In spite of MRHS protestations, Cambridge City Council granted full planning permission for the demolition of Burmaside House as part of its scheme to modernise accommodation at Ditchburn Place. We are also disappointed that we failed to get the whole site listed by Historic England.
However Lucy Walker, chair of Mill Road History Society, has instructed Richard Buxton (environmental and public law) to send a Pre-Action Protocol Letter for Judicial Review, challenging a legal point. We are also objecting to the lack of evidenced evaluation of Burmaside House as a heritage asset in relation to Ditchburn Place (a building of local interest, BLI) and the Mill Road Conservation Area.
The Mill Road History Society was recently contacted by Dale Miller from Australia who many years ago acquired this old Dale’s Brewery sign. He is now looking to sell it, preferably back to where it came from, and so the Society has agreed to buy it from him.
The price for the sign is very reasonable given its good condition but the shipping costs are going to be large. If you would like to donate or have any good ideas on how to raise funds for this then please get in touch.
We don’t know the history of the sign – or how it came to be in Australia – but it was most likely displayed on one of the pubs selling Dale’s beers rather than on the brewery itself.
Recently the Society has become aware that Cambridge City Council are planning to demolish Burmaside House so that the neighbouring Ditchburn Place can be extended. The planning application reference is 15/2171/FUL.
The planning application comes to committee in the Guildhall on Wednesday 27th April at around 1pm. It is agenda item 14, all are welcome to attend and observe the committee meeting.
The Society fully supports the Council’s aims to provide more and better quality care in Ditchburn Place however, we would like this to be done whilst retaining the exterior of Burmaside House. To that end we have submitted an application for it to be designated a Building of Local Interest and also for the entire Ditchburn Place site to be considered for Grade II listing.
The architect of Burmaside House, S.E. Urwin, who was County Architect in Cambridgeshire during the 1930s, was part of the European ‘International’ architectural movement which sought to change society through design – with very distinctive buildings in health and education. He was unusual in being ‘home grown’ (educated in Birmingham) whereas his more famous contemporaries working in the UK, eg. Berthold Lubetkin (Finsbury Health Centre), and Walter Gropius (in Cambridgeshire, Impington Village College) were Russian and German emigrés.
As a Local Authority architect most of Urwin’s commissions were in health and education: he was defining his style at the County Infirmary (now known as Ditchburn Place), and both the Nurses Home and Burmaside are very much signature buildings. Working with the visionary County Education Officer, Henry Morris, he went on to design Bottisham and Linton Village Colleges (Grade II Listed), Swavesey Junior and Infants school, and the Cambridge and County Girls School, now Long Road 6th form college. From Cambridge he moved to Gloucestershire in 1939 and designed the schools, e.g. Kingswood School and the Women’s Wards at Gloucester Sanatorium.
The applications are linked to above and also available for download on the files page.
This isn’t Mill Road related, however a good source of photos of Cambridge past is worth recording.
In 1971, the late Peter Soar, a Cambridge solicitor and keen amateur photographer, set about recording the last days of the parts of Cambridge city centre destined to be demolished to make way for major redevelopment. He also photographed the area during construction and after most of it was completed.
On Saturday 2nd April volunteers on the Mill Road History Project were invited to a small do at the Bath House to celebrate the end of the original, Heritage Lottery funded, project. The event was well attended with a number of researchers being presented with bound copies of their building reports and a recitation of the Mill Road Poem by its author Dean Parkin. Here are a few photos taken by Allan Brigham, click on the thumbnails for larger versions.