A 1905 photograph of Mrs Arthur Coxall and her children in front of her shop at the top of Church Lane

 

Linton 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 community.

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.

The photographs 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.

The ‘Three Hills’ Roman burial mounds near Bartlow, shown in this 1864 photograph during the construction of the Stour Valley railway which sliced through the fourth mound

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.

The 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 Saxon settlement.

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.

Linton 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.

Prosperity 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.

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The High Street

Linton’s 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 conservation area.

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.

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Floods

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.

The flood 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.

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Shops

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”.

Linton still 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.

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Public Houses

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.

 

Employers 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 times.

Left: The Waggon and Horses pub around 1900, owned by Henry Prior junior, the Grip brewer.

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Linton at War

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 Linsdell.

When the 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 in 1921.

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