After the Old Library near the Mill Road Bridge closed in 1996 the building was used as a shelter for Winter Comfort whilst local groups applied to become leaseholders. In 1999 or thereabouts the lease was granted to the Indian Community and Cultural Centre (ICCA) who transformed the space into Bharat Bhavan which means India House. At one end a stone arch from Rajasthan was installed with space for a Hindu Temple. The arch itself is secular.
In 2021 the ICCA had surrendered their lease and the County Council was carrying out essential repairs to the building when local trader Piero D’Angelico, grandson of an Italian stone mason, noticed that the stone arch had been dismantled. He recognised the quality of its craftmanship but was told it was due to be dumped in a skip.
Working with the Mill Road Traders Association Piero and his associates acquired the stones for the nominal price of £1 and then began exhaustive discussions with the Cambridge City and County Councillors about a future location for the piece. Residents at Ditchburn Place gave their approval for the reconfigured archway to be erected in front of the building and then a long programme of fund raising began for the safe dismantling and relocation of the stones.
Piero has said “I had no idea then how much this project would take over my life, but I hope my grandfather would be proud of what we have achieved here. So many people in the community around Mill Road have helped out with their skills or advice or with donations to make this happen – it has really brought everyone together.”
On September 1st 2023 a Grand Opening was held at Ditchburn with representatives from many community and cultural organisations.
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