CALH LECTURES 2017-18

Saturday 4 November

Mike Cowham: The World of Sundials

This was a fascinating talk by one of the country’s leading experts on the topic.  Mr Cowham started with some very local examples from Cambridge colleges, not all of which were familiar to members, including the remarkable example at Queens' College, before showing others from around the county, notably at Anglesey Abbey, Hauxton church and in Ely. He explained how dials actually worked and the complex mathematics that lay behind their design.

Besides the dials we are all familiar with, he showed examples of stained glass dials, the scratch dials for calculating the correct time for Mass and perhaps most interesting of all the portable dials produced from at least the 16th century as an early equivalent to the pocket watch. The artistry and workmanship that had gone into many of these was amazing.

Mr Cowham can be contacted at: mandvcowham@gmail.com

The Cambridge Museum of Technology: past, present and future

A Talk given by Pam Halls at the Cambridgeshire Association for Local History Meeting on 25th November 2017.

Most people who know Cambridge will be familiar with the tower by the river behind Newmarket Road. This marks the site of what is now the Cambridge Museum of Technology. As Pam Halls explained formerly this was a sewage pumping station, powered by one of the first attempts in the nineteenth century at an environmental source of heat – Cambridge’s rubbish. This was collected by dust carts, taken to the pumping station and placed in huge boilers and burnt to provide the energy to work the pumps, thus helping to clean up Cambridge and the river Cam. The pumping station was closed in 1968 and the site re-opened as a museum in 1971. It aims to be a working museum preserving Cambridge’s industrial history. The gas pump still is still in action, and one of the four boilers powering it is still complete. The museum includes other working exhibits and a collection of Pye instruments.

The future for the museum is rosy. Thanks to a large grant the whole site will be landscaped, scheduled buildings repaired, a new exhibition hall built, and amenities including a cafeteria added. When it is compete it will be a tribute to a little known feature of Cambridge’s past, its industry as well as the technology for which it is renowned today.