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Cambridge oddities and interesting places

Mammoth, Downing St

Outside the Fitzwilliam Museum (art and antiquities) are two pairs of lions. There is a story that in the middle of the night, they come to life and walk around!

The mammoth on the left is in Downing Street (in Cambridge - not London!). It signposts the way to the Sedgwick Museum (fossils), whose entrance is inside the Downing Site.

Lions outside Fitzwilliam Museum
Whale skeleton

This whale's skeleton (left) hangs above the entrance to the Museum of Zoology which has many more animal skeletons. It is inside the New Museums site (formerly called the Old Cavendish site).

You can also see this crocodile in the New Museums site, climbing a wall!

Click here for other animals in Cambridge.


Museum of Technology
Museum of Technology

Here some other interesting museums in Cambridge.

On the left is the Museum of Technology, situated in the old sewage farm. It is full of old machinery, from tram rails to old computers, plus magnificent steam engines and a print room. They hold several steam days a year.

On the right is Kettle's Yard, the former home of Jim Ede, a former curator at the Tate Gallery. You can see round the house, full of artworks, or visit the gallery. Both of these museums have slightly eccentric opening times, so check the websites.

Next to Kettle's Yard is the Museum of Cambridge (formerly the Folk Museum), full of old household items.

A new museum is the Centre for Computing History (old working computers).

Click here for a map showing where all the museums are and more information.

Kettles Yard
Kettles Yard

There is a subway under the roundabout between Elizabeth Way, Newmarket Road and East Road. The tunnels under the roads used to suffer a lot from graffiti, so now there are murals to discourage this. These murals illustrate where the tunnels lead.

Subway Subway Subway
This tunnel leads to the Victorian terrace house area built after the railway came to Cambridge. I live there myself, and I don't think it looks quite as boring as this! Another tunnel leads to the Elizabth Way bridge over the river and Midsummer Common. Sometimes there are cows grazing on Midsummer Common, but you would need to walk into the city centre to see punts.

Another tunnel leads to the river flowing out of town. This goes through Stourbridge Common, which in mediaeval times used to have the largest fair in Europe. The stalls used to be arranged by produce, and roads bordering the common are still called Mercer Row, Garlic Row and Oyster Row.

Subway Subway Subway Subway
The tunnel leading to the city centre has a history of Cambridge. Unfortunately, I couldn't photograph it all. It starts with the Romans, then the Danes. The middle section has medieval and Stuarts (who seem fascinated by their computers!) The horse may be Godolphin, one of the foundation sires of the English Thoroughbred, buried at Wandlebury. We also see Cambridge's strong interest in science, leading to the present day with children hard at work on their experiments. A strand of DNA winds along the bottom, mirroring the Roman mosaic pattern at the start.

Elizabeth Way bridge Perhaps the ugliest river bridge in Cambridge is the Elizabeth Way bridge, but it does give a good view over Midsummer Common and the river. The walk along the river runs underneath it, and in sunny weather you can see interesting light reflections underneath. On the other side of the river, you can just see an anchor. I don't know why it's there!

Cambridge is flat. However, it does has several hills! Here are some of them. "A major research project is underway at Cambridge University to detect the gradient of Senate House Hill" (Cambridge joke).

Senate House Hill
Senate House Hill
Market Hill
Market Hill
Peas Hill
Peas Hill
Castle Hill - The only true hill!
Castle Hill

Also near Castle Hill, there is Pound Hill and Honey Hill, both real hills, and on the outskirts of Cambridge, there is Bar Hill. This means that Cambridge, like Rome, was built on seven hills! I wonder if the 'flat' hills were named by a classically minded scholar. Other hilly streets in Cambridge are Mount Pleasant (in the Castle Hill area) and Hills Road, presumably so named because it leads eventually to the Gog Magog hills, although it does have a slight slope detectable by cyclists!

Auston 7 on roof of Cambridge Senate House Auston 7 on roof of Cambridge Senate House Auston 7 on roof of Cambridge Senate House Auston 7 on roof of Cambridge Senate House

Cambridge night climbers are a long tradition. They are students who climb over the college builders at night, an occupation which is viewed with disapproval by the authorities. In 1958, some students managed to get an Austin 7 on the roof of the Senate House.

Auston 7 under Cambridge Bridge of Sighs

In 1963, students floated a car down the river on punts, and tied it under the Bridge of Sighs.

Santa hat on Cambridge colleges Santa hat on Cambridge colleges

Nowadays, they concentrate on something lighter. In 2009, some 25 Santa hats appeared in inaccessible places, such as a pinacle of Kings Chapel, and the top of Pembroke's porters' lodge.

Walks round Cambridge including other interesting things to see.

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