Mill Road History Society is extremely sad that local champion, historian and founding member, Allan Brigham, has died this week. He was an inspiration and friend to so many and found ways of connecting with most people he met. He was a valued and active member of the committee, always seen at and contributing to meetings. He also helped shape the preceding NLHF funded Mill Road History Project.
In spite of his long battle with cancer he managed to gather his detailed research on places and topics on Mill Road into several very readable publications. These are available on the Capturing Cambridge website and include the early history of Mill Road, Donkey Common, the Mill and the Depot amongst others. He wore his expertise lightly, and was always ready to share his knowledge and skills. The encouragement he gave to other members of the society has been invaluable.
Allan was a long term trustee of the Museum of Cambridge and valued researching and showcasing the history of the town rather than the gown. But as a Blue Badge guide he was also very able to bridge the gap and lend the same authority to both worlds. He delighted in talking about and demonstrating the architectural detailing and infinite social nuancing in a terraced street off Mill Road with the same architectural historian’s eye as when talking about King’s College Chapel or any other prestigious building or street in the city.
Allan also had another passion however – the building and protection of successful local communities, with housing and amenity space for all. He had both an historian’s eye and also that of a street-sweeper and local activist. Visitors and residents loved his walking tours not only because of his ability to shed intriguing light on so many aspects of Cambridge life – opening our eyes to the wealth of social and economic history that is preserved in our built environment – but also because they were always laced with views on planning history and present day issues. We will miss him very much, and send our condolences to his wife Janice, and his family.
You can watch a 2013 interview with Allan talking about his life at https://www.sms.cam.ac.uk/media/1609674.