When Cambridge redevelopments enhance historical buildings


Not all developers and their associates are the easily-portrayed scoundrels, knaves, rogues and money-chasers that they are all-too-often accused of.

Even I get bored at the sound and sight of my negative words describing uninspiring planning applications. But then we live in a system where compromised and/or disinterested ministers lacking the talent and the passion to resolve the problems have kept in place a planning system that serves the few, not the many. Thus it brings into disrepute not just a system but the people that work in it. It doesn’t have to be like that.

Cambridge Museum of Technology – reopened after a £1million Heritage Lottery Grant

One of my favourite restorations (so please go and visit it!)  There’s also a new cafe/bar called Othersyde that is standing room only on a sunny day – most of the outdoor benches being under the shade of trees.

Considering the site was one of the most polluted in the area, the transformation is quite something.

But we needed the pumping station due to the state of the river.

The chimney of the old pumping station was once the tallest structure in town.

…and today the Museum hosts Cambridge Steampunk gatherings.

Cambridge’s old police station on St Andrew’s Street (not Parkside) reopening as a boutique hotel

You can read the report in the Cambridge Independent here.

Now, when the building was completed it looked like the image below (in The Cambridge Graphic in the Cambs Collection).

011012 Police Station Opening St Andrews Street 1901_1

Mindful that the old police station prior to it had the cursed Spinning House on it.

Cambridge Old Spinning House_1.jpg

The above was from Dr Philip Howell’s presentation to Mill Road History Society

When the modernised police station opened in 1901, the Cambridge Graphic also published photos of the drill hall around the back.


The plan for the cafe & hotel is to bring it into full public use. At the moment it’s a car park.

190627 Hobson House Police Station Drill Hall.jpeg

A nice venue for a Sunday tea dance for Cambridge Dancers?

This then sets a nice high standard for other developers – as we still wait for news on the long disused Hobson Street Cinema.

160607 OldBingoHallPerspective

…and I hope that it sets a marker down for Cambridgeshire County Council and its proposed developers for the Shire Hall site.

Favourite lost buildings.

Part of me wants these rebuilt up to the last moss-covered roof tile.

The old Assizes Courthouse at Shire Hall as an expanded Museum of Cambridge

Above – from the Museum of Cambridge

Post Office on Petty Cury/St Andrew’s Street Corner

181006 Petty Cury Post Office 1900


The old Spillers Mill silo, destroyed in a suspicious fire

Old Mill Silo


The old Norwich Union building where John Lewis now is on the corner of Downing Street.


Above -from the Museum of Cambridge

The old Co-op store on Burleigh Street – I’m still trying to work out why its demolition wasn’t opposed. The Primark store is now there.



The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel – where Strutt & Parker now are on Hills Road. Locals found out too late to save it.


Above – from the Museum of Cambridge

The Mill Road Playhouse – the front demolished after central government raised the cinema tax in the late 1950s, making this and the Tivoli uneconomical to run.


Above – from the Museum of Cambridge

Below – the Playhouse with its heart ripped out. It became Cambridge’s first supermarket before Sally Ann’s took it over for several decades. 


The site is presently available for rent as a shop.

Below – Rattee and Kett, formerly on the corner of Station Road. This really should have been saved.

181211 rattee and kett station road buildings

That doesn’t mean to say that everything should be preserved and not have anything done to it.


One of my least favourite buildings – the old guildhall of which councillors and burgesses spent a century squabbling over what to replace it with. (From the Cambridgeshire Collection)

I’ve got a Facebook page for Lost Cambridge where I post blogposts and more on local history – including links to other local historians. I also run the linked Lost Cambridge Meetup group.


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