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8 – 9 Green Street, The Volunteer

History of 8 - 9 Green Street

A B Gray in Cambridge Revisited (1921) writes at some length about the barber Crowson who lived at this address:

Numbers 10, 9, and 8 are now the only early eighteenth century
houses left on the north side of Green Street, number 8, now The
Volunteer, being notable as the former home of a worthy barber
named Crowson, once renowned far and wide for his excellent
Bear’s-grease, who, as an indisputable testimony to the genuine-
ness of the said article, for long imprisoned in his cellar a bear.
On fine days the poor brute would seek ” a place in the sun ” by
climbing up on to the roomy ledge in its ample area, to the great
delight and wonderment of the juvenile inhabitants of the neigh-

An old friend and native of Green Street who recollects the bear,
tells me it was also shown at times in a back room behind an iron
grating. The unfortunate animal having become more dangerous
than attractive, was eventually shot, when portions of it were cut
up into hams and steaks and distributed among various customers.

It is not clear when Crowson lived at this address. The use of bear grease had a long history; it was believed to act as a cure for baldness.

Bear Grease sign

However a search of published censuses for Cambridge reveals only one hairdresser by the name of Crowson, William, who is found in 1861 at 62 Burleigh St, in 1851 at 6 Short Street and in 1841 at 7 Saxon Street.


(unnumbered) Thomas Wilderspin, 40, baker



William Thurlbourn, 39, tailor and robemaker, b Cambridge


Thomas Wilderspin, 50, baker



James Codling, 29, saddler, b Chesterton


Thomas Wilderspin, 61, baker, b Cambridge


(8) Mrs Coppins, The Volunteer

(9) Christmas and Son, bread and biscuit bakers


The Volunteer

At one point the Volunteer was run by Fred Mullins, ex-heavyweight boxer.

(9) The Flat, John Haylett


John Oliver, hairdresser




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