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Vanishing Cambridgeshire

Mike Petty, in association with the Cambridge Antiquarian Society

In 1925 a group of Cambridge antiquarians set off on a journey into the unknown. They loaded their car with the equipment they would need, their cameras, tripods and glass-plate negatives. Their journey took them into an undiscovered landscape of ancient remains, crumbling churches and dilapidated cottages. While others explored the relics of ancient Egypt and the tomb of Tutankamum, these intrepid explorers never strayed more than a few miles from the magnificent towers of the university town of Cambridge.

For this was Cambridgeshire in the interwar years. The explorers – a printer, a doctor, an anatomist and a pathologist – were members of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society and they were reviving a project that had begun at the start of the century. Their mission was to produce a photographic survey of Cambridgeshire, to record both buildings and a way of life, the vanishing landmarks of a region. Now Cambridgeshire historian Mike Petty has made a powerful selection of photographs from their pioneering survey to give this insight into a world that has disappeared forever.

Here are evocative photographs of the town of Cambridge itself in the 1920s and 1930s – the market and the town centre, Trumpington Street, St John’s, Bridge Street, Northampton Street and Castle End, the Holy Sepulchre, East Fields, West Fields and the river. But here also are the characteristic landscapes of rural Cambridgeshire, from ancient earthworks and Roman roads, churches and monasteries, to farms, country houses and cottages, windmills and watermills. Here, indeed, is vanished Cambridgeshire in all its detail and variety.

 

 

 

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