Octo Spa at the Sedgwick Lighthouse

Yes! Another Dinky Door in the Mill Road area.

Lighthouse and octopus spa photo
Octo Spa and lighthouse – Photo: ©DinkyDoors Click the image to read more on Dinky Doors’ website

The Octo Spa and lighthouse have appeared at the junction of Sedgwick Street and St Philip’s Road in Romsey Town.

Octo Spa experiences list
See the Octo Spa experiences on offer – Photo: Mill Road Bridges
Exfoliation bath
No diving, dunking, bombing, inking, petting, thongs or swimming
Make sure to stick to the rules! Photo: Mill Road Bridges

Read more, from Alex Spencer in the Cambridge Independent, with photos from Keith Heppell – Dinky Doors: Cambridge street wakes up to an octopus’s garden.

And from Lottie Limb in the Cambridge News, with more photos – Delightful new Dinky Door appears on residential Cambridge street.

Mill Road – The Future

Is the Mill Road community an undifferentiated block, who agree on everything? Far from it. That’s why we adopted (borrowed) the phrase Community of Communities. Gather half-a-dozen Mill Roaders in a meeting and you’ll generate a score of differing opinions.


We are pleased to see the establishment of a new website and group trying to create a positive vision for the future of Mill Road.

Mill Road – A Street for People is a group of Cambridge residents working on a non-partisan basis to seek consensus to get the best Mill Road for everyone.

Note Mill Road – A Street for People is not controlled by, nor aligned to Mill Road Bridges. We exist to foster debate about Mill Road and will draw attention to all websites, protests, opinion surveys and events concerning Mill Road which come to our attention, on whatever ‘side’ of any ‘argument’ they stand.

Photo of cyclist crossing Mill Road Bridge

It is a site which hosts a variety of (sometimes overlapping, sometimes conflicting) ideas.

This post is open to (polite) comments, and so is Mill Road – A Street for People.

There are endless discussions on Nextdoor, Facebook and Twitter, but not everyone has (or wants) an account on those social media. This site is open to all, as is Mill Road – A Street for People.


And what of the future?

Since June 2020 there have been restrictions on what traffic can lawfully use Mill Road Bridge – see Wider footways, barriers and bridge restrictions. Some claim that the restrictions are ‘killing’ Mill Road. Others point to the new businesses starting up in Mill Road as signs of change and growth. These include the Harvest Organic Supermarket, and the Eclipse Bakery on Romsey Broadway; whilst, on the Petersfield (city) side, Finn Boys Fish Butchery restaurant, a new Co-op, The Lads Piri-Piri, and another restaurant – Fancett’s – at 96A (Fabio’s former premises) have recently opened or are about to open.

Image street sign
MILL ROAD OPEN
SHOPS OPEN FOR BUSINESS
BRIDGE CLOSED TO THROUGH TRAFFIC
(EXCEPT FOR BUSES AND CYCLES)

Some want all restrictions on bridge traffic removed, to bring ‘passing trade’ back to Mill Road. Others insist that passing motor-traffic is just that. Passing. Not stopping. Not shopping. Would the return of the previous traffic congestion, air pollution and road traffic accidents be worth it for the alleged benefits to traders?

Can compromises be found?

Limited taxi access over the bridge? All taxis? Even the Wolverhampton-registered private hire vehicles operating in Cambridge?

Access for Blue Badge holders? Difficult as the Blue Badge is a parking permit, linked to an individual (driver or passenger) not a vehicle. But could a means be found?

Delivery vehicles to traders? Which ones? What times?

Some blame any drop in trade to the current restrictions on Mill Road Bridge, while others point out that Covid-related restrictions on shopping, eating out, and socialising have hit businesses across the city and the country.

Many have pointed out that it wasn’t traffic restrictions which led to the demise of the once mighty Cambridge and District Co-operative Society, nor to the failure of BHS, Debenhams, Top Shop, and many more; that every High Street, including Mill Road, has had changes of shops.

Doreen’s – The noted shop for coats – is long gone. As shopping preferences change, so do the shops.

Photo of former shop on Mill Road, Doreen's coats
Doreen’s – Courtesy of the Suzy Oakes Collection

To get a flavour of earlier discussions see the links at the foot of this post.


Let’s get the debate progressing.

This post is open to (polite) comments, and so is Mill Road – A Street for People.


And now for something completely different (but related)

Have you ever wondered why Mill Road has become the lucky host to Cambridge Central Mosque?

Could it be that, just as half-a-dozen Mill Roaders will generate a score of differing opinions. That’s exactly the same for Muslims?

Listen to Baroness Sayeeda Warsi on the subject of the ‘Muslim community’.

“You want to talk to me about Muslims, as if somehow they’re just one big monolithic block? You get two Muslims in a room you get six opinions.”

Sayeeda Warsi on Channel 4’s Stand Up and Deliver

If you haven’t seen the two programmes, they are well worth a watch, with (spoiler alert) Sayeeda Warsi a worthy winner, and Rev Richard Coles a commendable runner-up.

No wonder the Cambridge Central Mosque was built on Mill Road – an ideal place for a beautiful building and a continuing debate about the best future for the ‘Mill Road community’.


See also:

Planned Replacement for Bibimbap House – How Big?

Plans have been submitted to the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning service for the complete demolition of the Bibimbap House Korean Restaurant building and the residential accommodation above and behind it. If approved, the existing three-story building would be replaced by a five-storey building, with an additional basement.

Existing building with restaurant on ground floor
Proposed building with additional storeys and restaurant on ground-floor and in basement

What do you think of these proposals? You can check out the full details, and download all of the drawings, here.

Read the comments which other local residents have made about the application, here. You will note that there is a very thorough, detailed objection from the occupant(s) of 21 Mill Street.

If you’d like your views taken into account by the planning committee, log in to the planning portal and submit your own comment here.


This post is open for comments, but please remember that nothing published on our website can be considered by the City Council’s planning committee. You are, however, welcome to use this space to encourage others to submit their own comments on the planning portal.

Local Singer’s Debut Single

YOU & I is the debut single by Lorenza Wildcard, who has been a Mill Roader since returning to the UK from a career break on the Spanish island of Menorca in November 2019.

Born out of a woman’s need to give voice to her feelings following her marriage break-up, the song conveys Wildcard’s raw emotions in honest lyrics which she hopes will help others who are experiencing the same grief.

YOU & I Single Cover ©Lorenza Wildcard

After the break-up, just before the Covid-19 pandemic struck the UK, the Italian-born media graduate of London Metropolitan University and ex- Londoner found herself alone through lockdown. A recipe for going-stir crazy, you might think, but Wildcard struck up socially-distanced friendships with neighbours in one of the area’s friendliest streets. And she discovered a new talent when she decided to set her feelings down on paper as a way to process the emotional turmoil.

Just 24 hours after writing YOU & I – her first song – and recording her vocals and guitar accompaniment on her mobile phone, Wildcard was approached by producer Ettore della Campa who loved the song and saw potential in her heartfelt vocal style. Della Campa provided studio time to enable Wildcard to record YOU & I professionally. View an excerpt from the video here…

YOU & I – a classic pop ballad with a modern feel– is an uplifting and empowering story told by a promising new singer-songwriter. It aims to speak to all the lost and broken souls whose confidence and self-belief have been shaken to the core. Using powerful lyrics, gritty vocals, and beautiful harmonies Lorenza Wildcard hopes to inspire others to take back control of their lives and follow their dreams.

I wanted to tell my story and share what I went through in the hope that it would reach, help and empower other women who are in a similar situation. I have learnt that I am not alone and a breakup is not going to shake the foundations of who I am, because I am many things – not just a partner. I have grabbed my chances with both hands and I have cut my own path in search of my very own realisation.

This whole experience started by chance and it has been great fun, but I have made it my choice to be where I am today by being true to myself and working hard to get better, and perhaps that also brought me luck.

Lorenza Wildcard

YOU & I, has been available to stream and download on all major music platforms including iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer and Tidal, since Friday 28th May 2021.


Follow Lorenza Wildcard:

// Facebook // Instagram // Twitter // YouTube // Tik Tok // SoundCloud //


Updates…

Lorenza Wildcard was interviewed by Cambridge 105 Radio‘s Linda Ness & Suzie Thorpe on their Women Making Waves programme on Friday 4th June 2021, And has been added to Cambridge 105’s Unsigned Chart for listeners to vote.

Click to listen to the interview and the song

On Tuesday 8th June 2021 she had a photoshoot with Cambridge Independent’s Keith Heppell to illustrate her interview with Adrian Peel. Read the article and view the photos here: Cambridge singer-songwriter Wildcard takes her chance after penning debut single.


Foudil Rerizani

We were saddened to learn today – Wednesday 21st April 2021 – of the passing of popular Mill Road restaurateur, Foudil Rerizani.

Foudil had been living with cancer for some while, but his health declined rapidly over the last few weeks.

Foudil, photo courtesy of Bedouin restaurant.

Cambridge University educated Foudil established the much loved, ever-popular Al Casbah restaurant, at 62 Mill Road, in 1997 as one of the first Charcoal grill restaurants in East Anglia, specialising in marinated grilled meats and fish, with the grill – and leaping flames – eye-catchingly positioned by the front window. The quirky charm of the establishment led to it being described in a Les Routiers review as “un per decentré”.

Al Casbah has since been passed down from father to sons – Karim, Samir, Yacine, Nacer and Djamel – who continue the family tradition of serving fresh North African cuisine.

Foudil and sons, photo courtesy of Al Casbah restaurant

While the boys were growing up, Foudil provided the boys with their own games hall ‘hangout’, open to all, at 98–100 Mill Road, which kept them out of trouble. Since 2011 the premises have been home to Bedouin, the family’s other Mill Road restaurant, replete with a real Bedouin tent and wall rugs from the Sahara, serving traditional tagines and couscous dishes from across the Maghreb.

As well as being a successful restaurateur, Foudil was a good friend of Mill Road especially other café, restaurant and catering proprietors in the area, to whom he lent his expertise. Our thoughts are with his family and many friends. He will be sadly missed and fondly remembered.

FotoDinkyMat Zapped by Aliens?

Following our earlier excitement at the mini photo-booth on Mill Road bridge and the community’s disappointment at reports that the photo-booth had been stolen, the community has rallied round. The Cambridge Independent asked for information…

… and Tara produced a poster.

Poster –Stolen: FotoDinkyMat
If found contact Cambridge Independent
Tara’s poster

Local artist Naomi Davies offered a print of her Dinky Doors painting as a reward for information leading to the safe return of the Mill Road PhotoDinkyMat.

Photo of Naomi Davies’ painting of Cambridge’s Dinky Doors
And Maurizio Dining offered free pizza

It seems, however, that all is not quite so simple…

Wreckage of the former booth has since been found on the pavement. When our web-editor visited today, he found a crime scene, where Dinky Constabulary’s DI Wallace and his colleague DDC* Gromit (both on secondment from Aardman Constabulary) were investigating.
* (Dog Detective Constable)

DDC Gromit (left) and DI Wallace at the crime scene
The same scene viewed from the Dinky Constabulary drone

DI Wallace and DDC Gromit refused to comment on speculation that the photo-booth had succumbed to alien attack. “We are keeping an open mind, and examining all of the evidence,” said DI Wallace, “however we regard the Melt-o 3000 as highly significant.”

A close-up view of the Melt-o 3000

Three teenagers who go by the collective name of ‘The Dolly Darlings’ were “shocked” to see the damage. “We were hoping to to get a set of photos for our PASS proof-of-age cards for when the pubs reopen, just in time for our 18th birthdays,” said Joanna Darling.

The Dolly Darlings. Left to right: Virginia, Veronica and Joanna

There are further reports on this mystery by Alya Zayed Senior reporter on the Cambridge News – New Dinky Door ‘crime scene’ appears in Cambridge after artwork stolen – and – By Alex Spencer of Cambridge Independent – Dinky Doors: the FotoDinkyMat has returned.

Investigations by Dinky Constabulary continue. Whilst there is a way to contribute financially to the work of Dinky Doors, here.

FotoDinkyMat comes to Mill Road Bridge

A mysterious new Dinky Door has arrived in Cambridge – a photo booth for tiny people. Read more on the Cambridge Independent website.

Mill Road bridge’s dinky door under investigation by K9
Three photos for 3p… if you’re small enough!
Photoshop processing department. Penny Plain: Tuppence Coloured
Essential maintenance: Wallace gives the booth a wipe down…
… whilst Gromit investigates the technical department.
Wallace prepares for his passport photo
Dinky Doors artwork stolen after just four days from Mill Road bridge in Cambridge

By Alex Spencer, in the Cambridge Independent, Friday 2nd April 2021 

Since the last update of this post, doubts have arisen about what really happened to the DinkyFotoMat. Read more: FotoDinkyMat Zapped by Aliens?

Beautiful Indian stonework under threat

Former Bharat Bhavan Temple carvings in old Mill Road Library “to be taken down and skipped”

Piero, Mill Road Traders Association Ambassador, writes…

I am launching an appeal to save this beautiful carved stone being skipped.

These pictures are from the former Bharat Bhavan Temple located in the Old Library on Mill Road.

Since the County Council got it back in its possession, there has been work set in progress to restore the fabric of the building, unfortunately all this carved stone is destined to be taken down to be skipped. I feel that this a completely sacrilegious act to destroy such beautiful work.

I believe it is worth at least £80,000 as it took thousands of hours of work from many sculptors from India and was shipped all the way to Cambridge.

I am appealing to Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council to use those carved stones in a memorial, I already have in mind three locations in Mill Road where it could be placed as a memorial.

We must protect diversity and cultural identities in Mill Road. We haven’t got much time as work begins on Monday 29th March.

The cost for it to be taken down professionally and stored is only £3,000. Mill Road Traders Association can contribute part of the cost but we’d like the community to encourage the authorities to support this project. Mill Road Traders’ Association have also set up a crowdfunding page Save Bharat Bhavan carvings on Mill Road on GoFundMe with a target of £3,250.

If you would be interested in supporting us or have any questions or concerns please email millroadtraders@gmail.com.
Or phone/text/WhatsApp 07909 611 776.

Piero d’Angelico

UPDATE 1 (Sunday 4th April 2021) We have reached the target – thank you! Every additional £ we receive now will go towards the important task of re-homing this piece of Cambridge heritage and not just safely dismantling and storing them. 

Piero d’Angelico

UPDATE 2 (Saturday 10th April) We have had so many emails and phone calls from people who want to help and we are very thankful to you all! 

The funding goal has been raised to £6000 to reflect the installation costs of the carvings, which may also include a heritage plaque telling their story, as well as lighting which changes colour for specific events such as Diwali or the Mill Road Winter Fair. You have all made this happen, with people in Mill Road, Cambridgeshire, and across the country pitching in to help – but please keep passing on our message as every £ helps! 

(It is possible that this number may rise again, but every £ donated helps us do more to save, preserve, and respect this piece of Cambridge heritage.)

Piero d’Angelico

Note: as of Friday 23rd April 2021 at 17:30 the money raised stood at £5,260 


And now, this stunning development…

Mill Road temple carvings sold for £1 ‘worth half a million’

Cambridge Independent, Friday 23rd April 2021, by Alex Spencer

Beautiful carvings from a former temple that were sold to a Cambridge hairdresser by the county council for £1 could be worth as much as £500,000.
Read the full article, here.

Piero D’Angelico with the carvings Picture: Keith Heppell, on the Cambridge Independent website

Our Web Editor adds…
For those wishing to learn more about the background to the library, the temple and its repossession by Cambridgeshire County Council please read on and explore the links below.

The library was built by Cambridge City Council, but passed to the ‘new’ Cambridgeshire County Council under the two-tier reorganisation brought in by The Local Government Act 1972 on April Fool’s Day 1974.

Mill Road Library, from the Capturing Cambridge website

For a brief history of Mill Road Library, click the image above.


For how the reasons behind the County Council’s repossession and the current work, see Debbie Luxon’s report and Frank Gawthrop’s comments.

The 5000-strong Cambridge community fighting against eviction by Debbie Luxon, Community Reporter, Cambridge News, 12th October 2019.

The Indian community organisation that took over the library were granted a 25 year full repairing lease on a peppercorn rent in exchange for maintaining the building fabric. This building which is grade 2, listed was considered a financial liability to the County so this was seen as a zero cost way of maintaining the structure.

Unfortunately the lessees did not spend any money on external maintenance in 10 years allowing water to enter the building and cause extensive damage. The City Council which is responsible in law to ensure listed buildings do not fall into disrepair served notice on the County Council about the deteriorating state and the County sent in surveyors who have estimated the repairs to be in the region of £300,000.

The community association having had free rent declined to pay so the County obtained a court order to regain possession. They may have spent a lot of money on carved statues but they have left local council tax payers with a huge bill.

The lease was held by a company limited by guarantee. This is a fairly usual way that community groups take on financial obligations as it protects the members from any personal claims.

Having cost local tax payers in the region of £300,000 I, for one, think enough public money has been spent already on this failed project. If private individuals want to contribute that is fine and appropriate. If these carvings are valuable they are the property of the company limited by guarantee which leased the building. What are the directors doing about this?

Frank Gawthrop, on Nextdoor.

Victory for Friends of St Matthew’s Piece

Image of planning proposal, with word refused superimposed
Celebratory poster. Email Friends.of.st.matthews.piece@gmail.com to request a copy of the poster to print out.

On Wednesday 24 March 2021, 10.00 am, deep in cyberspace, Super Matt the super squirrel defeated The Thing From Outer Space!

More prosaically Cambridge City Council’s planning committee held a virtual meeting, in which the application to build a block of student flats on St Matthew’s Piece by developers Federated Hermes was considered.

Planning Officers recommended refusal of the application, although there were certain aspects of the local plan and of planning considerations which the development would have satisfied. You can read/download the full officer report (PDF 3.3MB) here (pp187-240).

Of course Super Matt had help from all of the community and Friends of St Matthew’s Piece had massive support for their objection to these plans.

A shoutout to Val Neal who gave a good presentation at the online meeting!

Agnès Aubert, Sleaford Street, on Nextdoor

Would you be able to display Friends of St Matthew’s Piece’s new ‘Refused’ poster in your window?

If yes, please email Email Friends.of.st.matthews.piece@gmail.com to request a copy of the poster to print out. Or just smile and celebrate every time you pass one in the area! Thank you all for your crucial efforts to protect our park.

Of course, any further attempts from these (or any other) developers may emerge. The community would then choose its response.

Everyone’s support and active contributions to preserving, celebrating and protecting St Matthew’s Piece would be very welcome!

Val Neal, North Petersfield, on Nextdoor

As others have posted out, the developers could appeal or submit a modified proposal, so local residents will have to keep being vigilant.

What happens next?

The applicant now has a right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate against our decision to refuse this application. The appeal must be lodged within 6 months of the date of this decision. In the event of an appeal being lodged, and if you have previously commented, we will notify you and forward any comments you may have made to the Planning Inspectorate.

The applicant also has the right to re-submit an amended scheme which may seek to overcome our reasons for refusal. We will notify you again if such an application is submitted.

Notification from Greater Cambridge Joint Planning to people who commented on the application

However, the redoubtable Roy Stamp strikes a positive note…

In Romsey Terrace, we found that fighting an appeal made residents more determined: the residents won in the end!

Roy Stamp, Romsey, on Nextdoor

It is difficult to second guess what this multi-national investment fund will do next.

It is possible that when they bought the site from Chard Robinson they were told, based on the previous scheme that was consulted on but was never actually submitted, that there was development potential.

At the planning committee their agent Bidwells claimed that pre application advice given by the planners at that time was positive, but this has little status as it is not binding on the Council. It is a very weak argument and I was surprised it was even mentioned.

The main problem, if they appeal, is the fairly new National Planning Policy Framework introduced by the LibDem Tory coalition government in 2012. This planning directive considerably weakened the power of local councils’ decision-making powers and introduced an overarching presumption in favour of development. It also gave more power to planning inspectors to award the applicants appeal costs adainst local councils.

This happened five years ago in Station Road where the City turned down plans for a massive office block. BrookGate won the appeal and the Council was forced to pay them £175,000. The reasons for refusal in this case by Cambridge City Council are, however, very robust and are taken from the approved local plan so we are in a strong position.

If Federated Hermes are realistic they will give up as, given the strength of feeling, the local Councillors will undoubtably put considerable funds into the defence of the Councils position at any appeal hearing.

Local activist and fount of knowledge on planning, Frank Gawthrop, South Petersfield, on Nextdoor

How to Research Your House, Street and Area Histories in the Archives

Helen Weinstein’s Talk for Cambridge Festival

Helen Weinstein, as Community Historian for IronWorks (former Mill Road Depôt) showcases sources from Sturton Town in Cambridge telling stories of working class residents from the Victorian Era onwards.

Outdoor water-closet

In this illustrated talk Helen Weinstein, Public Historian & Director of HistoryWorks, will be introducing a wide range of local history sources and their stories from the Area known as ‘Sturton Town’ in Victorian times which is located just off Mill Road in Cambridge covering Gwydir, Kingston, Sturton, Sleaford, Hooper & Ainsworth Streets.

Signatures of Sturton Town residents, 1879

Based on her recent research Helen will be sharing the stories of Resident occupations from the census in Victorian times and revealing sources in the Archives & material objects in the Museum of Cambridge.

Helen will show participants how to find out about properties and the environment of Victorian Cambridge using well known sources like the 1891 census and the trade directories, sharing examples of the range of stories in newspaper and photography archives at the Cambridgeshire Collection. 

Deed for the Hooper Street / Ainsworth Street corner property
The property today, formerly Sarah Scarr’s corner shop

Helen also has considerable experience of maps and manuscript sources, and will show histories revealed when you dig deeper into the Cambridgeshire Archives with fascinating stories about the allotments, commons and parks, public health and sanitation, pub and brewery licensing, workhouse and charitable committees to illuminate the hidden histories of individual Victorian streets and their residents.

Q&A

Bring your questions to the zoom event if you wish. The talk will be hosted by Lucy Walker, Chair of Trustees at the Museum of Cambridge; and Helen & Lucy invite you to ask questions in response to the talk, as well as to share photos, objects or paperwork you’ve found associated with your own house history!

Local history film

If you wish to view an introductory film with a tour of the local history of Sturton Town, presented and produced by Helen Weinstein, click here or on the image above.

Donations

The Museum of Cambridge is in need of your help. This event is free to attend, but we’d be so grateful if you can offer a donation of any size to support us to secure our future. Once you have secured your ticket via Eventbrite, you can donate to the museum here.

SIGN-UP NOW TO RECEIVE AN EMAIL LINK INVITE TO THIS FREE ZOOM TALK:

LINK TO MUSEUM OF CAMBRIDGE ARTEFACTS & ‘FORGE’ EXHIBITION ONLINE

This event partners the Museum of Cambridge, where Helen Weinstein has co-curated an Exhibition called “Forge” alongside local residents in Sturton Town led by Artist in Resident at IronWorks, Hilary Cox Condron; which we invite Cambridge Residents to view online at our exhibition website here.

TO SEE THE EVENTS AT THE ‘FESTIVAL OF CAMBRIDGE’ RUNNING FROM 26TH MARCH TO 4TH APRIL 2021 CLICK HERE.