Peterborough (disambiguation)


[pee-ter-bur-oh, -buhr-oh, -ber-uh]

City of Peterborough

Shown within England
Status Unitary, City (1541)
Government Region East of England
Ceremonial County Cambridgeshire
Historic County Northamptonshire
Total ()
Ranked 140th
343.38 km²
OS grid reference
ONS code 00JA
Total ()

/ km²
Ethnicity 87.2% White
7.9% Asian or Asian British
2.1% Black or Black British
1.1% Chinese or Other
1.8% Mixed Race

Peterborough City Council
Leadership Leader and Cabinet
Members of Parliament Stewart Jackson and Shailesh Vara

Peterborough () is a cathedral city and unitary authority area in the East of England, with a projected population of 161,800 as of 2007. For ceremonial purposes it is in the county of Cambridgeshire. The Town Hall is north of London at Charing Cross. The city is situated on the River Nene, which flows into the North Sea approximately 30 miles (48 km) to the north-east. The local topography is notoriously flat and low-lying, and in some places lies below sea level. The area known as the Fens falls to the east of Peterborough. The City of Peterborough includes the outlying settlement at RAF Wittering, and as a unitary authority borders Northamptonshire and Rutland to the west, Lincolnshire to the north, and Cambridgeshire to the south and east.

Human settlement in the area dates back to before the Bronze Age, as can be seen at the Flag Fen archaeological site to the east of the current city centre. This site also shows evidence of Roman occupation. The Anglo-Saxon period saw the establishment of a monastery, then known as Medeshamstede, which later became Peterborough Cathedral. The population grew rapidly following the arrival of the railways in the nineteenth century, and Peterborough became an industrial centre, particularly noted for its brick manufacture. Following the Second World War, growth was limited until designation as a New Town in the 1960s. The population is once again undergoing rapid expansion and a £1 billion regeneration of the city centre and immediately surrounding area is underway. In common with much of the United Kingdom, industrial employment has fallen, with new jobs tending to be in financial services and distribution.


Early history

Present-day Peterborough is the latest in a series of settlements which have at one time or other benefited from its situation, where the Nene leaves permanently drained land for the Fens. Remains of Bronze Age settlement and what is thought to be religious activity can be seen at the Flag Fen archaeological site to the east of the city centre. The Romans established a fortified garrison town at Durobrivae on Ermine Street, some five miles (8 km) to the west of the present city, around the middle of the first century AD. Durobrivae's earliest appearance among surviving records is in the Antonine Itinerary of the late second century. There was also a large first century Roman fort at Longthorpe, designed to house half a legion, or about 3,000 soldiers; it may have been established as early as around AD 44–48. Peterborough was an important area of ceramic production in the Roman period, providing Nene Valley Ware that was traded as far away as Cornwall and the Antonine Wall.

Peterborough is shown by its original name Medeshamstede to have possibly been an Anglian settlement before AD 655, when an individual named Saxwulf founded a monastery on land granted to him for that purpose by Peada of Mercia, who was briefly ruler of the Middle Angles. The Peterborough Chronicle, which contains unique information about the history of England after the Norman Conquest, was composed here in the twelfth century by monks of the abbey. This is the only known prose history in English between the conquest and the later fourteenth century. The town's name changed to Burgh from the late tenth century, possibly after Abbot Kenulf had built a defensive wall around the abbey, and eventually developed into the form Peterborough; the town does not appear to have been a borough until the twelfth century. The form Gildenburgh is also found, though only in local, twelfth century histories of the abbey, namely the Peterborough version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and a history of the abbey by the monk Hugh Candidus. The burgesses received their first charter from "Abbot Robert" — probably Robert of Sutton (1262–1273).

When civil war broke out, Peterborough was divided between supporters of King Charles I (known as Cavaliers) and supporters of the Long Parliament (known as Roundheads). The city lay on the border of the Eastern Association of counties which sided with Parliament, and the war reached Peterborough in 1643 when soldiers arrived in the city to attack Royalist strongholds at Stamford and Crowland. The Royalist forces were defeated within a few weeks and retreated to Burghley House, where they were captured and sent to Cambridge. While the Parliamentary soldiers were in Peterborough, however, they ransacked the cathedral, destroying the Lady Chapel, chapter house, cloister, high altar and choir stalls, as well as medieval decoration and records.

Historically the dean and chapter, who succeeded the abbot as lords of the manor, appointed a high bailiff, and the constables and other borough officers were elected at their court leet; but the municipal borough was incorporated in 1874 under the government of a mayor, six aldermen and eighteen councillors. Among the privileges claimed by the abbot as early as the thirteenth century was that of having a prison for felons taken in the Soke. In 1576 Bishop Scambler sold the lordship of the hundred of Nassaburgh, which was coextensive with the Soke, to Queen Elizabeth I, who gave it to Lord Burghley, and from that time until the nineteenth century he and his descendants, the Earls and Marquesses of Exeter, had a separate gaol for prisoners arrested in the Soke. The abbot formerly held four fairs, of which two, St. Peter's Fair, granted in 1189 and later held on the second Tuesday and Wednesday in July, and the Brigge Fair, granted in 1439 and later held on the first Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in October, were purchased by the corporation from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1876. The Bridge Fair, as it is now known, granted to the abbey by King Henry VI, survives. Prayers for the opening of the fair were once said at the morning service in the cathedral, followed by a civic proclamation and a sausage lunch at the Town Hall which still takes place. The Mayor traditionally leads a procession from the Town Hall to the fair where the proclamation is read, asking all persons to "behave soberly and civilly, and to pay their just dues and demands according to the laws of the realm and the rights of the City of Peterborough.

Modern history

Railway lines began operating locally during the 1840s, but it was the 1850 opening of the Great Northern Railway's main line from London to York, that transformed Peterborough from a market town to an industrial centre. Lord Exeter had opposed the railway passing through Stamford, so Peterborough, situated between two main terminals at London and Doncaster, increasingly developed as a regional hub. Coupled with vast local clay deposits, the railway enabled large scale brick making and distribution to take place. The area was the UK's leading producer of bricks for much of the twentieth century. Brick making had been a small seasonal craft since the early nineteenth century, but during the 1890s successful experiments at Fletton using the harder clays from a lower level had resulted in a much more efficient process. The dominance of London Brick in the market during this period gave rise to some of the country's most well known landmarks, all built using the ubiquitous Fletton. Perkins Engines was established in Peterborough in 1932 by Frank Perkins, creator of the Perkins Diesel Engine. Thirty years later it employed more than a tenth of the population of Peterborough, mainly at Eastfield. Baker Perkins had relocated from London to Westwood, now the site of HMP Peterborough, in 1903, followed by Peter Brotherhood to Walton in 1906; both manufacturers of industrial machinery they too became major employers in the city. British Sugar remains headquartered in Woodston, although the sugar beet factory, which opened there in 1926, was closed in 1991.

Designated a New Town in 1967, Peterborough Development Corporation was formed in partnership with the city and county councils to house London's overspill population in new townships sited around the existing urban area. There were to be four townships, one each at Bretton, Orton, Paston/Werrington and Castor. The last of these was never built, but a fourth, called Hampton, is now taking shape south of the city. It was decided that the city should have a major indoor shopping centre at its heart. Planning permission was received in the late summer of 1976 and Queensgate, which contains over 90 stores and includes parking for 2,300 cars, was opened by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in 1982. 34 miles (55 km) of urban roads were planned and a network of high-speed roads, known as parkways, was constructed.

Peterborough's population grew by 45.4% between 1971 and 1991. New service-sector companies like Thomas Cook and Pearl Assurance were also attracted to the city, ending the dominance of the manufacturing industry as employers. An urban regeneration company named Opportunity Peterborough, under the chairmanship of Lord Mawhinney, was set up by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in 2005 to oversee Peterborough's future development. Between 2006 and 2012 a £1 billion re-development of the city centre and surrounding areas is planned. The master plan provides guidelines on the physical shaping of the city centre over the next 15–20 years. Proposals are already progressing for the north of Westgate, the south bank and the station quarter, where Network Rail is preparing a major mixed use development. Whilst recognising that the reconfiguration of the relationship between the city and station was critical, English Heritage found the current plans for Westgate unconvincing and felt more thought should be given to the vitality of the historic core.



The city formed a parliamentary borough returning two members from 1541, with the rest of the Soke being part of Northamptonshire parliamentary county. The Great Reform Act did not affect the borough, although the remaining, rural portion of the Soke was transferred to the northern division of Northamptonshire. In 1885 the borough's representation was reduced to one member, and in 1918 the boundaries were adjusted to include the whole Soke. The serving member for Peterborough is the Conservative, Stewart Jackson MP, who defeated Labour's Helen Clark in the 2005 general election. In 1997 the North West Cambridgeshire constituency was formed, incorporating parts of the city and neighbouring Huntingdonshire. The serving member is the Conservative, Shailesh Vara MP, who succeeded the (then) Rt Hon Dr. Sir Brian Mawhinney, former Secretary of State for Transport and Chairman of the Conservative Party, in 2005. Mawhinney, who had previously served as Member of Parliament for Peterborough from 1979, was created Baron Mawhinney of Peterborough in the county of Cambridgeshire later that year. Peterborough and North West Cambridgeshire are included in the East of England constituency for elections to the European Parliament. It currently elects seven members using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.

Local government

From 1889 the ancient Soke of Peterborough formed an administrative county in its own right with boundaries similar, although not identical, to the current unitary authority. The area however remained geographically part of Northamptonshire until 1965, when the Soke of Peterborough was merged with Huntingdonshire to form the county of Huntingdon and Peterborough. Following a review of local government in 1974, Huntingdon and Peterborough was abolished and the current district created by the merger of the Municipal Borough of Peterborough with Peterborough Rural District, Barnack Rural District, Thorney Rural District, Old Fletton Urban District and part of the Norman Cross Rural District, which had each existed since 1894. This became part of the non-metropolitan county of Cambridgeshire. Letters patent were granted which continued the style of the city over the greater area. In 1998 the city became autonomous of Cambridgeshire county council as a unitary authority, but it continues to form part of that county for ceremonial purposes. The leader and cabinet model of decision-making, first adopted by the city council in 2001, is similar to national government.

Policing in the city remains the responsibility of Cambridgeshire Constabulary; and firefighting, the responsibility of Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service. Nowadays the Peterborough Volunteer Fire Brigade, one of few of its kind, effectively functions as a retained fire station. The Royal Anglian Regiment serves as the county regiment for Cambridgeshire. Peterborough formed its first territorial army unit, the 6th Northamptonshire Rifle Volunteer Corps, in 1860.

Health service

Peterborough Primary Care Trust guides primary care services (general practitioners, dentists, opticians and pharmacists) in the city, directly provides adult social care and services in the community such as health visiting and physiotherapy and also funds hospital care and other specialist treatments. Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is one of the country's top performing NHS acute trusts. In 2004 it became one of the first ten NHS foundation trusts in England. A £300 million health investment plan will see the transfer of the city's two hospitals to a single site by building a modern, flexible facility more suited to modern healthcare. The full planning application for the redevelopment of the Edith Cavell Hospital was approved by the council in 2006. Planning permission for the development of an integrated care centre on the existing site of the Fenland Wing at Peterborough District Hospital was granted in 2003. Following merger of the Cambridgeshire, then East Anglian Ambulance Services, the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust is responsible for the provision of statutory emergency medical services in Peterborough.

Public utilities

The council's budget for the financial year 2008/9 is £236.9 million. The main source of non-school funding is the formula grant, which is paid by government to local authorities based on the services they provide. The remainder, to which the police and fire authorities (and parish council where this exists) set a precept, is raised from council tax and business rates. Mains water and sewerage services are provided by Anglian Water, a former nationalised industry and natural monopoly, privatised in 1989 and regulated by OFWAT.

Following deregulation, the consumer has a choice of energy supplier. Electricity was formerly provided by Eastern Electricity, which was privatised in 1990. In 2002 the supply business was sold to Powergen and the distribution rights sold to EDF Energy. Natural gas was (and still is) supplied by British Gas, which was privatised in 1986. Distribution and, as with electricity, transmission, is the responsibility of the National Grid, having been demerged as Transco in 1997. These industries are regulated by OFGEM. Peterborough Power Station is a 360 MWe gas-fired plant in Fengate operated by Centrica Energy.

British Telecommunications, privatised in 1984, provides fixed ADSL enabled (8 Mbps) telephone lines. The subscriber trunk dialling code for Peterborough is 01733, deriving from 73 for PE. Local loop unbundling, giving other internet service providers direct access, is completed at four out of 12 exchanges. The city is cabled by Virgin Media. These businesses are regulated by OFCOM.



Peterborough is currently experiencing an economic boom compared to the rest of the country, believed in part to be due to the regeneration plan running to 2012. In 2005 economic growth was on average 5.5%, whilst in Peterborough it was 6.9%, the highest in the UK.

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added, an important measure in the estimation of gross domestic product, of Peterborough at current basic prices, with figures in millions of pounds sterling:

Year Regional GVA Agriculture Industry Services
1995 1,821 16 552 1,254
2000 2,387 12 580 1,795
2003 2,932 15 727 2,189

Recent figures, plotting growth from 1995 to 2004, reveal that Peterborough has become the most successful economy among unitary authorities in the East of England. The chart also reveals that the city's economy is growing faster than the East of England average and any other economy in the region. Peterborough leads the UK’s business population growth, with a 3.78% increase between April and September 2006, according to Royal Mail's Business Barometer. It has a strong economy in the environmental goods and services sector and has the largest cluster of environmental businesses in the UK. In 1994 Peterborough was designated one of four environment cities in the UK and it is now working to become the UK's acknowledged environment capital.


According to the 2001 census, the workplace population of 90,656 is divided into 60,118 people who live in Peterborough and 30,358 people who commute in. A further 13,161 residents commute out of the city to work. Earnings in Peterborough are lower than average. Median earnings are £9.77 per hour, less than the regional median of £11.69 and the national median hourly rate of £11.26. As part of the government's M11 corridor, Peterborough is committed to creating 17,500 jobs with the population growing to 200,000 by 2020.

Future employment will also be created through the plan for the city centre launched by the council in 2003. Predictions of the levels and types of employment created were published in 2005. These include 1,421 jobs created in retail; 1,067 created in a variety of leisure and cultural developments; 338 in three hotels; and a further 4,847 jobs created in offices and other workspaces. Recent relocations of large employers include both Tesco (1,070 employees) and Debenhams (850 employees) distribution centres. A further 2,500 jobs are to be created in the £140 million Gateway warehouse and distribution park, this is expected to compensate for the 6,000 job losses as a result of the decline in manufacturing, anticipated in a report cited by the cabinet member for economic growth and regeneration in 2006.

With traditionally low levels of unemployment, Peterborough is a popular destination for workers and has seen significant growth through migration since the post-war period. The leader of the council said he believed Peterborough had taken up to 80% of the 65,000 people who had arrived in East Anglia from the Baltic states. To help cope with this influx the council has put forward plans to construct an average of 1,300 homes each year until 2021. Demand for short term employees remains high and the market supports up to 20 high street recruitment agencies at any given time.


Peterborough is a major stop on the East Coast Main Line, 45–50 minutes journey time from central London, with high-speed intercity services from King's Cross to Edinburgh Waverley operated by National Express East Coast at around a 20 minute frequency and slower commuter services terminating at Peterborough operated by First Capital Connect. It is a major railway junction where a number of cross-country routes converge. East Midlands Trains operate the Peterborough to Lincoln Line, with through services to Doncaster and a route from Liverpool Lime Street to Norwich or Cambridge via the main line north of Peterborough; CrossCountry operate the Birmingham to Peterborough Line and with National Express East Anglia, the Ely to Peterborough Line, with through services to Cambridge and Stansted Airport operated by the former and to Ipswich and London Liverpool Street by the latter. Peterborough has a business airport with a paved runway at Holme and a recreational airfield hosting a parachute school at Sibson.

The River Nene, made navigable from the port at Wisbech to Northampton by 1761, passes through the city centre and a rather pretty green bridge carries the railway over the river. It was built in 1847 by Lewis Cubitt, who was more famous for his bridges in Australia, India and South America. Apart from some minor repairs in 1910 (the steel bands and cross braces around the fluted legs) the bridge remains just the way he built it. Now a listed structure, it is the oldest surviving cast-iron railway bridge in the UK. By the Town Bridge, the Customs House, built in the early eighteenth century, is a visible reminder of the city's past function as an inland port. The Environment Agency navigation starts at the junction with the Northampton arm of the Grand Union Canal and extends for 91 miles (147 km) ending at Bevis Hall just upstream of Wisbech. The tidal limit used to be Woodston Wharf until the Dog-in-a-Doublet lock was built five miles (8 km) downstream in 1937.

The A1/A1(M) broadly follows the path of the historic Great North Road from St. Paul's Cathedral at the heart of London, through Peterborough (Junction 17), continuing north a further 335 miles (539 km) to central Edinburgh. In 1899 the British Electric Traction Company sought permission for a tramway joining the northern suburbs with the city centre. The system, which operated under the name Peterborough Electric Traction Company, opened in 1903 and was abandoned in favour of motor buses in 1930, when the company was merged into the Eastern Counties Omnibus Company. Today, bus services in the city are operated by several companies including the Stagecoach Group (Cambus and Viscount) and Delaine Buses. Despite its large-scale growth, Peterborough has the fastest peak and off-peak travel times for a city of its size in the UK, due to the construction of the parkways. The Local Transport Plan anticipates expenditure totalling around £180 million for the period up to 2010 on major road schemes to accommodate development.

The Peterborough Millennium Green Wheel is a 50 mile (80 km) network of cycleways, footpaths and bridleways which provide safe, continuous routes around the city with radiating spokes connecting to the city centre. The project has also created a sculpture trail, which provides functional, landscape artworks along the Green Wheel route and a Living Landmarks project involving the local community in the creation of local landscape features such as mini woodlands, ponds and hedgerows. Another long distance footpath, the Hereward Way, runs from Oakham in Rutland, through Peterborough, to East Harling in Norfolk.



Peterborough is home to one of the largest concentrations of Italian immigrants in the UK. This is mainly as a result of labour recruitment in the 1950s by the London Brick Company in the southern Italian regions of Puglia and Campania. By 1960 approximately 3,000 Italian men were employed by London Brick, mostly at the Fletton works. In 1962 the Scalabrini Fathers, who first arrived in 1956, purchased an old school and converted it into a church named after the patron saint of workers San Giuseppe. By 1991 over 3,000 christenings of second-generation Italians had been carried out there. The population of Peterborough has grown much faster than the national average over the last few years, mainly as a result of immigration. In the late twentieth century the main source of immigration has been from Commonwealth countries such as India and Pakistan. A more recent issue is that an unknown number of eastern Europeans from accession states have moved to Peterborough since 2004. This may mean that the population figures, based on the 2001 census, are an underestimate. The East of England Regional Assembly estimate that 16,000 eastern Europeans are now living in the city, one in ten of the population. Modern Peterborough is a rapidly developing city and one that continues to change. The change has not been without problems however. In May 2004 groups of Pakistani residents clashed with Afghan and Iraqi asylum seekers. In the "running street battles," houses and cars were set alight and windows were smashed. Some people were hospitalised. The fighting occurred in the multicultural Millfield area of the city. In July of that year, a festival set up by the Indian community to celebrate the city's diversity turned violent. Pakistanis and Iraqis clashed over the weekend, leaving a man in hospital and large gangs fighting. Since then, race relations have improved significantly.

East Anglia is the leading destination for new migrants and half of the 83,000 who have registered to work in the region have settled in Cambridgeshire. According to a report published by the police in 2007 "the hidden scale of migration into the county is demonstrated by the different number of languages officers and staff deal with, which now exceeds 100. Translation costs linked to dealing with incidents and crime are close to £1 million a year." The report says the migrant communities have led to a change in the nature of crime in the county, with an increase in drink-driving offences, knife crime and an international dimension added to activities such as running cannabis factories and human trafficking. The number of foreign nationals arrested in the north of the county rose from 894 in 2003 to 2,435 in 2006, but the report also says "inappropriately negative" community perceptions about migrant workers often complicate routine incidents, raising tensions and turning them "critical;" the fact that many new migrants are crowded into privately rented accommodation, often in multiple occupation, is a potentially destabilising factor in many communities, raising problems of noise, parking, waste disposal, petty robbery, household disputes and assaults against women in mixed houses. Julie Spence OBE, the Chief Constable, was careful to add there was "little evidence that the increased numbers of migrant workers have caused significant or systematic problems in respect of community safety or cohesion." She also emphasised that the dramatic change in the county's profile — from a rural county in which four years ago 95% of teenagers were white to one of the country's major ethnically mixed growth points — has had a positive impact in development and jobs. Cambridgeshire's population is one of the fastest growing in Britain and is projected to rise by a further 12.5% or 94,000 by 2016, mostly fulled by 69,000 eastern European migrants. On 11 March 2008, the BBC broadcast The Poles are Coming!, a controversial documentary by award-winning filmmaker Tim Samuels, as part of its White Season.

The number of languages in use is growing and diversity is spreading where previously few languages other than English were spoken. Peterborough now offers classes in Italian, Urdu and Punjabi in its primary schools. As the city expands the council has introduced a new statutory development plan. Its aim is to accommodate an additional 22,000 homes, 18,000 jobs and over 40,000 people living in Peterborough by 2020. The newly developing Hampton township will be completed, there will be a 1,500 home development at Stanground and a further 1,200 home development at Paston.


Christianity has the largest following in Peterborough, in particular the Church of England, with a significant number of parish churches and a cathedral. Recent immigration to the city has also seen the established Roman Catholic population increase substantially. Other denominations are also in evidence; the latest church to be constructed is a £7 million "superchurch" which can seat up to 1,800 worshippers. In comparison with the rest of the country, Peterborough has a lower proportion of Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and Sikhs. However, the city has a higher percentage of Muslims and people with no religion than the national average. The majority of Muslims reside in the Millfield and New England areas of the city, where two large mosques (including the Faidhan-e-Madina Mosque) are based. Peterborough also has both Hindu (Bharat Hindu Samaj) and Sikh (Singh Sabha Gurdwara) temples in these areas.

The Anglican Diocese of Peterborough covers roughly 1,200 square miles (3,100 km²), including the whole of Northamptonshire, Rutland, and the Soke of Peterborough (the area to the north of the River Nene). Historically in Huntingdonshire, the parts of the city south of the river fall within the Diocese of Ely, which covers the remainder of Cambridgeshire and western Norfolk. However, the current Bishop of Peterborough has been appointed Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Ely, with pastoral care for these parishes delegated to him by the Bishop of Ely. The city falls wholly within the Roman Catholic Diocese of East Anglia, which has its seat at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Baptist, Norwich.



Peterborough has one independent boarding school; Peterborough High School, formerly Westwood House. The school caters for girls up to 18 and boys up to 11. Peterborough's state schools are currently undergoing immense change. Five of the city's 15 secondary schools were closed in July 2007 and are to be demolished over the coming years. John Mansfield, Hereward (formerly Eastholm) and Deacon's were replaced with the flagship Thomas Deacon Academy, designed by Lord Foster of Thames Bank which opened in September 2007. The Voyager School, which has specialist media arts status, replaced Bretton Woods and Walton comprehensive. The schools that remain will be extended and enlarged. Over £200 million is to be spent and the changes on-going to 2010. The King's School is one of seven schools established, or in some cases re-endowed and renamed, by King Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries to pray for his soul. In 2006, 39.4% of Peterborough local education authority pupils attained five grades A* to C, including English and Mathematics, in the General Certificate of Secondary Education, lower than the national average of 45.8%.

The city has its own Further Education colleges, Peterborough Regional College (established in 1946 as Peterborough Technical College) and Peterborough College of Adult Education. Peterborough Regional College attracts over 15,000 students each year from the UK and abroad and is currently ranked in the top five per cent of colleges in the UK. The city is currently without a university, since Loughborough University closed its Peterborough campus in 2003. Consequently it is the second largest centre of population in the UK (after Swindon) without its own higher education institution. In 2006 however, Peterborough Regional College was in talks with Anglia Ruskin University to develop a new university campus for the city. The college and the university have now officially completed the legal contracts for the creation of a new joint venture company. The formation marks the culmination of legal negotiations and securing of funds required in order to build the new higher education centre.

The arts

Peterborough enjoys a wide range of events including the annual East of England Show, Peterborough Festival and CAMRA beer festival, which takes place on the river embankment in late August.

The Key Theatre, built in 1973, is situated on the embankment, next to the River Nene. The theatre provides entertainment, enlightenment and education by reflecting the rich culture Peterborough has to offer. The programme is made up of home-grown productions, national touring shows, local community productions and one-off concerts. There is disabled access, an infrared hearing system for the deaf and hard of hearing and there are also regular signed performances. In 1937 the Odeon Cinema opened on Broadway, where it operated successfully for more than half a century. In 1991 the Odeon showed its last film to the public and was left to fall into a state of disrepair, until 1997, when a local entrepreneur purchased the building as part of a larger project, including a restaurant and art gallery. Today The Broadway is one of the largest theatres in the region and offers a selection of live entertainment, including music, comedy and films. The Embassy Theatre, now a public house, also opened here in 1937, later becoming a cinema. The John Clare Theatre within the new central library, again on Broadway, is home to the Peterborough Film Society. One of the region's leading venues, The Cresset in Bretton, provides a wide range of events for the residents of the city and beyond, including theatre, comedy, music and dance. Peterborough has a 13-screen Showcase Cinema, an ice rink and two indoor swimming pools open to the general public. A diverse range of restaurants can be found throughout the city, including Chinese & Cantonese, Indian & Nepalese, Thai and many Italian restaurants. In the closing months of 2006, Polish, Japanese and Mexican restaurants were all opened.

Peterborough has recently been used as the setting for two popular novels, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka and A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon.


Peterborough United Football Club, known as The Posh, has been the local football team since 1934. The ground is situated at London Road on the south bank of the River Nene. Peterborough United have a proud history of cup giant-killings. They set the record for the highest number of league goals (134, Terry Bly alone scoring 52) in 1960/1; their first season in the Football League, in which they won the Fourth Division title. The club's highest standing to date was tenth place in the First Division, then the second tier of English football, in 1992/3. Irish property developer Darragh MacAnthony was appointed chairman in 2006 and is now owner, having undertaken a lengthy purchase from Barry Fry who remains director of football. MacAnthony has promised to move The Posh to a new all-seater stadium.

As well as football, Peterborough has teams competing in rugby, cricket, hockey, ice hockey, rowing and athletics. Although Cambridgeshire is not a first-class cricket county, Northamptonshire staged some home matches in the city between 1906 and 1974. Peterborough Town Cricket Club and the City of Peterborough Hockey Club compete at their shared ground in Westwood; whereas the city's oldest and most successful rugby team, Peterborough Rugby Union Football Club, now play at Fortress Fengate.

Peterborough City Rowing Club moved from its riverside setting to the current Thorpe Meadows location in 1983. The spring and summer regattas held there attract rowers and scullers from competing clubs all over the country. Every February the adjacent River Nene is host to the head of the river race, which again attracts hundreds of entries. Peterborough Athletic Club train and compete at the embankment athletics arena. In 2006, after 10 years, the Great Eastern Run returned to the racing calendar, around 3,000 runners raced through the flat streets of Peterborough for the half-marathon, supported by thousands of spectators along the course.

Peterborough Phantoms are the city's ice hockey team, playing in the English Premier League at the East of England Ice Rink. Motorcycle speedway is also a popular sport in Peterborough, with race meetings held at the East of England Showground. The team, known as the Peterborough Panthers, have operated regularly in the Elite League. The Showground hosts the annual British Motorcycle Federation Rally each May.


There is a major radio transmitter at Morborne, approximately eight miles (13 km) west of Peterborough, for national FM radio (BBC Radios 1–4 and Classic FM) and BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. This facility includes a 505 feet (154 m) high guyed radio mast which collapsed in 2004 after a fire and has since been re-built. Another transmission site at Gunthorpe in the north east of the city transmits AM/MW and local FM radio. The site is only 10 feet (3 m) above sea level and has a 270 feet (83 m) high active insulated guyed mast situated on it.

Peterborough has four local radio stations and one regional station. Hereward FM, the original independent local radio station, still holds a large section of the market on 102.7 MHz. Hereward's sister station, Classic Gold 1332, is now part of the national Classic Gold network; Lite FM 106.8 is the second commercial radio station and Radio Cambridgeshire, which also has a studio in the city, broadcasts local output in place of countywide programming on 95.7 MHz at peak listening times. Kiss 105-108 is the regional station for the East of England, broadcasting on 107.7 MHz in Peterborough. NOW Peterborough is the local DAB multiplex; BBC DAB National and the national commercial multiplex, Digital One, are also available in the city. Peterborough is in the Anglia Television transmission area for ITV, with a small studio in the city. This is broadcast with BBC One and Two (East), Channel 4 and Channel 5 from Sandy Heath. The digital switchover will take place in 2011 in the East of England. Shopping channel Ideal World is broadcast nationwide from studios in Fengate, Peterborough.

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph or ET (established 1948) is the city's newspaper, published Monday to Saturday with jobs, property, motors and entertainment supplements. The Evening Telegraph is now owned by East Midlands Newspapers Ltd., part of Johnston Press Plc. Its website, Peterborough Today, is updated six days a week. The ETs sister paper, the Peterborough Citizen (1898), and the Peterborough Herald and Post (1989, a replacement for the Peterborough Standard, established 1872) are weekly papers delivered free to many homes in the city. The Herald and Post is owned by Midland Weekly Media Ltd., part of Trinity Mirror Plc. The publisher Emap, which specialises in the production of magazines and the organisation of business events and conferences, traces its origins back to Peterborough in 1854. As Mayor of Peterborough, Sir Richard Winfrey founder of what would become the East Midland Allied Press, was perhaps the last person to read the Riot Act in 1914.

Peterborough has been used as a location for various television programmes and films. In 1995 Pierce Brosnan OBE filmed train crash sequences for the 17th James Bond film, GoldenEye, at the former sugar beet factory. In 1983 opening scenes for the 13th 007 film, Octopussy, starring Sir Roger Moore, were filmed at Orton Mere. A music video for the song BreakThru by the band Queen was also shot on the preserved Nene Valley Railway in 1989. A scene for the film The Da Vinci Code was filmed at Burghley House during five weeks secret filming in 2006; and actor, Lee Marvin, found himself camping in Ferry Meadows during the filming of The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission in 1985.

Places of interest

The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Saint Andrew, whose statues look down from the three high gables of the West Front, was originally founded as a monastery in AD 655 and re-built in its present form between 1118 and 1238. It has been the seat of the Bishop of Peterborough since the Diocese was created in 1541. Peterborough Cathedral is known for its imposing early English Gothic West Front which, with its three enormous arches, is without architectural precedent and with no direct successor. The Cathedral has the distinction of having had two queens buried beneath its paving, Katherine of Aragon and Mary, Queen of Scots. The remains of Queen Mary were later removed to Westminster Abbey by her son James I when he became King of England.

The general layout of Peterborough is attributed to Martin de Vecti who, as abbot from 1133 to 1155, rebuilt the settlement on dry limestone to the west of the monastery, rather than the often-flooded marshlands to the east. Abbot Martin was responsible for laying out the market place and the wharf beside the river. Peterborough's magnificent seventeenth century Guildhall, built shortly after the restoration of King Charles II, is supported by columns, to provide an open ground floor for the butter and poultry markets which used to be held there. The Market Place was renamed Cathedral Square and the adjacent Gates Memorial Fountain moved to Bishop's Road Gardens in 1963, when the weekly market was transferred to the site of the old cattle market. The city has a large Victorian park containing formal gardens, children's play areas, an aviary, bowling green, tennis courts, pitch and putt course and tea rooms. The Park has been awarded the Green Flag, the national standard for parks and green spaces, by the Civic Trust. The Lido, a striking building with elements of art deco design, was opened in 1936 and is one of the few survivors of its type still in use.

Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery, built in 1816, housed the city's first infirmary from 1857 to 1928. The museum has a collection of some 227,000 objects, including local archaeology and social history, from the products of the Roman pottery industry to Britain's oldest known murder victim; a collection of marine fossil remains from the Jurassic period of international importance; the manuscripts of John Clare, the Northamptonshire Peasant Poet as he was commonly known in his own time; and the Norman Cross collection of items made by French prisoners of war. These prisoners were kept at Norman Cross on the outskirts of Peterborough from 1797 to 1814, in what is believed to be the world's first purpose built prisoner of war camp. The art collection contains an impressive variety of paintings, prints and drawings dating from the 1600s to the present day. Peterborough Museum also holds regular temporary exhibitions, weekend events and guided tours.

Burghley House to the north of Peterborough, near Stamford, was built and mostly designed by Sir William Cecil, later 1st Baron Burghley, who was Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I for most of her reign. The country house, with a park laid out by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown in the eighteenth century, is one of the principal examples of sixteenth century English architecture. The estate, still home to his descendants, hosts the Burghley Horse Trials, an annual three day event.

Longthorpe Tower, a fourteenth century three-storey tower and fortified manor house in the care of English Heritage, is situated about two miles (3 km) west of the city centre. A scheduled ancient monument protected by law, it contains the finest and most complete set of domestic paintings of the period in northern Europe. Nearby Thorpe Hall is one of the few mansions built in the Commonwealth period. A maternity hospital from 1943 to 1970, it was acquired by the Sue Ryder Foundation in 1986 and is currently in use as a hospice.

Flag Fen, the Bronze Age archaeological site, was discovered in 1982 when a team led by Dr. Francis Pryor carried out a survey of dykes in the area. Probably religious, it comprises a large number of poles arranged in five long rows, connecting Whittlesey with Peterborough across the wet fenland. The museum exhibits many of the artefacts found, including what is believed to be the oldest wheel in Britain. An exposed section of the Roman road known as the Fen Causeway also crosses the site.

The Nene Valley Railway, a seven and a half mile (12 km) heritage railway, was one of the last passenger lines to fall under the Beeching Axe. In 1974 the former development corporation bought the line, running from the city centre to Yarwell Junction just west of Wansford, via Orton Mere and the 500 acre (202 ha) Ferry Meadows country park, and leased it to the Peterborough Railway Society.

The Nene Park, which opened in 1978, covers a site three and a half miles (5.6 km) long, from slightly west of Castor to the centre of Peterborough. The park has three lakes, one of which houses a watersports centre. Ferry Meadows, one of the major destinations and attractions signposted on the Green Wheel, occupies a large portion of Nene Park. Orton Mere provides access to the east of the park.

Southey Wood, once included in the Royal Forest of Rockingham, is a mixed woodland maintained by the Forestry Commission between the villages of Upton and Ufford. Nearby, Castor Hanglands, Barnack Hills and Holes and Bedford Purlieus national nature reserves are each sites of special scientific interest. In 2002 the Hills and Holes, one of Natural England's 35 spotlight reserves, was designated a special area of conservation as part of the Natura 2000 network of sites throughout the European Union.

Famous Peterborians

The City of Peterborough (including its outlying villages) is the birthplace of many notable people, including the astronomer George Alcock MBE, one of the most successful visual discoverers of novas and comets; John Clare, now considered to be one of the most important poets of the nineteenth century; artist, Christopher Perkins; and Sir Henry Royce, 1st Baronet of Seaton, engineer and co-founder of Rolls-Royce. Physician, actor and author, Sir John Hill, credited with 76 separate works in the Dictionary of National Biography, the most valuable of which dealing with botany, is also said to have been born in Peterborough. The socialist writer and illustrator, Frank Horrabin, who was born in the city, was elected its member of parliament in 1929.

The utilitarian philosopher, Richard Cumberland, was 14th Lord Bishop of Peterborough from 1691 until his death in 1718; and Norfolk-born nurse and humanitarian, Edith Cavell, who received part of her education at Laurel Court in the Minster Precinct, is commemorated by a plaque in the Cathedral and by the name of the hospital.

Two prominent historical figures were born locally, Hereward the Wake, an outlaw who led resistance to the Norman Conquest and now lends his name to several places and businesses in Peterborough; and St. John Payne, one of the group of prominent Catholics martyred between 1535 and 1679 and later designated the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, who was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1886 and canonised with the other 39 by Pope Paul VI in 1970.

Musicians include Sir Thomas Armstrong, organist, conductor and former principal of the Royal Academy of Music; Andy Bell, lead singer of the electronic pop duo Erasure; Barrie Forgie, leader of the BBC Big Band; Don Lusher OBE, trombonist and former professor of the Royal College of Music and the Royal Marines School of Music; Paul Nicholas, actor and singer; Keith Palmer, better known as Maxim Reality, MC with dance act The ProdigyGraham 'Gizz' Butt, who played live guitar with The Prodigy, lives in the area — and Nigel Sixsmith, keytar player and founder member of The Art Of Sound.

Other living personalities include television presenter, Sarah Cawood, who grew up in Maxey; Adrian Durham, football journalist and radio broadcaster; and biologist, author and broadcaster, Prof. Brian J. Ford, who attended the King's School and still lives in Eastrea near Whittlesey. Local businessman Peter Boizot MBE OMRI, founder of the Pizza Express restaurant chain, has supported the cultural and sporting life of Peterborough and received its highest accolade, the freedom of the city. Tottenham Hotspur and England footballer, David Bentley, was born in the city; and West Ham United midfielder, Matthew Etherington, started his career in the youth academy at Peterborough United; in the same team was Simon Davies, with whom Etherington made a joint transfer to Tottenham Hotspur. Former England goalkeeper, David Seaman MBE, also first began to make a name for himself while at the club. Motorcycle racer, Craig Jones, lived in city until his death after a high speed crash at Brands Hatch. Peterborough is home to Louis Smith, who in 2008 became Great Britain's first gymnast to win an individual Olympic medal in a century.



According to the Köppen classification the British Isles experience a maritime climate characterised by relatively cool summers and mild winters. Compared with other parts of the country, East Anglia is slightly warmer and sunnier in the summer and colder and frostier in the winter. Owing to its inland position, furthest from the landfall of most Atlantic depressions, Cambridgeshire is one of the driest counties in the UK, receiving, on average, less than two feet (600 mm) of rain per year. The mean annual daily duration of bright sunshine is four hours and 12 minutes; the absence of any high ground is probably responsible for the area being one of the sunniest parts of the British Isles.


East Anglia is most notable for being almost flat. During the Ice Age much of the region was covered by ice sheets and this has influenced the topography and nature of the soils. Much of Cambridgeshire is low-lying, in some places below present-day mean sea level. The lowest point on land is supposedly just to the south of the city at Holme Fen, which is nine feet (2.75 m) below sea level. The largest of the many settlements along the Fen edge, Peterborough has been called the Gateway to the Fens. Before they were drained the Fens were liable to periodic flooding so arable farming was limited to the higher areas of the Fen edge, with the rest of the Fenland dedicated to pastoral farming. In this way, the medieval and early modern Fens stood in contrast to the rest of southern England, which was primarily arable. Since the advent of modern drainage in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the Fens have been radically transformed such that arable farming has almost entirely replaced pastoral. The city includes the outlying settlement at RAF Wittering, the Home of the Harrier, and as a unitary authority borders Northamptonshire to the west, Lincolnshire to the north, and administrative Cambridgeshire to the south and east. The city centre is located at 52°35'N latitude 0°15'W longitude or Ordnance Survey national grid reference TL 185 998.

Urban areas of the city
Townships are in bold type. Bretton, Orton Longueville and Orton Waterville are parished. The city council also works closely with Werrington neighbourhood association which operates on a similar basis to a parish council
Bretton - Dogsthorpe - Eastfield - Eastgate - Fengate - Fletton - Gunthorpe - The Hamptons - Longthorpe - Millfield - Netherton - Newark - New England - The Ortons - Parnwell - Paston - Ravensthorpe - Stanground - Walton - Werrington - West Town - Westwood - Woodston

Surrounding villages in the district
Civil parishes do not cover the whole of England and mostly exist in rural areas. They are usually administered by parish councils which have various local responsibilities
Ailsworth - Bainton - Barnack - Borough Fen - Castor - Deeping Gate - Etton - Eye - Eye Green - Glinton - Helpston - Marholm - Maxey - Newborough - Northborough - Peakirk - Southorpe - St. Martin's Without - Sutton - Thorney - Thornhaugh - Ufford - Upton - Wansford - Wittering - Wothorpe

These are further arranged into 24 electoral wards for the purposes of local government. 15 wards comprise the Peterborough constituency for elections to the House of Commons, while the remaining nine fall within the North West Cambridgeshire constituency.


Peterborough lies in the middle of several distinct regional accent groups and as such has a hybrid of Fenland East Anglian, East Midland and London Estuary English features. The city falls just north of the A vowel isogloss and as such most native speakers will use the flat A, as found in cat, in words such as last. Yod-dropping is often heard from Peterborians, as in the rest of East Anglia, for example new as /nuː/. However, the large number of newcomers has impacted greatly on the English spoken by the younger generation. Common so-called Estuary English features such as L-vocalisation, T-glottalisation and Th-fronting give today's Peterborough accent a definite south-eastern sound.


Town twinning started in Europe after the Second World War. Its purpose was to promote friendship and greater understanding between the people of different European cities. A twinning link is a formal, long-term friendship agreement involving co-operation between two communities in different countries and endorsed by both local authorities. The two communities organise projects and activities around a range of issues and develop an understanding of historical, cultural, lifestyle similarities and differences. Peterborough is twinned with the following towns: Alcalá de Henares, Spain Queen Katherine's birthplace (since 1986)
Bourges, France (since 1957)
Forlì, Italy (since 1981)
Viersen, Germany (since 1982)
Vinnytsya, Ukraine (since 1991)

The city also has more informal friendship links with Ballarat, Australia; Foggia, Italy; Kwe Kwe, Zimbabwe; Pécs, Hungary; and all Peterboroughs around the world. The county of Cambridgeshire has been twinned with Kreis Viersen, Germany since 1983.




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  • Banham, John Final Recommendations on the Future Local Government of Basildon & Thurrock, Blackburn & Blackpool, Broxtowe, Gedling & Rushcliffe, Dartford & Gravesham, Gillingham & Rochester upon Medway, Exeter, Gloucester, Halton & Warrington, Huntingdonshire & Peterborough, Northampton, Norwich, Spelthorne and the Wrekin HMSO, London, 1995
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  • Garmonsway, George Norman (trans.) The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle J. M. Dent & Sons, London, 1972 & 1975 (ISBN 0-46087-038-6)
  • Grainger, Margaret A Descriptive Catalogue of the John Clare Collection Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery, 1973 (ISBN 0-90410-800-7)
  • Hancock, Henry Drummond Report and Proposals for the East Midlands General Review Area (LGCE Report No.3) HMSO, London, 1961
  • Hancock, Henry Drummond Report and Proposals for the Lincolnshire and East Anglia General Review Area (LGCE Report No.9) HMSO, London, 1965
  • Hancock, Tom Greater Peterborough Master Plan Peterborough Development Corporation, 1971
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See also

External links

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