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The Pits, Isleham c.1930. Photo by D G Reid

The Pits, Isleham

History of the Pits, Isleham

The Pits, Isleham, OS 1901

These were lime pits. Mike Petty noted in Vanishing Cambridge that a crowded settlement called the Pits grew up in an old chalk quarry 20ft below street level. Recurring epidemics of cholera together with a gradual demolition of the closely-set, gardenless, chalk built cottages reduced the number of residents , though there were still 55 inhabited dwellings in 1910. By the 1960s most of the dilapidated cottages had been removed.

A Houghton in Memories of Isleham village (1988) noted: There used to be the Maid’s Head and a shop where they sold sweets and groceries. There was another shop in The Pits where they sold groceries and meat kept by Mrs Cooke. A man named Howe had a workshop down there. He used to do odd jobs, painting houses, etc and carpentry …. the houses were crowded together, no gardens or ground, not even enough for a linen line. Some of the houses (the Maid’s Head is one) have entrances on the ground floor and on the top floor.


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