Geographical and Historical information from the year 1900.
[Transcribed and edited information mainly from Kelly's Directory of Cambridgeshire 1900]
"CAMBRIDGE is a municipal and parliamentary borough, head of a petty sessional division, county court district and union, the county town and the site of one of the two ancient universities of England, and is on the banks of the Cam or Granta, with stations on the Great Eastern and Great Northern railways, 57½; miles from London by rail, 14 south-west from Ely, 15 west from Newmarket, 38 south from Wisbech and 68½; south-by-south-west from Norwich; it is a hundred of itself in the Western division of the county, rural deanery of Cambridge and archdeaconry and diocese of Ely. The place is one of great antiquity, and during the time of its occupation by the Romans was called Grantbridge, it was burned by the Danes in 871 and 1010, and in 1088 by Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury, when holding out for Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy. At the time of the Domesday Survey the town contained 373 messages. In 1216 the castle was taken by the insurgent barons; and in 1381 the townsmen were deprived of their charter by Richard II. who held a parliament here, summoned to meet 9 Sept 1388. During the peasants rising of 1381, the rebels entered the town, seized the University records, and burnt them in the market place: in 1643 the town was garrisoned by the Parliament. Three meetings of the British Association have been held here in 1833, 1845 and 1862, and in 1864 the Prince and Princess of Wales visited Cambridge from the 2nd to the 4th of June. The Great Eastern railway now affords direct communication (via Lincoln and Doncaster) with the North of England and Scotland, and the first section of the Great Eastern Railway Company's line from Cambridge to Mildenhall, including the portion from the former town to Fordham Junction, was opened in May, 1884, the second section being completed and opened 1st April, 1885. The Great Northern line from Hitchin and the London and North Western line from Bletchley both terminate here: and the Midland Railway Co. also run trains from London over the Great Eastern line to this town, and thence through St. Ives. Kimbolton, Thrapston and Kettering.
The town, which is irregularly built, consists principally of two main streets, which are continuations respectively of the road from London through Trumpington and of the Hills road. The former, under the names of Trumpington street, Kings parade, Trinity street and St. John street, is continued through the whole length of the town parallel to the general course of the river Cam and contains some of the principal buildings of the town and University. On the left or west side of Trumpington street is the Fitzwilliam Museum, St. Peter's College or Peterhouse, the church of St. Mary the Less, Emmanuel Congregational church, the Pitt Press, St. Catharine's College the Bull hotel, King's College, the Senate House and University Library, Caius College, Trinity College and St. John's College; at the back of this side of the street are Queens' and Clare Colleges and Trinity Hall; most of these colleges have grounds sloping to the river, and several have bridges crossing it and connecting, the college grounds with other grounds on the further side of the river, used by the undergraduates for lawn tennis: the road here, which is known by the name of the Backs, is lined, with splendid trees; the spaces between the road and the college grounds are covered with turf and altogether present a scene of great sylvan beauty: from this road are footpaths to Granchester and Trumpington and to Coton, and the road past the Observatory to Madingley, all of which afford favourite walks. On the right or east side of Trumpington street is Addenbrooke's Hospital, Pembroke College, St. Botolph's church and Corpus College, the King's parade, Great St. Mary' s (the university) church, St. Michael' s church, the new courts of Trinity College, the churchyard of the removed church of All Saints and the Selwyn or Divinity Schools. The other main street, being the continuation of the Hills road, under the names of Regent street, St. Andrew's street, Sidney street and Bridge street, runs partly parallel to Trumpington street, but converging towards it until it crosses the end of St. John street, and is thence continued by a bridge over the Cam, Magdalene street and Castle street, and then leaving the town, becomes the road to Huntingdon. On the left or west side of this street is the Catholic church of Our Lady of the Assumption and the English Martyrs, the church of St. Andrew the Great, Trinity church, the back of the new courts of Trinity College; and in Bridge street, by the removal of some old houses, the master's lodge of St. John's College and the chapel have been opened to view. On the right or east of this line of streets are St. Paul's church, the University Arms hotel, Emmanuel College, Christ's College, Sidney Sussex College, St. Sepulchre's or the Round church, facing St. John street, St. Clement's church, and across the bridge, Magdalene College, which is the only college situated entire to the north of the Cam.
Several cross streets connect these two main lines of streets and between them lie the extensive grounds of the Botanic Gardens, Downing College and the Market place with its adjuncts. From the junction of Sidney street and Bridge street running east is Jesus lane, on the left or north side of which is Jesus College, and on the south side, nearly opposite, is All Saints' church, and continuing on by the Newmarket road on the right is Christ Church, and on the left the small church of St. Andrew the Less and further east some remains of Barnwell Priory.
In 1207, King John granted the town a charter, authorising it to choose a provost (mayor); under the provisions of the Municipal Corporations Act, 1835 (5 & 6 Wm. IV. C. 76) the borough was divided 7 Dec. 1835, into five wards, viz.:- East Barnwell, West Barnwell, Market, Trinity and St. Andrew's. The present corporation consists of a mayor, high steward, recorder, ten aldermen, 30 councillors, a town clerk, treasurer, and coroner and the usual officers, representing the city; and two aldermen and six councillors as representatives of the University, elected under the provisions of a provisional order made in pursuance of sec. 52, Local Government Act, 1888 under sec. 297 of the Public Health Act, 1875, confirmed by Act 52 and 53 Vict. c. xvi., the Improvement Commissioners ceased to exist Nov. 9, 1889. The borough has a commission of the peace and a separate court of quarter sessions. The parliamentary borough includes in addition, under the Boundary Act, 1868, the greater portion of the parish of Chesterton, and returned two members to Parliament from a very early period until the passing of the Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885 : when the number was reduced to one.
The town is paved and lighted with gas from the Cambridge University and Town Gas Works, in River lane, erected in 1826, and subsequently enlarged and now including four gasometers, capable of holding 1,300,900 cubic feet of gas; the office is in Sidney street.
The water supply is derived from the works of the Cambridge University and Town Water Works Company, incorporated by Act of Parliament: the water is drawn from springs in the parish of Cherry Hinton and from a well in the chalk in the parish of Fulbourn. In the parish of Cherry Hinton is a reservoir with a capacity of 1,000,000 gallons; the company's office is in Benet street."
[Description(s) transcribed by Martin Edwards ©2003 and later edited by Colin Hinson ©2010]
[mainly from Kelly's Directory of Cambridgeshire 1900]