Animated Trail of Ely

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“If you thought you knew Ely, a trip on one of the animated architectural trails round the city last week would have persuaded you otherwise.

Presented by professional theatre company Rural Arts, the series of trails offered a fresh look at Ely which revealed aspects of its history and architecture which most people would never have noticed.

If it all sounds rather highbrow, a look at the brightly costumed clown-faced participants proclaimed differently as they were pursued round the city centre by an audience of laughing but enthralled local people and tourists of all ages.

The company, who are based in Bungay, had spent nearly two weeks in Ely preparing the show from the merest thread of an idea – and approaching dozens of people round the city to get permission to hang from lamp-posts, climb on roofs, dangle from fire escapes and visit some of Ely’s best known but hitherto private landmarks.

From the ideas sparked by the the architecture and heritage round the city came the inspiration for the sets, costumes, playlets which were staged during the 75-minute trail.

Setting off from the White Hart Hotel, the audience were immediately introduced to three of the characters they were to meet again and again as the walk progressed – the Australian shopper with her trolley complaining about the invasion of Ely by tourists, and the two ‘architects’ Mr Graham and Mr Kent, whose presence would draw the eye time and again to previously unnoticed aspects of Ely architecture.

Jan Dungey, in character as Miss Postlethwaighte served as narrator and chaperone to the straggling band of up to 80 fascinated customers.”

Eastern Daily Press, 28 March 1985

Locations included the former cattle market, Thurmott’s Saddlery in Market Street, the Cathedral precinct, the Lamb Inn, the Palace School and Woolpack Cambers in Newnham Street.

The project was sponsored by Eastern Arts and the Cambridgeshire Architecture Workshop as part of a Festival of Architecture.

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