Cambridge Chronicles

Mitchams cornerCantabrigian readers might enjoy a site I’ve just found, Andrew Brett’s Cambridge Back Chat. It’s a fine collection of local history blog posts on a variety of subjects… I, for one, didn’t know that Mitcham’s Corner was named after a clothes shop that used to stand there. Here’s another view.

The entry I enjoyed most, though, is a very pleasing account of a Bleriot-pattern monoplane landing on Parker’s Piece in 1911.

The full piece is here, and I recommend reading the whole thing, but here’s an extract:

At last Mr Moorhouse gave the word “Let go,” and the machine darted forward across the turf at a great pace, heading slightly to the left of the electric light standard in the centre of the Piece. After running about 120 yards the machine was seen to be rising. The wheels were lifting off the grass, and the whole structure was inclining gently upwards. A few yards and she was wholly clear of the ground, and soaring gracefully upwards. It was a beautiful and a wonderful sight to see how the slender fabric seemed to be converted from a thing of earth, struggling as it were to free itself from the invisible bonds that held it down, into a thing of grace and beauty, fairy-like, almost ethereal, freed from grosser things, that seemed to glide through the air as if it were in its native element and to exalt in its freedom from the trammels of earth. There was something awesome in the sight. One seemed to be looking on at the birth of some strange new thing of wondrous possibilities – the dawn of a new era in the history of mankind.

Ah, local papers were worth reading back then!

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© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser