Skip to main content

ARBURY IS WHERE WE LIVE! Part 1

The highly distinctive 'Arbury Is Where We Live!' book cover - etched on many people's memories across Arbury.

Back down the time tunnel we go, back, back, to 1981: The Rubik's Cube was Toy of the Year for the second year running, the illegal CB radio craze went OTT - and legalisation came in November, Charles and Diana married, riots raged in some inner city areas in England, and Arbury Is Where We Live! was published.

This book was the result of a project involving all the Arbury primary schools - Arbury, St Laurence's, the Grove and King's Hedges. The project was called Arbury 1980 - and was a study of the area's history - going back to the Iron Age.

The children wrote interesting prose about - and accounts of - Iron Age and Roman times, life at the old Manor and Hall Farms, the building of the estate and the establishment of the Arbury Community Centre and Arbury Adventure Playground, and finally about their lives in the Arbury of 1980.

Older people came into the schools to tell pupils about the days when the area was farmland, or the estate was just being built, and this information was transcribed by teachers for posterity.

A map view of the Arbury district from 1900, with earlier details inserted. Note that Arbury Road connects the Ely/Milton Road with the Histon/Cambridge Road as it did until the late 1970s. King's Hedges Road, originally a dead end, leading to the fifty eight acre farm called King's Hedge/King's Hedges, can be seen here. King's Hedges itself is north of the present guided busway - and is now the site of, among other things, Cambridge Regional College. It is straddled by the A14, and part of it is still open ground.

An Arbury 1980 exhibition was held at the Manor School on Arbury Road, featuring the pupils' work (including some lovely models of iron age housing!), transcripts and photographs.

The project culminated in 1981 with the publication of Arbury Is Where We Live!

Readers from Stretten Avenue, Darwin Drive, Akeman Street, Garden Walk and Histon Road, etc, will need to know that the book centred on the original Arbury Estate, not Cambridge City Council electoral wards or arbitrary re-namings of areas by the Council since the original estate of North and South Arbury was built.

One of us lived in Darwin Drive for years and another was born in Stretten Avenue - both have fond memories of living there - but the area was not built as Arbury - it was originally New Chesterton ('North Chesterton Ward'/'Castle Ward') and has no historical connections to Arbury. The presence of Chesterton School on the doorstep and Chesterton Mill within speaks volumes.

The original Arbury estate, dating to before the original Arbury Ward which covered it, had - and still has - its own vibe, an Arbury history, and is a highly recognisable and well known area, even after many years of being derided and divided. 

Therefore the original Arbury Estate is our focus.

That being said, we have much material from New Chesterton/Old Chesterton - its history is every bit as fascinating as Arbury - and we hope to start a blog about the area at some point. 

Anyway, it's high time this was on line.

These posts are dedicated to the memory of Sallie Purkis, historian, who believed in Arbury as a place worthy of note and encouraged a greater sense of community with the Arbury 1980 project and this book. She was also a great help to me - endlessly informative, enthusiastic and encouraging - when I did further research during the 1980s for my Cambridge Weekly News articles The Bretts - An Arbury Story of Farming Folk. I'm very glad I knew her.

Just click on any of the Arbury Is Where! images for a large view.

Arbury people who contributed to the book... is your name there?

Sallie Purkis's introduction to the book - a description of the Arbury Estate and the Arbury 1980 project which led to the book.

Ancient Arbury... prose and descriptions from Arbury area school children centred on iron age life in the area at Arbury Camp Farm. Arbury Camp Farm was originally on Arbury Road, but, after the major expansion and redirection of King's Hedges Road in the late 1970s for the Cambridge Northern Bypass/A14, was on the new and redirected stretch of King's Hedges Road. The King's Hedges name was imported into the Arbury Meadows by means of council planners, a school, a highway and electoral wards in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Historically, King's Hedges was a small farm, north of the guided busway. The name is believed to have originated from a hedged hunting warren on the site in the days of the Royal Manor of Chesterton. The hedges were used to trap and kill animals for 'sport'. The hedged hunting warren belonged to the king, the hedges were a visible landmark, hence 'King's Hedges'. To primary school children in the 1980s, it must have seemed that the imported 'King's Hedges' name had always been part of the Arbury district - the fact that part of Arbury Road had been renamed 'King's Hedges Road' in the late 1970s added to the confusion - Arbury Camp Farm was suddenly on a new road called King's Hedges Road in an area that was not historically King's Hedges - and a hedged hunting warren was chosen by council planners for highlighting rather than an iron age settlement!

Mapping the Arbury district in 1900. Note the position of the original King's Hedges and Arbury Camp Farm. The railway line is now the guided busway.

New arrivals... The Romans move into Arbury.

Archaeology in Arbury... Roman coffins discovered as the estate is being built. 

Arbury finds... the Romans were amazing. That jug still looks a very modern piece of work!

Moving on again - into rural Arbury in recent centuries. The bottom right photograph is of the Manor Farmhouse in Campkin Road. The Manor Farm Drive formed the basis of the Arbury Road end of Campkin Road, and I could take you to the spot where the house stood today. We are looking towards Arbury Road here. Over the hedge to the right were the farm's 'Stable Field', 'Arbury Field' and a field simply called 'Arbury' (all listed on the farm's 1909 sale documents). Arbury Road was known locally as Arbury 'Meadow' Road for years - and I think this may be due to the presence, fronting the road to the north, of the old farm's 'Arbury' and 'Arbury Field'. As previously noted, there was also a time that most of the land north of Arbury Road, up to the railway tracks, the original King's Hedges farm track, and Milton Road, was known as Arbury or Harborough Meadows, 'West Arbury/Harborough Furlong', 'North Arbury/Harborough Furlong' and 'West Arbury/Harborough Corner'. Harborough was a variation on the Arbury name (scroll back up for map).

The next instalment is here.


Comments

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