Fens flag campaign to capture 'fighting qualities'

Image source, Geograph/John Sutton/Fenland Flag
Image caption, Ely Cathedral dominates much of the Fenland skyline because of the area's flat landscape

A man has begun a campaign to capture the "fighting qualities" of the Fens with an official flag.

The area, which covers parts of Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, is characterised by its flatness and man-made waterways.

The main image on the flag is the Fen Tiger - a nickname given to protesters opposed to the marsh drainage schemes of the 16th and 17th Centuries.

Designer Peter James Bowman wants the flag recognised by the Flag Institute.

Mr Bowman, who has lived in the area for more than two decades, said he was inspired by areas such as the Black Country and Exmoor recently creating their own flags.

The tiger is on a central vertical yellow strip which represents "agricultural prosperity" and it has two strips of blue either side which represent "the region's natural and man-made waterways".

Image source, Weatherwatchers/Alpaca Lady
Image caption, Mr Bowman said that the flatness of the area, depicted here in Ramsey St Mary, Cambridgeshire, leads to its distinctive "big skies"

"You can never mistake The Fens for anywhere else. A lot of it is below sea level - it's quite unique," Mr Bowman said.

Some famous Fenland characters

The tiger nickname stems from those locals who rebelled against the engineers who drained the fens to turn the rich soil into land suitable for crops.

Mr Bowman said people "tried to sabotage the pumps and because of their aggressive behaviour they were termed Fen Tigers".

He said it "shows their fighting qualities and determination - that's a word I'd use to describe people of this area".

Mildenhall's speedway club, the Fen Tigers, is named after the rebels.

Image source, Auntie Cyclone
Image caption, The area's waterways are a defining feature of its landscape

The designer added that Fens people are "friendly, but not in an intrusive way" and have "strong traditions of people living their lives in a particular place".

East Cambridgeshire MP Lucy Frazer, who has written a letter of support to the Flag Institute, said: "The design of Mr Bowman's proposed Fenland flag is smart and well thought-out. I wish him every success in his efforts to have it officially recognised."

It is the Ely-based writer and translator's second attempt at a Fens flag, having given up promoting a previous design two years ago which focused on the area's famed black soil.

Malcolm Farrow, president of the Flag Institute, said it that supports the principle of "community flags" and that its community vexillologist (person who studies flags) will be looking into the design further.

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