Jul 24 – On this day in Cambridgeshire history

Each day, Mike Petty and I look through the archives of the Cambridge News and recount some of the stories that occurred on this day in history.

New multi-storey car park to open in city centre


Construction of the car park in Lion Yard in 1972.

The Lion Yard multi-deck car park opens on Monday providing another 500 car spaces within a stone’s throw of the centre of Cambridge. The completion marks the first stage of the city council’s multimillion pound redevelopment project for the area which was first proposed nearly 25 years ago. The new park, which aims to cater for the shopper and the shortstay motorist, is the second major car park to open in the city in less than a year.

The other is at Queen Anne Terrace, which opened last October. The usual parking fees will be 5p for the first hour, 15p for two hours, 25p for three hours, up to a maximum of 75p for 10 hours. The council hope the prices will encourage people who work in the city centre to leave their cars in the parks, away from the centre, like New Square and Prospect Row, where the charges are considerably less.

Rededication ceremony for bombed-out church


Jul 24 – On this day in Cambridgeshire historyRuins of the church in Heydon in the 1950s.

Isolated and tranquil, the little village of Heydon stands high on the hills overlooking Royston.

But one night in 1940, a stray German bomb fell at the base of the church tower and the building was practically demolished. After the war, the parishioners held their services in the rectory and negotiated with the War Damage Commission over the rebuilding. On Sunday, a crowd congregation attended the official rededication service.

Jul 24 – On this day in Cambridgeshire historyInscriptions on Heydon Church.

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Firefighters hospitalised with mustard gas burns


Seven members of the Cambridge National Fire Service were at Addenbrooke’s Hospital this morning suffering from slight burns from mustard gas sustained in dealing with a fire involving a truck-load of American gas bombs on the railway line between Six Mile Bottom and Fulbourn late last night. The main line between Cambridge and Ipswich was closed to traffic as a result of contamination over 100 yards. Later, the damaged wagon was tipped off the rails to the side of the line.

The truck was one of a train of 30 to 40 carrying mustard gas bombs from Warren Wood, near Thetford, to Barry in Wales, for dumping in the sea. As it passed through Six Mile Bottom the stationmaster saw that the truck was ablaze. The burning wagon, the third from the engine, was uncoupled, and the engine restarted to pull it away from these.

An eye witness said to a Cambridge Daily News reporter: “It was a spectacular sight. About fifty per cent of the bombs exploded with a “whoosh” and a burst of flame which shot fifty feet into the air. “Poisonous fumes spread over a range of fifty or sixty yards.

The police afterwards sealed off an area around the blaze to await decontamination.”

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Dispute after undergrad hits pole in hired plane


Jul 24 – On this day in Cambridgeshire historyThe plane at Caxton in 1936.

A former undergraduate told the court he had hired a plane from Marshall’s Flying School and flown to Caxton where he landed and then taxied towards the Gibbet. There was a haystack between him and the hotel and he hit a pole which had been erected with a wind-sock, but there was no wind-sock. The propeller and two wings were damaged.

But he disputed the cost of repairs and said the job could have been done in three days and two wings were not necessary: he’d had a similar accident at Lympne when the machine had been repaired next day for GBP35.

Barway Bridge is a ‘disgrace’ – but who owns it?


Jul 24 – On this day in Cambridgeshire historyBarway Bridge in the 1960s.

As soon as the bridge was built, the council took it over and did work there. They would not have to do that if it was not their property. Soon after it was done – it had a concrete course on the top – Mr Palmer complained and his overseers gave instructions for it to be picked off and it was done.

The council would not do that on a new bridge if it did not belong to them. Could they prove that it did not belong to them? The chairman said: “You say the old surveyor did it, but we tried to find out if that was so and we have not found that any Highway Authority has repaired the bridge.”

Jul 24 – On this day in Cambridgeshire historyBarway Bridge in 2008.

Unfortunately, Mr Clarke’s books were destroyed, but they did prove that it had been done by the old surveyor.

It was a disgrace that it should be left unattended. Why would they not instruct their surveyor to put on a few stones? It was going to rack and ruin and something would have to be done by someone.

People living there had to pay rates and should command some attention.

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Butcher’s widow carries on century-old business


Jul 24 – On this day in Cambridgeshire historyHaslop’s Butcher’s Shop in 1892.

Mrs Elizabeth Haslop has been described as a woman possessed of splendid business acumen. She carried on her late husband’s butcher’s business in Silver Street, Cambridge, and was the last link with the well-known firm which has been in existence for nearly 100 years and will be carried on. In her earlier life, she was well-known in the Mill Road district where a small shop near Tension Road was run in her name.

Steeplechase jockeys must put on crash helmets


A rule has been established that all jockeys riding in steeplechases must wear a ‘safety first’ crash helmet. Congratulations are due to the enterprising Cambridge firm of Messrs Herbert Robinson who specialise in the production of ‘crash helmets’ for the motor racing enthusiast. Realising the steeple chasing jockey was running the risk of losing his life, they once again “got down to it” and have now been appointed sole suppliers of their own patent helmets to the National Hunt Committee.

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‘Clever’ artist, writer, athlete and photographer


Jul 24 – On this day in Cambridgeshire historyA painting by Titterton.

John Titterton, the artist, sportsman, and photographer, came to Ely as a young man where he lived for nearly 60 years.

His father had been the governor of Peterborough Gaol and superintendent of the rural police at Cambridge; he had taken part in the Battle of Waterloo and rescued the Duke of Wellington when mobbed at Apsley House. John became fascinated by astronomy and took photographs of solar spots, receiving encouragement from Sir John Herschel.

Jul 24 – On this day in Cambridgeshire historyAutographs of the Sun (1861 to 1863) taken at Ely by John Titterton. SSPL/Getty

He was a successful photographer in the time of the wet plate process and it was pathetic to look through thousands of old negatives and realise how many Ely friends had passed away.

Titterton was a racy and versatile writer and, as a representative of the press, he wrote a great deal of copy relating to old Ely. He was also a clever artist and his painting were greatly admired. Many were of an historical character, the most famous being ‘The building of Ely Minster’.

Man ‘partial to a little clandestine love-making’


A certain married man, who was particularly fond of cycling and equally partial to a little clandestine love-making, left home one Thursday, ostensibly to meet a male friend. But his wife, who had been a cyclist in her pre-marriage days, hired a machine and followed him. When she saw him meet a young lady, she rode up to them and invited her lord and master in a friendly way, to continue the journey.

Not a word of discord passed between them but she now accompanies him on all his runs.