My family moved to Whitehill Road in 1951, when I was two. I joined Pye Telecommunications … in 1967 as a telephonist. They manufactured radiotelephones and walkie-talkies for the armed and police forces at home and abroad.
At this time, before the birth of the Science Park, Pye’s and Marshall’s were the two main employers in the area. Pye’s provided a bus service to and from the outlying villages.
I remember when Cambridge United were in the Southern League. My friend Maureen’s Dad was the manager. Wilf Mannion, who had played for England, played for the U’s.
My father … spent the whole of his working life at Watts' Timber Yard, working as a carpenter. The yard was situated where B&Q and Halfords are now.
A little further along Newmarket Road, where Boots and Argos are now, was an old disused brick pit into which the council and the population at large were allowed to dump their unwanted rubbish.
This was a great brickmaking area and one could see the trucks going up and down a miniature railway bringing the clay up to the kilns to be made into Cambridge bricks. The lake by Barnwell Bridge opposite the old Toll House was once an old brick pit, which became flooded.
In 1931 Midsummer Fair was held on Newmarket Road in fields, where Whitehill and Elfleda Roads now stand. That year the river had been dredged and Midsummer Common was covered in mud and sludge so that it could not be used.
Living in Ditton Fields during the war was quite a tough time for us. There was Mum, my two sisters and me. Dad was in the forces, as were most Dads. Curly Smart (ex-Chairman of Cambridge United) lived opposite me, but when his Dad came home after the war they moved away. He’s right at the forefront [in the photo of] our VE Day party in Ditton Fields, along with another mate of mine, Mike Seabroke, whom I worked with later in life.
I first attended Priory Junior School in September 1949, when I was five years old. The playing field was not levelled and prepared until quite a long time later. I remember when the playing field was being prepared that a local footballer from Abbey, Len Saward, was working for the contractors or the city council on the playing field when he badly gashed his ankle on a grass cutter and was unable to play football for a while.
Sue Santry née Glynis Adams
I have lived in the area since 1948. My father played for Cambridge United when it was called Abbey, and I had to watch the football on Coldham’s Common every Saturday. I remember the floodlights being erected.
The Globe was a good pub at one time. The bar entrance was on Ditton Walk, the lounge on Newmarket Road. Then there was the Bottle and Jug. We used to go in there for sweets. Later it got rowdy and closed. It was popular with football supporters and there was no trouble until the club got into a high league. When they were in the Southern League there was no trouble. The Globe became a trendy wine bar, but it didn’t last.
United didn’t really grow until they got into a higher league. We used to have lots of fun up there in the social club. Local people used to play in a band, there was something going on every night and it was packed out. It still is, but not quite so big. Years ago everyone went to the social club. Children weren’t allowed in pubs but could go to clubs – so parents took them there.
My grandparents moved into Ditton Fields, then a new housing estate. I lived in Romsey Town but frequently went to visit them, cycling along the white path, passing the piggery. I remember helping to catch the pigs once when they got out.
I was a ballboy for United in the 1960s, before and after they went into the League. The ground was not as developed as it is now and the Corona works still took up the site that is now the car park. The club gradually got more professional and more businesslike. The ground changed from being a piece of land that people played football on to a big business.
During the 1950s almost all the players were from the Cambridge area. The allotment holders were not very keen on the club because balls frequently came over on to their vegetable patches. Also over time, relations with the local residents have not been as good, but this is mainly due to the huge number of people and cars that come into the area on match days. Parking is a big problem. Many of the early Cambridge United supporters cannot afford to live in the area – and this means that they also have to travel into Abbey to watch their team play.