At a time when it is not possible for large gatherings for Remembrance Day because of the pandemic, there are other ways for those living and working around Mill Road to connect and share the memories of how our area experienced wars, past and present.
MARKING 75 YEARS SINCE WORLD WAR II
Helen Weinstein, community historian, is sharing a film with Mill Road Bridges when we are marking with commemorative events this year the significance of 75 years since the end of World War Two. The film takes you on local tour where Helen shows how the residents living around Mill Road experienced bombing in the 1940s.
HistoryWorks has produced a short film to share because (due to the Covid-19 restrictions) all talks & history tours have had to be online. VE Day season and Remembrance Day week in Cambridge has therefore seen Helen Weinstein asked to give talks marking 75 years since the end of World War II sharing research, talks, and a walking tour film.
The film below, presented and produced by Helen Weinstein, tells the story of how Cambridge experienced the bombing raids in World War 2, showing it is a myth that Cambridge was not impacted because there were 50 homes destroyed, 2000 homes damaged, and many deaths and casualties. The film shows how the residents and businesses near the railway line were impacted.
The focus of the history trail film is to visit sites in the area known locally as Sturton Town, linking the Mill Road Railway Bridge to East Road and Newmarket Road. The tour includes the location of the air-raid shelter on Gwydir Street, the bombing of Vicarage Terrace on the night of June 18th 1940, and the Mill Road Bridge bombing on 30th January 1941, taking in the VE day street parties which took place 75 years ago. Helen shares letters, newspaper accounts and eye witness memories of civilian experiences from 1940s Cambridge.
GRAVES OF COMMONWEALTH SOLDIERS
Also recommended, is a visit to Mill Road Cemetery as a place for remembering the dead in peaceful surroundings, in a haven for wildlife and for quiet contemplation . There are many burials of the fallen soldiers in the cemetery.
The CommonWealth War Graves Commission maintain the graves of 33 Commonwealth service personnel from World War I and four from World War II.
While many of us hit the shops for last-minute lockdown supplies this week, volunteers on St Matthew’s Piece were stocking the larder for insects.
Bees and other pollinating insects are essential to the life cycle of plants. But their numbers are plunging as the amount of open land dwindles and their sources of food disappear.
Volunteers from On the Verge Cambridge and Friends of St Matthew’s Piece came together on a sunny November morning to plant the Piece with hundreds of wildflower bulbs. On the Verge Cambridge works with schools and community groups to plant wildflowers in suitable spots, so insects don’t have to fly long distances in search of food.
The group planted anemones, bluebells, winter aconite, wild garlic, crocuses and snakeshead fritillaries, each in a different part of the park. When the flowers bloom, they will provide a rich supply of nectar.
St Matthews’ Piece is currently threatened by developers who wish to build a large block of flats on its northern edge.
“It’s such a beautiful place, with all its stately trees – but developers want to cut some of them down,” said Janet Wright, of Friends of St Matthew’s Piece.
“So many people come here with their children or just to take a walk. From next year on, they’ll be spotting flashes of colour as various flowers start coming up. I just hope they won’t have a block of flats looming over them.”
“Quite a few people walking through the Piece were pleased that we were planting flowers and hoped the planned development wouldn’t be allowed.”
Mother of champion weightlifters, short in stature: big in personality
The lights of Mill Road gleam a little less brightly tonight after the death of Bessie “Betty” Morgan at the age of 92, one of the oldest residents in the area.
Betty, who came from the well-known Silverman family, lived in Perowne Street for 68 years, setting up home there in 1952. She was a well known figure in the area, a familiar face in many of the shops and cafés until moving into the St Georges Court care home earlier this year. She died in October after developing pneumonia.
One of eight children, Betty was born in the city on 12 July 1928, to Samuel and May Silverman. Her late brother Charlie established the Silverman’s Office Furniture company, which still trades in the city while sister Doreen, aged 94, still lives in Fen Ditton.
In 1952, Betty married Ken, who worked as a carpenter for British Rail, and gave birth to two sons, David in 1964 and Tony in 1969.
Although a mere 4ft 7inches tall, what Betty lacked in height she more than made up for with her big personality and strong work ethic. And it was as a mother that Betty thrived, showing extraordinary devotion and commitment to support “her boys” in their sporting careers. Both excelled in weightlifting and Betty was determined that each would achieve his potential. She supported them at events but beyond that normal parental help, she offered crucial financial help at one point working three separate jobs so that David and Tony could have the time to train when financial support for top athletes was not available.
And that devotion and commitment paid off: Tony became the youngest British senior champion at age 15, completed in the 1992 Olympics and then won a bronze in the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.
David twice came fourth in the Olympic Games in Los Angeles (1984) and four years later in Seoul. And is the only athlete ever to win gold at five different Commonwealth games. He competed in three Olympic Games, won various world championships and broke multiple world records. His sporting achievements culminated in the award of the MBE in this year’s New Year’s Honours list. And Betty could not have been more proud when David told her the news.
But David and Betty’s trip to Buckingham Palace in June was, of course, cancelled in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sadly husband Ken died in 1994 of leukaemia, aged 69, but he lived long enough to see many of the successes of his sons.
In later life, Betty loved dressing in bright colours and always wore high-heeled boots.
She enjoyed her garden, butterflies and flowers, the Cambridge Botanic Gardens being one of her favourite haunts. Betty was also a proud grandmother to Tony’s children, Katie and Tom.
Betty loved the Perowne Street/Emery Street residents’ street parties. She regularly had breakfast at the Salvation Army, lunch at Ditchburn Place and afternoon tea in the Grafton Centre or elsewhere in the city centre.
Betty’s funeral will be held at Cambridge Crematorium (West Chapel) on Wednesday 11th November 2020, at 2pm but, but given Covid restrictions, attendance will be strictly limited to family and close friends. For further information, please contact Rosalind or David Morgan on 07813 592479 or 01223 562595.
David and Tony intend to host a more fitting event to celebrate their mother’s life once the Covid pandemic has passed – hopefully an all-singing-all-dancing street party in Perowne Street – and are planning to adopt a bench in her honour in the Botanic Gardens.
This post was amended on Monday 2nd November to correct the title to 1928-2020.
Local poet and neighbour, Carol Ann Wood, has written a poem to celebrate Betty Morgan’s life in Perowne Street.
Mill Road Bridges welcomes this consultation, which follows years of campaigning, nationally and locally. Parliamentarians of all parties, on the Transport Committee, including Cambridge’s MP, Daniel Zeichner, have been looking at this problem for some time. This could herald major improvements to shopping along Mill Road.
We very much welcome the government’s consultation on dealing with pavement parking. This is the culmination of many years of campaigning by national transport groups and disability groups, as well as local campaigning by us and others.
Parking of cars on pavements is a scourge which can be seen all around the city. It makes it difficult for people walking, using buggies, using wheelchairs and mobility scooters, and people with visual impairments. It damages pavements, and in general treats other road users with a lack of courtesy. It causes injuries and deaths of people walking, particularly children, as a result of drivers trying to park their cars on the pavement.
New research by Guide Dogs shows the wide variety of people affected by pavement parking, and the everyday impact it has on their lives. Nine in ten disabled people, including those with sight loss, mobility scooter users, and parents or carers with children said they had been affected by pavement parking.
Many towns and cities were not designed to accommodate today’s high traffic levels; and at some locations, especially in residential areas with narrow roads and no driveways, the pavement is the only place to park without obstructing the carriageway. However, irrespective of whether pavement parking is deemed necessary, there are inherent dangers for all pedestrians; being forced onto the carriageway and into the flow of traffic. This is particularly difficult for people with sight or mobility impairments, and those with prams or buggies. While resulting damage to the pavement and verges is uppermost, a trip hazard, maintenance and personal injury claims are also a cost to local authorities.
Whilst some sections of Mill Road’s pavements look wide, a large part of what you think is the pavement may be the shops’ forecourt, which they can use for outdoor stalls, seating or displays.
When cars, vans and lorries pull onto the pavement, it leaves little room for people to walk past. It’s even harder if you’re pushing a child’s buggy, or using a wheelchair. And should you have to pull your toddler out of the way of somebody’s car?
But isn’t pavement parking already illegal?
Since 1974, parking on pavements, with certain exceptions, has been prohibited in Greater London… [with] Exemptions at specific locations … indicated by traffic signs… The reverse applies elsewhere in England, where parking on pavements and verges is permitted unless specifically prohibited by a … Traffic Regulation Order (TRO). The DfT is currently … looking at how … to make TROs easier to implement, including for pavement parking.
The offence of unnecessary obstruction of the highway, which includes the road as well as the pavement … allow[s] proceedings to be brought by the police … where parking on the pavement, in such a way as to cause obstruction, is … avoidable.
Understandably, CamCycle complain that “The police have failed to take action to address pavement parking,” however, as has been pointed out elsewhere on this website…
Cambridgeshire County Council have had powers to deal with this for over nine years.
Councils with civil parking enforcement powers (including Cambridgeshire County Council) were given ‘special authorisation’ in February 2011 by the (then) Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Norman Baker, to prohibit parking on footways and verges, wherever they considered it necessary. This would be through a traffic regulation order (TRO, or ETRO).
Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 allows most types of parking contraventions to be enforced by local authorities [in our case Cambridgeshire County Council – Ed] as a civil matter, instead of as a criminal matter by the police. enforcement ceases to be the responsibility of the police and becomes the responsibility of the local authority…
Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs)… place Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) on offending vehicles [and] the local authority retains the proceeds from the penalty charges, which are used to finance the enforcement…* Any surpluses must be used for prescribed purposes only.
❌ Cambridgeshire County Council would be under no obligation to do anything. The County have had powers to use TROs to deal with pavement parking for over nine years – powers they have not used, despite there being no cost to council tax payers. Option 1 would, effectively, mean no change to having to dodge cars, taxis, vans and lorries on Mill Road’s pavements.
❌ The same issues apply. Option 2 is simply an extension to the powers which Cambridgeshire County Council have been ignoring for nearly a decade. Would anything change?
✅ The effect of a national pavement parking prohibition would be to reverse the current situation. Cambridgeshire County Council would be obliged to enforce the ban, and would also have to decide where to allow pavement parking. (And, if drivers ignore the ban, the PCN revenue may even help to fill a few potholes.)
We can see why CamCycle write…
We encourage residents to respond positively to the government’s consultation and to support option 3 … In the meanwhile, we continue to ask why the police are not doing more to keep pavements clear for pedestrians.
Nothing would change about the parking arrangements along the narrow sections of (eg) Cockburn Street, Thoday Street and Catharine Street, unless residents asked for change.
Local authorities would be expected to decide where pavement parking remained necessary and to introduce the necessary exemptions and to place traffic signs and bay markings to indicate where pavement parking is permitted. The bay could be placed completely on the pavement where there is sufficient width, or part on / part off.
What would change, is that it would become unlawful to pull any vehicle onto any of Mill Road’s pavements – and the same across the whole of Cambridge – except for specific exemptions. These would include:
fire brigade purposes
delivery, collection, loading or unloading of goods to, or from any premises, in the course of business; where this cannot reasonably be carried out without the vehicle being parked on a pavement
We have been approached, indirectly, by a local A-Level Geography student who is doing a project on the impact of Airbnb on Mill Road.
I am an A level student completing my NEA (coursework) by studying how the prevalence of AirBnBs has affected the sense of place along Mill Road. This is a very short survey , but will be invaluable for my coursework. Thank you for your time.
The Grinch (aka Covid-19) might have stolen the Mill Road Winter Fair, but the Winter Fair committee have an alternative plan to celebrate Mill Road’s ‘Community of Communities’.
Current Chair of the Fair Committee, Kate Collins, says: “We are so sad to have to cancel what would have been our 16th Fair. The Fair has always been important to traders, performers, and the local community. It is a great way to bring people together and to celebrate this unique part of Cambridge.Government restrictions do not allow large gatherings and it is impossible to know if this will be relaxed by December.
“With this in mind, we will be coordinating a community project, Mill Road Lanterns, in what would have been the run up to the Fair to draw people to the road and to keep the spirit of the Fair alight. This and other local community projects are funded by a new charity, Love Mill Road, and we are thrilled that this will help to make the Fair more sustainable long- term.”
Love Mill Roadhas grown from the Fair and from the legacy of the Suzy Oakes Trust. The charity (which can benefit from Gift Aid) has been established to provide a way to channel sponsorship and donations to Mill Road community projects taking place throughout the year, including the non-commercial aspects of the Mill Road Winter Fair.
Mill Road Lanternswill celebrate the identity and culture of Mill Road, highlighting the diversity, history and independence of the neighbourhood. Throughout the summer, local residents and schoolchildren from some of the side streets off Mill Road have been putting together words and images to reflect what is special about their community. These are being transformed by local artist and illustrator, Penny Sobr, into ten stunning community lanterns which will be hung in shops on either side of the Mill Road Bridge. The lanterns will be illuminated in the first two weeks of December, spanning the weekend when this year’s Fair was to take place. We hope to add further lanterns to represent Mill Road streets, schools and organisations in the years to come and that the lanterns will form the core of the community parade in future Fairs.
An illustrated Mill Road Trail will accompany the lanterns project and will depict the personality and individuality of Cambridge’s most vibrant neighbourhood. It will feature lantern venues as well as other places of interest. The Mill Road Trail will be launched at the end of November; we hope it will encourage people to come to Mill Road to explore its shops, eat in its cafés and generally soak up the special Mill Road vibe.
Finally, for those of you who are missing attending the Fair, from from 1st to 14th December, the Mill Road Winter Fair website will host Mill Road Fair Online, promoting many of the local performers, artists, organisations and charities who would have been there on the day.
We can’t replace the 2020 Fair but, with the help of Love Mill Road, we can shine a spotlight on some of Mill Road’s stories, buildings, history and culture.
Tracey has contacted us with this heartwarming story…
I’m looking to find a lady who helped me during a crisis so I can thank her and I’m hoping you can help.
About 10am on Friday 11th September, I became ill on Mill Road near the disused Micky Flynn building. A lady who I had never met before drove me to A&E at Addenbrooke’s but I was in such a lot of pain that I didn’t think to ask for her contact details.
I think she said her name was Kate (but I might be wrong), I think she was probably in her 40s (again, I might be wrong), she went to fetch her car so must live in the Petersfield area*. She drives a small silver car.
*It may have been parked in Gwydir Street car park. – Web Editor
I know that’s not an awful lot of information to go on but I wondered if you could publish this, in the hope that someone will know who she is, so I can thank her for her help.
Two major projects are currently under way in the Mill Road area – Maintenance and stabling sidings for Govia Thameslink Railways (with Trainwash facilities of huge concern to Great Eastern Street residents) and Ironworks, the former Mill Road Depot.
Developers who want to build a large block of student flats on the edge of this small but well-used Petersfield park slipped a consultation document out in April, while most people were preoccupied with lockdown.
“As a former local resident, now 95, I totally reject the proposed centre,” Dorothy wrote to developers Federated Hermes, along with more than 100 local residents who also sent in their objections. Though confined to her present home in Gloucester by the pandemic, she sent her support to Friends of St Matthew’s Piece.
After her wartime service in the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, Dorothy became a pacifist, trained as a social worker and is still active in numerous community groups. In recent years she has advised the government, NHS and national charities on issues around inclusion and ageism. Due to represent the navy at the 75th anniversary of VE Day, Dorothy was instead phoned by the Princess Royal when all events were cancelled.
A founder-member of Petersfield Area Community Trust, she has studied the results of increasing inequality, 20 years after a survey found that 10% of the Petersfield population lived below the poverty line.
“The statement ‘We’re in it together’ has to be challenged,” Dorothy told Friends of St Matthew’s Piece. “The private business world is achieving what it wants. This area has a long history of continuous development, and of losing community assets.”
Petersfield, though densely populated, has less public open space than any other ward in Cambridge.
“There are lots of people in Petersfield without gardens, some occupying one room in a house,” says Dorothy. “If people haven’t got gardens and haven’t got much money, they need free access to some open space. That’s being deliberately taken away from Petersfield.”
The proposed student flats would be built above the former Howard Mallett youth centre – Dorothy notes that rates of youth offending increased after the centre was closed. Developers would also fell at least two of the mighty plane trees that are a feature of St Matthew’s Piece.
“Trees are extremely important,” says Dorothy. All the evidence shows there’s something important about the function of trees. Loss of trees is a health problem. Losing the big trees that are protecting our environment is extremely risky.”