“Where’s our city cycling network?” Gordon Logie’s future shape of Cambridge – 1966

Where were you when England won the World Cup? Reading the City Architect’s plans for a cycling network for Cambridge? Cool.

The Cambridgeshire Collection is the only place I can find locally and open to the public that holds a copy of this document. You can now go and visit to read what it says.

I was reminded of one of the maps in Mr Logie’s plan by the current Cambridgeshire County Council consultation on footpaths and cycleways. Have your say here!

Back in 1966, there was no A14, nor was there an M11, and no Elizabeth Way Bridge. So all of the motor traffic had to go through town. Can you imagine!?!

Not wrong: Logie on the challenges of too many cars.

The problem was that their thinking was to build new relief roads through town rather than either bypasses or even, as we are now finding out for ourselves, focusing on cycling, walking, and other forms of public transport. Such as Cambridge Connect Light Rail. In fact, we used to have street trams.

Above – from the Cambridgeshire Collection. There are a few copies of the Cambridge Tramways booklet on sale on abe books.

There were proposals to electrify the tram system – which shocked town thinking. Surprising for a university town – another one from the Cambridgeshire Collection.

There are lots of ‘if onlys’ with the Cambridge Street Tramways Company – including the not-level-playingfield with the Ortona Bus Company, and the liquidation of the tram company just before having such an extended network would have been *really useful* with the outbreak of the Great War. Had it been built, it could have had a significant effect on the future – our present shape of Cambridge.

The future – back in 1966.

Remember Back to the Future II?

How did today turn out?

As Gordon Logie stated in his introduction, he was looking ahead towards the next 50 years as-was. So to 2016. We’re now in 2021.

Cycleways and footpaths.

The bit of his report I want to look at here is his proposed network of cycleways.

Above – Logie’s rationale.

“This drawing shows a tentative system of cycleways and footpaths which aims at providing a safe and pleasanter alternative to cycling or walking along motor roads. The Cycleways would normally be physically be separated from motor roads, with underpasses where necessary.”

Gordon Logie, City Architect, Cambridge City Council, March 1966

The map he is talking about is this one.

Above – Cambridge in the mid-2010s as imagined in 1966.

There are a number of things that stand out just looking at the map:

  • Housing Growth
    • Trumpington, Shelford and Stapleford are highlighted as being the route for housing growth to follow in the south of the city
    • A Green strip of land separating Cherry Hinton Village from the rest of Cambridge, and creating a new separate enlarged town merged with Fulbourn is predicted for the east of the city
    • Girton and Histon are labelled as sites for major housing growth, while Milton stays as it was.
  • Secondary Schools
    • This pre-dates the major changes in the 1970s, so some schools show up while others do not.
    • A secondary school at Trumpington has been built, but ones for Shelford, Fulbourn, Abbey, and Girton have not.
    • The proposed cycle network links the schools. They did not have Grange Hill on TV back then.
  • New cycleways
    • Note the major road flyover linking Abbey Ward with East Chesterton – that was ultimately abandoned. That is in effect being delivered by the Chisholm Trail and the recently-installed Chisholm bridge.
    • The seemingly random line heading south-east out of Cambridge is a cycleway to Wandlebury Country Park
    • Several of the cycleways form rings rather than just a path there and back.
The both the inner and outer ring roads as proposed as so destructive that residents resisted it, and as a result there are bits of city infrastructure that now look a little out of place.

Park Street Car Park for example. Or Elizabeth Way Bridge.Both were built to assume the construction of an inner ring road. That didn’t happen because too many residents opposed the proposals making pressing ahead a bad idea politically.

Above – the proposals – note the main road running alongside the railway station, which ploughs through Mill Road and Gwydir Street before hitting East Road where it makes use of the Bridge that was first planned (and received Parliamentary approval) at the end of the 19th Century. Then note the flyover crossing both river and railway line – again that did not get built, but the plan was to link Milton Road with Newmarket Road.

Finally, note the new proposed district centres:

  • Cherry Hinton/Fulbourn combined
  • Shelford
  • Wulfstan Way/Queen Edith’s
  • Chesterton
  • Girton
  • HIston

Addenbrooke’s, Fulbourn Hospital, and the Science Park are all visibly marked on the map, as are a number of other areas – including the Norman Cement Works by the railway line heading out east of the city.

What would the shape of Cambridge have become had Mr Logie’s proposed segregated cycle network been built in the 1960s?

Food for thought.

If you enjoyed this article and are interested in the history of Cambridge the town and the people who made our modern city, please support my research in bringing their records of achievement to wider audiences. Click here if you would like to make a donation or take out a small subscription to support my ongoing work.

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