Abington - Past and Present

"Abington - Past and Present"

An extract from the Abington Action Plan

Abington actually comprises two parishes, Great Abington and Little Abington, which lie on either side of the river in the Granta Valley about 8 miles south east of Cambridge. They are on the historic easterly route from Cambridge to Colchester and are bounded on their western side by the Roman route that ran from London to Norwich which is now a major trunk road, the A11.

The two parishes extend roughly 4 miles north to south from the Roman Road, an ancient trackway, in the north to the Essex county boundary near Abington Park Farm in the south; and roughly 2 miles west to east from the new A11 to Hildersham.

Historically, by the very early nineteenth century when parliamentary inclosure took place in both the parishes, a large part of the land was owned by the lord of the manor who owned Abington Hall. There were no great changes through the nineteenth century with most of the cottages being owned by the estate. However finally the Abington Hall Estate was sold in 1929 and this brought many changes.

The population at that time was relatively small. Following the sale and deterioration of many of the cottages, more housing was started and just before and after the Second World War many Council houses were built. Several new housing estates have been built in the last 30 years as the village has become a more desirable place to live for those who work in Cambridge.

The land in the two parishes is still mainly agricultural but now comprises only five farms which employ very few people. In the depression before the Second World War the Land Settlement Association set up a site on the southern side of Great Abington with over sixty houses and plots of land for unemployed miners mainly from the coalfields in Yorkshire and Durham. This estate now comprises privately owned properties and very few of the holdings are still used for horticulture.

The Welding Institute (now called TWI) started in Abington Hall in 1946 and is now an internationally renowned research institute; it employs a number of people who live in the village. In the 1990s a new Science Park, specialising in biomedical research, was developed on land adjacent to TWI and on the edge of Great Abington. Further developments continue here.

Each parish has a Parish Council. The combined population of both parishes is about 1400 living in about 570 households. The population divides by age group roughly into: 25% aged 18 and under, 50% aged between 18 and 60, 25% aged 60 or over.

There are many rented houses in the village, both local authority and housing association owned, and of varying sizes. The privately owned houses range from family sized to smaller bungalows.

The village has a primary school, two Anglican churches and a United Reformed Church, one public house, a village shop/post office and a number of other businesses. The main road to Haverhill, and Colchester beyond, the A1307, which previously ran through the centre of the village, had a new section constructed in the 1960s which now bypasses most of the houses. Being on a radial route out of Cambridge, the village has a regular bus service and is four miles from Whittlesford railway station with services to London and Cambridge.

Villages such as the Abingtons are changing and evolving with the high growth rate in South Cambridgeshire in the present and in the future.