Most visitors to Cambridge visit the colleges and the university but the City has an alternative history that few visitors see or hear about. Here is a small selection.
Ted Hughes (1930-1998) and Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) lived at 55 Eltisley Avenue in Newnham from October 1956 to May 1957. The pair met in Cambridge and married in 1956. Plath took here own life in 1963.
Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) is buried in St. Giles Cemetery at 145a Huntingdon Road, about a mile’s walk up the road from Trinity College where he studied with Bertrand Russell. Wittgenstein was Austrian born and attended the same school as Hitler for a while. He held a professorship in philosophy at the University of Cambridge from 1939 until 1947.
Rupert Brooke (1887-1915) lived at the Old Vicarage in Grantchester, now occupied by the novelist Jeffrey Archer.
Pink Floyd – three original members of Pink Floyd – Syd Barrett, David Gilmour and Roger Waters – grew up in Cambridge. Waters and Barrett attended the Cambridge County School for Boys, now Hills Road Sixth Form College, and Gilmour attended the Perse School on Hills Road. Waters wrote a song, Grantchester Meadows, which is on the album Ummagumma. After his split from the band in 1968 Syd Barrett eventually moved back to Cambridge from London (legend has it that he walked the whole way) and lived as a semi-recluse at 6 St Margaret’s Square (off Cherry Hinton Road) from 1981 to 2006, when he died.
Reality Checkpoint – this is large lamppost at the centre of Parker’s Piece. There are various theories about the origins of the name. Is it something to do with drug culture in the sixties? Is it the boundary between town and gown? The words “Reality Checkpoint” are permanently painted or scratched on the base of the lamp, despite the attempts of the authorities to remove them.
Cambridge Folk Festival – this internationally renowned festival is held in the grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall at the end of July. It is famous for its laid-back atmosphere. Past performers include James Taylor, Joan Baez, Emmylou Harris, The Proclaimers, Seth Lakeman and K D Laing.
Mill Road – the most diverse road in Cambridge, with a wide range of independent and quirky shops and restaurants. Here you can find everything from sushi, to sacks of rice, to a free-range goose. Al-Amin is an Asian supermarket that is like an Aladdin’s Cave. Well worth visiting.