A 1905 photograph
of Mrs Arthur Coxall and her children in front
of her shop at the top of Church Lane
in Pictures is a charming history of
the village of Linton in Cambridgeshire told
through the medium of photographs. The book
was written by Garth Collard, a local historian
who has lived in the village for over thirty
years. It draws from his extensive research
of local records, buildings and families and
tells a fascinating story of the development
of the village in the past 150 years - from
sleepy agricultural backwater to thriving modern
Anyone who is familiar with Linton will recognise
the numerous scenes of village streets and characters.
The book will also be enjoyed by anyone interested
in rural life in England in Victorian and Edwardian
times. The cumulative effect of the carefully
catalogued photographs is a compelling portrait
of a community at work and play, surviving hardship
and natural disasters, and emerging into the
village we know today.
The free distribution of this book to all readers
of The Linton News was been made possible by
a generous grant from Local Heritage Initiative,
a partnership between the Heritage Lottery Fund
and Nationwide Building Society.
below are a small selection from the book which is
in all 112 pages in length and contains several hundred
pictures. We also include some extracts from the text
to illustrate the meticulous research that has gone
into this project. Click here
for more information on how to order the book.
About the village
The story of Linton is a rich and interesting one,
stretching back thousands of years. While the book
concentrates on the past 150 years, a considerable
amount is known about earlier times. The first substantive
evidence of settlement in Linton is in the Iron Age.
Chalk pit excavations on the Hadstock Road, at what
is now the industrial estate, revealed that Iron Age
settlers from north-western Europe had established
a huge rectangular settlement here between the sixth
and first centuries BC.
Hills’ Roman burial mounds near Bartlow, shown
in this 1864 photograph during the construction of
the Stour Valley railway which sliced through the
Romans settled all along the Granta valley and the villas
at Hadstock and Bartlow confirm the importance of this
area to the new invaders. The Roman Via Devana or Worstead
Street just beyond Borley Wood demonstrates the extent
of Roman control over the area.
Anglo-Saxons invaded Britain from the fourth century
and there is plenty of evidence of their settlement
in Linton. In 1853 an excavation took place on Linton
Heath between the Roman Road and the present road
to Haverhill revealing 104 Saxon skeletons in a cemetery
site. Two decorated scabbards were also discovered
and these provided further evidence of a sophisticated
By the time of the Domesday Book in
1086 the Earl of Richmond, Count Alan of Brittany,
owned the four settlements of around 400 people that
make up our present village. Great and Little Linton
manors (linton = flax farm) were two of these settlements,
Great and Little Barham formed the other two.
Linton became a flourishing market
town in the Middle Ages yet never secured a royal
charter to give it borough status. The town expanded
its own trades and cottage industries but all were
still dependent on the wealth generated by a thriving
agricultural industry. The beautiful timber houses
along the High Street and lanes were largely built
in Tudor and Stuart times from the money generated
by these activities.
Green Lane in the
1860's, one of Linton’s oldest photographs.
market was the third most important in Cambridgeshire
during the 18th century but then declined and was finally
closed in 1864. The whole prosperity of the town was
threatened by economic, political and social change
in the first half of the 19th century.
temporarily returned between 1840 and 1880 when farms
were enclosed to boost productivity. However, from
the 1880s until 1939 there was a catastrophic decline
in agriculture caused by the import of cheap overseas
food. Linton’s population fell to 1530 by 1901,
and only recovered to its mid-nineteenth century levels
by the 1960’s. Many of the photographs in the
book provide an insight into village life in this
difficult economic period.
Modern Linton lies on the busy
A1307 between Cambridge and Haverhill. The strong
local economy and excellent transport links have put
pressure on the village to expand. Indeed, recent
housing developments have seen the population increase
to record levels. As Linton enters a new century,
more changes are no doubt around the corner.
High Street is a pleasant mix of buildings, mainly
residential but interspersed with shops, offices and
the three village pubs. It is listed as a Grade 2
Starting at the Cambridge Road end, the High
Street descends gradually to the River Granta.
The old marketplace was situated on this side
of the river.
Linton Bridge was built between 1866 and 1867
and was then called New Bridge, later Swan Bridge.
Before 1866 there was a ford across the river
and a wooden footbridge called Westrope Bridge.
The Dog and Duck pub with its distinctive thatched
roof stands next to the bridge.
It then climbs again past Linton House and the
Infants School until it meets Balsham Road at
the Fire Station.
Linton’s other principal lanes and thoroughfares
- Horn Lane, Cambridge Road and The Grip, Symonds
Lane, Mill Lane, Green Lane & Coles Lane
– are all covered in their own sections
in the book.
The High Street
in 1918, viewed from the bottom of Balsham Road.
Linton has always been subject to flooding and with
a few exceptions, such as the Dog and Duck, no housing
was built close to the river until the early 19th century.
Unfortunately there are
no photographs of the worst Linton floods recorded
before 1968, which were in August 1879 and April 1918.
In June 1968 more than 2.7 inches of rain fell in
24 hours leading to catastrophic floods in Linton.
The rain was non-stop from 1pm on the Sunday and houses
began to flood in the early hours of Monday morning.
By Monday lunchtime the fire brigade had pumped out
most of the floodwater.
The 1968 Linton Flood.
This photograph resolves the argument about which
flood was worse – the floodwater in 1968 was
clearly higher than in 2001, almost reaching Market
Lane close to the International Stores.
in October 2001, although not as severe as the one
in 1968, nevertheless swamped the High Street as far
as North’s bakery shop and inundated all the
properties close to the Swan Bridge and Meadow Lane.
Linton was a market town for the local area and had
a thriving carrier trade to London and Cambridge long
before the railway reached the village in 1865. Readers
should recognise the locations since the High Street
in particular has largely kept its 19th-century appearance.
People had to shop daily when there were no domestic
fridges or freezers so there was always a place for
a small shopkeeper to open a business in a room of
his or her house. Many of the shops were quite small,
and the men of the household often worked in full-time
employment, using the shop to supplement their income.
Len and Amy Colvill
in 1975 shortly before the shop closed. Len took on
the London Stores from his father and said that the
shop, which specialised in groceries, haberdashery
and knitting wools, “sold everything from a
pin to an elephant”.
had numerous shops and small businesses until the
early 1970s. Most have now disappeared but in the
High Street you can still see many of the former shop
fronts which had been added to much older houses in
the trading boom of the 19th century.
Almost everyone seems to be convinced that every other
house in Linton was at one time some kind of hostelry.
Although this is not true, there were large numbers
of drinking establishments in the village, especially
in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
usually provided beer for their employees as
part of their wages. After the Beer Act of 1830,
beer drinking increased because anyone could
operate a beer house from their home for a low
annual licence fee of £2 a year. New pubs
and beer houses sprang up all over the village.
Henry Prior, the local brewer in the Grip, opened
the Waggon and Horses in 1838 and the Dog and
Duck in 1850–1. At the top end of the
High Street the Crown Inn, the Three Tuns brewery
next door, the Racehorse public house and the
George and Dragon beer house were opened.
At the other end of the village, the Tally Ho,
the Princess of Wales, the Green Lane Malting,
the Coach and Horses, the New Dolphin and the
Wheatsheaf appeared. Most vanished by the 1920s
but the Princess of Wales survived until recent
The Waggon and Horses pub around 1900, owned
by Henry Prior junior, the Grip brewer.
The two world wars had a major impact on every community
in Britain and Linton was no exception. The 1912 army
manoeuvres in East Anglia involved the first large-scale
use of aerial reconnaissance in warfare and the final
battle at Horseheath produced the kind of military
stalemate later experienced on the Western Front.
While local volunteers and regulars went off to the
front or joined the navy, the war had an immediate
impact on villagers with the arrival of Belgian refugees
and wounded soldiers. Many were housed in Symonds
Lane workhouse and later at Manor House in Coles Lane.
In September 1912
there were widespread army military manoeuvres in
our region. Thousands of soldiers camped in the present-day
Village College catchment area. King George V is shown
at Little Linton talking to Crimean War veteran Robert
war ended in November 1918, joy was muted by the large
numbers of returning wounded soldiers and the loss
of 47 Linton men, but a celebratory mood was more
apparent in 1919 after the Versailles peace settlement
had been signed.
In 1920 a German field gun was placed by Swan Bridge
on a raised plinth as a symbol of the allied victory.
The local war memorial was unveiled in Linton cemetery