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Hobson’s Conduit

History of Hobson's Conduit

Hobson’s Conduit, also know as Hobson’s River and Cambridge New River, includes a fountain and culverts etc., formerly and still in part supplied by the Conduit, and bridge over this last. (see 1959 Royal Commission on Historical Monuments Survey of Cambridge)

There has been a proposal in 1574 by Andrew Perne, Master of Peterhouse, to flush out the foul water in the King’s Ditch with water brought in from Vicar’s Brook. In 1610 the Lord of Trumpington Manor agreed to diversion of water across the common fields. This was the New River which brought water to the conduit head and then into the King’s Ditch at the junction of Trumpington Street and Pembroke Street.

Drinking water was piped from the conduit-head to a new fountain in Market Hill in 1614. In 1631 a third supply was drawn from the conduit head for Emmanuel College and Christ’s College.

The cost of the scheme of 1610 was borne jointly by the town and the University. Thomas Hobson, carrier (died 1630-1) and Samuel Potto (died 1632) left properties as endowments for the upkeep of the water works.

Hobson’s Conduit is of much interest as an early 17th century utility supplying water for drinking, street cleansing and scouring the drains.

Thomas Hobson

Thomas Hobson, 1612 (MoC)

Wikipedia article:

Listed Building


Hobson’s Conduit map

Inscription on original Hobson’s Conduit (MoC)

Inscription on original Hobson’s Conduit (MoC)

The Conduit in Exile:

There is an inscription that says, This structure stood upon Market Hill, and served as a Conduit from 1614 to 1856, in which year it was re-erected on this spot by public subscription.

Trumpington Road near Conduit (MoC99/55)

Conduit Head and Trumpington Road (MoC100/55)

Hobson’s Conduit, Trumpington Street, Swann Hurrell iron footbridge 1850 (MoC107/71)

Swann Hurrell footbridge at Brookside, 1850 (MoC108/71)

Hobson’s Conduit, Urbs Camboritum


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