History of 60 Gwydir Street

Stephen Tingey lived in 60 Gwydir St in 1904 (see Spaldings directory).



Mrs Rolfe lived in 60 Gwydir St in 1913 (see Spaldings directory).



George Dethridge of Bar Hill said "We were occupants of No.60 Gwydir St in the 1940s as we were evacuees from London during the war. Near to No. 60 was a brick air raid shelter. One point of interest No 60 in 1946 was offered for sale to my mother and Father for the sum of £60(sixty). Hard to believe! As you may be aware, it does not have a garden, perhaps that's why. I see it's on sale now for around £160,000. My eldest sister who lived at No 60 Gwydir St married an American serviceman and became a GI bride at 16 years of age." He also sent some photos. "This photo is of an air-raid shelter very close to No 60. One of the lads is a cousin who was at No 60 until war ended then he returned to his family in London. We stayed in Cambridge and still here today."

This record was made by George Dethridge, who emailed me after an interview by Radio Cambridgeshire about this website in July 2002.

This is a photo of George Dethridge, his brother and his eldest sister's American boyfriend.

George Dethridge gave a longer account to Mike Petty, for his column "Memories" (Feb 19, 2003) in the Cambridge Evening News. "We moved to Gwydir Street, off Mill Road, an end terrace house with a backyard with three bedrooms, an outside toilet and tin bath hanging on the side wall. Not forgetting that there were now nine in the family the three bedrooms were not really big enough but it was home and it was the best that could be done at that time. Mum and dad slept with my young sister in their bedroom and my two other sisters had the other bedroom, so that meant us four brothers had to share the third bedroom. With one double bed this meant that we had to sleep top and toe. We slept like this for many years to come.

"Downstairs was the front room with a fireplace and one gas lamp for lighting; this room was known as best room and only used on high days and holidays such as Christmas. The next room was the dining and cooking room with a cast-iron black hearth and a fire was always on the go to supply hot water. In the next and final room was the scullery with a brick boiler heated by wooden blocks for washing the clothes. Near the window was a deep sink with just a cold tap for the whole house.

"That was the inside of our home and the backyard was about four yards square, not a lot of space. In the yard was the toilet but no toilet rolls, just pieces of old newspaper squares that dad had cut up and hung on a piece of string. At the back of the house was a large warehouse storing magnesium, for incendiary bombs. This in itself caused problems with rats and other vermin so we had a cat to help to control this aspect of our daily lives. The garden was for growing vegetables, but as my parents did not have a garden they had to buy most of their food from the local shop in the street and maybe scrounge from whoever had some to spare. Many friendsí parents kept chickens and those who had bigger gardens kept pigs and ducks, so if there were any scraps of food left over it was taken to the house with the pigs.

"As there was no electricity in the house our wireless was powered by an accumulator battery which had to be recharged every so often. This meant taking it to a shop in Newmarket Road, carrying it either in a cycle basket or walking with a babyís pushchair, as they were very heavy. Coal merchants delivered coal for the fire but on some occasions when we had run low we would cycle to the Gas Works on Newmarket Road and collect a bag of coke, then try to balance it on the cycle frame to get it home. If it was wintertime and the house was very cold and damp dad would give us a hot brick wrapped in brown paper to take to bed as we did not own any hot water bottles

The photo on the right is of George Dethridge's younger brother and sister.

"Saturdays was our family bath night, the tin bath would be put in front of the fire. Dad would be in charge of this operation, and he would keep topping up the bath with hot water from a kettle off the fire. Our sisters always went first, we boys were too dirty so we would be waiting our turn. As soon as the girls were done we would then get into the bath and try to get clean. There was always a scum around the bath as by now it had five or six of us in the same water. After the bathing of us all we would sit in front of the fire to dry out and mum would then go through our hair on our heads to check for hair lice (fleas or nits). Dad would empty the tin bath with a saucepan; this took some time to complete and was the worst job of bath night. Mind you we always had Donald Peers singing on the wireless and his opening tune was 'In a shady nook by a babbling brook' and we listened with a cup of warm drink, so thatís how Saturday nights bathing would end; this happened week in and week out.

"Another thing we all had to do, as a family, was to go to the Auckland Road every so often to have a bath in some sort of disinfectant. This entailed attending the baths, undressing and a large woman in a white overall would usher us into a cubical in which there was a large bath full of horribly smelling white fluid. The female attendant would watch over us to make sure that we got into the bath and that our whole bodies were submerged and that we ducked our heads under the contents, making sure we were well and truly covered top to tail. I believe we had to spend 10 minutes in the bath and we were then allowed to get out, dry ourselves and go off home. I was told that the baths were to get rid of all types of lice and to prevent scabies. One thing for sure it was horrible and not recommended."



Here is an email (2004) from Mark Dight who read George Dethridge's account:

"I was fascinated by George Dethridge of Bar Hill's recollection of 60 Gwydir Street in the 1940's.† About two years ago my wife and I bought the house and moved up from London.† We had a baby and wanted to get out of the City. I grew up in Cambridge so it seemed a logical step.† I continued commuting to London to work (with my folding bycycle).† When we bought the house it was in a bit of a state and we spent quite a lot of money putting in a new bathroom and kitchen and new flooring.† We sold it after a year and moved to Australia where our 4 bedroom home and with a double garage and swimming pool cost quite a lot less than the 180,000 pounds we sold 60 Gwydir street for.† We will always have fond memories of our son learning to walk in Number 60 and of the excellent Ale in the Cambridge Blue just over the Road."

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