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October 2017 Meeting Report

The West Side of Sawston High Street, by Maurice Day and Liz Dockerill

When the planned speaker found out he was double booked for the October meeting, the day was saved by Maurice Day and Liz Dockerill, who gave a talk on buildings on the west side of the High street from the Spike to Huckeridge Hill. They gave far more detail than can be included in this brief report, and many memories were stimulated among the older generations of Sawstonians.

The opening slide was the programme cover of Past and Present exhibition held in 1988. George and Edie Tickner were chosen as Lord and Lady Sawston for the day, and they toured all the businesses open on that day in the village in a London taxi owned and driven by David Howden, accompanied by organiser David Dockerill and Ken Eason acting as Town Crier to announce their arrival at each site.

Starting at The Spike, the building that many will remember as the shop of Oriental Expressions was previously the shop for Eastern Counties Leather where sheepskin coats were sold under the Langmore trade name. Unfortunately too many break-ins and lost stock meant they had to close. It is now a cycle shop. ECL is in the parish of Pampisford but has a Sawston address. The story goes that this is because the Pampisford postmistress was too nosey.

The University Arms was built by Thomas Sutton Evans for his leather workers to go to buy a pint, whether they were drinkers or not, before they were given their wages! It is now converted into offices.

Kingfisher Close was originally part of The Grove garden which was sold off to become a motor garage later owned by Total. The milestone here was rescued as a result of the persistence of Ivan Start. The name of the Black Bull was reduced to The Bull, possibly in the 1980s, and the south part of the building is now the Mayflower Chinese takeaway. A photo of Billy Catley at the entrance to the Black Bull was shown. He is commemorated in the name of Catley's Walk where he made ropes.

Further along was Peasgood's newsagents, where when there was a fire, Evelyn Peasgood was rescued from a bedroom window on a fork lift truck. Kaz's Indian Restaurant, previously Redfort Gardens had been Musikland and before that Whichcraft selling toys and trinkets.

John Crampton arrived in Sawston in the 1860s and took over the Post Office and Chemists located in the Town House. He built the Dutch style building for his printing works where Traviss Teversham's books on the history of Sawston were printed. The front of the building is now offices, with Boswell's bakery at the back.

The Co-op had its first Cambridgeshire shop, opened in 1867, here in Sawston. It was replaced by a much larger building in 1877, despite the efforts of Thomas Sutton Evans who was behind the criminal damage in which each day's work was destroyed by night until an overnight guard was set up to protect the work. Known as the Sawston Industrial Co-operative Society, it went from strength to strength. Food was sold downstairs, while household goods and furniture were sold upstairs. The cash for purchases was put into a small cylinder and a pulley system sent it up to a cashier above the shop floor, who took out the money and sent it back down with the correct change to be given to the customer. A Co-op bakery was built behind the shop, which caused Evans to retaliate by building his own bakery shop in the High Street right next to the house built by Arthur Challis.

The last rebuild of the Co-op is the building we can see today. When the Co-op closed, the building was put up for sale or rent, and it was rumoured that Tesco would be moving in, but in fact it was Andrew McCullock who finally bought it, so it was no longer necessary to go into Cambridge to buy electrical goods. Sadly they ran into trouble with the Infernal Revenue and Customs, so this familiar name disappeared. The next owners were Woodhead Publishing who were taken over by a much larger company, and eventually disappeared. The latest owners are a video company called Somersault, who provide all aspects of video production and distribution for clients including Tesco and David Lloyd Clubs.

What is now Domino's pizza bar has had a varied history. The old butcher's shop and cottages were pulled down and replaced by a smart new building originally housing a launderette, then Vegetation, followed by an antiques/collectors’ shop both run by Trevor Bowes. At the end was a larger butcher's shop for Mr Page, then Green’s, and later it became Amiri's restaurant. When both premises closed the buildings were revamped to make a larger restaurant named Pasha. Later on it became Masa Mediterranean Restaurant and Bar, and later still an Indian and Bengali Restaurant and takeaway.

The Woolpack public house closed in 2009 and was bought by Russell's Estate Agents in a very poor state of repair. It is a 17th century building with thatch beneath the peg tile roof. It is now owned by Tucker Gardner estate agents. It was one of Thomas Evans’ pubs in the 1800s.

The Jade Fountain building started life as Barker’s, then Adkins general store and butchers, and was taken over by Budgens, who later moved across the High Street to bigger premises. After which, the Jade Fountain took over, and it has been a restaurant for Chinese meals and takeaways since then.

At the top of Huckeridge Hill is the next milestone. It was buried during WWII, and, it was not until the summer of 1989 that a group of enthusiasts were determined to find it and dig it up. Ivan Start had a photo of his grandfather sitting on it long ago and Ivan, Tony Cartwright, John Capes, and David Dockerill used a metal detector and did a lot of digging until they found the stone buried under some old wire netting. Jeff Dayus brought his pickup truck from Moule's Garage to hoist the milestone out of the ground and position it as it is today.

Jim Butchart

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