Peterborough is a richly historic cathedral city in Cambridgeshire that’s surrounded by the marshy Fenlands and woodlands of John Clare Country. Its convenient railway station has made it a regional hub for travel in central England, with quick links to London and the north. With many Norman and mediaeval remnants around the city to explore, Peterborough has a number of museums of note. Visitors can explore this city and its traditions by applying for a UK ETA for Peterborough, the new mandatory system for those travelling to the country.
A Short History of Peterborough
From Early History to the Mediaeval Age
The Peterborough area has been settled since at least the Bronze Age, with archaeological sites like Flag Fen built to traverse the marshy Fens. While Roman settlements were also prevalent in areas like Longthorpe and Water Newton, present-day Peterborough was founded by the Saxons. A village called Medeshamstede grew from the founding of an abbey, which was attacked by Vikings in 870. The Saxons built walls to protect the settlement, and a market prospered close to the abbey. The brief Danish influence on place names remains today with the suffix “gate” on many street names deriving from the Old Norse “gata”, meaning street.
A new church was built on the grounds of the town’s abbey after it was heavily damaged in the resistance to the Norman conquest. This new, Norman-style church reflected the changes in Peterborough and the country and would become consecrated as Peterborough Cathedral in 1238. It was protected from Tudor destruction but was later vandalised during the English Civil War. Peterborough remained a small market town with a wool industry until the 18th century and was often referred to as England’s “smallest city”.
Into the Modern Era
Peterborough grew with the building of the railways and as a stop on the London to York route from the 1840s. The railway enabled to transport of manufacturing goods like clay and brick, for which the town became known throughout the Victorian period. The Fletton Brick, developed in Fletton near Peterborough, became ubiquitous throughout the country by the end of the 19th century.
By the 20th century, Peterborough had grown to a population of 30,000. This continued an ongoing trend that began in 1901 when the population was 3,500. Manufacturing slowly gave way to a service industry that now populated much of the city. Museums, hospitals, libraries and cinemas all pushed Peterborough into the modern era. Things changed again in 1967 when Peterborough was selected as a New Town, a government scheme to promote urban growth following the Second World War. The effects of growth are visible today in Peterborough’s civic projects.
Peterborough has played a significant role in English history and offers a wide range of heritage sites, landmarks and museums to explore.
Peterborough Cathedral has played a foundational role in the city’s history, having stood in some form or another as a religious centre since the Saxon period. It’s renowned for its Gothic facade and blending of Norman and mediaeval interiors with the oldest surviving wooden ceiling of its type in the country. Catherine of Aragon is buried here, as was Mary Queen of Scots before James I had her body exhumed and re-buried at Westminster Abbey.
Peterborough Museum occupies an early 19th-century townhouse and contains a wealth of art and artefacts detailing the city’s history. These include Roman pottery, Jurassic-era fossils and paintings dating from the 17th century.
Longthorpe Tower is an English Heritage site and a 14th-century tower used to fortify a local manor house. It hosts one of the most complete and important sets of mediaeval murals in the country.
Elton Hall and Gardens
Elton Hall and Gardens is a 15th-century baronial estate with manicured gardens and Renaissance master paintings. It is open to the public from spring until summer.
Introducing the New UK ETA for Peterborough
From 2024, the United Kingdom will fully implement its new Electronic Travel Authentication (ETA) system. This scheme was outlined in 2022’s Nationality and Borders Act 2022 and is currently within its trial phase. The ETA will greatly affect how visitors travel to the UK, as an online application must now be completed before entry into the country.
The new UK ETA for Peterborough will affect non-visa nationals most of all. This includes international visitors from some 91 different countries that do not currently require a visa to travel to the UK for short periods. While a visa is still not required, non-visa nationals must apply for permission to travel in the form of an ETA.
The UK’s ETA scheme has been developed to mirror similar digital systems used across the world. These include the USA’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and the EU’s European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS).
What the ETA System Means
The UK announced its ETA system as part of a broader migration plan. It is designed to pre-check visitors to the UK and to track the number of entries. Under previous rules, those arriving in the UK from visa-free countries were not screened or counted before arrival. Now, all visitors must apply for an ETA, which will check the applicant to determine their eligibility for entry, flagging any criminal or immigration issues.
For visitors, the ETA means that visitors must now apply before they set off for the UK. This application is done entirely online and will reassure visitors that they have permission to land.
The UK ETA for Peterborough Application Requirements
All non-visa visitors need to apply for a UK ETA online before arriving in the UK. The ETA application is designed to be straightforward. Unlike a standard visa, the applicant does not need to visit a consulate or embassy in person. Applicants supply their full name, date of birth, country of birth, contact details and other travel-related information. The applicant must then present a valid biometric passport and payment card to complete the fee.
How Long Will the ETA Application Process Take?
The UK ETA process is expected to take 10 minutes to complete. After completing this online form, there is a processing time of 48 to 72 hours, allowing for last-minute travel arrangements but not same-day travel. Applicants must apply with enough time before they commence travel.
As an ETA will now be a requirement for entry, failure to complete an ETA may lead to the visitor being fined or flagged. Most airlines will be required to check their passengers before boarding to ensure they have a valid ETA for entry. Upon arrival in the UK, the passengers can proceed through convenient eGates to limit time spent at the border.
How Long Will an ETA Typically Be Valid For?
An ETA is expected to be valid for up to 180 days. This brings the ETA in line with the UK’s existing Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) scheme. Those planning a longer stay must apply for a visa.
When Will the UK ETA for Peterborough Be Rolled Out?
The UK ETA system is in its trial phase and will begin to roll out in January 2023. Full implementation for all non-visa travellers is expected by the beginning of 2024.
Who Needs to Apply for an ETA, and Who is Exempt?
Most non-visa nationals must apply for an ETA before travel. Find a list of all eligible non-visa nationals here. Exemptions include Republic of Ireland passport holders, alongside existing resident permit holders in the UK, whatever their citizenship.
Citizens of countries requiring a visa to visit the UK will not be expected to apply for an ETA. This is because a process similar to an ETA is included within the standard visa process.
Is an ETA Required To Travel to Peterborough?
Yes. Non-visa international visitors to Peterborough will be required to apply for an ETA when the scheme is fully active in 2024. Get up-to-date details on the latest ETA developments with this ETA FAQ.
Visiting Peterborough With an ETA
Peterborough is a thriving Cambridgeshire city that’s renowned for its Norman cathedral. With a rich history dating from the earliest settlement of England, the region boasts important archaeological sites, artefact-packed museums and early Gothic architecture. Sandwiched between bucolic English landscapes and the historic Fenlands, a UK ETA for Peterborough opens up day trip opportunities. Planning for an ETA is necessary for those looking to visit the important cathedral city of Peterborough.