Skip to main content

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 contributed to the Arbury Archive in the 1980s, so we'll dive far deeper than Down Your Street - with a detailed account of the area in the late 1950s - with Campkin Road soon to be built.

Campkin Road was named after Algernon Sidney Campkin, Cambridge Mayor from 1904 to 1905. According to details contained within the Cambridge City Council list of mayors, Mr Campkin was a pharmacist, based in Rose Crescent, and was also an authority on canine species, interested in botany, swimming and 'prominent in photography circles'. In 1905 he was made an alderman.

The route of Campkin Road was based, at the Arbury Road end, on the old Manor Farm Drive. It follows the route but, as Campkin Road is much wider, the original farm drive lies beneath the front gardens and pavement on the eastern side of the road as viewed from Arbury Road.

At the time of the Arbury 1980 project, several residents recalled encountering very solid soil below the loose top soil in their front gardens while gardening over the years.

The old trees, which had bordered the Drive to the west, were intended to be retained bordering the pavement edge on the eastern side of Campkin Road. Unfortunately, the workmen laying sewage pipes and cables accidentally cut through the trees' tap roots. Within a few years, it was obvious they were dying -  and they had to be removed.

Numbers 1 and 2 Manor Farm Cottages stood in what is now the middle of the road by the junction with Arbury Road.

1955 and 1961. The Manor Farm Drive is transforming into Campkin Road in the second photograph. The old Manor Farm gate can be seen, slung to one side, to the right in the second snap. In the old farm days, the gate, which was usually always open, had to be closed one day a year to preserve the status of the 'Drive' as a private road. In 1955, with South Arbury ('the Arbury Road housing estate') underway, the council was already considering the land north of Arbury Road for housing development. Manor Farm was established in the old Arbury Meadows north of Arbury Road in the years following the 1840 Chesterton Enclosures.

The Council had decided to clear most of the Manor Farm buildings, beginning with the largest house. Vandalism had been something of a problem at the farm in general as South Arbury and East Chesterton had grown - children from further afield were also taking advantage of the farm's potential as a place to 'let off steam' - and particularly in the large old house, which had been empty for some years. It was a popular venue for fun and mischief.

Mike Petty came up with a 1958 Cambridge News report on the subject in recent years:

Mischievous Errand of Five Young Boys

Five lads who appeared before the City Juvenile Court on Monday accused of being concerned together in committing wilful damage to the amount of £2 to windows in Manor Farm House, Arbury Road, were fined 10s each. They were told by the chairman: 'You were probably on some mischievous errand.' One boy denied he did any damage, but had only gone there to play cowboys.

It wasn't only broken windows. Children built bonfires in the overgrown garden and were thrilled to run free inside the house, doing further damage.

My great grandmother, who had been in service at the Manor Farmhouse for Mr and Mrs Pepper in the early 1900s, was living in Brackley Close as work was beginning on North Arbury. She blamed what she perceived as a major fall in standards of youth behaviour on television and the end of National Service!

'Terrible way for a lovely old house like that to end up,' she told me in 1974. 'Shocking behaviour!'

The Manor Farmhouse, circa 1930s, with Colonel Charles Bennett and his son, John. The house was known by locals as the 'manor house'.

The Manor Farm obviously seemed like one huge adventure playground to some of the youngsters on South Arbury and from Chesterton - and many of the smallholders and tenants of the farm were aghast at the change which had suddenly come upon them with the disappearance of Hall Farm. 

A massive, brand new housing estate, just the other side of Arbury Road.

Most of the farm cottages were still occupied, and the last person home at night would close the gate across the Drive to Arbury Road, which had always previously been left open. But that was no deterrent to the adventurous young souls from across the way and up the road!

The demolition of the Manor Farmhouse briefly turned the area around the farm Drive into a 'dustbowl' according to Mrs Horne, one of the farm's residents, when interviewed for the Arbury Archive in 1982. 

But it was the end of a major attraction for the local youngsters from South Arbury, Chesterton and beyond.

The Manor School would later gain a purpose built Manor Youth Centre but, it seems, the original (unofficial) Manor Youth Centre was the old Manor farmhouse!

Three trees planted by a former tenant of the farmhouse, Colonel Charles Bennett, were preserved, standing by the boundary fence of the new Manor Schools (separate boys' and girls'), which had opened in 1959.

Only one Manor Farm cottage survived - No 3, which had been built by the County Council in 1924. It still stands today, although much modernised.

The demolition of No's 1 and 2 Manor Farm Cottages. Arbury Court and Alex Wood Road can be seen at the bottom left hand corner of the photograph. Mr Ernest Sale, who lived at No 1, had very much wished to continue living there. When a sewage trench was dug right past his back door for the new estate, he realised the end of his old home was near. He died shortly after leaving the farm in 1961.

Our 1900 Arbury Ordnance Survey map, with the position of the Arbury/Harborough Meadows north of Arbury Road, before the establishment of the Manor Farm in the years following the 1840 Chesterton Enclosures, inserted. Arbury and Harborough were variations on the same name, derived from the iron age earthwork. The Harborough version faded from use in the 1800s. We've also marked on the map the Campkin Road and Guided Busway sites. King's Hedges was a fifty eight acre farm north of the Guided Busway. Its name is believed to be derived from a hedged hunting warren in the days of the old Royal Manor of Chesterton. The warren was used for the king's tenants to trap and kill animals - a 'sport' apparently enjoyed by the king from his vantage point in the king's hunting box near the hedges. The name is sometimes also recorded as 'King's Hedge', singular, into the 19th Century. 

1900: The old Manor and Arbury Camp Farms - including the prehistoric Arbury earthwork - and the original King's Hedges, north of the railway tracks/Guided Busway, before its huge road redirection and expansion across the land by Arbury Camp in the late 1970s as part of the A14 motorway development. It then lopped off the original end of Arbury Road! The modern 'King's Hedges', also known as North Arbury, is not actually in King's Hedges at all, but in the old Arbury/Harborough Meadows/Manor Farm fields - the most historic Arbury land in Cambridge city as it saw the first spread of the name beyond the earthwork. The 'real and actual' King's Hedges site now houses the Cambridge Regional College and adjacent buildings, and is straddled by the A14. The Manor Farm field names, from the 1909 sales particulars, and some modern locations for orientation, are featured on our map.

Late 1950s: South Arbury is getting there, though still minus Arbury Court, the Kingsway Flats, etc. North Arbury is still the Manor Farm. King's Hedges is still actually at King's Hedges - north of the railway/guided busway. And Arbury Road still connects the Milton and Cambridge/Ely Roads.

During the first couple of years of the Manor School, cross country runs were very local - simply up the Manor Farm Drive and around the farm tracks. For longer runs, the children would run across Manor Farm, then do a complete circuit of the original, much shorter, King's Hedges Road, Milton Road and Arbury Road.
The shape of the boundary between the old farm buildings and the Park pasture land, including the half circle of the old farmhouse garden, was preserved in the Manor School fence.
Aerial view of the Manor Schools and Campkin Road site in 1960. Note Alex Wood Road was then connected to Arbury Road. Two of the Manor Farmhouse trees labelled are still prominent on the Campkin Road skyline today, opposite the Arbury Town Park and Arbury Community Centre.

Then and now. The Manor Farmhouse garden, and a similar view of the site today.

A front view of No's 1 and 2 Manor Farm Cottages during demolition. The large, modern street lights on Arbury Road give the scene a rather urban feel (compare to the 1955 photograph).

With most of the old farm buildings demolished, work could begin on Campkin Road...

Next time: The Grove School, North Arbury, a sudden flood, and community spirit...

Prints of many of the photographs featured on this blog can be purchased from the Cambridgeshire Collection, Cambridge Central Library - we believe it is an essential resource for anybody contemplating Cambridgeshire history research. There is a wealth of historical material from the county there.


  1. This is great. End of part 1 and the road isn't even built yet! I love all the detail though. But it's taking ages for part 2.

    1. Sorry, Titch. With Debs being ill we're a bit slow, but we're working on it!


Post a Comment

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

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 - 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