Skip to main content

Arbury 1970s Archive - 2: The Lights Go Out All Over Arbury...

Our house in Cunningham Close, on South Arbury, was very well thought out. I've enclosed a plan, but one of the best things was the 'shed', included in the house structure, running from front to back, with doors at either end into the front and back gardens. Here, we once housed a sickly hedgehog in a cardboard box with a blanket and plenty of milk to lap. It had been hit by a bike and sadly didn't survive - but we did our best.

It was a nice house - we moved in in 1971 - and settled in happily. There was a great back garden, with a few small trees at the bottom, a large 'through' lounge, an adequate kitchen/dining room, with pantry, and it was very comfortable. We didn't have central heating or anything like that, but then we didn't expect it.

We settled in and life went on and...

And then the lights went out! 

Several times.

I had my 'Look-In' put by at Arbury Court. I couldn't miss an issue because 'The Tomorrow People' were always being left senseless and floating in hyper space or something in their comic strip. I had to 'read on'! But I couldn't stick Donny Osmond. Well, being a boy, he wasn't really aimed at me, but my cousin (I won't name her because she'd kill me for revealing her secret) loved him dearly and we'd have to listen to his records over and over again. When he did that cover version of 'Puppy Love' and yelped 'someone help me please,' I knew just how he felt...

This was the second bout of power cuts as part of industrial action in the early 1970s, and it was a nuisance. But not a knock-out blow, as we - and most people we knew - cooked with gas. I was a kid and found the power cuts exciting - with the candles showing up patches of nicotine-stained ceiling ('Doesn't it look yellow, Mum?!') and I'd gaze out at total blackness outside, all the street lights off, just pinpricks of candlelight showing from some windows. Well, how thrilling could you get, I ask?

Cooking by candlelight was a novel experience - as was making tea.

And I came seriously unstuck doing that.

The windows in Cunningham Close were metal-framed - and the gutters were concrete. No double glazing or central heating in the houses - and most people had front gardens. They weren't all well tended, but they were there as less people had cars.

One late afternoon/early evening in late autumn, the lights went out while we had a visitor. I think it was Doreen from a few doors down, but it might have been my Auntie from Verulam Way.

The metre didn't need feeding, so we knew it was a power cut.

My mother had forgotten to get tea while we were at Arbury Court earlier in the day, so I was dispatched to Yarrow's ('Yarrer's') on Carlton Way. We had loose tea then. My mother thought that tea bags added an unwelcome taste to the brew.

Well, I set off intrepidly into the blackness outside - up Cunningham Close - the windows with unclosed curtains showing flickering candlelight - and the same in Brimley Road and Carlton Way.

It was all familiar and yet unfamiliar.

I was heady with excitement.

And Yarrow's that day was thrilling! 

Now, Yarrow's, the grocer's and butcher's, was quite a small shop. You went in one door and there was shelving all round the walls holding cereals, bread, soup, mixed veg, etc, and, as you went in, on the right, was a small display of paperback books. There was double-sided centre shelving, which formed two narrow aisles, up one aisle, down the other, and the till was on the left just inside the exit door. Just one till.

Usually, trips there tended to be mundane but, for the power cut, the staff had distributed candles around the store, which made everything look very intriguing. The familiar scenario became something out of a fairy tale - candlelight picking out Weetabix boxes, tins of oxtail soup, or jars of pilchard and tomato paste as you passed - all gleaming or shining in patches, offset by eerie flickering darkness - and very different to usual.

There was quite an embattled atmosphere at the till (manual, of course), as the woman wearily served me. 

'Get on your nerves, all this, don't it?' she said to me. I wanted to disagree, but I nodded politely.

Back to Cunningham Close, and Mum asked me to make the tea. Well, I was so carried away with it all that I emptied the whole box of tea into the pot and poured on the hot water, oblivious.

Thus was brewed probably the strongest pot of tea in the history of North and South Arbury - and perhaps even East and West Chesterton, too!

Maybe even in the history of the whole of Cambridge.

Or Cambridgeshire.

Or...

Anyway, Mum and her visitor were disgusted by my efforts - and boy did I get a telling off. 

Very soon I saw the inside of my bedroom - minus the excitement of candlelight.

South Arbury housing - this pic is definitely post 1970s - indicated by the window blinds and the car, but the house still retained original features - the shed, concrete guttering and metal framed windows. Many people have now knocked the shed area into the kitchen/dining room to make a much larger space.

Comments

  1. Liking the mix here of memories and maps and documents. Keep it up.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

What Did The Romans Ever Do for Arbury? Jim Smith

Our trusty old Arbury map showing location details before the Manor Farm was established. The red line, inserted by Jim Smith, indicates the course of the Roman road - Akeman Street or the Mere Way. The land north of Arbury Road was the Arbury or Harborough Meadows, Arbury/Harborough furlongs and Arbury Camp, King's Hedges was in its original position, north of the railway (now guided busway) and Arbury Road ran from the Ely/Milton Road to the Histon/Cambridge Road - as it did until the late 1970s. Introduction - by the Arbury Archivists Jim Smith is a local history researcher and a good friend of the Arbury Cambridge Blog. He has been researching Roman finds in the historic Arbury area and has written this article for us. We are most grateful! He follows the adventures of those who scraped away centuries of soil to reveal ancient findings beneath.  Of course, as always, we deal with historic Arbury here, not council planners' estates or electoral wards, which are both prone to

Exploring The REAL King's Hedges...

The Cambridge and St Ives Branch railway line is now the Guided Busway. Where was King's Hedges historically? How did the name come about? Why is the majority of King's Hedges Road no more historic than late 1970s - and nothing to do with the course of the original road? What have council planners of the 1960s and 1970s and the needs of motorists got to do with the King's Hedges presence in the historic Arbury district? All will be revealed... We're going to leave Arbury briefly and go to King's Hedges. No, not King's Hedges Ward - that area is, in reality, one of the most Arbury of Arbury areas in Cambridge historically, but the REAL King's Hedges. North of the Guided Busway. You see, the land north of Arbury Road is the site of the Arbury Camp, the Arbury/Harborough (a variation on the Arbury name) Meadows and the Arbury fields of Manor Farm.  It has absolutely nothing to do with King's Hedges at all. And King's Hedges was never a district. Land no

Main Streets of Arbury: Campkin Road - Part 1

Left: work begins on Campkin Road in 1961. Numbers 1 and 2 Manor Farm Cottages have been demolished, but the intention is to preserve the old trees lining the old Manor Farm Drive. Right: a similar view in more modern times, with the Arbury Town Park and Campkin Road. In 1982, Campkin Road was described as the 'Hauptstrasse of North Arbury' by local journalist Sara Payne. Ms Payne's local history articles in the Cambridge Weekly News were hugely popular and, for each one, Ms Payne visited a street in Cambridge and talked to the residents, collecting their memories for publication and producing a fascinating series of 'Then and Now' style articles. 'Cambridge Weekly News', 1982. Down Your Street followed in the footsteps of a similar series in the local press in the early 1960s - by Erica Dimmock - and both now make fascinating reading. We're starting our look at Campkin Road with material from the 'Arbury 1980' project and accounts from locals

Manor School Memories Part 1

The Manor School on Arbury Road was one of the main focuses of life for North and South Arbury for decades. With its evening classes and youth centre, and various community activities - like the annual Christmas party for the elderly and the annual school play in the 1980s ( Annie Get Your Gun and Dracula Spectacular spring to mind) - the Manor opened as separate boys' and girls' schools in 1959 (the girls had to share the boys' buildings at first as their own were still under construction). The school later became co-ed.      An aerial view of t he Manor Schools - Boys' and Girls', around 1960, with a section of Arbury Road and Arbury Court. Note Arbury Court was yet to gain its library and large supermarket building, and Campkin Road was still the Manor Farm Drive. The side of the Manor School 'new block', built in the early 1970s, the tower block and boys' gym beyond. The school was built in the Park Meadow of the old Manor Farm - which is how the &

Arbury Court - Part Of The 'Centre' Of The Original Arbury Estate...

A view across Arbury Court, looking towards Arbury Road, in 1976. Arbury Court is part of the 'centre' of the original Arbury Estate in Cambridge. The Court, with its pub, supermarket, hardware store and post office, chip shop, newsagent, TV shop, greengrocer, hairdresser, chemist, supermarket and branch library, is part of the 'hub' of the estate. The historic Arbury district. The Arbury or Harborough (the names were variations on each other and interchangeable) Meadows covered most of the land north of Arbury Road. The road ran from Milton Road to the Histon/Cambridge Road until the late 1970s. The Manor Farm was formed in the years following the 1840 Chesterton Enclosures. Orchard Park (originally Arbury Park and, before that, Arbury Camp Farm) features the outline of part of the Arbury prehistoric settlement at Ring Fort Road. We've inserted the sites of Arbury Court, the Guided Busway and Campkin Road. Arbury Road marks the boundary of North and South Arbury, a

Arbury Archaeology and History: Part 1

Imagine an iron age settlement. It is surrounded by a circular earthwork. People live here. There are houses, and pens for animals within the enclosure. Until recent years, it was not believed to be a fort. The settlement is larger than some, but believed to be very much the equivalent of what we now call a village - the earthwork simply to defend it from wolves and animal thieves. The earthwork is filled with water, and reeds and rushes grow there. Despite the naming of the Arbury earthwork as 'Ring Fort Road' in the Arbury Camp Farm Arbury/Orchard Park development, the original height of the earthwork and its enclosed area were not believed to indicate that Arbury was a fort (compare to Wandlebury), and the findings of archaeologists from Cambridge and London from the early 1960s to 1970 discounted the notion. Comment from Arbury Camp, Cambridge, A Preliminary Report on Excavations - by John Alexander and David Trump, 1970: The excavations therefore tend to confirm earlier s

Arbury Snippets Part 4: Arbury Terrace, Arbury Hedges, 19th Century Pugilists, Hunting & Escaped Prisoners At The Real King's Hedges And Suspects On The Arbury Meadows...

We've superimposed the old Arbury Meadows, Furlongs and Corner onto a 1900 map. Remember, the Manor Farm, which covered most of North Arbury (or the Council's inappropriately named 'King's Hedges Ward'), did not exist before the 1840s. Our 1900 map also features the details from the 1840 enclosures map. The names Arbury and Harborough were variations on each other and interchangeable. Whilst the 1840 enclosures map used the 'Harborough' form, an 1839 newspaper article (featured) used the 'Arbury' form. During the late 1800s, the 'Harborough' form all but disappeared. The Arbury name is derived from the Old English for 'earthwork', the earthwork surrounding the iron age settlement at Arbury Camp Farm (now Orchard Park, originally Arbury Park). The earthwork, or at least part of it, was a landscape feature for around 2000 years, and the part of the outline seen on this map is incorporated into the design of Ring Fort Road. Arbury was. f

Ask Arbury: The Roman Villa in Arbury

     E-mail to Arbury Cambridge blog: Was a Roman villa found at King's Hedges? I recently saw an outside display in North Arbury/King's Hedges Ward called 'The Roman Landscape in King's Hedges' which claims there was one. And is King's Hedges Road Roman?  We've seen that display. Electoral wards are not historic areas and local historians really do need to be mindful of that fact. The answer to your question regarding the Roman villa and King's Hedges Road is no. The Roman villa was found on the site of King's Hedges School, which is not part of the historic King's Hedges acres. Historically, King's Hedges was simply a named property, a farm, of fifty eight acres, and is now north of the guided busway. It was never a district. King's Hedges School is dearly loved by many of us and we treasure it, but those in the know accept it's not actually in any historically meaningful King's Hedges district, and the site had nothing to do w

What Arbury Means To You...

We thought it would be good to invite comments (or emails - arburyestate@btinternet.com) from readers about what Arbury means to you. Of course, many have already made their views plain on here, but we like the idea of a dedicated blog post. Please be aware that we are referring to the original Arbury area here, the area between Gilbert Road and King's Hedges Road, not modern electoral wards/misnamed apparently 'separate' housing estates. From 'Arbury is Where We Live!' (1981): Community action has always been important in Arbury. The first Arbury community groups were formed with the building of South Arbury in the 1950s, and North Arbury has seen many fantastic community efforts - resulting in the likes of the Arbury Adventure Playground, Arbury Carnival, Arbury Community Centre and the Arbury Town Park. So, what does Arbury mean to YOU? How long have you lived here? Are you interested in Arbury history? What do you like about Arbury? What do you dislike? What mak

Manor School Memories - Part 2

Lads from the Manor Boys' School in 1960. D. Claton, M. Farrow, R. Mitchell, C. Peck, I. Skeels, R. Potter and G. Paine are present. Do any readers remember who is who? School's back in - Manor School/Community College on Arbury Road that is (now North Cambridge Academy). Here is the second part of our series on Manor Memories - Part 1 is here . Pupils' foreign holiday, 1960: the first Manor girls to go on a joint foreign holiday with Manor boys: G. Anderson, J. Barnes, C. Blackwell, H. Brown, S. Budd, L. Carter, A. Clarke, L. Doggett, C. Doughty, P. Drake, S. Hardy, E. Harradine, B. Kaspar, D. Miller, J. Parker, L. Phillips, J. Reeves, J. Spencer, J. Symonds, with headmistress Mrs Firman. Note the Manor Schools' caretaker's house can be seen in the background, and the trees of the old Manor Farm orchard. October 1960, and here is a view of the Manor Boys' and Girls' schools from the car park at the Snow Cat public house (now the Cambridge Gurdwara). A view