Elliott Robert Odams

Elliott Robert Odams
At the end of the Broadway stands one of St Ives' more prominent symbols of remembrance, the Jubilee Memorial. Constructed to celebrate Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee, we owe its presence to one Elliott Odams. An interesting story lies behind his gift to the town.

Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee was in 1897. Some time after Elliott was holidaying in Sandown, Isle of Wight. Attracted to their Jubilee Memorial, he hired its architect to design a replica for St Ives. By the time the memorial was ready Queen Victoria had died. A celebration of her jubilee seemed inappropriate.

Victoria Jubilee Memorials, Sandown and St Ives
Victoria Jubilee Memorials, Sandown and St Ives
Not a man easily put off, Elliott decide to present the memorial to St Ives on another day of celebration, the coronation of Victoria's son, Edward VII. Scheduled for Thursday 26 June 1902, the coronation was postponed when Edward suffered a bout of appendicitis requiring surgery.

Once clear the event wouldn't take place for some time, the unveiling of the memorial proceeded on Monday 30 June 1902 complete with inscription stating the event had occurred on Edward's coronation on 26 June 1902. The actual coronation took place on 9 August 1902.

Inscription on Victoria Jubilee Memorial, St Ives, Cambridgeshire
Who was Elliott Odams? Eldest son born in Fenstanton in 1833 to Robert, a brewer's labourer, and Sarah Shadbolt, Elliott was christened Robert Elliott. The family preferred to use his middle name.

By 1851 Elliott, aged 18yrs, had moved from the family home and worked as a solicitor's clerk, renting a room at 57 Aldenham Street, St Pancras, London. He was back in Fenstanton by 1861, employed as a brewer's clerk and lodging at the Bird in the Hand public house with his servant. The following year he married Mary Silk. There followed seven daughters and one son.

Elliott was clearly going places. In 1863 he advertised his business as a wines and spirits merchant in the Hunts Post, shown above. The Cambridge Independent Press thought him an enterprising young man, reporting in 1864 his new business selling cattle for cash at St Ives Monday market. The innovation of trading for ready money rather than traditional credit sales had established sellers complaining 'loud and frequent'. By 1869 he was twice listed in the City & County Directory, trading as a wine and spirit merchant and a private resident living at the White Horse Inn, Fenstanton, of which he was the inn keeper.

Mixing with the great and the good of local businessmen, Elliott was recorded as a merchant and new member in the 1875 Huntingdon Freemason's Register. By 1877 the City & County Directory listed his business trading at Crown Street, St Ives. And the 1881 Census showed his occupation as including 'farming 118 acres and employing 18 men and 1 boy'.

Elliott Robert Odams
In the 1901 marriage banns for his son Stanley, Elliott is shown as retired. The document has a record of his signature as shown above.

Even in retirement, Elliott influenced local events. In 1905 he witnessed an altercation between the St Ives bridge toll keeper and a motor car carrying the wife of Lord Frederick Harrison and two St Ives ladies. His letter in the Hunts Post 1 April 1905 started an avalanche of correspondence. Although Huntingdonshire County Council were generally supportive of removing the bridge tolls, it was more than 15yrs before they were finally removed.

Elliott died on Thursday 28 January 1909, aged 76yrs. He is buried in St Peter and St Paul Churchyard, Fenstanton.

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