All Creatures Great and Small
Compiled by Laurie Friday and Basil Harley, the “Checklist of The Flora and Fauna of Wicken Fen” was published by Harley Books in 2000. I have just bought it at the knockdown price of 50 pence in Wicken Fen Information Centre.
My interest lies with flowering plants, ferns etc, covered in 8 pages, and in fungi (2 pages), and bird and mammal life (6 pages). The rest of the 103 page volume covers bacteria, algae and protists; lichens, liverworts and mosses; spiders, harvestmen, mites and ticks and the like; copepods, ostracods, fishlice, crayfish, etc; mayflies, dragonflies, crickets, grasshoppers, earwigs, lice; bugs and leafhoppers; moths (lots and lots) and butterflies; and innumerable lists of different types of flies.
One thing my bargain buy has confirmed is that there are huge numbers and types of these lesser creatures (many of which I had never heard of). And they are not just in Wicken Fen, but of course various species are distributed all over the countryside.
On the whole, we co-exist with them reasonably well, putting up a fight against the odd mosquito, or being aware when we pass a farmer spraying his crop against the concerted attack of some maverick organism.
Could it happen now?
Last issue’s article on the 1993 protest walk in Lincolnshire received some interesting feedback.
From Kate Day, Cambs CC’s Project Manager for Local Infrastructure and Street Management came the comment:
” Brett Collier was married to my geography teacher so I knew him, although not well, so nice to see him mentioned in print again. After 27 years with Cambs CC, it is interesting to see how the circle turns – I still have the Ombudsman and committee report from 1988!”
Peter Dene is our correspondent from the Little Shelford Footpaths Group.
“Thank you for the latest edition..an inspiring look back. I’ve forwarded it to fellow members of the LS Footpaths Group (LSPC). Now in process of making final submission before imminent Public Inquiry on our Bradmere Lane/Garden Fields ROW saga in Little Shelford. It’s into its 11th year…“
I was delighted to hear from Stan Knaffler, formerly of RA Lincs, now living in Cumbria.
“ Lovely to read your piece about the campaigns that were organised to open up the PROW system to walkers in the 80s & 90s and Metheringham in particular. Metheringham was unusual in that it had an over-abundance of PROW and consequently landowners simply ignored their obligations. However, the major landowner (of 16 000 acres) met us and we agreed a rationalisation programme which provided an excellent network of paths, including links to other parishes. He then ensured that this was legally actioned.
In the eighties, I invited my MP, one Edward Leigh, to accompany us through some local parishes where I lived (south of Market Rasen) to see the extent of the problem of obstructed PROW. He was about to introduce a Private Members’ Bill to provide freedom to roam based on the Swedish model. However, he was told that such a “freedom” would fail to obtain enough votes in the house and was persuaded to introduce what became the 1990 Act which dealt with legal widths of paths and procedures for diversions etc. This strengthened our ability to challenge both landowners and County Councils who were not doing sufficient to keep paths clear.
There are still a number of PROW problems today, but it was only by campaigning (the slogan was “Feet on Paths”) that Rural Councils (many of which had landowner-councillors) took notice and pressurised landowners to comply with the law.
“Parish” of the Month – Newnham in Cambridge
Note: a street-plan is recommended, as well as OS Explorer Sheet 209.
The neighbourhood of Cambridge W of the river has been known since the Middle Ages as Newnham. This is not a separate village, being enclosed within Cambridge City boundaries – but it still has something of the atmosphere of a village, and is the starting point for some good walks.
There are indications of settlement in early times. From Newnham Croft finds included bangles, bosses and rings, and a fine bronze broach. By Roman times, Cambridge was ringed by nearby settlements, including one at Newnham.
There was an order of Carmelite friars established near the mill for about 40 y in the latter half of the C13th. Medieval Newnham must have been a hamlet without a church, as the first church, a wooden structure, was not built until about 150y ago, to be replaced by the present St Marks, Barton Road, in 1900. Travelling from Newnham to Cambridge in early times might sometimes have been difficult, with the River Cam’s several channels crossing the trackway where Silver St is now.
Until the Parliamentary Inclosure of the western fields in 1802 – 4, there were only a few buildings, mostly around Newnham Mill and pond. The mill race is reputed to predate Domesday book. The outward appearance of the mill remained much the same when rebuilt after a fire in 1853, although now modified as a restaurant.
In the early C19th, there were a few cottages along Malting Lane. More development followed in the late C19th. The then 100y old Malting House on the corner of Malting Rd was rebuilt before WWI.
Following inclosure of the west fields, college gardens were made on the Queen’s Road – Grange Road area, and a few substantial houses were built.
Newnham developed into a residential suburb in the second half of the C19th. Newnham Croft was begun in 1850s and 1860s with the building of terraced houses in Derby Street, Hardwick Street and the W side of Grantchester Street. The roads remained unpaved until the early years of the C20th. Gradually houses were added in Merton Street through the 1880s. In 1882, University statutes first allowed fellows of colleges to be married, when Newnham became a desirable residential suburb. Building activity increased in the years up to WW1.
Open land disappeared as houses were built in Owlstone Road (1900 – 04) replacing private gardens known as Paradise. There had been a path across the field leading from Gravel Pit Lane (Grantchester Street) across to the bathing place and houses at the end of Grantchester Meadows. By 1903 Rev Symmonds was complaining that cyclists were making the path very muddy. Paradise House, built on a small island in the Cam near the end C18th, remains well hidden by trees and undergrowth- gates close the bridged access.
About 1820, a house was built on land now occupied by Owlstone Croft. In the 1920s-30s this was a girls’ school; later commandeered by the army in WWII; sold to Addenbrookes in 1946; and now being redeveloped again.
The alley that connects the closed end of Marlowe Road with the bend in Millington Road was made in this form in 1911 – 2, though there had been a narrow lane on the site of Marlow Rd. At one time a gate was locked once a year, but this had gone by 1939. Elsewhere, a break in the paled fence gives pedestrian and cycle access from the lane extension of Kings Rd into Millington Road.
Until the late C19th there were no buildings at the country end of Barton Road on the S side The land was developed around 1900. The OS map of 1886 shows 2 houses W of Grantchester Rd, Grays Fm & a cottage (now 78, 86 Barton Rd). The land opposite was marshy & needed a wind-pump to reduce the water level. Beyond was an orchard and open farmland, through which ran the Bin Brook. Development started in 1911 just beyond Grantchester Road., with the building of a house called Tollbar.
The Perse Almshouses, Newnham Road, originally donated 1625, were re-erected by William Sindall 1886. The adjacent filling station was once the Tally Ho pub. The Causewayside Flats, 1930s, occupy part of the previous Motts Dairy site.
A curious feature is a 2 acre wooded lake called Bolton’s Pit, lying SW of the Barton Rd – Grantchester Rd corner but totally invisible to the public gaze
Colleges and University Buildings:
On Sidgwick Ave, one may visit the Museum of Classical Archaeology displaying plaster casts of antique figures – mostly white – although it is a shock to discover the original statues were painted in bright colours!
Beyond stretch the University Arts Faculty buildings, housing the English Faculty library, the History Faculty, Oriental studies and Criminology and others, all post-1960s. Wander through here towards West Road and the University Library…
Newnham College, fronting Sidgwick Ave., opened 1875 was designed by Basil Champneys The Bronze entrance gates to Old Hall were presented in memory of Miss Clough, the 1st Principal The E part (the Pfeiffer building) was built in 1893, and connects by nearly 0.5km of corridors to Old Hall and Sedgwick. Kennedy Buildings were built 1905, Peile Hall 1910 Off Sidgwick Ave, note the modern Library extension (1961) and particularly the more recent Archives building, built to resemble an old chest.
Ridley Hall (1881) on Sidgwick Avenue houses graduates from any university, who intend to take Church of England Orders. Round the corner on Grange Rd is the Anglican Selwyn College, founded 1882. Red-brick Robinson College, a recent foundation, presents an almost military face to Grange Road.
By Silver St Bridge is Darwin College, its name commemorating the author of The Origin of Species. This small college of graduates, founded 1964, incorporates the riverside house, Newnham Grange, bought in 1885 by Charles son, George Darwin. George’s daughter, Gwen Raverat, wrote the Cambridge Classic, “Period Piece”, published in 1952.
1. Most readers will be familiar with the free parking available at Lammas Land at TL 447574. Be aware that it opens at 10 am. This carpark is ideally placed for leading visitors on walks north along the Backs, using the Fen Causeway crossing near the Ley’s School. In Spring, note purple toothwort parasitic on hazel growing on Crusoe Island.
2. The hard path from Grantchester Meadows Road leads, of course, to The Red Lion, The Green Man, and The Orchard, and other Grantchester attractions. Use the muddy riverside path to return, for preference. Did you know the riverside alternative only became a legal right of way by dedication in November 2001? (4 miles)
3. Discover the recently improved surface of the riverside path through Paradise, noting the alternative boardwalk through the willow thickets by Owlstone Croft. In Spring, the nature reserve is known for its snowdrops, and later a good display of scented butterbur. (1 mile)
4. Use the Lammas Land parking, to walk your visitors to the Millpond, up Malting Lane, past Ridley and Newnham colleges, through the Sidgwick Site to West Road, in front of the University Library, along Burrell’s Walk, back along Grange Road, passing Selwyn College. Turn left at Barton Rd, Millington Rd, Marlowe Rd, Grantchester Meadows, and back through Paradise. (3 miles)
5. For a longer circuit, from (3) turn right on Barton Rd and use the newly signed (TL 427 574) permissive path on Barton Rd opposite Laundry Farm to connect with the end of Fulbrooke Road. Return to Lammas Land via Selwyn Road, Millington Road etc as above. (5 miles)
6. From the Grantchester Footpath, a permissive path at TL 439 569 leads past Pembroke College Sports Ground onto Grantchester Rd. Opposite, a further permissive path leads round the edges of arable fields to the outskirts of Grantchester at TL 427 560.
Newnham – John A Gray
Hanwell 1977, ISBN 0 9505992 0 4
A history of Cambridge – Bruce Galloway, Phillimore,1983,
ISBN 0 85033 450 0
Cambridgeshire – Norman Scarfe
Shell, 1983, ISBN 0 571 13250 2
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Cantab 77 © Janet Moreton, 2014.