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'Up Before The Beak'! A Pre-Arbury Estate Campkin Link At Manor Farm!

Miss Alice Brett of the Manor Farm, Arbury Meadow Road, circa 1913.

There were smiles in one old Arbury family when Campkin Road, the first road in North Arbury, based on the route of the Manor Farm 'Drive', was named after Algernon Sidney Campkin, local businessman, magistrate, councillor, and one-time mayor.

Why was that?

Well, let's take a trip back to old Arbury...

Miss Alice Brett, always known as Maud by her family and fiends, was a lively, kindly and fun young woman - she is remembered to this day for her kindness and good humour, and for being what one family member described as: 'The ideal sister, wife, mother and friend'.

Being lively had its disadvantages when you lived out on the Arbury Meadow Road in the early 20th Century, and Alice, a daughter of Richard and Amelia Brett of the Manor Farm, suffered one night simply because of a missing bike lamp, her determination to enjoy some of the fun Cambridge activities of the time, the lack of buses, and the distance to Arbury.

Alice enjoyed going roller skating - one of the 'in' fads of her era (and many other people's since) and the organised evenings dedicated to this at the Guildhall and Corn Exchange caused her mother much angst.

Amelia Brett believed that large mixed-sex gatherings of youths were 'wicked' (along with alcohol, the cinema and face make-up) and when Alice began attending the events in town, she was worried and upset.

Not that Amelia was a stern Victorian matriarch, she never forced her views on to others. She was sympathetic to her daughter's desire to enjoy herself - although not at home with the changing times - and didn't stop Alice, but all the same... she worried.

One night in early July 1914, after attending some event in town, Alice was on her way home without a bike lamp.

If Alice had but known it, the world was on the brink of a devastating war. Life was about to change forever. But normal, everyday life was still ticking along then.

She had stayed rather longer at the event than she had planned - and the fine July evening had grown dark before she set off for home.

Alice mounted her bike and headed for Arbury Meadow Road. But, as bad luck would have it, was caught by a policeman.

'People were always getting pulled up for little things like that then,' her niece, Mrs Muriel Wiles, told me in 1986. 'It was all very "safety first" then, which was good really - better than nowadays!'

And so Alice was summoned to the Police Court, where she appeared before Mr Algernon Sidney Campkin - the man after whom the Manor Farm 'Drive' would be renamed when the Arbury Estate was built.

She was discharged with a caution, and never appeared in a court of any kind again!

Back to my 1986 conversation with Mrs Wiles: 'It did seem funny! My parents joked about the time Auntie was "up before the beak" as they called it, and it being Mr Campkin - and when the old farm drive was renamed for Arbury Estate, there was a lot of laughter!'

'Cambridge Independent Press', 10/7/1914: Note 'Arbury Meadow road'. As far as I'm aware, the 'Meadow' part of the road name never appeared on any maps, but was accepted by the local Police Court and Press at the time. As mentioned before, two large fields at the Manor Farm, north of Arbury Road. were called 'Arbury' and 'Arbury Field'. Much of the area north of Arbury Road had previously been known as Arbury or Harborough (a variation on the Arbury name) Meadows, and this was the reason for the addition of 'Meadow' locally. See the maps below.

1900 - the Manor Farm was bordered by Arbury Road, Milton Road, and Cambridge & St Ives branch railway line (now the Guided busway).

This is the same map, but with earlier field names, predating the Manor Farm. Most of the land north of Arbury Road, right up to the Ely/Milton Road, carries the Arbury or Harborough (both were current and interchangeable) names.


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