Jan 08 – On this day in Cambridgeshire history – In Your Area

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.

King’s College rebuts criticism of demolition


Central hotel.

King’s College has replied to criticism of its plans to demolish the 17th-century Central Hotel on the corner of St Edward’s Passage and Peas Hill. Whilst the Midland Bank premises are scheduled as an ancient monument, the St Edward’s Passage premises are not. The college has considered eleven schemes for the site, some of which would preserve the facade, but the preservation of the interior was a hopelessly haphazard proposition.

Their architect has taken infinite care to ensure the new building preserves the essentially domestic character of St Edward’s Passage, says Noel Annan, the Provost.

Why are potatoes dirty? And other questions

1958 Cambridge farmers met a group of housewives to address points of friction between producer and consumer.

Why do farmers breed animals with a lot of fat on them when the housewife wants lean meat? Because, during the war, it was the government who bought meat from the farmer and they always required a good fat animal. Why are potatoes so dirty?

Because, if they cleaned them, we could see the blight and would not buy them – was one reply from the ladies.

What if an atom bomb dropped on Cambridge?

1952 The secretary of Cambridge scientists’ anti-war group told what would happen if an atom bomb were dropped on the city. It could be assumed that 50,000 people would be killed and the same number injured by one bomb three times as powerful as that dropped on Nagasaki.

It would mean that 85 percent of the people in Cambridge would be disposed of. Addenbrooke’s Hospital would disappear and every building would probably be set seriously on fire. If shelters were provided, the fatal casualties could be cut down to 14,000 and perhaps only 10,000 would be injured – but how could these be dealt with by the medical facilities?

Final act for Theatre Cinema after 42 years


Jan 08 – On this day in Cambridgeshire history - In Your AreaTheatre cinema.

After a successful fortnight of the pantomime, ‘Cinderella,’ the Theatre Cinema is closing down without any indication as to what its future may be.

It was 42 years ago that the New Theatre was opened and has had a great history. Many of our leading actors have appeared and all tastes catered for – comedy, drama, musicals and grand opera. It was the coming of films that changed the theatre’s fortunes and, after a hopeless struggle, it was converted into a cinema with an occasional week of variety.

Too much time spent on traffic management


Jan 08 – On this day in Cambridgeshire history - In Your AreaPolice on point duty, Sidney Street, Cambridge

Too much time is now taken up by the police in traffic management, which is not a primary police duty; it could be controlled by the RAC and AA patrols, county councillors argued.

They were better than the police because they had motors. It would be difficult to make arrangements with the associations and would probably mean the motor scouts becoming special constables. Others felt traffic control should be dealt with by a special police, though the time was not ripe for them to increase the numbers.

But Col Tebbutt said he would not like to see two sorts of police in the country.

Indiscriminate spitting and other bad habits

1924 Sir, May I protest against the insanity and disgusting habit of indiscriminate spitting, and the inveterate noxious habit of dropping dirty pieces of paper and orange peel everywhere about the pavement? And will the police also take steps to deal with the unspeakable nuisance in our crowded streets of the inconsiderate pram driver, whether charging or dawdling, which are a public nuisance every day of the week and, on Saturdays, maddening.

Why should these vehicles, which tend by fashion to become more and more ponderous and bulky, not be completely forbidden in the main streets and be relegated to the two feet of roadway below the kerb stones at all times. – Pro Bono Publico.

Liquid fuel engine explodes at Ely station


Jan 08 – On this day in Cambridgeshire history - In Your AreaEly station.

A remarkable accident occurred at Ely station when the tar in the tender of a liquid fuel engine exploded with disastrous results. The top of the tender was blown clean over the locomotive and fell ten yards away. The driver was thrown off the engine and escaped with a few bruises but the fireman was seriously injured: he was hurled on to the roof of Coote and Warren’s coal building, then rolled onto a truck of coal and was found some time later unconscious.

Cambridge free library’s new lending system


Jan 08 – On this day in Cambridgeshire history - In Your AreaThe Browne issue system at Cambridge library.

Cambridge free library is to introduce a system of ‘card charging’ in place of the present system of ‘ledger charging’ for the issue of books.

This is the most up-to-date and efficient method of issue known and will be a boon to borrowers and staff alike. In another reform that will meet with general approval any burgess may now borrow on signing a ‘burgess’s voucher’ rather than get the signature of a guarantor for the safe return of the books.

Pensioners can now end their days in comfort

1909 Cambridgeshire took the advent of Old Age Pensions* with very little fuss.

For the first time in history, veterans of toil claimed from the country the wherewithal to end their days in comparative comfort, free from the haunting dread of having to enter the ‘house.’ The pension varies from one to five shillings a week through the issue of what is known as the poor man’s cheque book which is presented at the post office. * The Old Age Pensions Act came into force on January 1, 1909.

Figure in dress haunts farmhouse in Thorney


Jan 08 – On this day in Cambridgeshire history - In Your AreaThorney.

For many years a weird figure, clad in a red chintz dress, has haunted a farmhouse on the Thorney estate in the Fens.

During the creepy hours of the night, it appeared in one particular bedroom and pointed a long, lean finger to a roof. Sometimes it made a rattling noise. Then it vanished.

The house was long occupied by the Caves, a noted Fen family. Now a new tenant investigating the beams above the room has found, secreted there, the will of John Caves, made in 1797, relating to an estate worth about GBP10,000. Probably, the mystic lady’s perambulations will now cease.

Safety concerns of a certain ‘soothing syrup’


Jan 08 – On this day in Cambridgeshire history - In Your AreaMrs.

Winslow’s soothing syrup trade card. Corbis/Getty Images.

The recent inquest on an old man who took a dose of laudanum sends a warning. The tendency nowadays when any minor ailment calls for relief is to rely far too much on medicines.

Many of these specious remedies are not the innocent compounds their manufacturers claim and many a patent medicine is absolutely poisonous. There is a certain ‘soothing syrup’ extensively used which will soothe an infant into the sleep of death; eight or ten drops answers the purpose, the child dying speedily with all the symptoms of opium poisoning. Every year, 15,000 children are killed by soothing syrup and other similar preparations.

Jan 08 – On this day in Cambridgeshire history - In Your AreaMrs Winslow’s soothing syrup for teething children, circa 1880 to 1900.

History of Advertising Trust/Heritage Images/Getty.

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