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'The Arbury' - The Memories of Mr Cardinal - Part 1

After the publication of Arbury Is Where We Live! in 1981, Sallie Purkis wrote in History Today (1983): 'The establishment of an Arbury archive has scarcely begun'.

Several local people were working to address the issue. Mr Gordon Cardinal wrote to the Cambridge Weekly News in 1982, inspired by the book and a feature on Arbury Road - part of the paper's local history series.

The Arbury Archive contacted Mr Cardinal, who was a very helpful gentleman, and he happily agreed to write about his memories of Arbury life in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s for us.

Mr Cardinal died in the 1990s. He was very keen to deposit his memories somewhere so that they may benefit future generations, and his enthusiasm and fondness for Arbury shone through on each page of his manuscript.

Now, for the first time, via the miracle of the World Wide Web, we would like to share extracts from his work, which he called The Arbury

The memories begin about ten years after the ending of the Arbury Story of Farming Folk featured elsewhere on this blog. 

Life at Manor Farm had moved on. The old set-up of tenant farmer and employees had changed in 1909, as recounted in the Arbury Story articles - Cambridgeshire County Council had bought the farm and rented it out as smallholdings. The four cottages at the farm were all rented out (some, of course, to existing tenants), as was the foreman's house, and a new cottage built in 1924 on part of the old orchard.

The Manor Farmhouse, known by many locally as the 'manor house', was occupied by the County Land Agent, Colonel Charles Bennett, and his family.

The Manor Farm orchard was rented by Ernest Sale, of No 1, Manor Farm Cottages, and he used it as part of his Manor Nurseries business, which occupied part of the old Arbury Field.

Relatives of Mr Cardinal moved into the new farm cottage - his uncle and aunt, Fred and Alice Cardinal. Alice was the sister of Ernest Sale.

Gordon Cardinal's father would soon be bringing his own branch of the family to the district...

The Arbury

By Gordon Cardinal

Part One

In 1934 my family moved from Haslingfield to King's Hedges Road. Up to the time of our move, my father, David Cardinal, used to cycle from Haslingfield to the Manor Farm on Arbury Road every day, seven days a week. I can't ever remember him having a holiday as such. He would go on the Milk Round and cycle home again. As children at home in Haslingfield we hardly ever saw Father except on Sundays when he would finish work a bit earlier. We used to wait for him to come home at the top of 'Lords Bridge' railway bridge, then we could all walk home for a late tea. That was looked upon as a Sunday treat.

My father's brother, Fred, was trading as F CARDINAL, MANOR FARM. Before he moved to the Arbury, he had a smallholding and greengrocery round, based somewhere near what is now Milton School [the original Milton Road School]

With the end of the 1914-18 War my father returned from the army and worked for his brother Fred, running the Milk Round and building it up into the large round it became. Milk was served  from the churn, which stood up front on the milk float - there was half pint or pint measures - or in glass bottles. Again, one could have a half pint or a pint.

The bottles were all printed with the dairy name on and were thick at the top to take a waxed cardboard disc which was the stopper. Again, the disc would have the dairy name on it.

Fred Cardinal died in 1930, but my aunt carried on at Manor Farm.

Our move to King's Hedges Road in 1934 was my first sight of the Arbury. King's Hedges Road then led to the railway track and beyond to the farm and the Mere Way, out towards Histon and Impington.

After he had finished his milk round, my father would go out to the Manor Farm smallholdings and do some more work on the lighter evenings. It was fun in the spring time because he would spend a lot of time making chicken coops for the broody hens and their chickens. My brother, sister and I would take Father's tea to him.

We often took some time to get there.

It must have seemed a long time to my father before his tea arrived.

We would stop and have races in the watercourse with pieces of stick, or perhaps see a rabbit and give chase. Once we arrived, we would 'explore' the old sheds or pick the wild flowers that grew in abundance all around. It was always a fascination to watch the skylarks going higher and higher in the sky. There were always partridges, rabbits or hares to see in the Arbury fields...

Part two is here.

Copies of most of the prints featured on this blog are available to buy at the Cambridgeshire Collection, Cambridge Central Library. Many other prints and resources are also available there.


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