Bringing fresh water into the city of Cambridge since 1609
In the late 1500s, Cambridge was affected by the plague and other fatal infections. These were thought to be caused by ‘bad air’ resulting from the sewage contaminated water in the river and local ditches.
The Nine Wells Springs were a source of clean water. The authorities from Cambridge Town and University collaborated with the Lord of the Manor in Trumpington to create a ‘new river’ to divert some of this fresh water into Cambridge.
In 1631, Thomas Hobson, whose income came from transporting goods to and from London, bequeathed land to fund and maintain this public water supply – hence the association with his name. Hobson’s Conduit Trust is now a registered charity, that was established to have rights over the stream and to maintain it in good order for the town and the University.
The stream passes west of Addenbrooke’s Hospital, and Hobsons Park, under Long Road and Brooklands Avenue, beside the western end of the Botanic Garden. Finally the water flows by Brookside, terminating at the Conduit Head. From here the water runs along the Trumpington Street runnels and in underground channels into two College ponds.