Cambridge Bedders Talk

Thanks to everyone who attended the talk on Wednesday by author and film maker Catherine Seymour. Catherine told us the story behind her book the Staircase Girls about the Cambridge Bedders and showed us some excerpts from her earlier documentary featuring interviews with current Bedders.

Below are a few photos of the event kindly supplied by Mill Road TV

The Side Streets of Mill Road

Belated thanks to everyone who came along to our talk on the Side Streets of Mill Road with Ian Bent talking about Covent Garden and Allan Brigham on Hemingford Road.

Below are a few photos from the event.

Ian and Allan have kindly made available the slides from their talks for you to download and enjoy.

You can also get these files and others from the Files page.

Look out for our programme of talks and events for 2016/2017 which we will be publishing on the Mill Road History Society web site and Facebook soon.

Demolition of Burmaside House – Part 2

Burmaside House, 2016

Ditchburn Place Planning Ref 15/2171/FUL

In spite of MRHS protestations, Cambridge City Council granted full planning permission for the demolition of Burmaside House as part of its scheme to modernise accommodation at Ditchburn Place. We are also disappointed that we failed to get the whole site listed by Historic England.

However Lucy Walker, chair of Mill Road History Society, has instructed Richard Buxton (environmental and public law) to send a Pre-Action Protocol Letter for Judicial Review, challenging a legal point. We are also objecting to the lack of evidenced evaluation of Burmaside House as a heritage asset in relation to Ditchburn Place (a building of local interest, BLI) and the Mill Road Conservation Area.

Watch this space!

Dale’s Brewery

Dale Miller with a Dale's Brewery sign The Mill Road History Society was recently contacted by Dale Miller from Australia who many years ago acquired this old Dale’s Brewery sign. He is now looking to sell it, preferably back to where it came from, and so the Society has agreed to buy it from him.

The price for the sign is very reasonable given its good condition but the shipping costs are going to be large. If you would like to donate or have any good ideas on how to raise funds for this then please get in touch.

We don’t know the history of the sign – or how it came to be in Australia – but it was most likely displayed on one of the pubs selling Dale’s beers rather than on the brewery itself.


Demolition of Burmaside House

Burmaside House, 2016

Recently the Society has become aware that Cambridge City Council are planning to demolish Burmaside House so that the neighbouring Ditchburn Place can be extended. The planning application reference is 15/2171/FUL.

The planning application comes to committee in the Guildhall on Wednesday 27th April at around 1pm. It is agenda item 14, all are welcome to attend and observe the committee meeting.

The Society fully supports the Council’s aims to provide more and better quality care in Ditchburn Place however, we would like this to be done whilst retaining the exterior of Burmaside House. To that end we have submitted an application for it to be designated a Building of Local Interest and also for the entire Ditchburn Place site to be considered for Grade II listing.

The architect of Burmaside House, S.E. Urwin, who was County Architect in Cambridgeshire during the 1930s, was part of the European ‘International’ architectural movement which sought to change society through design – with very distinctive buildings in health and education. He was unusual in being ‘home grown’ (educated in Birmingham) whereas his more famous contemporaries working in the UK, eg. Berthold Lubetkin (Finsbury Health Centre), and Walter Gropius (in Cambridgeshire, Impington Village College) were Russian and German emigrés.

As a Local Authority architect most of Urwin’s commissions were in health and education: he was defining his style at the County Infirmary (now known as Ditchburn Place), and both the Nurses Home and Burmaside are very much signature buildings. Working with the visionary County Education Officer, Henry Morris, he went on to design Bottisham and Linton Village Colleges (Grade II Listed), Swavesey Junior and Infants school, and the Cambridge and County Girls School, now Long Road 6th form college. From Cambridge he moved to Gloucestershire in 1939 and designed the schools, e.g. Kingswood School and the Women’s Wards at Gloucester Sanatorium.

The applications are linked to above and also available for download on the files page.

You can read more information about the early history of Ditchburn Place on Capturing Cambridge at

Master's House, 1935
Master’s House, 1935

Photos of City Centre in 1971 & the Kite in 1981

This isn’t Mill Road related, however a good source of photos of Cambridge past is worth recording.

In 1971, the late Peter Soar, a Cambridge solicitor and keen amateur photographer, set about recording the last days of the parts of Cambridge city centre destined to be demolished to make way for major redevelopment. He also photographed the area during construction and after most of it was completed.

You can see the photos at

On the same web site is a series of photos taken of the Kite Area in 1981 before its conversion into the Grafton Centre.

They can be seen here

Thanks to Anthony Carpen for the links who also has written about some of our missing social venues at and collected some scanned old photos at

Mill Road History Project Celebration

On Saturday 2nd April volunteers on the Mill Road History Project were invited to a small do at the Bath House to celebrate the end of the original, Heritage Lottery funded, project. The event was well attended with a number of researchers being presented with bound copies of their building reports and a recitation of the Mill Road Poem by its author Dean Parkin. Here are a few photos taken by Allan Brigham, click on the thumbnails for larger versions.

Covent Garden Blue Plaques

A flashback to 2013 when Mill Road History Project founder member Ian Bent featured in the Cambridge News.

11/06/13 Blue plaques in Covent Garden - Petersfield, Cambridge 11/06/13 Ahead of their street party, residents of Covent Garden, in Camobridge, have all got 'blue plaques' in the window about previous notable residents of their houses.  Eileen O'Brien, landlady of the Six Bells, is pictured with local historian Ian Bent. Picture by Keith Heppell
11/06/13 Ahead of their street party, residents of Covent Garden, in Cambridge, have all got ‘blue plaques’ in the window about previous notable residents of their houses. Eileen O’Brien, landlady of the Six Bells, is pictured with local historian Ian Bent. Picture by Keith Heppell

You can read the original news story on the Cambridge News website and more detail about Robert Browning on Capturing Cambridge.

The History Society is looking at a similar scheme for notable people along Mill Road.  If you would like to help out with this project then please contact us.