George Wright Wright Ingle

George Wright Wright Ingle
Easter weekend is the opening date for Holt Island Nature Reserve. St Ives should be grateful to George Wright Wright Ingle. In 1934 he donated to St Ives Town Council the island that today forms the Nature Reserve and Sea Scouts base. He also donated in 1915 the statues of St Peter and St Paul that appear outside the west door of the parish church. George had a very interesting lineage. Read on to learn about George and the history of Holt Island.
George Wright Wright Ingle
George was born in 1857. His adopted father, Wright Ingle, came from humble origins. He was born to a mother found by travellers in labour by the roadside. They took her to the workhouse, where she died after giving birth. The baby boy was named Wright Ingle after two workhouse attendants, Wright and Ingle, gave permission for their names to be used. Presumably the mother was too far gone to tell the attendants her name, or the chosen name of her baby.

Wright Ingle made his fortune in London and returned to St Ives to buy property in the area. Aged 60 years and with no heir, he made an arrangement with the local miller to adopt his son, christened George Wright. The adopted son was called George Wright Wright Ingle.

Filbert Walk, St Ives, Harrison's willow workers

For over 200 years the Harrison family grew willow on the island and wove baskets in St Ives. They had an open workshop, near to where some of their workers lived. The only trace left is a footpath called Filbert's Walk. The image above shows the field between Filbert's Walk and London Road, with willow wands being worked on. The field still shows the long channels dug into the ground where the willow was soaked to keep it pliable. Houses in Filbert's Walk were pulled down many years ago because they were subject to flooding. Harrison's ceased trading in the early 20th century, a casualty of imported cheap willow.

In 1913 an outdoor swimming pool was opened on the island. The image below shows the opening ceremony. Although popular, it was closed down in 1949 because the town's medical officer declared the river water feeding the pool to be contaminated.

Holt Island swimming pool, St Ives 1913

When the island was donated to St Ives there were plans to turn it into a riverside park. Locked up for many years, ownership passed to Huntingdonshire District Council in 1974.

Today the island is a nature reserve maintained by volunteers, a haven of peace and tranquility just a short amble from The Waits. There are boarded walks around the island, with information boards about wildlife and plants you may see. A cabin gives even more information, and there's a hide from which to watch birds feeding, benches to relax in the sunshine and enjoy views across the river to the water meadow and picnic benches.

Open on weekends and Bank Holidays, Easter to September from 10.00am to 4.00pm, you can also obtain a key for a private visit at any time of the year by leaving a returnable £10 deposit at the Norris Museum or One Leisure Indoor Sports Centre. Information about the nature reserve is shown below.
Holt Island Nature Reserve, St Ives Holt Island Nature Reserve, St Ives

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