Local History

Local History

I have been interested in local history as far back as I can remember and have collected anything related to Outwell and to a lesser extent the surrounding villages. I also have a profound interest in the history of Fenland Drainage and other Fenland waterways.

Perhaps Outwell’s most renowned claim to fame is having a close relationship to Thomas the Tank by the Rev Wilbert Awdry creator of Thomas the Tank Engine. The first books written by the Rev Wilbert Awdry, the vicar of the neighbouring village Emneth was of course Toby the Tram. Toby still appears in the Thomas books to this day. The Toby story was based on the Wisbech to Upwell Tram that served the area from 1883 to 1966. This old steam tram was very unusual in appearance as it resembled a wooden box. It appeared in the famous 1925 railway centenary film watched by the Duke and Duchess of York and was described as a shed on wheels bringing much laughter from the train enthusiasts.

Unfortunately not a lot remains of this old tramway but we do have an abundance of old pictures reminding us what it was like. The history of the tram has been recorded many times and books by various authors are still available. The old tram parcel office in the centre of Outwell has been lovingly restored is perhaps the most obvious tram relic. It is our desire to put our little villages from a small corner on the Norfolk and Cambridgeshire borders on the map by allowing access to our collections through various publications.