Friday, 1 July 2016

Unsuitable For Large Vehicles

A celebration of some of central Cambridge's lanes, alleys and passageways, all of them totally impractical in this modern age - and all the more interesting for that.
 Free School Lane
In the seventeenth century Dr Stephen Perse left money to found a school for the education of 100 boys in the Cambridge area. Nowadays the Perse School has moved onto a much larger site and the University's Science Museum occupies the site. 
St Edward's Passage
Everybody's favourite second-hand and antiquarian bookshop, G David. Most people pronounce it in the English way as few realise that Mr G David was, in fact, Monsieur Gustave David, a Frenchman, so it should be said "Da'VEED".

 Pembroke Street
Takes its name from Pembroke College which runs along south side of it (on the left in the above picture) and which in turn is named after the Countess Of Pembroke who founded the college as long ago as 1347. At the other end of the road stands Downing College, so that end of the street is known as Downing Street. The whole thing is part of Cambridge's ridiculously complex one-way traffic system, though the left-hand side (as you look at it above) is a contra-flow lane for bicycles. Scary!
 Senate House Passage
A narrow lane right in the heart of the University, running between Gonville and Caius College and the Universities central administrative buildings, Senate House Passage passes between buildings of the highest architectural merit. However most of them stand with their least impressive sides towards the lane and there's scarcely room to stand back and admire them anyway - certainly not when cyclists are speeding through on their way to lectures!

 Trinity Lane
This part of Trinity Lane used to lead down to the wharves on the river. It was once known as Find Silver Lane and later King's Childer Lane - and nobody seems to be sure why. Apart from the yellow lines to denote "No Parking" it can't have changed much since medieval times. Incidentally the man in charge of parking restrictions for the local authority is the aptly named Mr Lines!

 Green Street
Green Street doesn't get its name from the prominent green building, neither are there any green spaces nearby. The best guess is that the land might once have been owned by someone called Green. Like much of central Cambridge it's almost pedestrianised, with only essential vehicles, and of course bicycles, allowed in. 

I can remember when all the centre of town was open to traffic, the first fully pedestrianised street being the oddly named Petty Cury, and I recall my history teacher commenting "It's been pedestrianised for years, but they've only just informed the motorists". I've been thinking about my history master a lot recently - he once told us that no sensible government would ever allow a referendum. 'Nuff said.

 Portugal Place
These days it does have rather an Southern European feel to it, but the name derives from a time when it was the place where port wine was stored. The University fellows apparently consumed prodigious quantities of the stuff, and I expect some still do.

 Magdalene Street
Believe it or not double-decker buses still make their way down Magdalene Street! 

 Sussex Street
This must be one of the nicest bits of inter-war years planning anywhere. I believe that the upper parts of the buildings are rooms of Sidney Sussex College while the ground floors are occupied by shops, a plan which has since been adopted in many other parts of the city.

 Trinity Street
Nearly all these pictures include bikes; it's just the quickest and easiest way to get around, never mind any environmental considerations. This used once to be Cambridge's High Street but now is variously called Trumpington Street, King's Parade, Trinity Street and....

St John's Street
.....St John's Street. We're now firmly in "tourist Cambridge", looking towards the mighty St John's Chapel, with the east end of Trinity Chapel on the left of the picture.

While taking these shots and writing this post I've thought of several other things of interest, which will no doubt crop up at a later date. Until then...

...take care.



  1. Lst time I was walking round those streets was when I had my interview at St Catharines

  2. Such a beautiful place to study. Thank you for the tour.

  3. I adore those little alleys John. What an interesting post and what a lovely tour round Cambridge, bikes and all.

  4. I like these photos with all the stone buildings. My husband would like the bicycling aspect since he rides his bicycle every day here in California. That last photo is especially pretty.

  5. This is a fabulous documentary of the town. All great images and really give a great feeling of the place.

  6. Reminders of a quieter and simpler time (in some ways...)

    It kind of looks like storybook land to me!

  7. Very interesting street history and tour. I find the narrow streets very attractive, we have some over here too. It must be incredible to see a double-decker bus going down Magdalene Street.

  8. I love the line "It's been pedestrianised for years, but they've only just informed the motorists". As a transportation engineer, it's interesting to me to see how cities deal with traffic flow and balancing the needs of peds, bikes and autos.

  9. I very much enjoyed looking at these "streets". We have little to nothing like these where I live. Well maybe a dark alley here and there; nothing very photogenic and best not to venture through at night.

  10. It is a fascinating city. Thanks for the tour. I am impressed that the architecture has been maintained with its integrity. No one has torn it down and replaced it with ugly 1960s brutalism.

  11. I saw similar streets in France...with similarly ancient buildings. It boggles my California born and raised mind. Beautiful pictures -- I hope some day to travel to your fair country. They will need the tourist dollars!

  12. This nice photo-tour to such fascinating, narrow lanes of Cambridge is one of my favorite posts of yours. Total harmony and beauty. I wouldn’t get tired of exploring around the streets on foot. The history of the name of each street is interesting.


  13. It is a beautiful city with its architecture and lanes and pedestrian streets. I visited many years ago and loved it . Its like out of a story book or a movie set.

  14. Lovely captures, John. These narrow city streets are so wonderful to explore.

  15. Such a wonderful tour of these winding, narrow lanes and streets. Looks lovely to be in such a place with so much history. I can't even imagine how many people over the centuries have walked these lanes. (I love what your history teacher said about a sensible government!)

  16. Pre-urban planning made for more surprises and much more variety and charm in cities. I enjoyed your tour a lot.

  17. What fabulous photos - they make me want to go straight down to Cambridge and explore all these wonderful streets, all so beautiful and full of history.


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