|Trumpington Local History Group
Hobson's Brook and Hobson's
|Copyright © Trumpington Local History Group, 2014. Updated 9 July 2014.
|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.
|Left: Looking south along
Hobson's Conduit, on the
path from Brooklands
Avenue to Long Road.
Photo: Andrew Roberts,
Right: Vicars' Brook and the
milestone at the corner of
Trumpington Road and
Brooklands Avenue. Photo:
Andrew Roberts, March
|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. Photo:
Andrew Roberts, 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
|Left: The Hobson's Conduit
monument, now at the
junction of Lensfield Road
and Trumpington Road.
Photo: Andrew Roberts, July
Right: Hobson's Monument,
Nine Wells, erected by public
subscription in 1861. Photo:
Andrew Roberts, August
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.