Cherry Hinton: Economic history

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.

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A F Wareham, A P M Wright, 'Cherry Hinton: Economic history', in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 10, Cheveley, Flendish, Staine and Staploe Hundreds (North-Eastern Cambridgeshire)( London, 2002), British History Online [accessed 18 July 2024].

A F Wareham, A P M Wright, 'Cherry Hinton: Economic history', in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 10, Cheveley, Flendish, Staine and Staploe Hundreds (North-Eastern Cambridgeshire)( London, 2002), British History Online, accessed July 18, 2024,

A F Wareham, A P M Wright. "Cherry Hinton: Economic history". A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 10, Cheveley, Flendish, Staine and Staploe Hundreds (North-Eastern Cambridgeshire). (London, 2002), , British History Online. Web. 18 July 2024.


In the Roman period pottery with a distinctive whitish bluff, similar to wares from central Gaul, was produced on the former site of the Iron-Age hill fort, using a circular kiln with a central pedestal. It had a regional distribution, reaching as far away as Snape (Suff.) 80 km. away. (fn. 1)

In the late 11th century the manor was assessed at 7 hides, with land for 13 ploughs. (fn. 2) Four ploughteams were on the demesne, and nine were worked by 8 sokemen, 19 villani, and 22 bordars. From the sokemen the lord exacted carrying services, and the sheriff watching duties. In 1279 there were 12 freeholders, who together held 193 a. and owed cash rents of £4 17s. 5d. to the lords of Netherhall, Upperhall, and Mallets manors. Twenty villeins, who held half yardlands, each owed 5s. rent, had to reap 1½ a., and did four harvest works, including a great boon for which they had to find four men each. Another 32 villeins who held quarter yardlands owed nearly half those services; and 45 other villeins owed a quarter of those services. Fourteen cottagers, although not required to plough, owed almost as much threshing, harrowing, hoeing, and haymaking as the half yardlanders, while 37 cottagers owed cash rents of 2d.-16d., totalling £1 3s. rent. Since the labour services on the three manors were uniform they were probably imposed in the 12th century, before the subdivision of Hinton into three manors.

In 1592, and perhaps earlier there were six open fields: Church field was in the north of the parish, Yonton and Bridge fields in the northwest, Fendon field in the west, Quarry field in the south, and Heath field in the south-east. (fn. 3) Strips in the fields in the northern half of the parish tended to be larger in size than in the southern fields. In 1712 Bridge field contained c. 150 a. (60 ha.); Yonton field had c. 220 a. (85 ha.); Church field had c. 60 a. (30 ha.); Fendon field had c. 250 a. (100 ha.); Quarry field had 160 a. (66 ha.); Heath field had 240 a. (97 ha.); and the field beyond the fen had 45 a. (18 ha.), comprising c. 1,130 a. (457 ha.) in the open fields. (fn. 4) Most strips were of less than 1 a., the proportion varying from 86 per cent in Quarry field to 96 per cent in Heath field.

Among the 35 landholders in 1712, Robert Carrow, William Cooper, John Killingsworth, Robert Killingworth, and Francis Wyse held large estates of c. 70-100 a.; and nine others held the equivalent of yardlands and half yardlands. Members of the Killingworth, Carrow and Wyse families who held crofts and cottages already paid rents in 1562, but families with other names mentioned frequently in that rental, such as Bawde, no longer occupied extensive copyholdings in 1712. (fn. 5) Netherhall farm was reckoned to have c. 280 a. of common fields in 1774. (fn. 6)

Notice was given of application for an inclosure in 1802. The Act was passed in 1806, and the proposed allotments were set out in 1807. (fn. 7) The award made in 1810 covered 1,687 a. (682 ha.), for 300 a. (121 ha.) already lay within inclosures. Netherhall farm, 3/4 km. south of the village, Upperhall farm at Church End, and Rectory farm in the village all contained large areas of c. 300-400 a. (120-160 ha.). There were several medium-sized farms of c. 30-100 a. (12-40 ha.), including Sidney farm, while 23 other landholders received smaller allotments, combining a mixture of freehold and copyhold.

In 1774 there were no buildings on Netherhall farm apart from a farmyard, but by 1813 there was a farmhouse, at the south-west side of Worts Causeway, built to a square plan, with a kitchen to the rear. (fn. 8) The adjacent farmyard had a large barn, cow shed, and stables. By then its lands were mostly consolidated into a L-shaped block of 279 a. In 1877 St. Thomas's Hospital, the lessor, refused to allow the farmer to let a portion of the estate to a nonconformist. (fn. 9) In the mid 19th century several of the smaller farms were incorporated into the larger farms, and Ventress and Limetree farms, along Cherry Hinton Road, and Neal's farm at Church End, were new creations. By 1929-30, the area worked as farmland was declining: there were four farms of c. 150-300 a. (60-120 ha.), twelve holdings of c. 5-50 a. (3-20 ha.), and seven of 1-5 a. (0.4-2 ha.) (fn. 10)

Saffron was grown on Rectory manor in 1647, and in 1700 the area surrounding Cambridge, which presumably included Cherry Hinton, had a reputation for the quality of its saffron. (fn. 11) In the mid 18th century saffron was extensively grown in the parish, with 3-a. plots being prepared between April and July, but by 1770 that crop was no longer grown. (fn. 12) In 1642-3 one third of the rent in kind for Rectory manor was required in bushels of wheat, and another third in malt. (fn. 13) In 1870 there were c. 1,700 a. (690 ha.) of arable, but by 1890 its area had fallen to 1,400 a. (570 ha.). (fn. 14) In 1870 there were 390 a. (158 ha.) of wheat and 330 a. (133 ha.) of barley, but between 1890 and 1910 the acreage of barley and wheat was nearly equal, that of permanent grassland doubled from 120 a. (50 ha.) to 230 a. (95 ha.), and that growing non-cereal crops declined from 420 a. (170 ha.) to 330 a (135 ha.).

In 1592 Netherhall manor included a 3-a. orchard. (fn. 15) In the early 19th century there were at least two orchards, one north-east of Trumpington Drift Road (Queen Edith's Way), another south-east of Long Drift (Cherry Hinton Road). (fn. 16) There were four orchards c. 1849-1900, and between 1910 and 1930 the acreage of orchards doubled to 31 a. (12½ ha.). (fn. 17) Market gardens increased from three to five between the late 19th century and the early 20th. Allotments were established in the south-west of the parish, north of the recreation ground in the centre of the village, north-west of the village, and behind the Pamplin brothers' steam works. (fn. 18) Since 1945 most of the farmland and allotments have been redeveloped for housing, leaving only the southern portion of the parish, 250 a. (100 ha.), as agricultural land.

In the early Iron Age sheep predominated, but for the Roman period there was a marked increase in cattle bones. (fn. 19) Sheep presumably grazed Limekiln hill from the earliest times. In 1597 there were 300 sheep on Mallets manor. (fn. 20) In 1677 common sheep rights were exercised by a tenant of Netherhall farm, and there was a shepherd's croft at Quarry field in 1712. (fn. 21) Fortyfive a. of sheep walk were attached to Netherhall farm for 250 sheep in 1774. (fn. 22) Between 1870 and 1910 c. 600 sheep were handled by 1-2 shepherds, but by 1930 there were only 80 sheep. (fn. 23) Between 1870 and 1930 there were several pig farms in the north of the parish, with c. 300 pigs. (fn. 24) A cattle pound was recorded in 1458-9, and there was a common herdsman for the parish c. 1660-1810. (fn. 25) There were 96 cattle in 1870, 140 in 1890 and 1910, and 64 in 1930, with between half and two thirds on dairy farms. (fn. 26) In the 19th century male employment was concentrated in agriculture: between 1821 and 1851 the number of farm labourers increased from 100 to 150, and to 188 in 1881, but their numbers fell thereafter with 43 workers being employed in 1930. (fn. 27) In 1988 ½ per cent of the work force was engaged in agriculture. (fn. 28)

In 1886 a cattle market was established on 18 a. at the western end of Cherry Hinton Road, by the parish boundary. (fn. 29) There was a tannery on the Cherry Hinton Road c. 1887-1904. In the early 1950s three abattoirs were established at Church End and on Coldhams Lane; one stood on the site of a former pig farm. In 1976 the cattle market was closed because of financial difficulties. In 1983 Garnhams closed its abattoir, and the last of the others closed in 1992. Garnhams' site between Coldhams and Rosemary Lanes was taken over by Dalehead Foods, a meat packing and processing company, which employed c. 100 people from 1984 until 1998, when it closed. The Danish Bacon Company built a food processing factory on the Cherry Hinton Road, which closed in the 1980s.

In the late 11th century there were four mills worth £1 5s. (fn. 30) In 1451 the vicar owned a disused water mill. In 1677 the lessee of Netherhall manor received permission to build a water mill. (fn. 31) Two millstones were uncovered at the beginning of the 20th century in Cherry Hinton Hall's gardens, almost certainly from a water mill powered by the brook. One stone is still visible outside the Hall, but the other for grinding is sunk beneath the concrete facing the porch. In the late 19th century there was a mill in the north of the parish. (fn. 32)

Cloth was woven at Hinton for the nuns of St. Radegund's priory in Cambridge in 1449-51. (fn. 33) Many of Hinton's women worked in the laundry trade, with 19 laundresses in 1851, 34 in 1861, 71 in 1881, and 93 in 1891. (fn. 34) The Cambridge Steam Laundry Company, founded by 1883 by Josiah Chater and incorporated in 1892, occupied a site north of the Cherry Hinton Road, west of the Hall. (fn. 35) It had a 5-a. drying ground, and served families, schools, hotels, and colleges in Cambridge c. 1892-1933. By 1904 the Swiss Laundry Company had been incorporated, occupying the former site of the tannery, and specialized in giving a Swiss finish to table linen. (fn. 36) Eighty people were employed by the Swiss Laundry in 1998. Other women worked in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as bakers, dressmakers, and shop-managers, and less frequently as servants. (fn. 37) In 1851 there was a female blacksmith. (fn. 38)

The chalk pits initially dug in the Roman period were in the Middle Ages one of the main sources of clunch for building churches and colleges in Cambridge. (fn. 39) Corpus Christi College had its own quarry in the late 14th century. (fn. 40) In 1432 the King's Hall paid for two loads of stone, and in 1449 it had its own quarry. (fn. 41) The great gateway at Trinity College and parts of Peterhouse in the late 15th century, and the chapel at Corpus Christi College in the 16th were built from Hinton stone. (fn. 42) The chalk quarries at the north-east and north-west ends of Limekiln Road were dug until the end of the 19th century. (fn. 43) In 1807 and 1846 tenants of Netherhall farm burnt lime at the limekiln pits, located on the north-west side of Limekiln Road, and two or three men were employed as limeburners c. 1851-81. (fn. 44) In the late 19th century there was a brick and tile works at Coldhams Lane, and the Atlas Stone Company was based in the parish in the early 20th century. (fn. 45)

By 1895 British Portland Cement had established a cement works in the north-west of the parish between Coldhams Lane and the new northward route of the railway line into Cambridge. It also acquired the chalk quarries. (fn. 46) By 1925 it had established a second cement works, where the railway line crossed Coldhams Lane, which it named Saxon Portland Cement Works, calling the other Norman Portland Cement Works. (fn. 47) Marlpits were dug between those two cement works, and chalk and lime were transported from the chalk quarries through the village to the cement works. The cement works were taken over by Blue Circle Industries by 1950, when both cement works were still in operation. By 1956, however, they had been closed, and part of the site was sold to the city council, which used it as a waste disposal tip. In the late 1980s some anti-pollution measures were taken, and the marlpits were partially filled in, so creating a series of small lakes running parallel to the railway line; one was used for angling in the late 1990s.

In 1879 a traction engine and threshing machine hire business was based in the parish. (fn. 48) Around 1890 the brothers George and Walter Pamplin, brewers of Cherry Hinton, established a steam-plough business, initially transporting building materials from Cambridge railway station through the parish to Fulbourn Asylum. The firm's main yard was at Church End. There were a gas engine generator and forges, and 40 men were employed there in 1913. The six steam ploughs were used on farms in Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Essex, and Hertfordshire, and the Pamplin brothers also supplied threshing sets, and steam rollers and steam lorries, used to transport stone from railway stations for road repairs. Coal shortages during the First World War and the General Strike led to a decline in demand for steam ploughs, and in 1934 the remaining engines were sold off for scrap, the yard being left derelict.

In 1850 a retired school master worked as a tea-merchant and shoemaker. (fn. 49) Between 1865 and 1892 there were 4-5 beer sellers, 1-2 bootmakers, a carpenter, a blacksmith, a wheelwright, and a postmaster, and from 1879 a grocer. (fn. 50) Following the creation of new Cherry Hinton in the 1890s there were several dressmakers, shopkeepers, a watchmaker, and a shoemaker c. 1904-8. (fn. 51) In 1933 c. 70 commercial enterprises included a furniture dealer, a cycle shop, and a corn merchant. (fn. 52) In the late 20th century shops on either side of Hinton's High Street included, beside a small supermarket, a butcher, a shoe-repairer, a newsagent, and several takeaway restaurants. (fn. 53) The village's shops, however, faced increased competition after 1975 when an 'out-of-city' shopping centre was completed at the Brooks Road roundabout, with Sainsburys leasing the largest unit. Between 1975 and 1998 the shopping centre was extended on several occasions, and Sainsburys leased the entire site in 1998, employing around 450 fulltime and part-time staff there.

Between 1929 and 1933 Cambridgeshire Motors had a small factory in the parish, and in the 1970s there was an electronics factory south of Coldhams Lane, bordering the railway line. (fn. 54) In 1981 Acorn Computers received permission to convert the disused water-softening station on the Fulbourn Road as its new headquarters, employing 31 people there. (fn. 55) By 1983 it had 120 employees working mainly on a microcomputer for the B.B.C. A modern extension at the rear of the old building was completed in that year. Advanced Risk Machines (A.R.M.) took over the lease in the 1990s, employing c. 150 people in computer research and micro-processor design. In the late 1980s three business parks were established, one at Rosemary End and two along the Cherry Hinton Road, with numerous light industry and computer firms. By the late 1990s c. 500-700 people worked on computer research, design, and construction in Hinton, with employees commuting from Cambridge and the surrounding region. In 1998 Peterhouse completed an 11-a. science park on the Fulbourn Road, next to A.R.M.'s headquarters.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries the parish's environment changed from being largely agricultural into a residential and service community. Marshall, the aircraft maintenance company and owners of Cambridge airport, purchased the north-east portion of Hinton in 1952-3 to extend its concrete runway southwards. (fn. 56) The concrete runway was further extended to 2,000 m. in 1972, and Marshall was a major employer of Hinton's workforce in the late 20th century. The parish's road, rail, and air transport services have arisen from and contributed to its economic growth in the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1988 three quarters of the parish's inhabitants were in full-time employment: 85 per cent were white-collar workers, or worked in computer research and design; 10 per cent were employed in light industry and transport; and 3.5 per cent in catering and cleaning services. (fn. 57) Seventy per cent of its inhabitants in full-time employment worked in the parish or in Cambridge itself, and a further 12 per cent in southern Cambridgeshire. Unemployment was only 0.4 per cent in 1988, rising to 3.2 per cent in 1991, with nine tenths of the workforce employed by companies.


  • 1. C. Evans, 'Pottery notes', 1-17: typescript, available at Univ. College, London, Inst. Archaeology.
  • 2. Account of medieval peasantry based on V.C.H. Cambs. i. 373, 407; Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 439- 41.
  • 3. L.M.A., H. 1/ST/E106, no. 2.
  • 4. Peterhouse Mun., Hinton, 1712 terrier [K], ff. 1-87.
  • 5. L.M.A., H. 1/ST/E15 (f).
  • 6. Ibid. H. 1/ST/E109/3.
  • 7. C.R.O., Q/RDz 6; Camb. Chron. 4 Dec. 1802; 7 Sept. 1805; 2 Aug. 1806; 1 Nov. 1806; 12 Sept. 1807; 12 Sept. 1807; 31 Oct. 1807; 7 Nov. 1807; 7 Dec. 1810; L.J. xlv. 700; Proc. C.A.S. xl. 80.
  • 8. L.M.A., H.1/ST/109/3; ibid. H.1/ST/E22/1.
  • 9. Ibid. H.1/ST/E63.
  • 10. P.R.O., MAF 68/3502; Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1837-1933).
  • 11. Peterhouse Mun., Hinton, Serocold's notes [K]; J. Brome, Travels over England, Scotland, and Wales (1700), 58.
  • 12. Lysons, Cambs. 38; V.C.H. Cambs. ii. 360.
  • 13. Peterhouse Mun., Hinton, Serocold's transcripts [K].
  • 14. P.R.O., MAF 68/232, 1258, 232.
  • 15. L.M.A., H.1/ST/E106, no. 2.
  • 16. C.R.O., Q/RDz 6; C.U.L., Maps 53.84.6.
  • 17. C.R.O., Q/RDz 6; Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1847-1933); Camb. Chron. 1 Sept. 1849; 25 July 1857; 22 Jan. 1870.
  • 18. Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1892-1933); Camb. Chron. 20 July 1894.
  • 19. V.C.H. Cambs. vii. 59-60.
  • 20. P.R.O., CP 25/2/94/862/40 Eliz. I Hil. no. 3.
  • 21. L.M.A., H.1/ST/E67/10/17; Peterhouse Mun., Hinton, 1712 terrier [K], f. 60.
  • 22. L.M.A., H.1/ST/E109/3.
  • 23. P.R.O., MAF 68/232, 1258, 2398, 3502; ibid. RG 11/1660; RG 12/1281.
  • 24. Ibid.; below for cattle market and abattoirs.
  • 25. Peterhouse Mun., Hinton, K. 5; Report on Churches of Cambs. vi. 113.
  • 26. P.R.O., MAF 68/232, 1258, 2398, 3502.
  • 27. Ibid. MAF 68/3502; Census, 1821-81.
  • 28. Cambs. Cty. Council Research Group, New Estates, 17.
  • 29. Rest of para. based on Camb. Evening News, 26 July 1991; Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1888-1933); Cambs. Dir. Commerce and Ind. (1994/6).
  • 30. V.C.H. Cambs. i. 373.
  • 31. L.M.A., H.1/ST/E67/10/17.
  • 32. C.U.L., Maps, bb.30.01.53; P. Stokes, Old Mills of Cambridge: the ancient sluices and the old mill site (1910).
  • 33. V.C.H. Cambs. iii. 90.
  • 34. Census, 1851-91.
  • 35. Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1883-1933).
  • 36. Inf. from Swiss Laundry Co.
  • 37. Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1847-1933).
  • 38. P.R.O., HO 107/1759, f. 617.
  • 39. Proc. C.A.S. xxxvii. 4; xlviii. 12; xlix. 16; 1. 95; Taylor, Cambs. Landscape, 240; V.C.H. Cambs. ii. 365-6.
  • 40. Willis, Archit. Hist. Univ. Camb. i. 251.
  • 41. V.C.H. Cambs. ii. 366.
  • 42. Camb. Region (1938), 157; Taylor, Cambs. Landscape, 240.
  • 43. Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1896-1933).
  • 44. Camb. Chron. 28 Mar. 1807; 11 Aug. 1846; for numbers, 1851-81, compare P.R.O., HO 107/1759; ibid. RG 11/1660.
  • 45. V.C.H. Cambs. iii. 98; Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1847-1933).
  • 46. Camb. Chron. 30 Aug. 1895.
  • 47. Inf. from Blue Circle Industries.
  • 48. Para. based on Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1879-1937); B. Taylor, 'Pamplin Brothers Engineers', Steam Preservation, lxi. 5-8; V.C.H. Cambs. ix. 308.
  • 49. Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1850).
  • 50. Ibid. (1892-1933); Camb. Chron. 20 July 1894.
  • 51. Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1904-33).
  • 52. Ibid. (1933).
  • 53. Camb. Evening News, 30 Aug. 1995.
  • 54. Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1929-33).
  • 55. Next two paras. based mainly on Cambs. Dir. Commerce and Ind. (1994/6); Camb. Evening News, 8 Nov. 1994; 'Acorn in the Clover', Architects' Jnl. (1984); interviews.
  • 56. Below, Teversham, econ. hist. (airfield); Sir A. Marshall, The Marshall Story (1994), 240. Marshalls' hangars in Cherry Hinton shown on plate 60.
  • 57. Cambs. Cty. Council Research Group, New Estates, 18; Census, 1991.