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A picture of The Waits Mini-Park
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Why is this area called 'The Waits'? In all likelyhood it is because this side channel off the main River Great Ouse was, and still is, a convenient place to 'park' a boat or barge overnight to wait for daylight to proceed up or down river. On the night of the 1851 census there were over 17 people resident on barges in the river which gives us an idea of the amount of commercial traffic that was using the river at that time.
Prior to the early part of the 20th Century the Waits provided a Public Slip into the river. A slip is a gentle slope over which boats may be hauled in or out of the water and this can be seen in this Then and Now picture. There is still a small public slip in St Ives at the downstream end of the Quay.
As can be seen in the photographs, the slip has gone from the Waits and the muddy patch replaced with a lawn and paved area which is occasionally used as a Band Stand for summer riverside concerts. It is therefore interesting to note that the other use of the term 'Waits' in the English language is in naming a group of musicians, originally Pipers, in medieval times. So perhaps there is more to the name of the Waits in St Ives than we think!
The Waits today still provide additional convenient overnight moorings for pleasure craft when the Town Quay is full - as it usually is in the summer months.
The building in the background of the picture above is the Norris Museum so you can visit the mini-park and the musuem a the same time.
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