"The Guildhall, on the Market hill, was erected at various periods, but much enlarged and improved in 1862, at a cost of about £12,000; the principal assembly room, a lofty and spacious apartment, 120 by 52 feet, is admirably adapted for concerts and public meetings, and has been re-decorated in the Italian style by Mr. F. Leach, of Cambridge, and an organ erected at a cost of £1,7900; further alterations and extensions made about 1896 included the erection of municipal offices and a new police court, at a cost of about £13,000: the council chamber is now (1900) being enlarged and the offices extended.
The Cambridge Free Public Libraries, established 1 Mar. 1853, and formally opened June 28, 1855, were removed in June, 1862, to the Guildhall, and now occupy a suite of rooms, consisting of a reading room, built in 1885 from designs by Mr. George McDonell, architect, of London, library, issue office and librarian's apartments: the libraries contain 46,000 volumes and have reference and lending departments: the issue of books during the year 1898-99 from the Central and branch libraries amounted to 110,878 volumes, the number of borrowers being over 3 000: a large number of books are kept for ready reference in the reading room, and for these no written orders are required: the Reference Library includes a good selection of works relating to the county, town and University of Cambridge, and also a Shakespeare Memorial Library, of 1,824 volumes, nearly the whole of which were presented by the late Henry Thomas Hall esq.: the reading room is well supplied with periodicals and with newspapers both daily and weekly: in 1897 a branch library was erected in Mill road, from designs by Mr. Frank Waters; and there are evening reading rooms at Castle End and East Road. The selection of books and management of the library is entrusted to a committee appointed by the Town Council, one half of whom are members of the Town Council and the other private inhabitants of the town.
The Shire Hall, on Castle Hill, is a structure of brick and stone in the Italian style, with a portico supported on columns; the interior comprises two courts, with grand jury and magistrates' rooms and the usual offices, and here also are the offices of the Inspector of Weights and Measures. The assizes for the county, the Isle of Ely and Huntingdonshire and sessions for the county are held here and the magistrates also meet in quarter sessions to transact all magisterial business and matters relating to county affairs. The Police Station, erected in 1879, near the Assize Courts, is a plain building of stone, with a residence for the Chief constable, rooms for unmarried constables, cells for prisoners, stabling and a parade ground.
Her Majesty's Prison and House of Correction, on Castle Hill, in the parish of Chesterton, was erected in 1804, on the site of the old Castle, and has been much improved and enlarged. Prisoners are received here from the counties of Cambridge, Huntingdon, Herts, Suffolk and Essex.
The Theatre Royal, in St. Andrew's street, erected in 1896, is the property of a limited company.
The chief trade of Cambridge consists in supplying the wants of the University, but there is also a considerable trade in corn for the supply of the town and for the London markets, and the town is also the centre of a large and prosperous agricultural district, which it supplies: there are iron and brass foundries, a tobacco manufactory, brick and tile works, breweries, maltings, some large flour mills, and in the immediate neighbourhood several extensive nurseries.
The Market place, in the centre of the town, was greatly enlarged and improved about 1857: there is a daily market, but the principal market is on Saturday, and the corn market is held on the same day in the Corn Exchange, a large building at the back of the Guildhall, near the centre of the town and erected in 1876, at a cost of about £20,000; it contains a statue of Jonas Webb, the eminent breeder of sheep, by the late Baron Marochetti. The Cattle Market, formed by the Corporation, at a cost of about £19,000, on land situated between the station and Cherry Hinton road, was opened in 1885.
Several fairs are held during the year, the principal of which are Midsummer fair, commencing on 24th June and continuing three days, for horses, cattle and earthenware; and Sturbridge fair, commencing on the 25th of September; this fair, founded 31 Elizabeth (1588-9), was formerly one of the largest in England, and beginning on the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary (September 8) lasted six weeks; the fair was held on a large space of ground bounded by the Cam on the north and on the east by a small stream called the "Stour" or "Sture," over which there was a bridge, and hence the name of the fair: the whole area was covered with shops or booths arranged in rows like streets, for various trades and handicrafts, with taverns, coffee houses &c. and there was a great open quadrangle from 240 to 300 feet square, called "The Duddery," especially assigned to woollen drapers and clothes dealers; in the centre of this square a pulpit was erected, from which the minister of Barnwell preached on the two chief Sundays of the fair. This fair has now much fallen off and lasts for one week only: there are cattle fairs three times in the year.
Hobson's Conduit, erected in the Market place in 1614 by the well-known and eccentric carrier, Thomas Hobson, but removed in 1856 to Trumpington street, is a several-sided structure with a niche in each face and a cornice supporting a domical roof which are placed on the royal arms and other adorments: this conduit and the streams running down on either side of St. Andrew's and Trumpington streets are supplied from nine wells at Great Shelford, about 4 miles south-east. In 1865 a handsome drinking fountain was erected on the old site of the conduit in the Market place.
Sturton Town Hall, in the Mill road, built by and the property of a limited liability company, is now used by the Salvation Army and the Working Men's Liberal Club. The Beaconsfield Club, Gwydir street, is a structure of brick, erected in 1884 by a limited liability company as a working men's club: there were in 1900 500 members: political meetings are also held here. The Henry Martyn Memorial Hall in Market street, adjoining Trinity church, and erected in 1887 at a cost of £4,500, is intended both to commemorate the distinguished career and services of the Rev. Henry Martyn M.A. the first Cambridge missionary to India, and to afford a local habitation for the University Church Missionary Union, the meetings of which are held here weekly, besides furnishing at the discretion of the trustees, a place of meeting for other missionary and religious societies: it comprises a large hall, seating 175 persons, committee room with missionary library, care-taker's apartments, and a room below, now let as a shop.
The premises of the Church of England Young Men's Society are in St Edward's passage; the Cambridge Young Men's Christian Association has premises in Alexandra street, erected in 1870, on a plot of freehold land purchased by the association: these associations each possess a library and reading and class rooms.
The Cambridge Technical Institute, East road, opened in 1894, is a structure of brick, containing ten class rooms and workshops, and was acquired, adapted and furnished from funds provided by the County Council: the institute is a vailable for 500 students and had in 1900 about 350: Mr. Austin Keen, organizing sec.
The Good Templar Mission Hall, Victoria street, erected at a cost of nearly £400, and opened early in 1885, is a building of red brick with Bath stone dressings: the hall will hold 50 persons.
The Working Men's Institute and Mission Room, in Pound hill, Castle end, erected in 1884 at a cost of about £700 is an edifice of red Suffolk brick and Bath stone dressings in the English Domestic style: the large room will hold 300, and attached is a reading room furnished with papers and periodicals, and a small gymnasium." [Kelly's Directory of Cambridgeshire - 1900]