A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 10, Cheveley, Flendish, Staine and Staploe Hundreds (North-Eastern Cambridgeshire). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2002.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The rectangular parish of Cherry Hinton occupies the western corner of Flendish hundred on the south-eastern outskirts of the city of Cambridge. (fn. 1) It comprised 2,043 a. (826 ha.) until 1911, when 338 a. (134 ha.) were transferred to the then borough of Cambridge. (fn. 2) In 1934 the whole of the parish was incorporated within Cambridge's municipal boundaries, and Cherry Hinton ceased to exist as an administrative unit. After minor boundary changes in 1951 there was 2,219 a. (898 ha.) in the former parish's two wards. (fn. 3) After 1971 an additional ward was created; thenceforth Queen Edith's occupied the south-west of the area and Coleridge ward the north-west, while Cherry Hinton ward, containing the ancient village, lay to the east of Cherry Hinton brook and Limekiln Road. Place-name derivations for Hinton pointing to a monastic community and to grazing for livestock are unconvincing, but the qualifier, Cherry, first recorded in 1576, may have arisen from the former abundance of cherry trees. (fn. 4) The subsoil consists of Middle Chalk, with layers of marl overlying Lower Chalk, producing a high quality white clay subsoil. (fn. 5) The parish, mostly level with several marshes and streams, was liable to flooding, except in the south-east corner where the land rose sharply, forming the north-west end of the Gog Magog hills at 50 metres.
Until the early 19th century marshland separated the two areas of settlement in the ancient village at Church End to the north (at 15 m.) and Mill End to the south, but it was drained after inclosure in 1810. Other marshland west of the village, between Trumpington Drift (the modern Queen Edith's Way) and Cherry Hinton brook, quickly became waterlogged in winter, almost isolating Hinton from Cambridge, until landowners began a programme of effective drainage in the mid 19th century. In 1825 fifty men were employed in the drainage scheme to improve the quality of the land owned by St. Thomas's Hospital (London), and between 1845 and 1869 further drainage was effected on the Hospital's land. (fn. 6)
Several streams ran at ground level until covered over by new housing and roads in the late 20th century. One stream, which ran from behind modern Fendon Road gardens, crossed Queen Edith's Way running parallel to Mowbray, Perne, and Brooks Roads as far as Coldhams Common. Before the Second World War that stream's bed was covered over, so that the water flowed underground until it reached the north-west corner of the parish, where it emerged at the Brooks Road roundabout. Another stream ran under the site of Queen Edith's School. The only visible watercourse to survive into the late 20th century is Cherry Hinton brook, a tributary of the river Cam. Its spring appears south-west of the village at the north-west corner of the chalk downland. That spring is known locally as the Giant's Grave because by tradition Gog Magog of the Gog Magog Hills was buried there. In 1851 it had 'an excellent and unfailing spring of water'. (fn. 7) The brook flows north-westwards from the centre of the parish to its north-west corner, marking the former boundary between Bridge and Yonton fields. It was canalized in the early 20th century, and in its northern section has concrete banks. The bridge that carries Daws Lane over the brook, north of Cherry Hinton Hall, was known locally as the White bridge.
The presence of the spring encouraged medieval and modern settlement; (fn. 8) earlier in prehistoric and Roman times habitation had been concentrated on Limekiln hill. (fn. 9) Late BronzeAge barrows, within the ditches of the late IronAge hill fort, contained pottery deposits. In 1894 archaeologists excavated the area, which they called the 'War ditches' hill fort. The inclosed area, 55 m. in diameter, with a ditch up to 8 m. wide and 3.5 m. deep, contained 5 a. (2 ha.). Early Iron-Age pottery sherds were discovered in the lower levels of the ditch, perhaps derived from occupation before the ditches were dug, and the upper layers yielded late Iron-Age pottery. Round huts had stood within the inclosure, and the ditches were deliberately filled in on at least two occasions.
By 110 A.D. the hill was occupied by a Roman farm. Four buildings, possibly five, indicate two periods of occupation. A large rectangular building, thought to have been a thatched farmhouse, and a smaller one, probably a barn, were both burnt down in the 2nd century. Other post holes on a slightly different axis marked out the largest rectangular building, occupied in the 3rd and 4th centuries. North-west of the complex there was a 2nd-century well which appears to have been deliberately filled in. There are no traces of occupation in the 5th and 6th centuries, but in the 7th century the Bronze-Age barrows were reused for burial. One Anglo-Saxon burial on a wooden bed with iron fittings had grave goods including a crystal ball, sling, and spear head.
Hinton's principal communications were normally by road until the 20th century. The Iron-Age hill fort was probably built in order to control the prehistoric trackway which ran north-westwards between Haverhill (Suff.) and Cambridge. In the Roman period its surface was metalled. In the 13th century it was called Wulves Street (known by 19th century antiquarians as Via Devana). It has traditionally marked the southern boundary of the parish. (fn. 10) In 1709 William Wort gave money to divert the route on to lower ground; the new road was completed in 1733 and renamed Worts Causeway. (fn. 11) Fulbourn Old Drift ran between Cambridge and Fulbourn through the northern section of the parish.
At inclosure in 1810 the existing road pattern was substantially altered. (fn. 12) Coldhams Lane was laid out to south of Fulbourn Old Drift, as far as Church End, but its line was not continued further eastwards. The redundant western portion of Fulbourn Old Drift was re-named Church End Road, while the remaining eastern section, which continued to be called Fulbourn Old Drift, provided inadequate access to Fulbourn. Trumpington Drift (subsequently renamed Queen Edith's Way) ran south-westwards from Mill End towards Trumpington village. Long and Trumpington Drifts met at the southern end of Hinton's Mill End, while the roads from Barnwell, Coldhams Common, Teversham, and Fulbourn converged at Church End. In 1829 the villagers were threatened with legal action for not repairing Coldhams Lane. (fn. 13)
Several suburban roads were laid out in the south-west corner of the parish between 1889 and 1928. Mowbray, Perne, and Brooks Roads, running continuously northwards from the western end of Queen Edith's Way to Coldhams Lane, were laid out in their present form in 1932, and in 1938 were improved as part of the city's ring road, with verges being reserved for road widening. Traffic control measures implemented in the early 1990s caused some inconvenience to the villagers. (fn. 14) By 1998 there were c. 200 streets in the parish, many of which were dead-ends. (fn. 15)
In 1945 no villager owned a car. (fn. 16) As Hinton was not within easy cycling or walking distance of the city centre car ownership rose rapidly in the late 20th century; by 1991 three-quarters of Hinton's households owned one or more cars. (fn. 17) Before the First World War the village was served by a good bus service. (fn. 18) After the Second World War the Eastern Counties Omnibus Company took over the services run by Ortona, and in 1998 Cambus ran eight bus services to the three wards, each running every 20 or 30 minutes. (fn. 19)
The short-lived Chesterford-Newmarket railway line, built in 1846-7 by the Newmarket railway company and opened in 1848, passed through the south-western portion of the parish. (fn. 20) It was taken over by the Great Eastern railway in 1851 and closed in 1858, having been superseded by the line between Six Mile Bottom and Cambridge, completed in 1851, which ran westwards through the northern half of the parish directly to Cambridge station. (fn. 21) A level crossing intersected the High Street, with a station nearby, opened in 1852 and closed in 1854. (fn. 22) In 1891 Hinton's inhabitants called for a new station in the parish, and in 1898 for the extension of the Cambridge tramway into the parish. (fn. 23) Between 1889 and 1904 the direction of the western section of the railway line was altered, the new route running north-westwards towards Coldhams Common. By 1928 the tracks on the old line had been removed, the line being marked by Marmora Road. In 1996 the city council's proposals for a new railway station to ease traffic flow into Cambridge, were successfully opposed by the parish's inhabitants. They argued that it would primarily benefit longdistance commuters to London, and would lead to congestion within the village. (fn. 24)
In 1086 there were 41 peasants at Hinton, and in 1279 c. 174 tenants. (fn. 25) Only 26 people were taxed in 1327, but 185 paid the poll tax in 1377. (fn. 26) In 1522-3 there were 43 households, and around 60 households c. 1664-74. (fn. 27) Between 1801 and 1811 the population declined from 319 to 234, but supposedly because of the improvements in farming following inclosure it had doubled to 474 by 1821. (fn. 28) Between 1831 and 1841 it increased from 574 to 654, and between 1861 and 1871 from 734 to 779. Between 1881 and 1891, partly through suburban development, it nearly doubled from 869 to 1,537, and in 1901 was 2,597. In 1911 it was 3,757, and 4,269 in 1921. By 1951 the population stood at 5,994 and in 1961 at 11,201. In 1981 there were 6,994 inhabitants in Cherry Hinton ward, and 13,719 in Coleridge and Queen Edith's wards. In 1991 there were 7,014 people in Cherry Hinton, 7,506 in Queen Edith's, and 7,162 in Coleridge, rising in 1997 to 7,210, 8,100, and 7,480 respectively. (fn. 29)
At Church End one timber-framed thatched two-storeyed cottage dates from the 16th century. (fn. 30) Uphall House, north of the parish church, is a 16th-century timber-framed house with a central chimney stack. The house was extended southwards c. 1830, doubling its size, and was given a new brick exterior and sash windows, with a low pitched roof. South-west of the church, Hall Farm has a late 17th-century twostoreyed wing with an 18th-century singlestoreyed east-west range. Houses on either side of the High Street were backed by long thin strips, probably taken in from (ploughed) open fields. On the north-east side of the High Street there are a small early 17th-century timberframed house of one storey with an attic, and a two-storeyed early 18th-century house, with red brick walls and tiled roofs. On the south-east side of that street stands a two-storeyed glebe cottage house probably built in the 16th century, and remodelled in the mid 19th century when a two-storeyed range was added along the east side, with the exterior refaced in brick. At Rosemary Lane, north of Coldhams Lane, there is a timber-framed 16th-century cottage, and an 18th-century two-storeyed timber-framed house with a central chimney stack.
After inclosure settlement in Cherry Hinton village expanded to the south, so that it took on its present continuous linear shape. Houses and shops were established along the road linking Church End and Mill End, forming the village's High Street. The junction of Mill End Road and High Street became the new heart of the village, leaving the parish church isolated at the north end of the High Street. By 1851 houses extended along both sides of the High Street, and eastwards along Fishers Lane. (fn. 31) Expansion of housing from Cambridge into the south-west of the parish, initially prompted by the railway, was the most important cause of growth in the late 19th century. The land between the railway line and Hills Road was too marshy for building, so developers moved beyond Hills Road into the area between Hills and Cherry Hinton Roads in the 1880s, creating new Cherry Hinton. The main railway line formed a boundary between the communities that developed on either side, while the old branch line, later marked by Marmora Road, divided Romsey Town, centred on Mill Road, from new Cherry Hinton.
Before 1885 there were only a few houses and the Cavendish College hostel along the Hills Road, but in 1885 the Rock company laid out new roads, rows of cottages, and terraces in new Cherry Hinton. (fn. 32) By 1892 the Rock and Cavendish estates were completed. (fn. 33) Between the 1890s and the 1930s large detached houses for professional people were built at the western ends of Blinco Grove, Glebe, and Hills Roads, and on Cavendish Avenue as far as Baldock Way. (fn. 34) The city council purchased the land further east principally from St. Thomas's Hospital, and from the 1930s council housing predominated on the eastern part of those four roads. (fn. 35) Expansion also occurred from the 1890s along the western edge of the parish towards Perne Road, and in the north-east corner at Coldhams Lane. Peterhouse (Cambridge) sold off land west and east of Mowbray and Perne Roads, and north of Cherry Hinton Road, which was developed in the 1930s as private housing for families on moderate incomes. (fn. 36)
In 1945 St. Thomas's Hospital sold off the land to the east of the Peterhouse holdings: initially 100 prefabricated houses were built there, but they were replaced in the 1950s by more substantial semi-detached council houses around St. Thomas's Square, and along Walpole Road. (fn. 37) They were set back from the road, with wide tree-lined verges. Some of those houses though built of breeze blocks have since been given brick fronts. Overall the west of the parish came to be occupied by middle-class, including professional people, while a group of council estates to the east was intended for less prosperous people. Moreover in 1958 the railway line and Marmora Road were both regarded as social barriers separating Cherry Hinton from neighbouring districts. (fn. 38)
In the 1960s the character of development changed significantly from a gradual eastwards encroachment on agricultural land to the building around the ancient village of a series of council estates, intermixed with schools, playing fields, and recreational areas. (fn. 39) The area north of the Fulbourn Road, the land east of the High Street, and the triangular area between Queen Edith's Way, Cherry Hinton Road, and Mowbray Road were all given over to such council estates.
In the 1970s and 1980s there was a shift towards private housing. In 1973 Pinks, the local horse butchers, received permission to develop 43 a. (17 ha.) north-east of Church End. In the 1980s they built c. 600 houses, ranging from inexpensive to 'executive' homes; another group of estates with detached and semi-detached houses was built to the south of Queen Edith's Way. In 1983 Peterhouse sold its remaining allotments, with 63 low-cost houses being built at St. Bede's Gardens north of Daws Lane. In 1993 a further 100 houses were built on former college land off Daws Lane. In the 1990s the former 15 a. (6 ha.) of Netherhall School's playing fields on the south-east side of the Cherry Hinton Road was also built on. Although the land was sold off by the city council in 1988, planning permission was delayed because a mains sewer ran under the playing fields, and only after court action were three housing estates completed in 1995, including one to a Victorian Gothic design. Planning restrictions prevented substantial housing developments in the late 1990s, but there was some infilling, including town houses on the former site of Limetree Farm.
In 1991 there were 9,385 households in the three wards, while 2.4 per cent of dwellings were unoccupied largely because of redevelopment. (fn. 40) There were substantial differences in the types of housing available in the three wards. In Queen Edith's ward a quarter were detached houses, in Cherry Hinton a tenth, and Coleridge a thirtieth. In Coleridge and Cherry Hinton wards two fifths of the houses were semidetached, and one quarter were terraced. Although many tenants of the city council purchased their houses in the 1980s and 1990s, a third of homes in Cherry Hinton ward were rented from the local authority in 1991, but in Queen Edith's and Coleridge wards there was more privately owned housing.
Suburban expansion around Cambridge involved the provision of sanitation and water supplies. In 1852 the Cambridge University and Town Water Company obtained an Act for water to be piped to a high-level reservoir at Madingley from the spring head at Cherry Hinton. (fn. 41) The project was completed in 1855, with a reservoir being made on Limekiln hill and a pumping station on the southern side of Fulbourn Road at the western angle of the parish. (fn. 42) By 1883 increased demand required two further wells. (fn. 43) Following a typhoid scare in 1907 the pumping station was replaced by one in Fulbourn. (fn. 44) In 1941 the Waterworks Company handed over the springs and the reservoirs to the city council.
In 1891 the vestry unsuccessfully sought to have Hinton included within the area covered by the city's sanitation proposals, and in early 1892 a fever struck the parish's inhabitants. (fn. 45) The county council arranged for public lectures in the village school on proper cooking in 1892. In 1899 after much expense the ratepayers were on the point of paying for the parish's inclusion, but opposition from the Waterworks Company delayed its participation until 1912. (fn. 46) Throughout the 20th century the reservoirs have continued to supply Cambridge with water, with the water pipes running underneath the former Fendon field, between Worts Causeway and Queen Edith's Way. Gas lighting was installed in Hinton at the beginning of the 20th century, remaining in use until the 1950s, when it was superseded by electric lighting. (fn. 47)
There were two public houses in 1765: the Red Lion and the Bell both stood on the corner of Mill End Road and the High Street. (fn. 48) The Red Lion is a 16th-century timber-framed building with a tiled roof, comprising a hall and western crosswing; the eastern crosswing was rebuilt in brick in the 18th century. (fn. 49) Both public houses were used for auctions c. 1808-57, and for inquests c. 1872-97. (fn. 50) In 1847 there were another two public houses, the Chequers on the High Street, which was later the meeting place of the Conservative Association, and c. 1887-92 a venue for concerts, (fn. 51) and the Unicorn at the centre of the High Street. Moreover, the Rosemary Branch at the north-west corner of the parish, and the Hopbine at the northern end of the High Street, were established in that order c. 1853-69. (fn. 52) The Robin Hood on the corner of the Fulbourn and Limekiln Roads was built on the site of an old cottage, and the Russian Arms existed c. 1881-94. (fn. 53) In the early 20th century the Rosemary Branch was rebuilt, and the Hopbine was replaced by the Five Bells in the late 1960s. In the early 20th century the Red Lion was run by Alfred Carter, a farmer and an important figure in the village. (fn. 54) In 1991 the Chequers had its licence briefly withdrawn after customer rowdiness. (fn. 55)
The Ancient Order of Foresters and a horticultural society flourished in the late 19th century. (fn. 56) An annual fair, feast, and harvest festival, first recorded in 1871, held near the Chequers, had become an amusement fair by 1888. (fn. 57) The feast was continued until the Second World War, but was replaced in the 1950s by a parade and festival. (fn. 58) In 1992 the festival was attended by 4,000 people, but the last festival was held in 1994, on account of the impact of traffic calming measures. (fn. 59)
In 1880 the Cherry Hinton church band formed. It initially borrowed its instruments from the Fulbourn Hospital band, performing at harvest festivals and meetings of the Garden Society c. 1880-94. (fn. 60) From 1902 the band practised in the parish room, newly opened for social activities. Although the band flourished in the early 20th century, winning prizes, it ceased to perform in the late 20th. A women's club, established in 1892, performing plays, had strong links with St. John's College, Cambridge. (fn. 61) A Women's Institute, founded in 1924, which established a jazz band in 1927, was active throughout the 20th century. (fn. 62) Other societies formed in the late 19th century included a working men's club, a branch of the Eastern Counties Labour Federation, and a drum and fife band. During the First World War the Rathmore Club was founded by the Liberal party, but it retained no political connections in the late 20th century. (fn. 63)
In 1927 Elijah Pamplin of Pamplin Bros. gave 4 a. between the Street and Leet Road to be maintained as meadow, for use by the villagers as a recreation ground. It was designated as a war memorial after the Second World War. Between the late 1960s and the early 1980s there was an annual football match between the local abattoirs' employees and the city council's refuse workers, employed at a depot off the Coldhams Lane. The Royal British Legion maintained a hall on Fishers Lane in the late 20th century. In the late 20th century in addition to social clubs for young people, young mothers, and old age pensioners, there was a range of more specialized societies and leisure facilities, including a country dance club, a history society, and an amateur football club. (fn. 64) The riding school, off Daws Lane, which flourished in the 1970s closed in the early 1980s. Societies and clubs used schools' sports fields and halls, and in particular the Village Centre, opened in 1989 by Diana, Princess of Wales (d. 1997), on the south-east of the High Street. It had a main hall, a badminton court, a smaller hall for a range of indoor sports, and several rooms for meetings. (fn. 65) In 1993 a rescue plan was implemented to save it from closure. (fn. 66) Despite some opposition it was renamed the Paddy O'Reilly Centre in 1997, in honour of a longserving Labour party councillor.
From 1954 Cherry Hinton Hall was the venue for the first Cambridge Folk Festival, which became an annual event. (fn. 67) In 1998 it was attended by c. 30,000 people, with 40 folk music bands from the United Kingdom, Europe, and North America performing. Nevertheless the lack of regular entertainment facilities in the 1980s induced the young people of Hinton and adjoining parishes to call for more social facilities, leading to the formation of the Cambridge Venue Group. (fn. 68) In 1988 the city council agreed to erect a purpose-built venue on the site of the former cattle market at the western end of the Cherry Hinton Road, and it opened in 1990 under the name of the Junction. In 1998 it had over 260 programmed events, with four fifths of its audience aged 16-30. In 1998 the city council approved plans to develop the rest of the cattle market site as a hotel and leisure complex.
In the 1650s the botanist John Ray collected samples from the parish. (fn. 69) In the early 20th century the chalk pits were used for mountaineering practice, and the 'war ditches' for training archaeologists. (fn. 70) Since 1954 there has been a nature reserve at the corner of Limekiln Close, nestling beneath Limekiln hill, where the rare plant species carum bulbocastanum, lonicera caprifolium, and seseli libanotis flourished. (fn. 71)