Trumpington Village Sign unveiled June 2010, designed by Sheila Betts.
Trumpington Local History Group
Hobson's Brook and Hobson's
Conduit
Copyright © Trumpington Local History Group, 2014. Updated 9 July 2014.
Email:
admin@trumpingtonlocalhistorygroup.org
The watercourse called Hobson's Brook and Hobson's Conduit flows
through Trumpington to Cambridge, from Nine Wells into the city. This
page is an introduction to the Brook and Conduit. See
Hobson's Conduit:
the First 400 Years for details about the history and route of the Conduit.
The Vicar's Brook originally flowed from its spring-line source at Nine Wells, in the parish of
Great Shelford, through Trumpington and then into the River Cam at its present-day outflow
near River Farm. In the early 17th century, the University and town of Cambridge diverted this
stream near "Trumpington Ford" (where the London Road crossed the brook) with a newly
created drain that ran, and still runs, into Cambridge. The watercourse is now named
Hobson's
Brook
from Nine Wells to the point where it divides into the stream, still called Vicar's Brook,
and the artificial channel, called
Hobson's Conduit.
Extract from title page of Bushell's 1938 book about Hobson's Conduit.
Extract from title page of Bushell's 1938 book about Hobson's Conduit.
Vicar's Brook and the milestone at the corner of Trumpington Road and Brooklands Avenue, March 2008.
Looking south along Hobson’s Conduit along the path from Brooklands Avenue to Long Road, near Brooklands Avenue, October 2007.
Left: Looking south along
Hobson's Conduit, on the
path from Brooklands
Avenue to Long Road.
Photo: Andrew Roberts,
October 2007.
Right: Vicars' Brook and the
milestone at the corner of
Trumpington Road and
Brooklands Avenue. Photo:
Andrew Roberts, March
2008
The original purpose of this "new river" was to flush out the ancient Kings Ditch that had, over
the centuries, become a significant health risk. Once the water was flowing into Cambridge
though, it was used for other purposes: a fountain on Market Hill, feeding ponds and swimming
baths in Pembroke, Emmanuel and Christ's Colleges, and the pond in the University Botanic
Garden, originally on its old site north of Pembroke Street, and latterly on its modern site
alongside the brook.
The original 'Hobson's Conduit' fountain was removed from Cambridge market in 1849, and
rebuilt in its present position on the corner of Lensfield Road and Trumpington Road.

The Brook and Conduit are named after Thomas Hobson, the well known (and wealthy) carrier
of Cambridge, also known today for the phrase
Hobsons choice. He was probably at least
partly instrumental in bringing the water to Market Hill, and certainly left land in his will (in
1631) for the benefit of maintaining the watercourse.
Hobson’s Brook, looking north near the track from the allotments to Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Nine Wells, Clay Farm, Trumpington, with the track from Paget Close to Addenbrooke’s in the distance, August 2007.
Hobson's Brook, looking north near the track
from the allotments to Addenbrooke's
Hospital and Nine Wells, Clay Farm. Photo:
Andrew Roberts, August 2007
Harvesting the Showground fields, Clay Farm, with Hobson’s Brook in the foreground, looking north towards the shelter belt, August 2007.
Harvesting the Showground fields, Clay
Farm, with Hobson's Brook in the
foreground, looking north towards the shelter
belt. Photo: Andrew Roberts, August 2007
The Hobson’s Conduit structure at the junction of Lensfield Road and Trumpington Street, a water structure which stood in Market Hill from 1614-1856, when it was re-erected in the current location, July 2008.
Left: The Hobson's Conduit
monument, now at the
junction of Lensfield Road
and Trumpington Road.
Photo: Andrew Roberts, July
2008.
Right: Hobson's Monument,
Nine Wells, erected by public
subscription in 1861. Photo:
Andrew Roberts, August
2008.
Sources

Bushell, W.D. (1938). Hobson's Conduit. The New River at Cambridge Commonly Called
Hobson's River
. Cambridge: CUP. The history and course of Hobson's Conduit, from Nine
Wells through Trumpington into Cambridge, with maps and illustrations.

Gray, E.A. (1977).
Hobson's Conduit, the Story of a Cambridgeshire Chalk Stream. Barton,
Cambridgeshire: Bird's Farm Publications. ISBN 0-905232-03-8. The story of the valley to the
east of Trumpington, following the route of Hobson's Brook.
Hobson’s Monument, Nine Wells, erected by public subscription in 1861, August 2008.