Marie Cruden (married to George Cruden) and her sister-in-law, Violet Cruden (married to Arthur Cruden) on a motorbike outside houses on Oxford Road, Cambridge - if you know the make and model of the bike then do get in touch :)
Cambridge University Press Memories by Elizabeth Toller-Brown,
I started work at Cambridge University Press (C.U.P.) in August 1968, in the ‘Assessors’ office; a section of the accounts department. I was just seventeen years old. This was the start of a big adventure for me and it continued for the next three and a half years.
During this time, I grew up, had great fun, in so many ways and made more mistakes than I care to mention, but all in all, it was generally a happy time. I left before big changes took place there and I am glad I did! I had enjoyed some of the best years C.U.P. had to offer.
In my time there, I worked just a few offices from my beloved father, Eddie Toller. He had worked at the old C.U.P. building, in Trumpington Street, from the age of fifteen and had worked his way up to become one of the managers and ‘Production Liaison Officer.’
In my father’s previous office, in the front corner of the second floor of the old Pitt Building, he had a huge wooden desk; full of interesting things like putty rubbers, that a child like me could squeeze and squash and a swivel chair, which I could spin around on, when I went into ‘town’ and called in to see Dad.
Across the road from this lovely old building was a hairdresser’s shop; Reid’s. One day, for fun, the employees lifted the cover off the man hole in the path and kept popping a hairdresser’s dummy head out, much to the surprise of passers by! This was one of the amusing tales Dad told us, when he cycled home, had his dinner (including a dessert), a lie down on the bed and then cycled several miles back to work! We lived in Netherhall Way and I don’t know how he did this, but he was very fit! He had done the same when we lived in Oxford Road, until 1954. It was much easier for Dad to cycle to and from work when the new building opened in Shaftesbury Road, in 1962.
I had not been able to take the eleven plus exam, as I was in hospital at the time (another story!) and I felt cheated, as they had said I was “university material” and going to college had been my childhood dream. From my later years at secondary school, I determined to work at the new ‘Press’ with my father and my brother-in-law, Mick Brown. Several of my mother’s Hatchman cousins also worked there, but at that time, I did not know them.
When I eventually got a job at the Press, after doing two other mundane jobs, to pass the time of waiting, I found that my office was on the second floor, near my Dad’s. I was to be surrounded by a number of other ladies, mostly around my own age and our poor male boss, Jack Whybrow, had his desk at the back of our office. What goings on he had to endure each day! He was such a quiet, gentle man, nearing retiring age.
All of the offices and workrooms were built around a square of gardens, with other workrooms leading off on one side. This meant that we could look out of our office window and see people across the way; great fun for them and us; we fun-loving, giggly girls!
One day, I was about to go on one of my walk-arounds, to take papers to other work departments like ‘Compositors’, ‘Readers’, ‘University’, etc. when my friend, Tina Leland, put her black cardigan over her head and a white band across her forehead and sat in my chair near the window, telling me to tell those in the opposite room that we now had a nun working in ‘Assessors’ and of course, they then looked up to see if they could see her! Tina sat there singing ‘Ave Maria’ and saying she was ‘Mother Inferior’! That was just one fun time I remember.
We were paid on the 28th of each month and my friend, Carol Hurst, and I would go to town in the lunchtime, on pay day, get some cash out and go shopping in the ‘Alley’ boutique in Falcon Yard, to ‘Primavera’ gift shop on King’s Parade and on the market. I sometimes bought gifts for my Mum and maybe pear drops or sherbet wafer rounds for my Dad, which he enjoyed eating from his desk drawer. Of course, we also bought L.P. (long-playing) records, too.
The other lunch-times were usually spent in the large staff canteen, eating cheese rolls, or we might go for a walk to nearby Finches Walk or somewhere local.
On Friday evenings, Carol and I would go to the Press discos in the Pavilion, which was then a very small building in the grounds. The disco was run by three of the apprentices, whose work I mainly dealt with; Barry Reynolds, Graham Cherry and Roy Fabb. It was, of course, called the R.C.F. Disco!
‘My’ apprentices included Barry Reynolds, Roy Randall, Graham Cherry, Roy Fabb, David Pearson, Alan Pell-Coggins, Graham Pegg, Noel Woodgate and Roger Thwaites. I also had to assess how long jobs would take for those in ‘Comps’ (Compositors), ‘University’ and ‘Journals’ departments. The men often tried to get me to give them longer time to do jobs, so that they could get more bonus minutes! I enjoyed working out the times for jobs and I could spot mistakes on proofs easily.
Carol and I loved these wonderful times. We dressed in the latest fashions and wore quite a bit of make-up, which we took great care applying!
We loved dancing at the discos and were pleased when reggae and bubblegum music came along, enjoying these, as well as the usual soul and pop music. In those days of the late sixties to early seventies, bands were always called ‘groups’ and bands were a larger company, playing ballroom, jazz, classical music, or whatever
Another use for the Pavilion was as a rehearsal room for the C.U.P. Singers. I had a small group of my own among this group of people, called ‘The Press Gang.’ As a larger group, we sang songs from the musicals, a medley of London songs and many others and my little group sang things like ‘Morningtown Ride’, ‘Michael Rowed The Boat Ashore’ and other folksy songs. I played a 12-string and other electric guitars, which I frequently changed at Ken Stevens, in Petty Cury! We did many gigs all around Cambridgeshire and nearby Suffolk.
In my office, among others who came and went, were: Carol Hurst, Gill Hurst, Julie King, Tina Leland, Teresa Georgi, Boosha something, Iris Squires (a lovely older lady), Helen Sweet, Yvonne Pope, Margaret, (who later married ‘Pressite’ Dave Allen), Janet Ayers, Paula McKnight.
In Dad’s outer office were Mick Brown, Brian Allen, Tony Littlechild, Colin Walsh, Carmen Raghaven.
I knew everyone at the Press and I loved my job and work colleagues. I think it’s sad that all girls do not enjoy that camaraderie with work colleagues and the chance to enjoy the dances, discos and parties that were connected with work, in those golden days; along with the socialising and fun experiences galore, including swimming together at Parkside, which went well until my bikini top came undone in the pool once and the Compositors manager, Gerry Haslop, told everyone about it the next day!
All Press employees were photographed by one of the ‘Readers’ named John Bowman; a quiet, reserved person usually, but a keen photographer.
Ah, happy days!
Elizabeth Toller-Brown. April 2021
Had a lovely walk round Teversham recreation ground recently -
Teversham is a small village just to the north of Cherry Hinton, east of Cambridge – If you don’t know it, you’d miss it, Teversham 'rec' is on the High Street/Fulbourn Road but it is set back from the road behind the houses. As you come through Teversham from the west/Airport Way you have to go through the village and just as you are coming out of the housing area you’ll see a small car park on your left hand side. Pull in here and park, if driving. Then you just follow the track way which goes north, for about 2 or 3 mins. There are two separate gates/entrances on the left hand side as you walk down the track and you just go through one of these. You’ll discover a lovely big open park field with a little shelter block and a play park in the corner. It is backed by arable fields and the perimeter trees are tall and very Victorian in appearance. It’s just one of those nice, different places to know about. In the summer it’s worth taking a couple tennis rackets and some balls as there is a little grass, unfenced court on one side. You’ll also see some great retro play park equipment, still going strong – things like the old Wickstead horse and bars to swing on – like those of us who were kids in the 1970’s and 80’s will remember :)
I am pleased to announce that we have another new Cambridgeshire Community Archive Group (CCAN). The beautiful village of Elton in the very far north west of Cambs has joined our brilliant community archives network. They have a very good village society and have a wonderful heritage project on the go, with exciting events such as their very own ‘Big Dig’ and the involvement of the whole community and village school is something to be admired, I had a lovely visit to see them and was made very welcome. I am really looking forward to seeing the Elton CCAN group additions to the CCAN website.
CCAN is Cambridgeshire’s online community archive, a place to see old pictures, photos, written and recorded memories, pod-casts and video clips along with living history, as groups record their activities from today for the history of tomorrow.
I had a nice time visiting the very active St Neots Community Archives Group the other week. This is a great CCAN group, very busy and full of ideas and upcoming projects. The St Neots CCAN group includes adjoining parishes such as Yelling, Eaton Socon, Wyboston, Staploe and Paxton to name but a few. The group met for their meeting in the St Neots Musuem which is well worth a visit if you are ever that way. I am particularly fond of this museum as it is home to a life size wall chart depicting my relative, James Toller, The Eynesbury Giant.
St. Neots Community Archive has been set up to collect information about the past from the above-mentioned parishes and the surrounding villages. If you have any pictures, old maps or interesting stories that you would like to be included in the St. Neots Community Archive, please contact Pam Ostler at St. Neots Museum or Sue Jarrett at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like further details of how to have your own CCAN site then please get in touch.
Last week I visited the Soham CCAN (Cambridgeshire Community Archives Network). They are a very active lot with their history in Soham! There are several history related groups and even the museum, which will soon have a home and all the groups are linked one way or another. The Soham CCAN group have been working on some great research projects such as the evacuees, the Jewish School and they have been busy collecting and recording oral history around the town. I really enjoyed my visit to the group, as not only were they a lovely bunch but I also used to live in Soham and I always enjoy my visits back there.
I had a lovely visit out to the brilliant new Community Centre and café in Cottenham a couple of weeks ago. I had a nice meeting there with Cottenham Community Archives Group (CCAN) and was so impressed by all the hard work and interesting things that the group are working on. They already have 20 pages, with over 360 old and interesting pictures already!!!
The wonderful new Community Centre and café is well worth a visit if you are going through Cottenham and is a fantastic example of a community lead centre with such a great buzz about it. To find out more click here - http://cottenhamcc.org/
To get involved with the Cottenham Community Archive and find out more just visit
Are you interested in local history, or just in finding out more about the place that you live? Do you have any stories about Cottenham that you would like to share with others?
To find out more about this project contact the Cottenham Village Society or email email@example.com
This is another lovely old recreation ground, you can quite often catch a nice game of cricket there. You can also see the 'Magic Roundabout' ! There are 2 play areas, one is on the south side for younger kids and then there is the 'old school' play area by the entrance on the north west. This is where if you are lucky you will see the big old roundabout - The 'Magic Roundabout' - turning round and round, slowly, all, it seems by itself. We sat and watched it for ages and no, it's not because someone had not long been on it! There was no wind as such and the thing seems to turn on its own, presumably, due to the bumpy ground it sits on. Anyway I jumped on and had a go and made myself feel really dizzy :) There are definate earthworks across this rec, signs of the activity of Stapleford hundreds of years ago. There's plenty of wide open space and nice trees about, so it's well worth a visit.
I went for a lovely walk to the Beechwoods the other day. I have gone to the Beechwoods since I was little girl, I once found a butterfly brooch in there! It’s a lovely place and well worth a visit especially if you haven’t been before. Cambridge has some wonderful places to go for picnics, walks and to take the kids and dogs and even better most of them are free.
Just over halfway into the Beechwoods is a hollowed out area in the natural chalk, which we used to aim for as kids - many kids called it 'the skull' due to it's rounded shape. We would run up and down the sides of it.
The Beechwoods is on the Gog Magog Hills in Cambridge. Take a look at the Wildlife Trust’s website page about the Beechwoods where you’ll find a map and directions along with information on the history and info about the nature and wildlife you can find there.
Wildlife Trust - Beechwoods
I have a nice big class to teach Landscape & Local History, at Guilden Morden and the people are very friendly. We’re now past the half way point of the course and will be having a break for half term. Even when teaching you always learn so much and as Guilden Morden is on the other side of Cambridgeshire to where I live, it isn’t somewhere I know very much about but the lovely thing about teaching the subject that I am doing, is that I get to learn all about that area from the students. So far we’ve had some fantastic artifacts brought in by the students to show things they have discovered themselves. There was an amazing prehistoric hand-axe found in the fields in the area – something I would love to find myself! And this week a stunning Nordic designed artefact made from horn or bone found in the Fulbourn area which is thought to be perhaps a handle for something. I can’t wait to see what turns up over the next half of the course!
I visited the Ely CCAN Group yesterday, at their meeting held in Ely Museum. Ely CCAN group is a friendly and very active group and I was pleased to see some familiar faces there. Many of members of the group also attend Mike Petty’s Fenland Fridays at the Ely Library. The Ely CCAN group have a great working relationship with the Ely Museum and have a good balance of members doing different tasks such as oral history interviews, area photographs and local history. A well known local photographer had also attended the meeting yesterday to bring along some of his amazing photographs for the group to see and add. I used to live in Ely myself, so I'll have to dig out my Ely photos and write up any tales I have and add them to the Ely group!
ELY Community Archives Group
Are you interested in local history, or just in finding out more about the place that you live? Do you have any stories about Ely that you would like to share with others?
You can contact the Ely Community Archive Group through the Ely Museum on 01353 666655 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been helping out with a fantastic new project in Stilton, Cambs. I had been meaning to go to Stilton for a long time, I always thought I'd take an afternoon drive out there to visit and buy some Stilton cheese and then go on to Melton Mowbray to get a pork pie and then find another local foody place, just for fun. When I finally managed to visit Stilton a few weeks ago I was surprised how close of the A1 it was. I had always noticed the signs for it on the A1 when going up towards Peterborough but thought that it must be several miles away, when in fact it is right next to the A1. When you enter Stilton - which is in Cambridgeshire - you immediately take note of the impressively wide main street, which you'll soon realise was the original 'A1' or rather the Great North Road. It definitely has the 'Roman Road' look and feel about it but most likely goes way back, as a routeway, into prehistory. The current A1 is a bypass to Stilton. The next thing you'll notice are the wonderful old and impressive buildings lining this road. Several of which were very large coaching houses for weary travellers of the past to take rest.
I had a lovely meeting with the Stilton history expert in one of these, now restored, coaching inns, where we discussed all the exciting plans for the upcoming projects in Stilton including Stilton CCAN, Stilton Cheese, Films and Heritage Centres :)
One of the rooms we had coffee in was called the Turpin room, where the famous Dick Turpin, Highway Man, is reputed to have stayed.
We of course had to eat lots of different Stilton cheeses!!!
I had the great pleasure of giving Cottenham Village Society a talk on the same night that they celebrated their 40th Anniversary! It was a really special occasion and so good to see that societies such as these across the county can go on for so long and still remain active, interesting and be such an important part of their village life.
Cottenham also has its very own CCAN group and it is going very well, with enthusiastic group members adding archives to the site. Click here to find out more.
I had a lovely evening a couple of weeks ago at the Haddenham & Aldreth 1940’s pre-event to their amazing Blossoms & Bygones weekend which is coming up in May. The chapel in Aldreth was decked out in 1940’s gear, from banners and flags, clothes and furniture to a gramophone (working and playing great tunes) and original film projector and reels. The building was packed out for this lovely gathering and the evening kicked off with Mike Petty giving us a great talk about Cambs during WWII, I then followed with a brief stint about 1940’s makeup and style, finishing of the evening with a local chap giving his memories of the war - and of course there was a couple of lovely tea breaks with home made cake and bread and butter pudding. I can’t wait until the main event in May :) Pictures below from the evening and then the main event.
In the meantime why not check out the Haddenham & Aldreth CCAN Group!
The other night we went for a walk up at Wimpole Folly. I love it up there, I have done a good bit of archaeology research and landscape history around Wimpole Hall itself and have loads of great memories of past field trips, with people like Twigs Way (Garden Historian) and Alison Taylor (Archaeologist), doing things like surveying and working out where the old villages used to be. The Folly is part of the landscape of Wimpole Hall and if you park up the little side road, near the folly, there is a public footpath and gate so that you can go for a nice walk.
For the first time ever, I saw cows in the field that we needed to walk to. We made our way across the field up to the folly almost going from tree to tree incase the cows were bulls! The folly looks like a kind of castle ruin but that is exactly how it was designed to look. Once you get up close you can see the red brick work faced by limestone which creates this illusion. It was built as a feature in the grounds of Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire. Phillip Yorke (1st Earl of Hardwick), was the owner of Wimpole Hall in the mid-late 1700's and he commissioned Mr. Sanderson Miller to design the folly in 1751, it was later re-built by 'Capability' Brown in 1769. Most of the folly is set out as ruins but the Gothic tower was designed to be used. The tower is a four story structure and was a great place for the gentlemen to go off to play cards and get up to other 'activities'. Wimpole Hall itself is now a National Trust property. I love old parks and gardens and especially all of the garden features like follies and grottos :)
8th Dec 1963 - 10 days after the funeral of Ada Broom (formally Cruden, nee Hatchman). St Giles Cemetery, Huntingdon Road Cambridge
1955 - Arthur Cruden (at back leaning on chair) with some of the Westley Family, Oxford Road, Cambridge.
11 Sep 1931 - Passport of Violet & Arthur Cruden, Cambridge.
11 Sep 1931 - Back of passport of Violet & Arthur Cruden, Cambridge.
1931 - Violet Cruden - nee Westly - Kidd & Baker Cambridge The Blitz Studios Photography
c.1935 - Back garden of Oxford Road, Cambridge. Bottom left to right - Connie Toller (nee Broom), Ada Hatchman (prev. Broom/Cruden), Marie Cruden, Violet Cruden. Top left to right - half seen probably Bill, Ed Toller, George Cruden, Arthur Cruden.
Stroki Cullins, 7 Packham, 6, 5, 4 Dant (Selwyn), 3 Wilkinson, 2, Bow Cruden (Arthur), Cox
This is my Great Uncle Arthur Cruden rowing on the River Cam by Stourbridge Common.
Old photographs of Great Uncle George Cruden in his army uniform in the back garden of the house at Oxford Road, Cambridge c.1940's
About Michelle's Cambs History
This is a blog page for the archives in in my own collection. It includes many of my personal & family archives, tales and scrapbook items to all kinds of general archive items from Cambridgeshire UK. Search for items or subjects of interest under the categories below, by date or keyword, name or place etc or keyword search in the search box above. Any problems finding something or if you've any questions or comments please do get in touch by using the 'Contact' page on this website.