One of the less likely treasures of the Museum of Cambridge is the two-sheet Cambridge telephone directory for 1896–7. (The National Telephone Company set up in Cambridge in 1892.) It is interesting equally for the names it lists as for those it doesn’t. The most obvious among the missing are most of the colleges: those wired up were Jesus, Emmanuel (with four phone lines/extensions: St Andrew’s Street, the Parker Street Hostel (with two) and the kitchen), Caius, Girton, Newnham, and Selwyn (one line each) King’s and Trinity (the colleges and the kitchens) and Trinity Hall (the kitchen only).
Clare and Trinity College tennis courts (on Burrell’s Walk) share a line. The Fire Brigade has no. 117 and additional lines a–e, for premises on 5 St Andrew’s St (unless this is an error: Favell, Ellis and Sons, plumbers and decorators, in the line above, share the same address), Gonville Terrace (the Captain’s residence), Ainsworth Street, City Road, Haymarket Terrace and Guildhall (for ‘Stores’).
The Cavendish Laboratory (opened in 1874, its first director being James Clark Maxwell), which one would hope was at the forefront of technology, had no. 65, and the Physiological Laboratory was no. 44. Professor J.J. Thomson was wired up at 6 Scrope Terrace, while the Botanic Gardens could be contacted on 101, and the Botanic Laboratory in Downing Street on 113. Addenbrooke’s Hospital (‘Old Addenbrooke’s’, that is, on Trumpington Street, where I was briefly an in-patient in the 1970s, and which is now the Judge Business School, not the new small city down Hills Road) had one line, no. 68, and the nurses’ home on next-door Fitzwilliam Street also had a phone; as did the other nurses’ hostel, on Thompson’s Lane, overseen by a Miss Young. There is also a ‘Sanatorium’ on Mill Road: this is the present Brookfields Hospital, founded in 1884 as the Cambridge Infectious Diseases Hospital.
Foster Brothers, ‘Millers, coal merchants’ have no. 32 and 32a in Station Road (where grain was ground at Foster’s Mills until relatively recently, producing both noise overnight and a toasty smell in the morning for local residents) and no. 33 on Mill Lane (where two great watermills formerly stood, one entirely vanished, the other now Bella Italia). I was intrigued to see that the Gas Company’s office with no. 11) was at 41 Sidney Street (where I went to pay my gas bills in the 1970s–80s); the gasworks on Newmarket Road was no. 11a.
The Great Northern and Great Eastern Railways both had offices on Market Hill. The Post Office also had a telephone line, but for telegrams only (and is listed as GENERAL Post Office), not necessarily helpful if you were trying to find the number in a hurry.
Shops are represented by W. Eaden Lilley and Co. on Market Street and Laurie and McConnal on Fitzroy Street, both now alas departed, though the little bandstand on the top of the latter’s roof can still be seen.
Sturton Bros., druggists, grocers, wholesale, were also on Fitzroy Street, while a grocer called Hattersley was at 5–6 Trinity Street, and Hallack and Bond, wholesale grocers, had four phone lines: in ‘Cambridge’, Hills Road, New Street, and Market Place (their retail outlet). Lawrence and Rose (butchers) were on Market Hill, and another butcher, Warrington and Sons, on Magdalene Street. The Danish Butter Company (??) was based in Fitzroy Street, while Chivers & Sons, the soft-fruit growers and jam makers, were then (as until recently) in Histon.
Barrett and Sons, (glass, china and ironmongery), whose ramshackle treasure house on St Andrew’s Street I lovingly remember, had two outlets: St Andrew’s Hill and 30 Market Place (nos. 4 and 4a). (I think they continued on St Mary’s Passage by the market for a few years after the main warehouse closed?) And Robert Sayle & Co. (now rebranded as John Lewis) on St Andrew’s Street, had no. 14. Sayle himself, a remarkable local philanthropist, should be more widely known: there is a useful piece here.
Flint and Co. had a livery stable at 22a Jesus Lane: many undergraduates had their horse(s) in Cambridge, for local riding and even hunting. Hopkins and Co. had two stables, one on Jesus Lane and one on Trumpington Street, thus supplying the equine needs of both ends of the town. (Thomas Hobson, the famous carrier, was the first to hire out livery horses in Cambridge, at the end of the sixteenth century.)
Other local tradesmen included Coulsons the builders in East Road and Rattee and Kett, both of which firms survive today. Francis Thoday & Co. were builders, contractors and cement makers on Hills Road, and another builder was William Saint on Devonshire Road.
Among the individuals with telephones were some Darwins: George at Newnham Grange; Horace at ‘The Orchard’ (his Scientific Instrument Company on St Tibbs Row also had a phone); Francis at ‘Wychfield’; and ‘Mrs Darwin’, the widowed Emma, at ‘The Grove’, Huntingdon Road. The Rev. W. Cunningham, at 2 St Paul’s Road, may be William Cunningham (1849–1919), vicar of Great St Mary’s and archdeacon of Ely, moral philosopher, and ecclesiastical and economic historian, who also wrote The Story of Cambridgeshire for adult education classes.
‘Dr Verrall’ – A.W. Verrall, the classicist – is listed at his home in Selwyn Gardens, and also at Trinity. Another classicist, E. S. Shuckburgh, was no. 40, at ‘The Avenue’, and E.S. Roberts, whose Introduction to Greek Epigraphy was a genuinely ground-breaking work, was at Caius, where he lived from 1865, climbing the academic ladder from undergraduate to president (1894–1903) to master (from 1903 to his death in 1912), as well as university vice-chancellor (1906–8).
Oscar Browning, historian, friend of George Eliot, and Eton and King’s eccentric, had his own phone line in King’s. An intriguing entry is for Dr Reid, who had phones at both Caius and Newnham. I think this may be J.S. Reid, scholar of Cicero, who was a colleague of Roberts at Caius, but who was one of the young dons whom Miss Clough persuaded to admit her students to their lectures: in this case eight Newnhamites had to be chaperoned across to Christ’s by her in 1876, but perhaps Reid was later given a room in Newnham in which to lecture or supervise?
As you can see below, there are many more intriguing entries, especially of doctors or surgeons. The whole list gives a fascinating insight into social and economic life in Cambridge at the end of the nineteenth century.
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