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Arbury, 1904...

Arbury Camp (remains of) and Arbury Camp Farm on a 1904 map. Note the earthwork.

The two farms which were built over to create North and South Arbury in the 1950s and 1960s were called Hall and Manor Farms. The entrance to Hall Farm was around where Carlton Way is now; the entrance to Manor Farm was just slightly closer to the houses on the right hand side than the roadway at the Arbury Road junction with Campkin Road now. 

The Manor Farm 'drive' was narrower than the new road, so now lies partly under front gardens and partly under the pavement. Two cottages, Numbers 1 and 2 Manor Farm Cottages, stood in the middle of what is now Campkin Road - and, today, traffic passes over the spot!

Travelling back to Arbury in 1904 would be an interesting trip for any time machine owner.

Arbury Road, known locally as Arbury Meadow Road, was longer than now - and connected with Histon Road. 

The 'Meadow' part of the name probably related to the fact that the land north of Arbury Road over the years had become known as the Arbury/Harborough Meadows. Harborough was a variation on the Arbury name and the two were interchangeable. The names were derived from the prehistoric earthwork, which was something of a local landmark, and featured in 13th Century documents as 'Ertburg' or 'Herburg'. Some years after the Chesterton Enclosures in 1840, the Manor Farm was established in the old Arbury Meadows and this contained two fields named after Arbury Camp - 'Arbury' and 'Arbury Field'. The Manor Farm/Arbury Meadows were swallowed up by North Arbury.

As well as Manor Farm, there was one other farm up near Histon Road and that was Arbury Camp Farm, which contained the ancient site of Arbury Camp.

This is now the site of Orchard Park, originally Arbury Park, whose residents favoured the idea of their site being named after the old Chivers Jam Factory orchard rather than the iron age camp. Curiously, as Arbury was an ancient British camp, dating back to the iron age, Orchard Park features roads named after Roman culture - like Chariot Way. Roman structures and artefacts were spread across the old Arbury Meadows north of Arbury Road (and south), but not Arbury Camp, which pre-dated their arrival.

So, where was King's Hedges, you ask? And King's Hedges Road?

Well, King's Hedges Road as it now is a far more modern creation than Arbury Road, dating back to the late 1970s, when it was redirected and pulled across the old Arbury Meadows, lopping off the original Histon Road end of Arbury Road. It was originally a much shorter, dead-end road, leading from Chesterton to the fifty eight acre King's Hedges Farm, north of what is now the Guided Busway. King's Hedges Farm (which was simply called 'King's Hedges') has nothing to do with the nonsensical electoral ward (originally the old Arbury Meadows).

The old field names north of Arbury Road, before the 1840 Chesterton Enclosures.

In the original Arbury layout, of course, we have North and South Arbury, based solidly on the history of the area, which run from the Gilbert Road entrance to Carlton Way up to King's Hedges Road. One side of Arbury Road is South Arbury, the other North. South contains Arbury Court, the Kingsway Flats and so on, and North the Arbury Community Centre, Arbury Town Park, Arbury Adventure Playground and so on. The community's heart or centre was set around Arbury Road - with Arbury Court, the Arbury Community Centre, Arbury Town Park, the local senior school and the church of the Good Shepherd in a small area on either side of the road.

Bizarrely, looking back, it seems council planners were obsessed with importing the King's Hedges name into the historic Arbury area. But their invented King's Hedges was originally seen as a sub-district of North Arbury - and pulling the area back for a 'King's Hedges Ward' to cover the whole of North Arbury (and now parts of East Chesterton) was - and is - absurd. And even more so as voting takes place at the Arbury Community Centre, North Arbury Chapel and, when Arbury Court was pulled into the King's Hedges Ward for some years, the Arbury Court Library! I'm afraid not even King's Hedges School is in any area historically known as 'King's Hedges'. It is in the old Arbury Meadows.

Stretten Avenue, Darwin Drive, Akeman Street, Histon Road, etc, were not part of the original (and I think 'real') Arbury and many residents of these roads were surprised when they became part of  'Arbury Ward' in the mid-1970s - having previously been Castle Ward and, before that North Chesterton Ward. One woman I spoke to recently, from Bateson Road, expressed her amusement at the City Council's attitude to local history and community identity. For many years Bateson Road was tossed into the 'Arbury Ward' pot, but then in recent years became 'West Chesterton Ward'.

'Without a by-your-leave!' as she put it. 'I don't take any notice. It's not up to Cambridge City Council to keep changing the name of where I live!'

I am convinced that the wards now have little to do with the actual identity of some of the Cambridge City areas - particularly the poorer areas like Arbury - and have just been fiddled around with for council planners' convenience, rather than build any community identity based on historical facts. Anyway, who wants to refer to their area as a 'Ward', apart from local council representation and voting? Sounds like a hospital!

The shops on Carlton Way. There used to be four small shops here - Dean's - greengrocer's, Blackwell's - butcher's, Yarrow's (pronounced locally 'Yarrer's') - grocers, and Stops - newsagents.

Here, we'll concern ourselves with the original Arbury estate development site, North and South, and head back to 1904.

So, there you are, having left your time machine, standing in Arbury Road in 1904, trying to orientate yourself. No Arbury Court, no Manor School or North Cambridge Academy, no Arbury Town Park, no Church of the Good Shepherd, no Arbury Community Centre.

You spot a white gate, with two brick cottages standing to the left of it, and head in that direction. Stepping through the gate, you ask a passer-by on a bicycle where you are and are told the Manor Farm.

The entrance to the Manor Farm from Arbury Road. Traffic now passes over the site of numbers 1 and 2 Manor Farm Cottages - they stood in what is now the middle of Campkin Road.

To the right of you is a lovely old orchard. Further down, you see the Jacobean style Victorian chimneys of what appears to be a large house. The wide path you are standing on, simply a dirt track, is lined with horse chestnut trees. You begin to walk down the Manor Farm drive to explore further...



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