Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Ted Ellis - One hundred years on

FRIDAY marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ted Ellis, the man who became known as "The People's Naturalist". Edward Augustine Ellis was a natural communicator who wrote columns for the EDP and regularly appeared on BBC East. But he is best known now for "discovering" Wheatfen Broad - a remote habitat on the outskirts of Surlingham. He came across it in 1933 - entirely by accident - after falling into conversation with its owner Captain Cockle.

"It was a turning point in Ted's life," explains Eugene Stone in his biography.

"For, unbeknown to the captain, his land - from a scientific point of view - proved to be 150 acres of the richest, most diverse fenland habitat in East Anglia."

Many years later the Ellis family moved there. And as a result, Wheatfen became the best-recorded fen in Britain. Mr Ellis died in 1986, but his work continues through the Ted Ellis Trust. Off the beaten track, but on the Wherryman's Way, Wheatfen remains an incredibly unspoilt and peaceful place.
* Watch an interview with Ted Ellis's son here.

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