Thursday, 21 June 2012

The Little Kettle

In Fitzroy Street long before the Kite redevelopment and the Grafton Centre, there once stood a little shop next to Cartwright's the barber's with a tin kettle attached to the front of the building.

The building was a hardware and grocery shop found at numbers 70 and 72 (number 20 before the 1920 renumbering of the street) and was owned by Mrs Varlander. A old saying amongst Cambridge folk was 'If you can't find what you're looking for at Varlander's, you won't find it at all'.

The shop was probably one of the first places in Cambridge to offer a saving stamp scheme. This is a format which today has been devolved by big names like Tesco into Clubcard schemes, where you receive a point for every pound spent. Varlander's scheme would offer free soap in exchange for a customer's saving stamps.

Virginia La Charite with the plan for the renovation - March 1978
In the late 1970's the Little Kettle became the headquarters of the Kite Action Group which campaigned against the Kite redevelopment.

The group's plan was to redevelop the Little Kettle as a general store, but sadly this wasn't to be and it was demolished in July 1981.
The site of the shop now lies under the Grafton Centre. It may be gone, but let's not forget it - the Little Kettle of Fitzroy Street.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Pink Floyd's Cambridge Roots

Pink Floyd
The name Pink Floyd is known all over the world as one of the most recognised bands of the Sixties and Seventies. The group produced hits like 'See Emily Play' 'Wish You Were Here' and 'Money' and albums like ' The Dark Side of the Moon' and 'The Wall'.

But it wasn't always like this because, before they hit the big time, members of the group played gigs all over Cambridgeshire including school and village halls.

This is a little bit about how the Pink Floyd began from Cambridge roots.

At the age of 16 Syd Barrett joined his first band, Geoff Mott and the Mottoes, where he played guitar, He was joined in the band by Geoff Mott on Vocals, Tony Santi on Bass and Clive Welham on drums.

Clive Welham went to play drums with Jokers Wild along with Tony Santi on bass, and another future Pink Floyd member David Gilmour, but more on that in a moment.

Geoff Mott and the Mottoes like most bands at that time only performed for fun and had no plans to turn professional. The band mainly performed Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran hits.

After getting a good reception throughout Cambridge their luck wasn't to last and they soon split.

David Gilmour on the other hand, at about the same time Syd Barrett was with Geoff Mott and the Mottoes, was playing with the Group The Newcomers.

This group consisted of Ken Waterson on bass, Johnny Barnes on guitar, Willie Wilson on Drums and David Gilmour on Guitar.

Within a Year Glimour left The Newcomers and Joined Jokers Wild. He was joined by former Geoff Mott and the Mottoes members Tony Sandi and Clive Welham. Other members included Dave Altham and Johnny Gordon on guitar.

Jokers Wild was a blues style rock band.

The group did produce privately- pressed single sided LP's and Singles, of which maybe only 50 copies were made at one time.

They also recorded what as meant to be the UK version of Sam and Dave's ' Hold on I'm coming' but it was never released, so the Joker's Wild version went unheard.

David Glimour left Jokers Wild and joined Bullet with Ricky Wills on bass. Ricky had played with groups like the Small Faces and went on to play with the groups Roxy Music and Foreigner. They were joined by Willie Wilson on drums who come from the band The Newcomers.

After his time with Bullet David Gilmour then joined a new group already up and running. The members included former Geoff Mott and the Mottoes member Syd Barrett on guitar, Nick Mason on drums, Richard Wright on keyboard and Roger Walters on bass. The group was Pink Floyd and as they say the rest is history.

Pink Floyd - Arnold Layne
Released 11th March 1967 in the UK and 24th April 1967 in the US
This was Pink Floyd's First Single Release

These articles may also be of interest: Jokers Wild in Cambridge
                                                              The Beatles in Cambridge 

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The Bombing of Vicarage Terrace

It was the night of the 18th/19th June 1940, when Cambridge first got to experience the horrors war would bring.

It was just before midnight when the air raid sirens sounded and about fifteen minutes later a Heinki 111 bomber was reported to be flying low over Gwydir Street.

Within moments two HE bombs were dropped destroying numbers 1-6 Vicarage Terrace and badly damaging numbers 7-10. Houses in Edward Street and St. Matthew Street also suffered damage.

Ten people were reported to have been killed, by this attack alone, and up to nine were injured.
This was the first air attack on the city and is believed to be one of the earliest attacks to focus on a target in England during the war.

These article may also be of interest : 
                                                         World War 2 Air Attacks on Cambridge 1940 - 1942 
                                                                The Cambridge Evacuee's 

Monday, 4 June 2012

Murder On Midsummer Common

It was on the evening of Thursday 24th August 1876 a gross murder took place on Midsummer Common.

Robert Browning, aged 25, lived with his parents and brother and worked as a tailor in Covent Garden, just off Mill Road. Browning was also known in the area as being a heavy drinker and liked the company of women.

Midsummer Common 
On the evening in question it is reported that Browning and his brother finished work on a pair of trousers and received five shillings from a Mr. Ward for a job well done. Both brothers went to spend the money on drink.

It was at half-past eight when Browning left his brother's company and returned home for supper. While at home his mother noticed he was a little on edge and advised him to go to bed, but instead he picked up a cut-throat razor and placed it in his jacket pocket before leaving.

He went to a public house in Fair Street where he drank some more before going on to the Four Lamps at about 9.30pm.

While he was at the Four Lamps he met two girls. One was Emma Rolfe, aged 16. Both Emma and Browning left without the company of the other girl and went to an area of Midsummer Common called Butt's Green.

In the darkness Browning took the razor from his pocket and slashed Emma's throat from ear to ear, nearly severing the head from her shoulders.

Browning left the scene and went to the Garrick Inn. It was reported while he was there that some of the
Emma Rolfe's grave in Mill Road Cemetery 
people came concerned about his unusual behaviour.
After leaving the Inn and walking towards home he came face to face with PC Wheel who was patrolling in the area. The moment Browning saw Wheel he gave himself up saying he had killed a woman.
At first PC Wheel did not believe him so Browning took him to where Emma's body lay and he handed him the blood stained razor.
When he was taken into custody Browning said he had killed her because she had stolen a shilling from him, but no money was found.
Later Browning wrote a statement saying he had gone out intending to kill a girl he had been to Royston with because she had given him a disease.
At his trial on the 29th November 1876 Browning made no effort to defend himself and he was sentenced to death.
Just before 8am on the 15th December 1876 Browning was hanged.

These article may also be of interest: Murder at King's College
                                                               Shop of Secrets
                                                               The Last Execution in Cambridgeshire