Cambridge 1950: West Cambridge development

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The 1950 proposals for West Cambridge were particularly radical and of course most of the proposed roads were never built. Already in 1950 the authors knew that the university was going to develop the West Cambridge site, and many of the proposals reflect this, although even today most of the development has not yet happened (in typical English style).

They proposed a connecting road all the way from Huntingdon Road south to Barton Road. The northern section would have passed closely to both the Ascension Parish Burial Ground (the cemetery for St Gile's and St Peter's parishes) and also the university astronomical Observatory. The middle section was eventually built in the 1990s and called Clerk Maxwell Road. The eastern part of the southern section was built in the 1970s and called Gough Way but the connecting pieces to Adams Road and Clerk Maxwell Road were never built and it's hard to see them ever being built given the anti-road hysteria prevelant amongst the ruling classes. The Coton footpath was also supposed to be upgraded to a service road for the West Cambridge site, but that never happened.

In 1950 the current Silver Street Bridge did not exist (it was built in 1959) and the then bridge was so narrow that the authors suggested an alternative route up Mill Lane. The basic problems with both routes are the narrow streets and the best way to improve that would be the demolition of the old CUP warehouses (which housed the university pure and applied mathematics departments for many years). For some reason the university and town authorities failed to grasp this particular nettle and the best the authorities could come up with in 2003 is to shut Silver Street during the night and midday to cars (except for taxis, since rich people in Cambridge are exempt from the rules that apply to everyone else).

But perhaps the most radical proposal of all was to continue Barton Road east along the edge of Lammas Land, over the Cam and up Chaucer Road to Trumpington Road, as an additional route to the nearby Fen Causeway. At the time Fen Causeway was proposed and built in the 1920s this alternative route had been considered instead of (rather than in addition to) the present route. Although this alternative road makes some sense it's impossible to imagine it being built now. In 1950 the authors stated that Chaucer Road was "unlikely to become again a quiet road of single-family houses ... in view of its proximity to the Government Regional Centre". They were wrong there, today it is mixed university and (very expensive) residential and it is most definitely a (relatively) quiet road.

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