Farm workers’ cottage given listed status

An 18th century farm workers’ cottage that is a familiar landmark to travellers along the A47 in Cambridgeshire has been given listed status.

Canary Cottage near Thorney, Peterborough, is thought to have been built shortly after the drainage of the local fens around 1750.

It is so-called due to its yellow doors and windows.

These were painted in the early 20th century by the Dixon-Spain family who owned a number of different farms in the area and used a colour coding scheme to identify their buildings and machinery.

It has been listed at Grade II by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the advice of Historic England.

The thatched cottage has been home to many generations of farm workers and has witnessed more than 250 years of agricultural development.

It has stood empty since 1965 when it was vacated by Ken and Thelma Wright, who met as workers at Knarr Farm in the late 1950s and lived in the cottage for the first five years of their married life.

Canary Cottage offered basic living conditions, with a sitting room and kitchen on the ground floor, two bedrooms upstairs and an outbuilding housing a storeroom and toilet.

Amenities consisted of an open fireplace, gas lighting, mains water and a gas-powered water heater connected to the only tap in the cottage.

Canary Cottage near Thorney, Peterborough has been given Grade II listed status. (Historic England/ PA)
Canary Cottage has been given Grade II listed status (Historic England/PA)

Tony Calladine, regional director for Historic England in the East of England, described the cottage as a “rare surviving example of a mid-18th century Fenland cottage”.

“By protecting it, we are helping to ensure it can be enjoyed by future generations, helping them to understand life in the Fens in times gone by,” he said.

Peter Fox, managing director of the site’s current owner Daltons Seeds, said: “We would like to see Canary Cottage maintained for future generations and will in time look at some refurbishment.”

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