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The City of Ely Perspective

We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who came to our Then & Now exhibition over the weekend (over 230 of you!) and for your generous donations - as a result we will be able to create at least 12 new boards for shop windows which will feature in another exhibition later this year. Make sure you follow us here for updates!

We especially enjoyed the anecdotes and memories so many of you shared with us and are looking to run a new event in the coming months to capture more of these and your photos and videos... watch this space!

If anyone would like to make a donation to our voluntary group to help fund projects like this, you can do so via our PayPal link here:

If you missed our exhibition - fear not! The display boards will be making their way this week to their shop windows around Ely, joining the 12 already placed in 2017.

We have also used the fantastic site Re.Photos to host the images online, complete with a user-controlled slider to swipe between "Then" and "Now" (see the video below). We will be adding the original 2017 images soon and many more to come during the course of this year - you can access these here:

Finally we would like to say a huge thank you to Ely Museum for once again hosting us, to Spotted in Ely and others for promoting our event, to Pam Blakeman and others for the source photographs and last but most certainly not least our fantastic Mayor Michael Rouse who not only opened our event but spent many hours with us over the weekend, sharing his vast local knowledge. He has a range of wonderful books about Ely's history which you can check out at Burrows Bookshop (don't forget to also take a look at one of our 2017 images in Burrows' window on the High Street whilst you're there!)

Ely Perspective is the Market Town Partnership for the small, but fast growing fenland City of Ely and the surrounding villages for which it is a service centre. Located in the district of East Cambridgeshire, 16 miles north of Cambridge, Ely is home to some 20,000 people and boasts potentially the best Norman Cathedral in the country with the beautiful River Great Ouse separating the City from low-lying fenland.

Formed in 1998 as the "Ely Forum" recognising the urgent need for regeneration, the Perspective label was soon adopted. As one of the first communities to carry out a Health Check in 2001, a plan led it to be custodian to £250k from the then Countryside Agency's Market Town Initiative Fund. Combined with match and levered in monies from other sources, almost £800k was invested in regeneration of the City and area around. Visitor management, art projects, broadband connectivity, community access points, Park and Ride and repaving parts of the City Centre are just a few projects resulting from this intervention.

When the funding ceased, to build on the success of the voluntary effort, concentrate on becoming more self sufficient and open up wider opportunities for funding, the Perspective restructured, and became a Company Limited by Guarantee in Autumn 2005.

Members are all volunteers from in and around the City giving up their time and using their skills and expertise to build on the character and distinctivness making it an even better place for the whole community to live, work and play.

Individuals or residents, representatives from other clubs, groups, societies, voluntary or community organisations, or people from business and the public sector are all welcome as members. The more people who get involved, the truer and more respected the Perspective’s voice becomes.

The group seeks to improve and develop Ely in ways which will benefit residents, visitors and businesses alike. It's main objectives are to:

1. Raise the profile of Ely locally, nationally and internationally to attract more visitors and inward investment.

2. Encourage visitors to stay longer, explore further and therefore contribute more to the local economy.

3. Build a thriving local economy through initiatives to support and encourage local businesses working to ensure locally earned money is spent and reinvested locally.

4. Work with partners to ensure the city is well cared for with the right facilities to make it attractive for residents and visitors to return again and again, including well organised access, car parking, public transport and tourist information.


The Perspective's volunteers and partner organisations, meet regularly using evidence to instigate, organise and deliver projects and influence actions, policies and strategies of others. These activities are co-ordinated in an annually refreshed Action Plan and directed by an Executive Committee headed by the group's Chairman, John Simmons, supported by the Chair of the working group and other local "champions".

The current working group is a single group representing the multiple interests of Ely Perspective - design & marketing, riverside and business/retail.

Previously, there were multiple working groups, which are represented through an archive of minutes on this website. These were as follows:

Design & Marketing Group:Looked at the City environment and transport issues. It was chaired by Frank Readhead and normally met at 1830 on 3rd Tuesday of the month at St Peters Church Room, Broad Street, Ely. The current working group has taken the place of this group.

Riverside Group:Worked on ambitious ideas to improve, maintain and plan for the future of the riverside area of the City. It was finally chaired by Peter Hillman and normally met on the 2nd Tuesday of the month at Babylon Gallery, Waterside, Ely.

A fourth, and cross cutting working group, responding to the pressures of climate change has recently been formed:

Making Ely Greener: Encouraged initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases. It was chaired by Philip Eden and met about every 6 weeks in City of Ely Council Chamber, Market Street, Ely.