The vibrant Mill Road community in Cambridge is eager to continue to champion the electric street in 2014 and is keen for new volunteers to help promote the bustling row of independent shops, the street’s rich history and thriving art scene, a new exhibition shows.
Plans include a new regular food fair starting in March, a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of World War 1 at Mill Road Cemetery, historical research of the street’s landmark buildings, and plans for a semi- pedestrianised area along the street.
‘These projects are dependent on people getting involved,’ says Mill Road co-ordinator Ceri Littlechild. Caro Wilson, who is involved in at least four projects, adds: ‘I love Mill Road but it’s pretty fragile. There is lots of pressure on the independent shops. We have to pull together and keep it going.’
The second Mill Road Community Exhibition took place at Bharat Bhavan on Saturday 18 January, where visitors had a chance to learn about the plans whilst enjoying a free lunch and music from Romsey band Stumble Col. If you missed it read on to find out what’s planned and how to get involved.
Mill Road Bridges help get people together to support different groups and projects, and they have many creative ideas for promoting the area.
Their exhibition stand was the most colourful, with postcards featuring Mill Road artwork, and they have also produced a photo map of Mill Road shops. Pam Wesson photographed every shop with her phone to create the map which is available online and from outlets around Cambridge and she hopes Mill Road will attract more shoppers from other parts of the city.
‘It’s a wonderful undiscovered place. Even the locals stumble into it,’ says Wesson who runs a shop in Hope Street Yard.
Mill Road Bridges continues the work of Community Champion Suzy Oakes who died in 2011. She helped start the Winter Fair and set up the Mill Road website, a comprehensive online guide to the area.
Mill Road’s annual one-day extravaganza, The Winter Fair, involves year-round planning and the organisers always need more volunteers. There will be a volunteers’ meeting on Thursday 6 February and the annual meeting on Thursday 20 March.
One of the biggest attractions of the fair is the food with too many stalls to visit in one day. The good news is a regular food fair will be starting on Sunday 2 March, featuring produce, hot food and live music. Find out more about the fair and how to get involved.
The area of farmland has changed beyond recognition in the last two centuries and the Mill Road History Project is researching the fascinating history of the road’s buildings. The Salvation Army shop, for example, was the city’s first cinema before being converted into the first supermarket in the 1960s. ‘People don’t realise what Mill Road was like 200 years ago,’ says Rasik Kotecha, a project volunteer.
Ten buildings are being researched this year including Bharat Bhavan, the exhibition venue. ‘Everyone remembers when it was a library but we don’t know what it was originally,’ says Kotecha.
Mill Road Cemetery is another place full of history. This year Friends of Mill Road Cemetery will be marking the 100th anniversary of World War 1. 130 soldiers are buried in the cemetery and the Friends plan to restore the graves and organise a public lecture and cemetery tour. The cemetery’s wildlife will also be celebrated with the unveiling of a public artwork inspired by birdsong on Saturday 22 February.
Romsey has been a conservation area for five years and Romsey Action Group is dedicated to improving it. They organise Romsey Visions, a day of talks on local issues and future plans in May. They are also helping to create Romsey Town Square, an attractive semi-pedestrianised public space outside the Co-op and St Philip’s Church.