In 1925, a group of Cambridge antiquarians set off on a journey into the unknown. They loaded their car with cameras, tripods and glass-plate negatives and their journey took them into a landscape of ancient remains, crumbling cottages, where residents drank water from wells. While others explored the relics of ancient Egypt, 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 inter-war 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 way of life 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, Trumpinton 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. The mystery and romance of the Fens is also covered in full detail. Here indeed, is vanished Cambridgeshire and the Fens in all its glory.
MIKE PETTY is the best-known authority on the history of Cambridgeshire and the Fens. For more than 30 years he has lectured to schools, adult classes, societies and conferences throughout the region. Mike has daily and weekly columns in the Cambridgeshire Evening News and Cambridgeshire Weekly News and has written several books on Cambridgeshire publishing by Breedon.