Wisbech Society celebrates the ‘positive developments’ that are improving the town

The Act Theatre, at Thomas Clarkson Academy, Wisbech.

The Act Theatre, at Thomas Clarkson Academy, Wisbech. - Credit: Archant

Improvements in the past year have given Wisbech a massive uplift, says a preservation group.

The clock on 11 Bridge Street, Wisbech, when it was a tobacconist shop.

The clock on 11 Bridge Street, Wisbech, when it was a tobacconist shop. - Credit: Archant

Wisbech Society says in its annual report that whilst it has been “a disappointing year” in some respects, there has been much to celebrate.

Wainman House, 14 North Brink, Wisbech.

Wainman House, 14 North Brink, Wisbech. - Credit: Archant

Society trustee Martin Gibson writes of “positive developments” over the past year that are worthy of note.

He has compiled an inventory of works carried out across Wisbech in the past year that has seen improvements to hotels, refurbishment of historic houses, a theatre opened within a school and completion of a £6.5m council headquarters

Mr Gibson cited the facelift to 4 Ely Place which, after a “prolonged period in very poor repair” was now back to its former Grade 2 listed glory.

Over on the North Brink he found delight too in the extensive modernisation of a Grade 1 listed building that had sunk to its knees in recent years.

“This substantial townhouse was under restoration throughout 2012/13 and has been converted into a six bedroom holiday let on a budget of £750,000,” he said. It had stood empty since 2008 but thanks to the National Trust was now fully restored.

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Next door at Peckover House the early 19th century orangery was closed due to dangerous rotten wood but funding achieved for a £200,000 replacement.

Mr Gibson is enthusiastic, too, about the College of West Anglia where a new technology centre has been built while at Ramnoth Road a £6.5m investment has created Awdry House, a new home for local government in the town.

He also felt the “impressive restoration” of The Rose and Crown in the market place had been a boost to the town as well as the creation of a 500 seater new theatre within the Thomas Clarkson Academy.

A derelict space next to Octavia Hill’s birthplace has been transformed into an attractive public open garden known as Centenary Green.

Mr Gibson said there were even signs of progress at the much awaited Cromwell Road retail park but not at land surrounding the Boathouse where the Nene waterfront regeneration project has stalled although Fenland Council has just agreed to sell one parcel of land for housing.

Mr Gibson added that two derelict and dilapidated properties in High Street had still not had work carried out and fire damaged buildings in North Brink and Constantine House in Nene Quay remained exactly as they were a year ago.

Also disappointing was the removal of the historic clock from the old tobacconist shop in Bridge Street.

The clock, the oldest in Wisbech, has been telling time since 1864.

“Thankfully the clock is undergoing restoration,” said Mr Gibson. “It is hoped to re-instate it at 11 Bridge Street.”