The April talk to Sawston Village History Society began with Dr Anthony Cooper explaining how the Cambridge Preservation Society came into being in 1928. There was much concern regarding the siting of a car factory on the outskirts of Oxford and a determination by a group of local business people, academics and many Cambridge dignitaries that such a thing would not happen in or near Cambridge.
The original report included a map of the areas worth preserving and saw the phrase Green Belt first come into being. It was suggested this should be round the Cambridge ring road which is partly where the M11 is now. Grantchester Meadows were purchased and are protected from encroachment forever, along with several other areas of green belt land around, and to the west of, Cambridge.
In the early 1950s Terence, son of Sir Harold and Lady Gray generously gave the Wandlebury estate to the CPS including the buildings inside the Ring Ditch. The manor house was demolished as it was in a very poor state but the stable block was kept and the row of cottages sold off. It is said the famous Arab horse, Godolphin, is buried near the stable block.
Carolin Göhler explained the change of name from Cambridge Preservation Society to Cambridge Past, Present and Future which is an independent charity. The Society is forward looking and more committed than ever to preserving land around Cambridge and currently manages over 165 hectares of green belt land.
As well as Wandlebury, which was the first country park for Cambridge, other properties include the 800 year old Leper Chapel near Stourbridge Common, Hinxton water mill, Bourne post windmill, and Coton Countryside Reserve and Farm which was purchased in the 1930s.
In the late 1990s work began in earnest to create the Coton farmland as a Countryside Reserve. The wood planted on the hill is about five years old and many footpaths have been created to encourage visitors to walk and enjoy. There is a car park and information board and a new visitor guide has been produced.
Carolin also spoke about Bill Clark who was warden at Wandlebury for many years and whose expertise and knowledge of the area was very much appreciated and whose wife Wendy has written several books about Wandlebury.