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Arbury Vs North Cambridge

Bizarrely, in recent years, efforts at building a sense of community in Arbury have been replaced by rejecting the name as something beyond redemption and replacing it with 'North Cambridge'. People try to sell their houses under this name, and the Manor School, named after the Manor Farm, which carried the Arbury name within its boundaries in the form of two large fields - 'Arbury' and 'Arbury Field' - has also been eradicated and replaced by the 'North Cambridge Academy'. 

Much of this former farm land, which forms North Arbury, was lumped into the new King's Hedges electoral ward (formed out of the northern part of the original Arbury ward) in the mid-1970s by the city council and a new County Council electoral division in 1985, although King's Hedges -  a fifty eight acre farm - was on the northern side of King's Hedges Road - and the original road simply led to it. The land on either side of Arbury Road actually forms North and South Arbury, and the land north of the road was previously the Arbury or Harborough (variation on the Arbury name) Meadows by the iron age camp.

There is also the little matter of the origin of the 'King's Hedges' name, which, in all likelihood, was a hedged hunting warren for sporting 'jollies' in the days of the old Royal Manor of Chesterton. We don't like it, much preferring the iron age village or fort with its earthwork which gave us the Arbury name.

It seems that landowners a few centuries ago chose to name a small farm north of what is now the guided busway after a hedged hunting warren, and now everywhere for miles around is named after it! North Arbury and parts of East Chesterton? Who says? Whoever it is, can we just point out - it's nonsense. Even King's Hedges School is not in the historic King's Hedges acres, but the old Arbury Meadows. 

An outdoor display about the 'Roman Landscape at King's Hedges'. Unfortunately, the board is pure misinformation. Historically, the area, including the Roman villa, described within had nothing to do with King's Hedges and everything to do with Arbury. King's Hedges School was not built at King's Hedges. We are actually talking about real iron age and Roman history here. I do hope we, the public, didn't pay for this nonsense. 

The new King's Hedges Estate, part of the 'Arbury complex' and primarily referred to as North Arbury (home of the Arbury Adventure Playground, the Arbury Community House, North Arbury Chapel and the North Arbury Post Office), was north west of Campkin Road - up towards King's Hedges Road, and, before that, was sometimes used to refer to other housing adjacent, like Lovell Road. 

At the Arbury end, whether the Council then envisaged building on the actual King's Hedges side of the new King's Hedges Road (north) and expanding the estate there, I have no idea, but pulling it back into historical Arbury areas is nonsense.

For years, the new electoral ward had little affect - apart from voting - everybody knew - and many still know - that King's Hedges was/is a district of Arbury, and the notion that it should be the whole of North Arbury was/is not logical. Wards were/are one thing, districts another.

Historically, King's Hedges never, ever bordered - or included any part of - Arbury Road.

Arbury Court, the Good Shepherd Church, the Snowcat pub (now the Cambridge Gurdwara), Manor and Grove Schools, Arbury Community Centre, Arbury Town Park and the doctors' surgery formed a 'centre' for the Arbury Estate - a kind of high street.

The 'King's Hedges Ward' largely seems to gain its being from council planners, obsessed with importing the name into Arbury, and the hugely extended King's Hedges Road. It was largely driven by the 'infernal' combustion engine. Obviously far more important than the Arbury Iron Age habitation, eh, Cambridge City Council? 

Notions of redirecting and extending King's Hedges Road as part of a new ring road had been in the wind since at least the 1930s, but it was the late 1970s before it became reality. 

As part of the A14 motorway construction, King's Hedges Road swept across the old Arbury Meadows by Arbury Camp and lopped off the original Histon end of Arbury Road.


The majority of King's Hedges Road dates from the late 1970s.

October 1977: The new section of King's Hedges Road near Arbury Camp under construction.

Areas which had nothing to do with Arbury - like Stretten Avenue and Akeman Street - were lumped into the city council's 'Arbury Ward' in 1976, and this was meaningless.

Utterly meaningless.

Is Romsey Town the city centre? Of course not!

Are areas of Cambridge outside of the 'historic city centre' areas in their own right, with their own histories, or simply electoral wards, governed by the whims of Cambridge City Council to change at its own will?

And wards change. Areas get 're-warded'. You can go to sleep in Arbury Court, Arbury Ward, one night, and wake up in Arbury Court, King's Hedges Ward, the next morning. And then they change again. And again. But, in between times, the Cambridge County and City councillors are always thrusting the name of the ward you are currently in up your nose as though it is everything, and there is no sense of history, no true district.

So different from the days when local history was a consuming interest, and contributed hugely to a sense of community - as was the case with Arbury Is Where We Live! in 1981.

There seems to be a great eagerness by many to move away from the area's historic name and replace it with inappropriately named/shifting wards - or a bland, meaningless nothingness. It doesn't solve any problems, of course - and does little for community spirit in the long term.

So, if electoral wards were not necessarily true districts years ago, and nobody took much notice, what has changed? Well, in the digital age online maps feature them as such - which has a huge impact. And each time a ward is 're-warded', the boundaries change on the maps.

Youngsters at the Arbury Adventure Playground in North Arbury, 1987.

As Arbury becomes the nonsensical 'King's Hedges Ward' or simply 'North Cambridge', we can only puzzle why. 

Chesterton is also 'North Cambridge', and contains some neighbourhoods that the 'Great And The Good' on Cambridge City Council, all fired up by United Nations and World Economic Forum (hello to the millionaires!)  'Save The Planet' initiatives, and not much concern for everyday reality, would back away from with handbags over their noses, but it doesn't suffer the same fate.

Odd, isn't it? Take Chesterton Community College. Hardly in the historic centre of Chesterton, or anywhere near, and very close to Arbury, and yet there has been no suggestion to change its name. However, because of its location, many children who are not from Chesterton attend there.

And they have no sense of belonging to the Chesterton area. Because they don't.

Chesterton does, of course, contain several highly affluent neighbourhoods and so the name of the community college, with its facilities, including a sports centre, which have long been superior to those at the senior school/academy in Arbury, will not be challenged.

Cambridge is a particularly bad area to situate a large estate of what was originally largely council housing, like Arbury. Cambridge is my home city, but it is riddled with snobbery and NIMBYs abound.

It's sad, but true - and the problem seems to be worsening. The 21st Century is not what I once dreamt of.

Reality bites.

The Arbury district, c.1900. Note the location of King's Hedges - and the Arbury Iron Age Camp - plus the original King's Hedges Road, leading to the farm north of the railway tracks (guided busway). I have been studying the history of King's Hedges, which appears to have been subject to a large amount of local revisionism (well, as a local I spoke to recently said - King's Hedges sounds a lot posher than Arbury). Fortunately, original maps tell the true story.

1976: 'The northern part of Arbury [the part with the Arbury Community Centre, Arbury Adventure Playground, North Arbury Post Office, Arbury Community House, Arbury Town Park and North Arbury Chapel] formed the new ward of King's Hedges'.

2004 and Arbury Court moves to the fake King's Hedges. Meanwhile, Bateson Road (formerly North Chesterton Ward, Castle Ward and Arbury Ward) ducks out into West Chesterton Ward. In 2021, Arbury Court moved back to Arbury Ward. But the highly strange "King's Hedges" continues to prosper, now including the whole of North Arbury and extending into East Chesterton. 

Take a look at how the council has simply flipped the Arbury area around at will over the years. As I mentioned earlier, in the digital age, this has more impact than ever, with areas being defined by ward boundaries on online maps, etc:


  1. I know what you mean. Nobody took any notice of the wards years ago because they were 'just for voting' - now they are all over the place as area definers. Whenever I contact Cambridge City Council about an issue I always get WOKE people with grandiose names like Ariadne who are so ideology driven you can't get through to them that the people they purport to represent are, largely, not. Saw a twitter post a while ago from 'King's Hedges Ward' Labour party, pointing out that the polling stations were North Arbury Chapel, Arbury Community Centre, and Arbury Court Library! Arbury is Arbury - then and now.

  2. There are some great folks who have tried to undo the damage done by the Council and the divisions they have caused. These folks realised what a mess it all is, and sought to re-unify 'Kings Hedges Ward' with 'Arbury Ward' for community stuff under the guise of 'North Cambridge'. They've done great work, but 'North Cambridge' and 'Kings Hedges Ward' are not right and it was the rotten City and County Councils who caused all the confusion and division in the first place by going along with their pathetic 'boundaries commission' which (electorally) smashed up the original Arbury Estate. If you're going to change Arbury Ward to include areas with significant problems then you will get more negative news. The Council did that, then joined in attempts to snobbishly and unaringly exorcise the Arbury name. After all the efforts locals put in with 'Arbury Is Where Live!' and the Arbury Adventure Playground, the Councils drove a bulldozer right through it at all and now they send stupid councillors around going on about trendy agendas all the time and telling where you live. It's like the Web has turned the country into some over-powerful, empty-headed middle class rally - and if you disagree you're cancelled.

  3. What I don't understand is, when they created a new ward for North Arbury, and that's what it was called and I still call it and so do a lot of other people I know, why they didn't call it North Arbury ward. After all they have East Chesterton and West Chesterton ward. It would of been better than creating divisive lines in Arbury.

    1. I think the Council was keen on the King's Hedges name from early on, although it wasn't appropriate for such a wide area because of the planned road expansion and because it stopped too much unity. Imagine North Cambridge being Arbury and Chesterton. That's how it was for a while with the old Arbury Ward. A lot of people still think it as so. The Council preferred the notion of splitting Arbury up into two tinpot wards. Too much working class unity didn't appeal to the upper echelons.

  4. I'll call it Arbury Hedges because its called Arbury and its got hedges. OK?

  5. I think the council is arrogant. They don't give a sh*t about the people's history of the city. Arbury Labour Party claims to speak for the people of "Arbury" and has a photo of a bunch of them outside the demolished shops in Akeman Street (New Chesterton/North Chesterton/Castle then Arbury). They don't speak for me. I only vote Labour now because they're the lesser evil.

  6. North Arbury, it is, of course. King's Hedges is all to do with royal hunting and trapping poor animals in warrens of hedges - and that bloody motorway.


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