This memory is taken from the Cherry Hinton Memory Books Collection which were donated to my Cherry Hinton archive. You can read more about the complete collection by clicking here:
Cherry Hinton Memory Books Introduction
I am now taking each memory/story and posting them individually on here, adding in any pictures to illustrate the memories and any further points of information and research that may be of interest.
Memories of Cherry Hinton by Bryan Stevens
Vic Phillips often mentions me by my nickname “Ziggy”. Ziggy was the owner of the clothes shop in Newmarket Road before he moved into Regent Street “Stylebest”. This shop sold the most modern clothing during the fifties and sixties and it was where I bought most of my clothing, hence the name “Ziggy”. Ziggy gave me a gold tie pin for my wedding in 1959 which I still have. I am now happily married for the second time.
Bonfire nights in the High Street were something special. There was an air raid shelter opposite 197 High Street, where I used to live, and we would fill it up with logs collected from the Spinney. One Bonfire night the fire was so large that it nearly burnt down the telephone wires.
There was a rubbish dump down Fulbourn Old Drift over the railway line and we would go up there with our air rifles to shoot the rats. One day we were up there shooting the rats when the siren sounded from Fulbourn Hospital and thinking someone had escaped we all ran home as fast as we could.
We all talk about the Spinney with fond memories. During the school summer holidays we more or less lived up there, making dens, laying turf for the floor of the den, and cooking on open fires. One day when we were there my dog Gyp caught two rabbits from out of the chalk pits which I took home.
Opposite the Robin Hood pub are the springs where the water for the brook starts. There used to be railings round the springs to try and keep us out but we would get in and try to catch the pike which would be by the island. We would stand on the now stepping stones and try to catch them before they went back to the lake in Cherry Hinton Hall.
In the brook round by the Black Land allotments we would block up the tunnel underneath the bridge with a sheet of corrugated iron so that the water could not escape and we could get it deep enough to swim.
Grandma Coe who used to live at the then 203 High Street was still riding her “sit up and beg” bike when she was 90 years old. I still remember when a horse and cart passed by her house and left “deposits”, she would rush out with a bucket and collect them. She always had the best roses in the High Street.
As you old Hintonians know, my grandfather started the Stevens Brothers Building Company. He built some of the first houses for the Housing Association in Cambridge. One of the last houses they built was the bungalow in the High Street for the Bartram family (the level crossing keepers). They also built the shoe repairers bungalow next to the recreation ground.
The Cherry Hinton History Society have no record of the building company. My only record is a photograph of a cast iron sewage drain cover in the front garden of the house in the High Street which used to be 201 High Street. It reads “Stevens Bros, Builders, Cherry Hinton”. If anyone could help me find out any other information I would be grateful.
Further notes by Michelle:
I would love to find that drain cover, mentioned above, and get a picture of it and photographs of where the houses above mentioned stood. I have had a look along that stretch of High Street but the house numbers have all changed sometime ago and many houses have been pulled down and others built in turn. There is a real challenge now to draw up a map showing the changing houses/buildings and where they were over time on the High Street, along with working out the house numbering system. Once this has been done we will be able to add the information and pictures to a separate article, and in turn to these memories where they mention any particular houses.
One clue from the story above is that Mrs Coe lived at what was then 203 High Street - meaning that 201 would perhaps of been next door to that house, and therefore the Steven Bros drain cover may still be found somewhere there.
I have search the census, electoral and directory information to see if I can find which house Mrs Coe lived at on the High Street around the 1930's-1960's. The only two clues that I have so far are the picture on the left below, which is from the Richard Hoye collection - it is a photograph c.1985 showing a house on the High Street which is still there today (see my picture on the right). Richard Hoye's picture, on the left, has a note beneath it stating "Mrs Coe". The house has the name 'Temperance Villa' on it (for which I have searched many records and turned up nothing on it) and it is dated 1903. If this was the house, 203 High Street, referred to in the story above it is now known by a different number.
The next clue is on the 1911 Census and of the only Coe family on the High Street at that date - it shows Charles Coe living on the High Street with his family "near the school" - Temperance Villa shown above would have been built by this time - and is near the school on the High Street. This branch of the Coe family were certainly living along this stretch of the High Street in 1911, did one of these Coe ladies end up living in Temperance Villa and is this the house referred to above, what was then 203?
We might also be able to work out where 197 High Street, above mentioned, was and in turn know that across the road there was once an air-raid shelter - which may or may not remain in some form.
I have managed to find out a little more about the Steven's Bros Builders business. The picture below shows Albert Stevens and Jess Tabor in Cherry Hinton near the railway line, stating that they are both apprentice carpenters. The photo is not dated but as you will see from the other sources that I've managed to find, below, this helps us get an idea of what the Steven's Bros were doing in their business.
You can see from the County Directory extract below that 'Stevens Brothers' are listed as builders and wheel-wrights.
Then, in this newspaper clipping below from 1936, we find that the Stevens Bros were the undertakers of a funeral! They give the address for the business as the High Street Cherry Hinton. As odd as this seems, to find them acting as undertakers, this was not unusual for joiners or furniture makers and like to do this at this time. I presume it would be because they are able to produce the wooden coffins but that's just my guess as to why this is the case, as in many similar firms across the country years ago - in fact Chippendale in London, the great furniture maker, also did the same, so it really was 'a thing'.
To add further proof that they were listed as builders and contractors but also carrying out undertaker services, you can see more detail on the bill below from 1935. Note the business header on this paper and the house shown.
You can see the details of the business still continuing in 1955 from the newspaper advert below.
A very important part of the village has been the British Legion Hall, first a shed-like building that once stood on the main recreation ground and then, when it was rebuilt down Fishers Lane. So many Cherry Hinton memories from both of these two versions of the hall from over the years. The Fishers Lane hall was demolished about 10 years ago and now the houses of Poppy Close stand on its site. I have now discovered that the Stevens Bros were the builders for the British Legion Hut in Fishers Lane, as you'll see from the bill below. This is great to discover and will add a bit more to the story of the firm. Again note the header and picture of the house. They give their address as 77 & 79 High Street Cherry Hinton.
The picture above shows the Fishers Lane, British Legion Hall, as it was, built by the Stevens Brothers of Cherry Hinton.
Please do feel free to get in touch if you would like to add anything to this story or if you have any further information on the Stevens Bros.
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About & how to use:
This is the blog page for my articles, memories and archives relating to the archaeology and local history of Cherry Hinton, a village to the southeast of Cambridge UK. The area covered is the old Parish of Cherry Hinton which today includes the Ward of Queen Edith's.
The Categories below are really the Index of what is on the Cambridgeshire History Pages. Each is a clickable link which will take you to an article or blog which contains that word or subject