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History of the Newtown area of Cambridge
Royal Commission Survey of Cambridge 1959: Downing Terrace and probably Gothic Cottage (Cambridge Chronicle 2 June 1820, 14 jan 1825), now incorporated in the ‘Cross Key’ inn, were just finished before the intensive building of New Town, called New Zealand prior to1822 (ibid 18 May 1822), was begun about 1820, though some houses already existed beside Hills Road (e.g. ibid 12 May, 6 Oct 1820). Union Road is mentioned in 1821 and Nos. 9-14 George IV Street bear the same date. In 1822 Wilkins sold the W part of his garden for a terrace, Annesley Place, now part of Panton Street; the terrace in the same street, just S of Union Road, followed (ibid 19 Aug 1825) and Nos 42-44 (evens) Panton Street are dated 1851 though in appearance rather earlier. By 1825 Coronation Street, princes Street, Queen Street had begun (ibid 11 June 1824, 13 May 1825); R G Baker’s map of 1830 shows most of the S side of the first built, Saxon Street behind Downing Terrace and Doric Street off it, and a beginning of the N end of Gothic Street. Terrace Lane must have been built soon afterwards. Russell Street is first heard of in 1835 under the name Gwydir Street when an ambitious scheme was announced for development near the ‘new Botanic gardens’ (ibid 13 Feb 1835); a start may have then been made but little was done before the end of the decade and most of the buildings in the street are of 1840 to 1850 and later; Nos. 77-81 are dated 1846, Nos. 84 and 85 1849; Russell Place was built before 1840 (ibid 18 July 1840). development of the area continued after 1850. Much of New Town was ill-built, and as early as 1850 the condition of Terrace lane and Annesley Place was unfavourably commented upon by the Board of Improvement Commissioners (ibid 21 Dec). The area immediately S of Saxon Street is now a slum.
The nickname New Zealand was probably coined because it was at the time such a remote part of town.