Notice of Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the Mill Road History Society will be held at the St Barnabas Centre (the Old School behind the church) at 7.30pm on Wednesday 10th May 2017.

Followed by an interactive (meaning we want to hear from members with their memories and information as we look at photos and maps old and new) Virtual Tour of Mill Road.

Your attendance would be greatly appreciated at both the AGM and the Virtual Tour. All are welcome to attend whether you’ve previously been to a Mill Road History event or not.


1. Apologies for Absence
2. Minutes of 2016 AGM
3. Matters Arising
4. Chair’s Report
5. Financial Report
A] Presentation of annual accounts for approval
B] Proposals for raising funds in 2017/18. Membership subscriptions and/or charging for talks and events
6. Election of Committee
7. Any Other Business

Leper Chapel Archaeological Dig

Last year, on the 20th November, members of the society were lucky enough to be invited to visit an archaeological dig site being run by Oxford Archaeology East. The site was on the ground to the East of the Leper Chapel on Newmarket Road and was a short test site prompted by the expected use of the area for the new cycle route in the future.

Oxford Archaeology have now completed their report into what was found on the site which you can download and read.

You can also see some photos from the dig on their Facebook page

And here are a few photos from the Mill Road History visit.

Museum of Cambridge Event: Cambridge’s Archaeology in a View from the Hill

Detail from ‘View of Cambridge From Castle Hill’

The Museum of Cambridge has an interesting event coming up this Thursday which you may be interested in.

Cambridge’s Archaeology in a View from the Hill. 
Thursday 24 November, 7pm – 8.30pm
Museum of Cambridge

Talk by Alison Dickens, of the Cambridge Archaeology Unit

Tickets: £6, £4 concessions. Refreshments included.

To book, email: or call 01223 355 159 in office hours.

The Museum has recently acquired the stunning 1840 picture: ‘View of Cambridge from Castle Hill’. Painted by James Ward, it shows Castle Hill in detail, with beyond a panorama of Cambridge. The railway was still in the future, so the town depicted is small and compact, without the new 19th century suburbs that shaped the future City.

Using the painting as a guide Alison Dickens will give a whistle-stop tour of archaeological discoveries in Cambridge. Alison has been involved in many digs in Cambridge from the Grand Arcade site to Castle Hill. She is Archaeological Manager, Cambridge Archaeological Unit.

This detail from ‘View of Cambridge From Castle Hill’ shows the farm yard at the foot of Castle Hill. Nearby the painting shows a brick yard where the bricks were made to build the houses of 19th century Cambridge.

Highlights of Mill Road

Last Saturday was Open Cambridge 2016 and a small band braved the rain to join our tour of some of the highlights of Mill Road. Lucy Walker led the walk talking in depth about the Cemetery, Ditchburn Place, Railway Cottages and Bharat Bhavan with expert assistance from Caro Wilson and Rasik Kotecha. It ended with wine and an exhibition at the Bath House where Julia Ewans gave a short talk on that building’s history.

Thanks to all who turned up, here are a few photos from the event, mostly courtesy of Mill Road TV.

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