As usual, the July meeting of the SVHS was a visit to a local place of interest and this year it was to the Cambridgeshire Collection, on the 3rd floor of the new Central library. Chris Jakes, the principal librarian for local studies, and his colleagues had selected a considerable amount of documentary information about Sawston in the form of maps, post cards, photographs, books and newspaper articles.
This very important and useful source of information on local and family history relating to Cambridge and Cambridgeshire villages was established in 1855. There are numerous maps dating from 1574. There are copies of the Cambridge Chronicle from 1760 – 1930, and the Cambridge Daily News and Evening News from 1930, most of which is now on microfiche. The Collection also has over 80,000 books and, perhaps uniquely, 90,000 photos, as glass negatives, of notable Cambridge people and academics from 1880 to 1930. These were mostly taken by Ramsey Muspratt. There are also collections of university dissertations, census returns and information, local periodicals and magazines.
As a result of the catastrophic fire at the Norwich library which destroyed much of their irreplaceable documentation, a lot of the material in the Cambridgeshire Collection is kept in a fireproof area underneath the library, fully equipped with fire doors (fitted with intumescent fire seals invented by a Sawstonian), which can be purged with inergen, a fire suppressant gas comprising mainly argon and nitrogen.
It is now also possible to access vast amounts of information on-line, including nearly 600 images of Sawston. For anybody who wants to carry out local or family history research, this is an extremely useful and very accessible facility. And if you get thirsty as a result of your research, you can go to the cafeteria next door for a cup of tea!