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A Brief History of Arbury Mud, Including The Jolley Way & Hawkins Road Quagmire of 1971

A frozen Manor Farm Drive in 1956. The photographer was looking towards Arbury Road, and standing opposite what is now the Arbury Town Park. The Manor Farmhouse was empty at this point. Photo: Cambridgeshire Collection.

The original Arbury district has a long history of mud. From the iron age Arbury Camp, wreathed in the mists of prehistory and, no doubt, quite squidgy in the old soil department at times, to the Roman habitations built in the Arbury Meadows beside the earthwork north of Arbury Road, and on through the centuries to the Manor and Hall Farms, north and south of Arbury Road, mud was always a fact of life.

As it was in rural districts across the country.

On the subject of Arbury mud, Mrs Osland wrote about the Manor Farm Drive (now Campkin Road) and having to ride her bike down there to visit her aunt: 

We used to hear all sorts of things about Arbury being haunted by Romans and the part we called the 'Roman Arbury' was over by Chivers at Arbury Camp Farm and along Arbury Road. We didn't know what they would later find under our feet at Manor Farm when they dug it up for the Arbury Estate, we had no idea about Roman graves or villas there, but I can tell you the ground was very muddy. That's all I knew! The Drive through Manor Farm from Arbury Road to King's Hedges Road was terrible when it rained.'


When George died, I went up to the farm to live with my aunt, Mrs Wright, and I either had to ride my bicycle through mud or get my feet wet. We very often used the roadway at the bottom of the garden, which led out to Milton Road by the labs, which is now Hawkins Road.

Mrs Hinchcliffe told us of the slippery perils of the frozen Drive one winter's night: 

'The stars were lovely and the Manor Farm Drive was frozen solid. There was ice and puddles. You had to watch your step because there were grooves where carts and bikes had been down and these were icy too.'

Click on the orange text to read the full articles.

When the old Arbury Meadows/Manor Farm fields were built on, you might have expected an immense lessening of mud as concrete and tarmac pavements and roads took over in completed areas of the Arbury - but there was at least one concentrated area in 1971 which could still challenge the 'mud, glorious mud' days of the Meadows and the farm.

If anybody remembers the Jolly Way quagmire recorded in the January, 1971, Cambridge News article below we'd love to hear from them. It sounds like a nightmare. Andy recalls the habit some Arbury and Chesterton householders had of putting down protective newspaper on lino and carpets when it rained - but this sounds like no match for conditions in Jolley Way in the early 1970s.

Jolley Way on the sprawling Arbury housing estate, Cambridgeis not living up to its name. And the council tenants living there - and many more in the neighbouring Hawkins Road area - are anything but overjoyed with conditions.

Trouble and inconvenience come in two doses for twenty Jolley Way families, Firstly, they have no roadway to their homes.

It goes only half way down the street which is all very nice for those who like living in a pedestrian area.

Secondly, they have to plod their way through a quagmire to reach their front doors.

And this is not so very nice - even if you do live in a pedestrian area.

The Hawkins Roaders, a few yards away, are up in arms as well, protesting that they have to flee for their lives every time they walk on the pavement. The trouble is that many drivers prefer to steer along the Hawkins Road pavements instead of driving through a mass of mud.

The cause of the trouble is the so-called grassed amenity area at the end of Jolley Way which prevents cars from getting through to Hawkins Road.

But it does not prevent fleets of cars from being parked there. Neither, according to Councillor Brian George, one of the Conservative members for Arbury, does it prevent council refuse collecting lorries from running on the muddy surface or prevent delivery vehicles from driving straight up to the front doors of the Jolley Way houses.

Now the Jolley Wayers are fed up with their unwanted amenity area and have enlisted Coun. George's aid in getting the road way extended so that it almost but not quite joins up with Hawkins Road.

The Cambridge Housing Manager, Mr John Baird, said that the whole problem would be thrashed out by the Housing Committee.

The Housing Committee decided to fence off the grassed area and insert removable bollards for emergency vehicle access after an ambulance ran into difficulties in the road.

If you have memories of the early years of the Arbury you'd like to share - please get in touch! Andy recalls the estate in the early-to-mid 1970s: 

'No Arbury Community Centre, or Arbury Town Park in Campkin Road. No Arbury Adventure Playground on the Nuns Way field until 1973. A large area of rough ground on the corner of Alex Wood Road and Mansel Way, with scrubby bushes in the middle. Building still going on in North Arbury... No bizarre "King's Hedges Road" running across the Arbury/Harborough Meadows by Arbury Camp, and Arbury Road ran from Milton Road to the Cambridge/Histon Road. Arbury Camp Farm and pylons were at the Histon Road end, and no A14...'

If you have memories to share please email us at:


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