Ironworks, Mill Road

Image from ‘Ironworks‘ website

THE redevelopment of the former Mill Road Depôt site by Cambridge Investment Partnership, an equal partnership between Cambridge City Council and Hill Investment Partnerships is proceeding apace.

Ironworks is the first mixed tenure housing scheme to be delivered by the Partnership, and will include 182 homes, 50% of them new council homes.

We can’t give constant updates, unless there’s a particular community aspect to inform local people about, or to discuss. Named ‘Ironworks‘ the official site can be reached by clicking on the image below.

Click the image to visit the site.

Cambridge Investment Partnership is an equal joint venture between Cambridge City Council and Hill Investment Partnerships. It has been set up to take forward the redevelopment of council and other land to help meet the need for housing, in particular to deliver 500 new council rented homes across the city.

This City Council press release, dated 7th January 2020, is exactly what we’d like to keep you informed about.


A new partnership of local community organisations has been appointed by Cambridge City Council to manage the new community centre that will be built as part of the ‘Ironworks’ housing scheme on the former Mill Road Depot site. Click through for further details.

This is just one of the new developments being progressed by Cambridge Investment Partnership. To learn more about them all, you may find this article Joint venture tackling housing shortage in Cambridge in Local Authority Building And Maintenance, dated 10th January 2020, of interest.


Image on Ironworks website

A NEW partnership of local community organisations has been appointed by Cambridge City Council to manage the new community centre that will be built as part of the ‘Ironworks’ housing scheme on the former Mill Road Depôt site.

Romsey Mill Trust and Petersfield Area Community Trust worked collaboratively to submit a successful tender to secure an initial 11-year lease to run the new community building for local residents and community groups to use. 

The council has appointed an operator for the building at this early stage so that they can help to inform the specification for the individual spaces in the new centre.

The new centre is being funded by S106 developer contributions, will be fully accessible, and will provide much needed community facilities and meeting spaces for Petersfield ward, including:

  • A large hall for community events
  • Meeting rooms
  • A community kitchen, and 
  • An outdoor space. 

The centre will be built in the final phase of the Ironworks scheme and is due to open in August 2021. 

In addition to the new community centre, the scheme will include 182 homes, 50% of them new council homes. 

Cllr Anna Smith, Executive Councillor for Communities, said: “We are delighted that Petersfield Area Community Trust and Romsey Mill Trust, two organisations embedded in the local community, have been appointed to manage the new community centre at Mill Road.

“This is a part of the city that has long needed more community facilities. Together with Petersfield Area Community Trust and Romsey Mill Trust, we will now work closely with local residents to help shape plans for the new centre, to ensure it provides services and facilities that people really want.”

Add your comments below…

Cam Valley forum Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting will be on Tuesday 10 March 2020, in the David Attenborough Building (click for map) Pembroke St, Cambridge CB2, with exciting guest speaker.

    David Brooks, Editor, Cam Valley Matters

And why is this relevant to Cambridge’s Mill Road? Read on…

Save our local chalk stream!

Those of us who have ventured to the far end of Mill Road to Burnside, and along Snakey Path during the summer, will have seen the poor state of Cherry Hinton Brook. This was highlighted in a YouTube video by local citizen blogger Antony Carpen.

Cam Valley Forum reports:

During the 2019 summer, the dry weather reduced our River Cam to little more than an elongated pond with a pathetic tickle over the weirs at Jesus Green. Some of the Cam tributaries dried up, many only flowing because they have been augmented by water from sewerage works

How to Save Water, and the Cam posted 9th December 2019

Whist BBC journalist Mark Williamson Tweeted about the Granta/Cam at Grantchester.

And Feargal Sharkey reported Environment Agency information.

The latest Cam Valley Forum newsletter is shown below.

Click the image to view/download a PDF of the newsletter

Earlier Cam Valley Forum Newsletters can be viewed/downloaded here.

Kiss Old Hitler?

The story of a Cambridge family during World War Two

A new book from an author with many local connections, Marjory Francis
Click the image to order from Waterstones

Up to his chest in seawater, surrounded by floating body parts, and attacked by German planes, Fred distracted himself by thinking of his family at home. But his thoughts inevitably returned to Angele, the beautiful French girl he had met and fallen in love with in autumn 1939. ‘I could almost kiss old Hitler for what he’s done for me’ he wrote to his sister Amy. But that was before he had to run for his life towards Dunkirk, and now would he and Angele ever see each other again?

And what of the rest of the family? How would Mum Nell, Dad Jim, sisters Ida and Amy, and brother Basil fare in this terrible war?

Extract from ‘Kiss Old Hitler?’

For many years I have been thinking of writing the story of my mother’s family during WW2. My grandparents lived in Hemingford Road and although they were a very ordinary family (two daughters and two sons), in those extraordinary times things happened to make an interesting story: a soldier meeting the love of his life in France, the beloved being left behind in occupied territory, Dunkirk, the Falkland Islands, RAF training in Canada, being shot down, a prison camp, doodlebugs – and even Lord Haw Haw features!

The reason for the intriguing title is explained on the cover and early on in the story.

The book is based on family letters and reminiscences and is written as a novel.

Mill Road, Hemingford Road and St Philip’s Church all feature. This has been a labour of love for me, not a money-making enterprise, and I’m sure many people knowing the area today would be interested to read it.

The book can be obtained from Waterstones (I am hoping the Cambridge store will stock it) or Amazon.

All profits will go to cancer research.

Author, Marjory Francis, by email.

Click here to order from Amazon.
Click here to order from Waterstones.
If purchasers order from Waterstones, it might encourage them to stock the book in their Cambridge store.

VE Day 75th Anniversary in Cambridge

Grants available for community commemorations

May 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day – the official end of World War II in Europe.

Image on website

The Early May Bank Holiday will move from Monday 4th to Friday 8th May. Events will take place around the country throughout the three-day weekend, to commemorate everybody who contributed to the war effort.

Locally, grants of up to £500 are available to help pay for events to celebrate the VE anniversary. Cambridge community groups, voluntary organisations and groups of local residents can apply.

Many people in Britain didn’t wait for the official day of celebration and began the festivities as soon as they heard the news on 7th May.

But it was not the end of the conflict, nor was it an end to the impact the war had on people. The war against Japan did not end until August 1945, and the political, social and economic repercussions of the Second World War were felt long after Germany and Japan surrendered.

Click the image to download the guidelines in PDF format.

We are pleased to let you know that small grants of up to £500 are available for community groups, voluntary organisations and groupings of local residents organising events and activities celebrating the 75th Anniversary of VE Day on 8th-10th May 2020.

Click through for the guidelines, monitoring form* and application form. The deadline for applications is 20th April 2020. We would be very grateful if you could share this information with your networks and anyone who may be interested.

For further information and to discuss an application please email Melanie and the grants team or phone them on 01223 457875

Melanie Baker, Grants Officer, Cambridge City Council [amended]
Note: The *monitoring form is essential to ensure that public money (yours, your friends and your neighbours’) is not mis-spent, particularly in any partisan, party-political way.


What was happening behind the hoardings?

Come and found out what was actually going on at Mill Road Bridge this summer!

Mill Road History Society is delighted that Richard Watson of the Spencer Group is coming to talk to us at the Ross St Community Centre CB1 3UZ on Tuesday 12 November at 7:30pm (doors open 7pm, ends around 9pm)

Click the image for a downloadable, printable PDF poster

For any further details email Mill Road History Society.

Click the Mill Road History Society logo to visit their website

I survived Mill Road Summer

A personal chronicle

The long slog began nearly a year ago when many of us received an email on October 27 alerting us to a public meeting to be held only days later on November 1 announcing the Mill Road Bridge closure. Small notices on lamp-posts were the only other warning given. The hosts were Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), Network Rail and its contractors; the venue was the DoubleTree Hilton, on Mill Street by the river.

Besides the shock of the short notice and the seriousness of the subject matter, people commented that the hosts perhaps did not realise that Mill Street was nowhere near Mill Road. The crowd was already riled when it arrived and a rough meeting ensued where the hosts seemed to be surprised by attendee reaction and rather put on the back foot by challenges to decisions and methods.

This set the tone of the following months: “They” announced; “we” (councillors, traders and residents) reacted, resisted, and suggested over many meetings, but compromise was reached as months dragged by. 

The bridge had to close, certainly; but it was reduced to seven weeks in July and August and the draconian “even-to-pedestrians” closures were reduced. (I wonder why the solutions couldn’t have been thought of in the first place.)

Mill Road Traders (I’m a member) called an emergency meeting in June which brought in the largest attendance in several years. We were informed that, while reparations for lost business were not to be considered, both sides of the Bridge would receive £15,000 “happy-money” from GTR to soften the effect of the closure. Traders were called on to submit ideas. At the meeting we scratched their heads: what could we do with “happy-money” that would magically improve sales when our customer base couldn’t reach our shops with the usual … ease (already un-easy from tight parking in Petersfield and tougher parking in Romsey)?

An ad campaign in the Cambridge Independent, a reissue of the shop map of Mill Road, and a series of car-boot sales were suggested by traders, approved by GTR and fast-tracked in a few weeks, along with many other initiatives by other residents’ groups on both sides of the Bridge.

But the traders knew that those actions would never make up for lower traffic – and would not help bring people back afterwards, to retrain them to travel down Mill Road again and consider it a main shopping source for Cambridge. 

So traders and residents plodded on… and then, the gasworks started in earnest, followed by the huge fire at Gee’s, saddening the Road and blocking traffic further. And then, the gasworks came back! to sections they couldn’t reach before, owing to the fire. Several business and homes were occasionally inaccessible or without gas and even water for days. 

The aggro felt unending and would have been far worse without the constant vigilance of local councillors, who worked much harder than most people know. My hat is off to them.

Some amusement was extracted, some experiments with alternative uses of the road; all ages were involved with events from historical to musical; some sense of life was rapidly concocted and consumed by a decent number; “lemons got quick-squashed into lemonade”, if you will.

The day the bridge was re-opened to full vehicle traffic, my shop had its best sales in weeks. The day the diggers ceased and the barriers left felt sparkly and new. We’re back!

– Which is all very nice and optimistic, but there is still underlying damage to our businesses that will take luck and time to heal; it may be too-little-too-late for some.

What can we do to help now? One way is to support the Mill Road Winter Fair more than ever: bring the crowds back and show them our colours and spirit. Volunteer to help on the day – cheerful involvement of locals makes such a good impression on the visitors we need.

Pamela Wesson, proprietor of Mill Road’s Fantasia, purveyor of ‘unusual and unnecessary items’

That was the summer that was

Well what a summer it was, I have not experienced one like it in the two decades that I have lived on Mill Road.  Here is one resident’s view: 

Like other residents and most traders, I was irritated by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) organising a meeting about Mill Road on the other side of town (Mill Lane). It made me doubt their map-reading abilities which led me to question whether their brief was to upgrade facilities in Cambridge, rather than Camberley, Camden or Camberwell.

I was also concerned that traders, many of whom are friends and all of whom feel like neighbours, would have difficulty receiving deliveries. The pharmacy receives new shipments of drugs every day and the idea that traffic could be banned from the road completely would not work well for our community. Naturally this was not what GTR had in mind and a complete ban did not happen.

In fact something else happened. Local authority monitoring shows that traffic volumes on the Petersfield side of the bridge did not decrease. An explanation is the volume of taxi traffic heading to the railway station via the Petersfield section of Mill Road, and Tenison Road.

Throw into the mix of normal traffic levels, the disruption caused by at least half the width of the road being cordoned off for gas works, two-way motor traffic having to squeeze into one narrow lane and heavy plant – diggers, cranes and excavators – taking up road space too; it is likely that some motorists in unfamiliar surroundings were disorientated and uncertain on how they were going to reach their destinations.

Road rage and impatience were manifest and cars were seen mounting pavements recklessly without due care and attention to pedestrians.  There were high levels of dust all day and night which caused me to lose my voice and feel breathless.

As if this wasn’t enough disruption, residents and fellow traders were devastated by the fire at Gee’s and worried that it might be connected to the gasworks.  We were left without hot water for 48 hours and then there was vandalism in the cemetery followed by the break-ins on the road.

 It was miserable but it is not a fair test of how a reduction in motor traffic (which did not happen in the Petersfield stretch) might affect traders’ turnover. Other factors were at work. We all need to disentangle this.  Nobody wants a traffic-free Mill Road but we all want a safe pedestrian environment which is, after all, good for trade.  

Charlotte de Blois

Add your comments, below or at the foot of this page: Mill Road – what route for the future?

Summer Festival Feedback

Monday 16th September, 8.00-9.30pm
Old School House St Barnabas Church
Mill Road
Cambridge CB1 2BD

People who organised, helped to organise, or would have liked to have organised a Petersfield summer event, gave their feedback.

Anyone local resident or trader is welcome to give feedback here: Mill Road – what route for the future?

Linda Jones, Cambridgeshire County Councillor for Petersfield, on behalf of the Petersfield Summer Organising Group, writes:

So many people helped to make our Mill Road Summer events go with a swing. In spite of the bridge closure, continued heavy traffic, Cadent Gas disruption and the awful fire at Philip Gee’s we managed to put on nearly 20 events with a focus on art, dance, singing, folk music, poetry and writing –plus the wonderful History Happening day and the friendly Car Boot Sales.

If you organised, helped with or got involved in an event in Petersfield we want to hear your views and ideas.

  • What went well?
  • What could have gone better?
  • What lessons have we learned?
  • How do we manage community assets?
  • Is there a future for a summer festival?

Notice was short and some groups that wanted to be involved couldn’t be. We’d like to hear from you too – please come along and make your voice heard.