Chisholm Tales at Big Lunch

Everyone living around Abbey Ward was invited to the Big Lunch on Sunday 9th June from 12 noon to 4pm and this event featured our Arts team from HistoryWorks with our new community board saying 'Cambridge Chisholm Trail Tales' with our pitch of an Arts and History Stall as you come onto the Dudley Road Rec from Dudley Road.

Helen and Jill and Hilary had a brilliant time engaging young and old at our stand, where we had big maps of the Chisholm Trail and icons and history sheets picking out several significant stories from the past.  These included the stories of the Pterosaurs leaving their droppings on the Commons and Meadows in our area around the Chisholm Trail in Jurassic times and the Coprolite Mining when the Victorians dug up the fossilised poo to make super charged fertiliser to feed growing Cambridge.  We encouraged people to share their stories from their own lives and we heard how there are still bumpy areas from digging up Coprolites at the back of Fen Ditton Rec which people still call the 'treacle mines'.   Here is MP Daniel Zeichner visiting us at the Big Lunch event.


Historyworks provided free Arts and Crafts activities and we had our wonderful participant children making many stencil bags for their families to take home which were produced wih support for sponge painting the stencils on by Hilary and Jill - you'll see that participants could select a scallop shell to represent the Leper Chapel pilgrims, an eel to represent the River Cam, a Cow to show the importance of the Meadows and Commons, an Eagle Engine train to represent the coming of the Railways to the area in 1845, and a footballer to celebrate the stadium which is so important to the economy and landscape of the Abbey Ward today.

Meantime, Helen had fun with younger children and their families making Pterosaur puppets, and engaging families whilst they made their puppets, by telling them about how Cambridge developed over time with more and more people living in Cambridge, firstly attracted by the River Cam bringing in markets and then the growth of Stourbridge Fair in the medieval period, to huge expansion in the Victorian period with brick pits and tile works and the railway navvies and then the world war industries bringing new factories and skilled work wth PYE and Marshalls to the area.    As we talked and reminisced and looked at old maps together, the children had fun making their Pterosaur Puppets!


We heard back further amazing memories from people visiting our stall, showing us on the map where they had played around the brick pits, especially 'Dead Mans Lake' often also called 'Barnwell Lake' by locals, which is still there today on Coldham's Common opposite the Leper Chapel across the Newmarket Road.  We also learnt about a boy who played on the scrap metal heaps with materials relating to heavy indusry and his Dad who was retired frmo the military and decomissioned vehicles, including whole tanks!  One of the main places he would go with his Dad was to the Duce scrapyard which used to be on Newmarket Road behind the gas works, a massive tangle of metal and vehicles, now all you can see may be underneath the Tesco carpark!  Here is Mayor Gerri sharing memories.

It was a glorious sunny afternoon and we had 400 to 500 visitors enjoying a range of activities - not only at our stall but around the site, where there was a big bbq offering veggie, vegan and meat burgers and hot dogs - lots of sports activities including a climbing wall - a music entertainment tent which included a ukele band from Fen Ditton Primary and also the Singing Group at Abbey People Choir - cake stalls and plant stalls raising money for charities - and everyone hung out having fun playing and having good conversations - just what we wanted for a fab community event!

To stay in touch with events and to add your own local memories and stories to the Chisholm Tales, please 'like' our Chisholm Trail facebook page

Chisholm Tales at Big Lunch


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