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Beyond Wards... Where Is Stretten Avenue?

1960s advertisement: New Chesterton Window Cleaning, Stretten Avenue, Cambridge.

Lovely e-mail from Sarah, who lives in Stretten Avenue in the Arbury electoral ward:

Your site is very interesting indeed. I do know that the Arbury Estate exists outside of electoral wards, and have always seen the original estate, Carlton Way to King's Hedges Road, as the genuine article when it comes to Arbury. Of course, here in my area we have French's Chesterton Mill and Chesterton School and it is plainly not Arbury, just as King's Hedges Ward has nothing to do with the original King's Hedges (I have enjoyed your posts on the subject) and has everything to do with Arbury - Arbury Community Centre, North Arbury Chapel and the Arbury Town Park included.

As you say, the Stretten Avenue district has its own history which dates back to the 1930s. I would like to know its history a little.

On this side of Cambridge, historically we have Chesterton village and its surrounds (East Chesterton Ward), North Arbury and part of Chesterton (King's Hedges Ward), New Chesterton (West Chesterton Ward), North and South Arbury (Arbury and King's Hedges Wards) and the Stretten Avenue district (Arbury Ward). But where am I really? These pasted-on wards really do not cut it.

Thank you, Sarah! Well, it's all quite clear. Electorally, Stretten Avenue has been in North  Chesterton ward, Castle ward and Arbury ward. Bateson Road had the same electoral ward history but ducked out of Arbury Ward and into West Chesterton ward in 2004.

Not sure where it is now.

But, in the days before electoral wards were pushed as sole area definers (via online maps, etc), Stretten Avenue was regarded as being in New Chesterton (which you mention), an area, never an electoral ward, which appeared on maps for many years.

New Chesterton began as the vast Chesterton expansion - caused largely by its proximity to Cambridge - in the Victorian era, before Chesterton became part of Cambridge.

Arbury was already a large, still developing housing estate - North and South Arbury (North Arbury also containing the small King's Hedges sub-estate, near King's Hedges Road) - before it gained its own Arbury ward (which actually covered the original estate) in 1968. It had a strong sense of identity and community and subsequent decades, whatever councils did with local electoral wards, saw some wonderful community and local history projects in the original Arbury.

The wards still change and we really feel Cambridge city and county councillors do nobody any favours in trying to insist they are the be-and-end-all of districts outside of the 'historic' city centre.

Anyway, we hope you enjoy local history. 

Electoral wards do not make an area!

In the 1980s, the City Council's new community house in Stretten Avenue defined its area as 'St Luke's Area, Arbury Ward'. Residents identified Arbury as being the original Arbury Estate and the application of the name elsewhere led to confusion. 'Wards' were (and still are to many) one thing, areas another. St Luke's School was the centre of a lot of the community developments.


  1. That's all very interesting but I already knew all that and the council can do what it likes coz it rarely touches reality anyway. We're kind of like serfs, tugging our forelocks, as they tell us we don't live where we thought we lived coz they've changed it and so on. I love the final picture. You mean those terrible prefabricated kitchen units in Darwin Drive were taken off in the mid-1980s under THATCHER?!! WOW!!!


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