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Picturing the REAL King's Hedges...

The original King's Hedges - and the original end of King's Hedges Road, disappearing into the original King's Hedges. How things have changed! Amazing what extending a road and setting it on a course across Arbury can do, isn't it? VROOM! VROOM! Click on image for larger view - we've marked the train's location on our 1900 map.

Local history researcher Jim, a good friend of the Arbury Blog, recently pointed us to a BFI film made by Edward Thorp of Leigh On Sea, who had a hobby of filming rail routes at weekends, accompanied by his wife, Edna, and their dog, Mickey.

On one occasion, Mr Thorp recorded the shortly-to-close Cambridge to St Ives route. Much treasure there for Cambridge historians, including a sweep by King's Hedges. Yes, the original King's Hedges, the original fifty eight acre plot, north of the rail tracks (now guided busway) and now split in two by the motorway.

Council plans were already in hand to extend and redirect King's Hedges Road across the Manor Farm/Arbury/Harborough (a variation on the Arbury name) Meadows in 1968, and the Council was already putting into place a new King's Hedges in Arbury - it seems entirely based on that planned road.

But in 1968, Arbury gained its own Cambridge City Council electoral ward - which included North Arbury and the Council's projected 'King's Hedges Estate' - so local residents continued building their Arbury community identity, and the Council did not disagree.

King's Hedges was never an area. It was always a clearly defined plot, its name most probably derived from a hedged hunting warren, where animals could be chased, trapped and killed in the days of the old Royal Manor of Chesterton.

One of the most bizarre and most misplaced area names in Cambridge - that's King's Hedges. Hedged hunting warrens and late 1970s highways? Come on, Cambridge City Council, who fancies living in a district named after those things?! 

But we call it North Arbury.

Bizarrely though, road signs on the modern King's Hedges Road point to the old Arbury Meadows, Manor Farm and North Arbury as 'King's Hedges' - in exactly the opposite direction to the original...

A 21st Century aerial view of the district, with a 1901 map merged in - showing the original King's Hedges, Arbury Camp, Arbury Road, etc. We've added in field names. The original King's Hedges site has been chopped in two by the motorway.

The original King's Hedges outlined in red. 

Do take a look at Mr Thorp's 1968 railway journey on the BFI site - it's free:


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