Steam Roller Crash, Wansford (1912)

A superb 1912 image capturing a steam roller coming very close to crashing through Wansford bridge and into the River Nene below.

Rail Ticket to Nassington

A third class rail ticket heading east along the Nene Valley Railway from Wansford to Nassington, dated 18th February 1954.

Coronation Celebration at The Haycock (1953)

Wonderful image showing a gathering at The Haycock at Wansford for the celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953.

Photo courtesy TV Rackham

New Mermaid Inn, Wansford

The former New Mermaid Inn on the A1 at Wansford re-opened in 2016 after significant, superb and sympathetic restoration took it from the decaying ruin of the old Little Chef building to the new offices for Harris McCormack Architects (upstairs) and Peterborough Ducati (downstairs).

The original building dates back to 1932 when it opened as The Wansford Knight, the fifth “roadhouse” of the “Knights of the Road” chain. In 1936 it changed hands and became the New Mermaid Inn which was touted as the replacement for the Olde Mermaid Inn that was demolished that year at the point where the old Great North Road and Leicester Road crossed at the heart of Wansford village. The new premises were a popular wartime drinking location for USAAF airmen based at nearby Kings Cliffe Airfield.

In the late 1970s, the Inn was bought by Forte who rebranded it as a Little Chef restaurant which continued in existence until 2007 after which it fell into rapid, graffiti strewn, decay.

The original building was considered an architectural rarity as it was one of a small number surviving in the “Bauhaus” style which saw the building listed for preservation before renovations by Forte removed key elements of the original design.

Today, the building has been renamed “Archaus”, in recognition of the resident architects and of the original architectural style.

Thanks to Eddy Baxter of Ducati Peterborough for keeping us updated and for the 2016 images.

2016 ….. 

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Hounds at the Haycock

The Fitzwilliam hounds in the old courtyard at the Haycock, Wansford – date unknown.

Haycock, Wansford (1947)

A fascinating shot of the Fitzwilliam hounds outside the Haycock in Wansford in 1947. The character second from right is carrying a movie camera and is from a 20th Century Fox film-crew who were shooting a scene from the movie “Escape” starring Rex Harrison.

James Bond in Peterborough (1982)

007 James Bond, played by Roger Moore, shot a number of scenes for the movie Octopussy in Peterborough in September 1982. Most of these were at or around the Nene Valley Railway HQ at Wansford station but a number were also shot at or around Orton Mere (see bottom image).

Queen at the NVR (1989)

In Spring 1989, the rock band Queen shot a video at the Nene Valley Railway HQ at Wansford for their single “Breakthru that reached number 7 in the British charts. The video showed them on a steam train (No.3822 from Didcot, repainted) that was given the name ‘Miracle Express’ after the title of their 1989 album The Miracle.

Ye Olde Mermaide, Wansford

A lovely undated image capturing “Ye Olde Mermaide” pub on the crossroads in Wansford before it was demolished in order to straighten and widen what was then the “A1” and “A47” crossroads/junction.


New Mermaid Inn, Wansford (1940s)

Two 1940s images showing the New Mermaid Inn on the Great North Road at Wansford which was very popular at the time with airmen from the USAAF base at Kings Cliffe.

The original “bauhaus” design of the building would have made it an architectural rarity (one of only five in the country) and undoubtedly a preserved building had it not been for destructive modernisations made to the largest of the curved corner windows by the Little Chef chain in its later life.

It opened in 1932 as “The Wansford Knight” before changing name in 1936 to replace the (Olde) Mermaid Inn which previously sat at the main crossroads in the village. Although Little Chef’s ownership removed the chance of gaining preserved status, the restaurant kept the building alive until 2007 after which the building was vandalised and seemed doomed for imminent extinction.

After being up for sale since 2011, the building was eventually purchased by architects Harris McCormack who aim to turn it into the firm’s new ‘showcase’ headquarters. The essential fabric of the 1932 Bauhaus-inspired building will stay, but with some new exterior flourishes. These will include a glass walkway at the back and new Art Deco style windows replacing the bay ones at the front.

The company recently stated, ‘the plan is to return this iconic building to its former glory, The graffiti will all be gone and hopefully, it won’t be back. We’ve had to overcome quite a lot of problems such as dry rot inside, but now that’s sorted out, in the next few months it should be really transformed. Our intention is that it will really stand out.’