Godmanchester man wants to tidy up grave of local historian

Ben Sansum wants to mark the centenary of Godmanchester historian FW Bird

Ben Sansum wants to mark the centenary of Godmanchester historian FW Bird - Credit: Archant

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A campaign has been launched to tidy up the grave of a local historian and chronicler who died 100 years ago.

Ben Sansum, from Godmanchester, became fascinated with stories about life in the town in Victorian times after inheriting a copy of the book Memorials of Godmanchester: Reminiscences of F W Bird.

He was surprised to find that he lived near the grave of Mr Bird, who is buried at St Mary's Church, and that the inscription on the gravestone showed that the centenary of his death was about to come up.

"I would like to get his grave straightened up and have been trying to find out if there were any surviving family to allow this, or who would like to get involved," Mr Sansum said. "It seems a shame to let such an important local fellow be forgotten in his centennial year."

Mr Sansum, 41, who is keen on local history, said: "F W Bird lived in the same house for all his life but nobody seems to know where that was and I would like to find out."

He said F W Bird, who became borough treasurer, was born in 1837, the year Queen Victoria acceded to the throne and went on to describe the life and times of his community.

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Mr Sansum said F W Bird was a regular newspaper contributor, featuring his contemporary accounts of life in the town, and his articles were included in the Memorials of Godmanchester book, originally published in 1911.

He said he wanted to find out more about the writer after reading the articles in the book he had inherited and was surprised to find out that Bird's grave was across the road in the churchyard.

"There are some fascinating bits about when the railway arrived in Huntingdon in 1850 when previously there had been stagecoaches and horses and he wrote how it would take an hour to get to Cambridge by coach and horses on what is now the A14, probably not too different to today," Mr Sansum said.

Surprisingly, despite F W Bird becoming borough treasurer, he did not focus his pen on the lives of civic dignitaries, happily writing about the brickworks which used to be in Cow Lane, the fate of the long-closed oil cake mill and the collection for the mayoral chain.

Mr Sansum said: "I think it would be a shame if he was forgotten, especially as it is a 100 years ago this month that he died."