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Do You Know The Connection Between Harley-Davidson
And The Street Where I Live?
Copyright © Jean Shaw - all rights reserved
I live in a small village called Littleport. It is set in the fenland countryside of East Anglia in UK.
Close by is the city of Ely, which boasts a very famous cathedral dating back over 1000 years. The Ship Of The Fens, which took 300 years to build towers over the flat landscape and attracts many visitors.
Not so Littleport, at least not normally.
However, one weekend in 2003 our quiet streets came alive to the distinctive sight and sound of hog riders as they rode through on their Harley-Davidson’s.
You see our village is the ancestral home of William Sylvester Harley of the Harley-Davidson name. In actual fact his father, (who was also called William) was born in 1835 in the street where I live, and there are still several of the Harley family living in the area.
Littleport claims fame by association, and now has an expensive metal statue of a Harley opposite St George’s Church. It was commissioned to celebrate the 100th birthday of what’s probably the world’s most famous motor bike.
At one point there was an estate agent named Harleys, and also a shop selling the bikes, but nothing stays the same forever, and both have now disappeared.
That hasn’t put the “Hog” riders off though, and annually the village does its bit for international relations, although not to the extent it did for the centenary celebrations.
Apart from the Littleport Riots in 1816, and the terrible floods in 1947, that’s probably how this small village will best be remembered.
It's generally a quiet place. Most people will never have heard of it but at least now if anyone asks what the connection between Harley-Davidson and Littleport is, you'll be able to tell them.
If you want to know what I think about the place you can read my poem:
Set within the fenlands is the village I call home
Littleport’s expanding fast, it certainly has grown
The locals are all friendly and most will say “hello”
They’ll smile and pass the time of day – it wasn’t always so
Back in the 1800’s that may not have been the case
For taxes led to riots causing havoc in the place
Some labourers went to prison, five hung by their necks
Others went to New South Wales, names changed to keep respect
Years have passed now senseless crime gives Littleport a name
Like vandalism, petty theft by people with no shame
If punishments as years before were deportation, hanging, prison
These mindless individuals might have a different vision
Littleport’s got a lot to offer, has all the shops we need
Butcher, baker, grocer, library for those who read
We have a new health centre, optician, dentist too
Turf accountant if you want to bet, Tattoo parlour –yes that’s true
We’ve a handy bank, Post Office and a useful launderette
Sports centre, pubs and garages, and free parking don’t forget
Two local schools and playgroups, a drop in centre too,
Chapels, Halls, St. George’s Church to suit your point of view
If you’re looking for a carpet, hardware or DIY
Special gift or wedding suit, Main Street’s the place to try
We’ve restaurants and takeaways for all who like to eat
Hairdressers and chiropodist for bad hair or troubled feet
There’s an accountant if you need one, solicitors as well
And even estate agents if you’ve a house to rent or sell
We’ve a very pleasant river, fire station that’s just fine
And a useful railway station which serves the London line
As transport links get better the employment’s not just farming
Industrial parks are growing up with a speed that’s quite alarming
But still we have the rich fen soil and dark and fertile means
Sugar beet, potatoes, wheat, barley, oats and beans
Historically there’s been an annual show where produce was displayed
But development’s meant the site has gone so locals are dismayed
For people came from miles around to celebrate the day
Even Harley riders from as far as USA
Yes, Littleport has got quite a lot, for a village its okay
It’s where I chose to make my home and where I’ll likely stay
The History Bit:-
William Harley, father of William Sylvester Harley was born in a house in Victoria Street, Littleport on May 2, 1835. He left Littleport in 1859 and emigrated to Oswego, USA and enlisted in the army. He fought on the side of the Unionists in the American Civil War.
William Sylvester Harley was born on December 29, 1880 and went on to form the Harley-Davidson Motor Company with Arthur Davidson in 1903.
Harley - Davidson