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Sedley Taylor Road

Notes on the history of Sedley Taylor Road, Cambridge

Sedley Taylor (1834-1920) was a professor of at Trinity College, librarian and musicologist. His biography can be found here:

The road has its own on-line encyclopedia articles by virtue of the distinguished people who have lived in the road and the relative value of the properties.

More information can be found here:

Trinity College decided to develop the land in the 1920s and to permit leasehold developments. According to the County Records Office the standard lease seems to have been fixed for 21 years at a rent of £10/11 per annum.

1927 27/5 (newspaper)

A new private road – Sedley Taylor Road – will be opened shortly leading from the Hills Road via Luard Road to Long Road. It has been constructed under the supervision of Messrs Bidwell & Sons, acting on behalf of Trinity College on whose building estate the road is situated. It opens up a large number of building sites in this popular residential district. The late Mr Sedley Taylor was a distinguished Fellow of Trinity and well known for his foresight in promoting the establishment of school dental clinics in Cambridge, the first in the country.

Dr Walker (no.15) remembered in 1982 the early days in the road. “When we came here in 1933 there was a gate at the end of the road. it was there even during the war until some military vehicle knocked it down. Sedley Taylor Road was a private road until after the war. In those days there were two railway lines at the bottom of the playing fields: the main London line and the old Bletchley line that was removed after the war. there used to be two level crossings, now there is a single bridge over Long Road, which didn’t exist as a residential road.”

Former residents of the road include:

Sir James Beament (no.19)1921-2005. James Beaumont’s reminiscences of Queens’ College during WWII were published in the Queens’ College record in 1996. An extract was published in ‘Cambridge Observed’ 1998.

Sir John Cockcroft (no.31) 1897-1967

Tom Lethbridge 1901-1971

Geoffrey and Gladys Miller (no.23) built this house in in 1934 and named it Alcantra, meaning song in Spanish after a trip to Spain in a boat of that name. Geoffrey Miller founded Millers Music Shop. In 1982 he recalled the field that for 20 years had come up to their fence. The field belonged to a farmer called Mr Cornwall; he grazed cows and horses there.

Sir Neville Mott (no.4 later no.31) 1905-1996

Frederick Parker Rhodes (no.20) 1914-1987 plant pathologist and mystic. According to Sarah Payne’s 1982 Cambridge Weekly News article: the Parker Rhodes will be remembered for the mixture of progressivism and Quakerism they introduced into Sedley Taylor Road. They ran the Cyrenians, cared for lost dogs and were active supporters of CND. People used to sleep out in their garden at no.20 which must have been lovely on a warm summer’s evening, but a bit unconventional for Sedley Taylor Road, where digging up your front garden to plant vegetables during the war raised a few eyebrows.

Max Perutz (no.42) 1914-2002. The bricks of this house were taken from an old almshouse, possibly in the Fulbourn area. The architect’s name was Gray and the house  belonged for some time to a French master at King’s school called Godfrey.

Tom Sharpe (1928-2013) satirical novelist

Dr Kenneth Smith (no.3) 1892-1981 virologist: Dr Smith built no. 3, Hedingham House in 1937. It was reported that he kept a boar in his garden called Mogadishu.

S E Urwin architect

Dr George Walker (no.15) mathematician. It was reported in 1982 that they ‘had an anti-aircraft battery at the end of the garden. Mrs Walker used to take the “cup that says it all” to quote one of our popular newspapers, about a contemporary situation, to the troops at the bottom of the garden. “They had  occasion”, says Dr Walker, a retired mathematician of Emmanuel College, “to try to shoot down accidentally and unsuccessfully one of their own planes”.’

Prof Sir David Williams (no.29) 1930-2009

Prof Tony Wrigley (no.13) historical demographer

Sources: Cambridge News (Cambridgeshire Collection)

In 1937 the music shop, Miller’s, arranged for a tent to be put up in Sedley Taylor Road so that residents could file inside and watch the coronation of George VI. The event was broadcast on radio by the BBC, and parts of the service were filmed and shown in cinemas, but the state procession was shown live on the new BBC Television Service, its first major outside broadcast. (CN 2017)


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