History Happening for Mill Road Summer Fest


It was great to partner organizations for the History Happening, where we all volunteered with the express purpose of bringing out local residents to use Mill Road with a programme of special events during the summer closure of the Bridge to say that Mill Road is OPEN.  It really worked because we had a non- stop stream of people coming to explore the activities including the fantastic ‘museum on a bike’ from the David Parr House, the tours around the Mill Road Cemetery, the Victorian tea & also Victorian dress-up at the Bath House.

Helen Weinstein, Director of HistoryWorks says” At Historyworks we were very happy to partner with the Mill Road History Society to help local residents find out more about the area 100 years ago with photography exhibitions and show people how to look up the history of their house using a variety of sources.   The most we found living in one terrace house in 1901 included 2 parents in their late 30s, 7 children, and 2 lodgers, so 11 in total!

In the week before-hand Historyworks held workshops for children from St Matthew’s Primary to learn about the Victorian businesses in the area running from Mill Road to East Road and bounded by the Railway and Coldham’s Lane, known as ‘Sturton Town’.  They did great pictures of shoemakers and bakeries and dressmakers and and laundresses all based on the 1891 census. Families and teachers then came to visit the History Happening to find out who lived in their specific home one hundred years ago, and it was a huge success with a non-stop flow of visitors to our history ‘shop’ to see the photos too showcased in the window on Mill Road’s Cantab Millenium, repurposed as a history exhibition space!

One of my top experiences was helping a family find out more about their relatives who lived on Gwydir Street in the Victorian period onwards, as they have their Granny’s sewing sampler from 1872.  We found out that their Granny Sophia is listed on the 1901 census as having the occupation of ‘first class waiting room attendant’ at the nearby Cambridge Railway station. 

The resident said ‘It was brilliant to have a personal trip down memory lane to the time of my Granny Sophia, especially to see photos in the exhibit showing local pubs and bakeries I remember from Sturton Street. On the 1901 census you can see that Sophia had four children called Ruby, Walter, Ruth and the youngest called Claude. Since the event, I’ve shared family documents with Historyworks to show to the local schools, including an important letter Sophia received from the war office in 1919 to say that Claude had been shot and wounded, not killed. 

Helen Weinstein of Historyworks said ‘ It was so rewarding to share photographs and official documents with the local residents and give them the first steps to find family homes on old maps, use trade directories, land value registers and of course the census, to find out the names and ages and occupations in a house. It was a brilliant experience even though we had people coming through the door in numbers all day long for our ‘history surgery’ once we’ve recovered our energy, I’m sure alongside Mill Road History Society, we all hope to host a ‘look up’ event again for the local community to enjoy.

History at Mill Road Summer Fest


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