but elsewhere in the UK.

The conveyor belt of economies of scale has scooped up the family business and shrink-wrapped it into a slick corporate package. Over a period of three years I visited and researched forty such families involved in twenty five different trades, businesses and professions. Brewers to builders, clockmakers to coal merchants, funeral directors to fishermen, all have been family run for three generations or more. These families have, and still do, play a vital role in preserving a unique blend of our rural and Urban societies, long gone in many other parts of the UK.

I have documented their history over a period which covers two World Wars and two depressions, not forgetting minor recessions, the advent of the supermarkets together with globalisation of manufacturing and the supply chain. As well as these challenges, individual trials and tribulations have tested their will to survive. A common theme has been the duty to their forebears and loyalty to their customers and clients driven by resilience.

I have tried to give the reader an insight into each family concern, their linege, and in some cases how their concern has changed over time and what they have done to overcome the challenges which have faced them.

I have deliberately not included farming families apart from one, hoping that time and good fortune allows me to write a book on this subject which is engrained in my agrarian soul.