… to raise funds for local community-based Cambridge Sustainable Food’s food justice work across the city.
Cambridge Sustainable Food provide food justice work across the city. They work with residents, businesses, organisations and community groups to advocate for, and enable access to, healthy and sustainably produced food that is good for people and good for the planet.
Tackling food-related inequality is one of today’s most urgent challenges if we are to stem the rising tide of hunger, obesity and other diet-related ill-health such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Cambridge Sustainable Food convenes Cambridge Food Poverty Alliance, a multi-agency partnership which aims to reduce food poverty locally. Read more about this work here, the emergency food access here, and read/download the Covid-19 Emergency Food Response April 2020 – March 2021 (PDF) here.
Maurizio is on the run!
Mill Road’s godfather of pizza and pasta is taking part in the Cambridge Half Marathon on Sunday 17th October 2021.
You can help Maurizio raise funds for local community-based Cambridge Sustainable Food’s food justice work across the city and reach his £500 target by donating what you can via his GoFundMe page, here.
Eat for our Future Campaign
Food poverty is only one aspect of Cambridge Sustainable Food’s work. Food needs to be not only good for people and the planet, but also good for local economies, businesses and jobs.
As part of the newly launched Eat for our Future Campaign Cambridge Sustainable Food will be holding a variety of events across October to help Cambridge eat a Climate Diet, with in-person stalls where you can ask your questions and make a pledge, online events chaired by local sustainable food experts to guide you to a diet that is kinder to the planet, and running seminars for businesses to help them serve food for the future.
Stewart Taylor, Vicar of St Philip’s Church for the past 30 years, is retiring at the end of September and will be greatly missed by parishioners and the wider community.
Many people who are not churchgoers will know Stewart and Sarah through the many ways in which St Phillip’s is embedded in the community. If you would like to say a fond farewell, here are some other the weekend’s events.
Saturday 25th September 3pm – 4pm: Presentation with speeches in the Church
Sunday 26thSeptember 10.30am: Stewart’s final service. As you would imagine, St Philip’s are expecting high numbers of people in attendance. There will be no distancing in church, but please (if you can) wear a mask throughout the service and the building will be kept well ventilated. Refreshments will be served afterwards.
More details details can be found on the St Phillip’s Cambridge website and in the latest edition of Lookout in which members of St Philip’s share memories of, and tributes to Stewart and Sarah.
The recent death, aged 85, of former proprietor Gerd Browne (née Hamer) – Norwegian ski champion, intrepid adventurer, active member of the Buddhist community and anti-nuclear campaigner – has prompted us to publish some memories of the much-loved – now much-missed – Browne’s Bookstore, and of its proprietor and staff.
Born in 1936, Gerd completed an English and teaching degree at Oslo University and was working at a Norwegian ski resort when she met her husband-to-be Patrick Browne in 1960. The couple married in 1962 in Norway. They lived in London, before spending two years in Italy, with their eldest child, Cecilie, still a young baby at the time.
The family lived in Cambridge from 1965-1974 –during which time Gerd gave birth to their two sons, Alex (b 1965) and Anthony (b 1967) – before moving to a 10-acre smallholding in Fowlmere, half of which was planted with potatoes. Gerd threw her energy into vegetables, and chickens, and starting the Bookstore, as well as bringing up her three children.
Gerd moved to Cambridge in 1982 after separating from Patrick, becoming politically active in the anti-nuclear movement, including visiting Greenham Common. In 1984 she bought the house in Newnham where she lived for 37 years, until her death, this year.
Family get-togethers for Gerd and her three children may have been interesting, as her children have rather different political persuasions. Cecilie has been an environmental activist, Alex has been an animal rights activist, while Anthony was an adviser to then London mayor Boris Johnson before being elected as Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire.
Gerd died peacefully at Addenbrooke’s on 4th July 2021, following a short illness.
For 30 years Browne’s Bookstore – opening in 1976 as a husband and wife joint enterprise, before husband Patrick moved on to publishing – was a Mill Road institution, closing its doors to customers for the final time in 2007. When the Bookstore opened in 1976 it also sold potatoes by the sack, from the family smallholding in Fowlmere. Very Mill Road!
When Browne’s was extended to include the former tiny haberdashery shop – ‘Stitches’ – next door at 54a, daughter Cecilie was employed to design and paint the new double shop front. (See the photo at the head of this post.) She also designed plastic bags and bookmarks with the slogan: Come and browse at Browne’s.
For more than 30 years, Browne’s Bookstore flourished; an institution, a constant of life in and around Mill Road.
Gerd Browne loved her shop; and, perhaps because it was a small local enterprise and they were a small team, the staff all cared about Browne’s too. For many of them Gerd was a friend as well as an employer. She shared her ideas with them and listened, open-mindedly, to theirs. She was thoughtful, and generous.
In autumn a jostling stream of students arrived, needing course-books, advice and information – keeping everyone more than busy; then flowers for the workers came from Gerd. At Christmas there was an evening out together. And, after the New Year stocktaking, when friends and partners were invited in for a day of book counting, she took everyone to the Salisbury Arms, around the corner in Tenison Road, for a companionable meal.
Browne’s was never just any old bookshop. It was useful, regarded with deep affection, and familiar to so many people.
Do you want the latest novel by your favourite author? Browne’s will probably have it.
The big book shops have all told you that the book which you want is out of print, unavailable? Browne’s will somehow track it down.
You need an obscure come on pamphlet published in 1946? Browne’s will get you a copy.
There is a birthday coming up and you’ve forgotten to buy a card? Browne’s have a wonderful selection; and wrapping paper, too, if you need it.
You’ve been cooped up with the children for seemingly endless days of rain. Take them to Browne’s. They can choose a book and sit on the floor in the children section whilst you socialise and browse; then you can go home refreshed and read their choice till bedtime.
Do you want to put up a notice? It can be displayed on Browne’s free noticeboard. Where can you find the leaflet that’s going around? At Browne’s.
The list of roles played by Browne’s is seemingly endless. You met all sorts of people there. Local authors. Local artists. Eccentrics. Academics. Hippies. Three successive generations of the same family.
People on the street still stop to talk to one-time customers and one-time members of staff. They all say the same things:
Oh, I DO miss Browne’s. I STILL miss Browne’s.
Elizabeth (Mysia) Baggs and Sally-Ann Ball, former employees
Gerd was a joy to work for – very ethical and good to her staff.
Gill Wakefield, former book-keeper
Meet some of the Bookstore staff
Interior and exterior views
When Browne’s Bookstore closed its doors to customers for the final time in 2007, independent bookshops across the UK had been closing down at a rate of two per week for some time. Gerd had held out for as long as she could in order to keep her loyal staff employed, but with the rapid rise of internet book sales and the end of her contract with Norwegian libraries, there was no option but to close.
Customers’ memories (and memories of customers)
I have pleasant memories of browsing through bookshelves brimming with so much useful and interesting literature, in Browne’s Bookstore.
I suppose the most significant memory is that of negotiating with Mrs Browne’s son, c 1986, to set up an exchange system for A level (and O level added later) Physics & Mathematics text books, to help the relatively impoverished students of my Evening Class at what was then the Technical College. (Although I admit to also informing my students at St Andrew’s VIth Form College, where I was head tutor in Maths & Physics, of the arrangement!) He was very obliging and the arrangement was a great success, both for the students and for Browne’s, and ran for some years as the Tech morphed into a Poly, and beyond.
Ed Lloyd Jenkins, local resident
People would pop in for a chat, whether it was the two old ladies needing an ear for their woes, families coming in with their children, students returning to introduce partners and offspring, all were welcome.
Mysia Baggs, former employee
One day, a young woman took her time choosing which of two brand new, and very expensive, academic books was in the best condition.
Having made her choice, and paid for her purchase, she revealed that, with heavy books like these, she always cut them into sections at the spine, as this made it lighter to carry just the one or two sections needed for her studies on any particular day.
Sally-Ann Ball, former employee
I used to buy some of my undergraduate text books from Browne’s bookstore in the mid 1990s. It was especially convenient, because at that time we lived in Norfolk, so I travelled to Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, by rail.
I’d often pop into Browne’s to and from the station. They had a great range of academic books, including second hand texts, and the staff were always extremely helpful.
In 1998 we moved to Perowne Street, so I enjoyed a few years of browsing Browne’s on a very regular basis. Sadly by the time I took my Master’s degree, the store had closed.
Carol Ann Wood, local author and resident
At some time in the 1980s I read a review in The Observer of a first novel that sounded interesting. I meant to keep the review but forgot.
It was several weeks before I could afford to buy a book by which time I had forgotten both the name of the book and the author.
I went to Browne’s and explained the situation to Gerd and said that all I could remember was that the photo of the author was a woman wearing glasses and that the review had referenced King Lear.
Within 30 seconds I had Jane Smiley’s ‘1000 Acres’ in my hand! I was extremely impressed!
Andy Laing, local resident
I was a great fan of Browne’s Bookstore from its opening day.
I remember ordering an obscure academic book from them not long after opening as they were often quicker than the large established bookshops such as Heffers. (This was long before the internet!) ‘Computing methods in Crystallography’ by J. Rollett.
When it came in Mr & Mrs Browne said it is far too expensive (£21) and they could not possibly charge me that, so they gave it to me at wholesale price.
You may like to see these three drawings I made of Browne’s Bookstore over the years. For the eagle-eyed: the pavement A-board sign still exists outside Arjuna, repainted.
Sam Motherwell, local artist, and resident
And finally, which shop was which?
We were asked: “Did Browne’s take over the former Last Exit bookshop premises?” We checked. No. Last Exit was at Nº 54 and is now the premises of Mr Ho, Chinese restaurant.
Discover more about Nº54 Mill Road, in its incarnations as Last Exit, Bar Italia, Bosphorus and Tulip Restaurant – with a tiny glimpse of Stitches at Nº54a – on the Capturing Cambridge website.
And, “Wasn’t Andy’s Records at Nº56?” Yes, but… both shops shared the same street number, though entirely separate premises!
This post is open for comments. Please add your own recollections of browsing at Browne’s.
In the real world the relationship between cause and effect can be difficult to trace but that is the task that Cambridgeshire County Council’s Highways and Transport Committee faced in deciding the future of Mill Road Bridge.
Nobody doubts that Mill Road Traders experienced hard times during the pandemic, but was their hardship the result of restricted access to Mill Road Bridge? Or could it have been part of a wider decline in trade, which caused huge retail giants such as John Lewis and others to teeter, with Debenhams, Top Shop and others vanishing from our High Streets and shopping centres?
The Highways and Transport Committee’s decision to reopen the bridge, which was passed by the acting Chair’s casting vote on Tuesday 27th July appears to endorse this correlation. A connection between poor respiratory health prior to lockdown and pollutants that exceed those levels considered acceptable by the WHO, was not endorsed by that majority of one.
The positive aspect of this decision is that there will be a consultation on the experiences of residents and traders and the impacts that removing the restrictions on the bridge will have on health, collisions and an upturn in trade. These are trends that must be monitored.
Meanwhile, there is a question mark over whether the abrupt ending of the scheme could have financial implications for Cambridgeshire County Council’s future central government (DfT) funding for active transport schemes.
In a sign of the growing frustration within government at some councils, both Conservative and Labour, which have removed active travel schemes in the face of sometimes noisy objections, transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris is formally writing to the leaders of all English local authorities with transport responsibilities.
We can now report that the application has been withdrawn. See the text of the letter (below) from Luke Waddington, Planning Officer, Greater Cambridge Shared Planning.
Cambridge City Council Application for Planning Permission
Why you have received this letter
Proposal: Demolition of existing HMO and construction of 7 no. replacement 1 bedroom apartments and 1 no. restaurant
Site address: 60 Mill Road Cambridge CB1 2AS
Further to previous correspondence relating to the above matter, I write to inform you that the applicant has asked for the application to be withdrawn. Accordingly, we have stopped all work on processing the application and no decision will be made. There is no right of appeal against such a decision.
What happens next?
The applicant may choose to re-submit this or an amended application to us at a future date. We will notify you again if such an application is submitted.
Tracking future applications
Through our web site you can save searches on specific criteria such as a property address or mapped area, you can then choose to receive updates by email when new applications are submitted meeting your criteria.
Cambridge Labour Party have published a short survey to measure public opinions about the future of Mill Road.
Whilst Mill Road Bridges have no political affiliations, we would be wrong not to draw this survey to local residents’ attention. It is noteworthy that the Vice-Chair of the Cambridgeshire County Council Highways and Transportation Committee is now Councillor Gerri Bird (Labour, Chesterton Division). It would seem likely that Councillor Bird will have the results of the survey drawn to her attention.
Please fill itin – the result is likely to influence the way that Labour councillors vote in the Highways Committee on this issue.
If, however, you would prefer to contact your local Cambridgeshire County Councillor directly their contact details may be found here:
This blogpost is also open for (polite) comments. We will contact Councillors Howitt and Shailer to ask that they monitor the post for comments, though we cannot guarantee that your comments will be seen, councillors being busy people not full-time public employees.
Mill Road independent shops are at risk of closure if this bridge continues to be closed. Please share this event with your friends and family members.
Don’t Kill Mill Road Facebook page
It is not known whether the protesters will attempt to physically prevent pedestrians and cyclists from using the bridge, or only the limited range of vehicles currently permitted to use the bridge.
These details are published here to enable those who support the aims of the protesters to join the protest. If you oppose the protesters, it might be better to avoid the bridge at the time of the protest and make your feelings known elsewhere.
This post is open for (polite) comments, whatever your view.
Week of Action Monday 12th July – Sunday 18th July 2021
The Living Streets organisation is hoping to map some of the obstructions that clutter our pavements throughout this week. Can you help to highlight the problems which pedestrians face in and around Mill Road?
If you can, please take some time, during the week, to record the locations of misplaced or broken street furniture and guard rails, A-boards cluttering narrow pavements, badly located bike racks, disused phone boxes, traffic signs or street lamps in the middle of pavements and other obstruction. Enter those details in the simple map provided, together with a photograph if you can take one.
However… Traders are permitted to place sign-boards, produce stalls, tables and chairs on their forecourt area. Often the only way to distinguish between the footway and the forecourt is a line of paving blocks. Take a look at the annotated photo, below.
Cambridge City Council’s consultation is open from 2nd July to 15th August 2021.
Litter has been a long-standing problem for Cambridge, as the photo and linked article, below, illustrate.
Tidying litter costs us all a lot of money every year, so maintaining a cleaner, greener Cambridge is a priority in Cambridge City Council’s Corporate Plan. It’s unrealistic to expect a completely litter-free city, but the council want to significantly reduce it and increase re-use and recycling.
The council are developing a litter strategy, which will cover the management of litter on streets and open spaces. It will include flytipping and street sweeping.
Cambridge City Council need to hear your views on litter and the litter-cleaning services they provide. This will help the council to shape future priorities and recognise what they do well and where they could make improvements.
It would be great if Mill Road area residents respond. Whilst many respondents may focus on the city’s more well-known open spaces – like Parker’s Piece, Jesus Green and Midsummer Common – along with the historic city centre, we need to make our local needs known.
Mill Road Cemetery has its own problems, as do Romsey Rec, Coleridge Rec and St Matthew’s Piece, But what about our side streets? Is your side street near to a take-away? Does each morning bring a regular harvest of discarded drinks cans, expanded polystyrene boxes and part-eaten food? Does it suffer from fly-tipping?
The survey should take about 15 minutes, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve been a good citizen by taking part, and, as a bonus, you can enter a prize draw for £100 of vouchers at the end!
The survey closes at midnight on 15th August 2021. You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about it or the council’s work to prevent litter. They can also provide a printed version of the survey if you know someone without internet access who would like to participate.