Welcome to the online presence of Greville Road, centre of Cambridge and possibly the world

Greville Road sprang from the “First Allotment to the Master, Fellows & Scholars of Jesus College in lease to John Bullen” and its properties were built between 1935 and 1939.

Whilst the numbers of the houses run from 1 to 88, did you know that there is no number 13?

Greville Road resident and local historian Warren reminisces about the short-lived Newmarket & Chesterford Railway (below)

In July 1846 a company was incorporated to build a line from Great Chesterford on the Bishop’s Stortford-Cambridge section of the Eastern Counties to Newmarket, with a branch to Cambridge from Six Mile Bottom. The Jockey Club of Newmarket favoured the proposal which gave the racing fraternity the prospect of a better rail service to London than that which could be obtained via Cambridge. It was said that MPs could have a day’s racing and attend a debate in the same evening. For a time it seemed to offer the prospect of becoming quite an important trunk line which threatened to side-track Cambridge. There was however stiff competition for control of the Newmarket line, and in 1848 while still under construction, Eastern Counties absorbed the Norfolk Railway. But finances were poor and traversing the East Anglian Heights, with some quite substantial cuttings and embankments, proved difficult. Newmarket shareholders found all this totally unsatisfactory and so in June 1850 the line was closed. Now all energies were concentrated upon getting the Cambridge-Newmarket route completed as quickly as possible. The line was opened in 1851.  This railway line ran from Cambridge station through what is now the northern side of Greville Road (even numbers) with a crossing point somewhere about where I live.  When I was a young boy I used to help my father with digging and planting often at the bottom of the garden where it was usual to find lumps of grey granite in the ground. This granite is still used today around the UK to bed in the wooden sleepers which had first the chairs and then the railway lines fixed to them. Before Charles street was extended and William Smith Close was built you still had the original Cambridge-Newmarket railway lines visible stopping close to the end of our road.  As a kid in the early 50s we used to cycle or walk along an unmade track adjacent to the lines, which led us up by the side of the old cattle market, for a day’s trainspotting. Halfway along the track was a small and abandoned concrete building with a metal outside ladder which allowed you onto the roof. I believe that this was a legacy from WW2 and had been used as an air-raid observatory post.

Former resident of Number 38, Derek Abbott, added “… the lines adjacent to the end of Greville Road were never actually connected to the N&C line although they ended very close to it as shown in the photo below. They were originally sidings for the cattle market accessed only from the junction at Hills Road bridge and later became part of the shunting yard”.

The above  photo dates from 1911, well after the line had been diverted via the Coldhams Common route but was still in use as carriage sidings.  Derek Abbott says “… it’s the only one I have seen that shows this area before Greville Road was built and I was surprised how far the line seems to be from the houses in Argyle Street, bearing in mind that the garden of the end house is probably no more than 20 feet long. The cattle market sidings are visible to the right”.

The above photo shows the view in the opposite direction and the junction with the main line – an extremely tight curve – no wonder they closed it!

(Photos courtesy of the National Rail Museum).

An undated photo of Greville Road showing Sedley Infants School in the foreground and the Romsey Junior School top right (neither exist now).

1 Comment

  • Lenore Muskett

    This is really interesting! Many thanks Warren, Derek, Sandi and Jennifer for taking the time to contribute the photos and memories. (Jennifer’s mother, Bertha, used to babysit my son in the 1980s when my husband and I went out in the evening. She was a lovely woman.)

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