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Main Streets of Arbury: Carlton Way - Part 1

A lovely photograph from the 'Cambridge Weekly News' showing the then Arbury School headmaster, Mr Barry Jones, and some of his pupils in 1981.

In 1982, Campkin Road was described as the 'Hauptstrasse of North Arbury' by local journalist Sara Payne. Ms Payne's Down Your Street 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.

Our blog posts on the 'Main Streets of Arbury' will be a combination of material collected from Ms Payne's articles, and from the full, unedited transcripts of conversations with older Arbury residents for the Arbury 1980 project in our archive, most never before published.

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.

Carlton Way, turning into Mere Way beyond the Verulam Way corner, is deserving of the Hauptstrasse title in South Arbury.

Two farms became the original Arbury Estate - Hall and Manor. 

Hall Farm became South Arbury and Manor Farm, North Arbury.

As digging began for the South Arbury estate in the 1950s, there were many finds from the Roman era, and with the whole district taking its name from the Iron Age Arbury Camp, north of Arbury Road (now the site of Orchard Park), it was evident that the area had been occupied for thousands of years - and that the Arbury name had prehistoric links.

This provided much material for the Arbury 1980 project, a unique project amongst Cambridgeshire schools, as pupils at the Arbury schools - Arbury, The Grove, St Laurence's and King's Hedges - joined forces to peel away the various faces of the area, layer by layer, and discover what lay beneath, going further and further back through time.

The Arbury 1980 exhibition was held at the Manor School in Arbury Road in March of that year.

Carlton Way is the entrance to the original South Arbury Estate from Gilbert Road. Opposite, on the other side of the junction, is the 1930s New Chesterton development, including Chesterton School (1935) and Stretten Avenue.

Arbury School in Carlton Way was the first school on the Arbury Estate. The Manor senior schools (separate boys' and girls') followed in 1959, the Grove in 1963, and King's Hedges in 1968. 

Arbury School opened on 9 January, 1956, and Sara Payne's 1981 Down Your Street article on Carlton Way revealed that the first of the 103 pupils to enroll at the original mixed infants and junior school was Robert Bass of 3, Redfern Close. The first girl was Penelope Cherns of 2, Montgomery Road.

The first head teacher was Philip Bagnall, of Kinnaird Way.

Mrs Joy Everett, a teacher at the school, sent her first child there in 1957. 'There was no infant head then. It was a very small school at that time.'

Chesterton School made use of one wing for some time. On September 10, 1959, Arbury became two schools - infants and juniors.

Pupil numbers climbed rapidly, with the local baby boom children on the growing estate requiring places there. In 1963, there were 279 pupils in the infants and 387 in the juniors. 

One staff member recalled to Ms Payne: 'They had a class in the staff room in that year, and a class under the stairs.'

The baby boom ended, and in the academic year 1977/78 Arbury became one school - the Arbury County Primary School. Ms Payne reported in 1981 that the total school roll was then 347. This included 15 pupils in the dysphasic unit for children with speaking difficulties, which had opened in the academic year 1978/79.

1981 was the year Arbury Is Where We Live! was published - the book resulting from the Arbury 1980 project - and this also coincided with the silver jubilee of Arbury School.

An aerial view of the (then) separate Arbury Infant and Junior Schools from the early 1960s. Also pictured is the Gilbert Road Playing field, shared by the original Milton Road and Chesterton Schools - both of which had no on-site playing fields - and the Lady Adrian School.

The Roman road, Akeman Street or Mere Way, crossed the Arbury very close to or 'bang on' (as Sara Payne described it) the course of Carlton/Mere Way. Children across the original Arbury Estate, North and South, were enthralled by the long history of the area and wrote imaginative poetry and prose for the Arbury 1980 project.

A 1927 Cambridge map, showing most of the Arbury district and part of New Chesterton. The Hall and Manor Farms, the Roman road, and Arbury Camp are all featured.

Sharon Freeman, a pupil at Arbury School in 1980, wrote a poem that was featured in Arbury Is Where We Live! called On The Roman Road:

One dark, foggy night
As I walked the Roman road,
I heard the sound of marching feet,
I was terrified and scared,
I heard the howl of a wolf,
It made me jump
The swirling fog was cold and grey,
My heart was thumping hard,
I heard the sound of clinking armour
Then I saw the ghosts of Roman soldiers.

On that highly atmospheric note, we'll leave Carlton Way for now, but if you want to know more, Part 2 is here: Whatever happened to Hall Farm? Why Brimley? The Kingsway Flats and the Carlton Arms go up - and the mulberry tree survivor.


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