Peterborough, the Fens and Festival of the Dead!

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Date(s) - 30/06/2023 - 02/07/2023
All Day

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Join the Wartburg Trabant IFA Club as we take in the brand new classic car show ‘Festival of the Dead’, being staged at the magnificent Burghley House, near Stamford, north of Peterborough.

For those who would like to make a weekend of it, we’ve put together a special event, which you can join for one, two or all three days!

The show – on Sunday 2 July 2023 – is a “celebration of car marques no longer with us” – which pretty much includes all Cold War/Eastern Bloc classics, with the exception of, perhaps Skoda…



    • Friday 30 June:  Meet from noon in Peterborough for sightseeing, evening pub meal at riverside beer garden
    • Saturday 1 July:  Road run to the Fens, visit to Nene Valley Railway, evening meal at Lithuanian restaurant
    • Sunday 2 July:  Convoy drive to Burghley House, for display on club stand. Optional visit to house and gardens.

Interested?  Please contact Mel Holley, or 07930 391461.  Full itinerary and timings will be supplied to participants

You must pre-book your own ticket for the Sunday car show (no pay-on-the-day) here:

Accommodation:  There’s the usual choices, but the most convenient is the newly-opened Premier Inn in the centre of town (in the former Police Station), very close the ‘old’ centre and Charters Bar, our Friday venue.  It is called ‘Premier Inn Peterborough City Centre’ (not to be confused with ‘Premier Inn Peterborough Hampton’).

An alternative would be ‘Premier Inn Peterborough Ferry Meadows’. Also ‘in town’ and convenient for our activities is the ‘Park Inn Peterborough’ (round the back of the museum).


FRIDAY:  Early arrivals can meet at the Coalheavers Arms, Park Street, Peterborough from noon (we can make arrangements for very early arrivals, subject to demand!).

Dating from the 1850s, this CAMRA pub’s six handpumps serve Tydd Steam and beers from local micros.  Notably, it was the only pub within the city to be hit by a bomb during World War II.  The pub almost faced completely destruction and carried on through it in a tale of absolute resilience!

On the night of November 16, 1940, the unassuming pub gained the unfortunate distinction of being the only pub in Peterborough to be bombed by the German Luftwaffe.  The bomb landed in the cellar but – to the absolute luck of the pub owners – it didn’t explode!  As the bomb was examined and deemed safe by the locals, in the spirit of the times the owners decided to open the same night and see business as usual. Pubgoers filed in for their beer inside a building that, only moments before might not have existed.

In the afternoon, we will take a stroll around the delights of the heart of ‘old Peterborough’, once a bustling market town before the coming of the railways in the 1850s, and the birthplace of Sir Henry Royce.

There’s the spectacular cathedral (1118-1237), and remains of the cloisters, where Mary, Queen of Scots was briefly interred having been executed at nearby Fotheringhay Castle.  Her grave decidated to ‘Katharine Queen of England’ is in the body of the building for visitors to see.

The market square, today pedestrianised, still has its Guildhall (1669-1671) and other period buildings, while around the corner is the city’s museum (on Priestgate – the ancient city still has its main streets named after the ‘gates’ even though the structures no longer stand).

The Museum (free entry), includes fascinating collections.  The Norman Cross collection is considered to be the largest and finest collection of objects carved by French and Dutch prisoners of war.  Interred at a Prisoner of War Camp at Norman Cross, near Peterborough, during the Napoleonic Wars (1797-1815) they include  bone, wood and ivory, including model ships, guillotines, needlework boxes, playing cards and articles of straw marquetry.

With Peterborough being just off Ermine Street, and a heritage going back to the stone age, there are also displays covering the period up to the Romans.

In the evening, we visit the ‘Charters’ floating pub.  Built in a former Dutch grain barge, and moored by the Town Bridge, it has a massive selection of real ales, and offers a quality food menu, which can be enjoyed inside (on the top deck) or ‘below stairs’ in the bar.  There is also a large beer garden.

SATURDAY:  We meet ‘in town’ for a road run through the fascinating fen country, with a rich history and mix of industry and water management.  Our drive takes in back roads to Whittlesey (home of Britain’s last ‘traditional’ brickworks, and the washes – deliberately flooded and used for winter ice skating at the point where the river Nene becomes no longer tidal.

From here, we follow the route of one of the major Second World War ‘stop lines’ – a series of close-formation pillboxes and defensive structures designed to repel an enemy invasion from the east coast.  The best-preserved of these types of features, see how many you can spot!

Next we travel across the ‘flatlands’ to enjoy the skyscapes, before climbing to the Isle of Thorney, with its historic Abbey, classic car garage and ‘model village’.  A short comfort stop will be made, and those who wish can take ‘Tea at 18’ a small coffee shop.

Striking northwards across Morris Fen, we pass through Crowland – a photo stop for its Roman-origin unique triangular stone-built bridge, will be made, while those of a certain disposition can visit the traditional hardware store or family butchers in this small town.

Next on  the agenda is a trip alongside the 40-Foot River – a massive channel that is elevated above the surrounding countryside.  We stop at the point where the river was breached in 1947, flooding the surrounding area.

Onto through Market Deeping, another quaint town, we then circle down to arrive at the World Famous Stibbington Diner for lunch.  The last traditional transport café on the former Great North Road (now bypassed by the modern – well 1950s – A1) it serves good food and is a regular classic car meet spot.

Suitably refreshed, we take the very short drive to pass over an original level crossing (with gates and signalbox) to arrive at Wansford station on the Nene Valley Railway.  Until 1959, this was the A1 and the gates closed to road traffic causing lengthy delays.  We will have a reserved parking area and you can take a train ride, look around the engine sheds, enjoy the miniature railway, or plunder the bookstalls.

In the evening we meet at Kaimas Lithuanian Restaurant for a meal, (five star reviews) and those who wish, may want to continue their enjoyment at the Brewery Tap, a lively brew-pub in the heart of town.

SUNDAY:  We meet in Peterborough for a drive along specially-selected quiet roads (to avoid the A1) arriving in convoy at The Festival of the Dead.

We have our own reserved stand for the club, and you’ll need to buy your entry ticket in advance (£13.55 per car – there’s no pay at the gate), but this does get you half-priced entry to Burghley House and Gardens (featured in The Crown TV series).  This is the first time the Festival of the Dead has been staged. Sponsored by Classicline Insurance, proceeds go to the  Mission Motorsport charity.

To remind you, if interested please contact Mel Holley, or 07930 391461.  Full itinerary and timings will be supplied to participants