The present trust and its history
The Trust dates from 1632 and is responsible for upkeep of Hobson’s Brook from Nine Wells to the Conduit Head, and the underground channels originally built through Cambridge to provide water for the population.
The Hobson’s Conduit Trustees rely on volunteers to help keep the brook and paths clear of obstruction, and to maintain species diversity. This ensures the environment remains for everyone to enjoy.
If you would like to volunteer, please contact the Trust Chairman
How can you help?
Volunteers have removed ironwork, clothing and other rubbish, from the brook. During each Bioblitz, volunteers helped identify animal and plant species along Hobson’s brook. This quantified the local wildlife to identify the diversity of species as a baseline for future studies.
Volunteers enjoy the social aspect of work on the Brook and interested specialists have given briefings about the history, development and the wildlife in the area. We are very grateful to our volunteers but are always looking to recruit. Fill in the form here and someone will be in touch.
As a Registered Charity (Number 204644), recent Trust accounts and reports are at the Charity Commission website here. We publish our annual accounts through this website so please feel free to have a look.
Hobson’s Conduit Trustees celebrated the 400th anniversary of the Conduit in 2014. Previous Trustees have been H Matthew (the Cambridge grocer),and W Eaden Lilly (the Cambridge store founder). Although initially set up to bring clean drinking water into the City, the Trustees now maintain Hobson’s Brook for its heritage and environmental benefit.
If you are interested in becoming a Trustee, please contact the Trust Chairman.
John came to Fitzwilliam College in 1975, and became interested in Hobson’s Conduit because of the Trumpington Street runnels. While working for Lloyds Bank and commuting to London, he has passed over the Brook over 10,000 times. As a resident in Chesterton, John has taken a close interest in development in Cambridge and in conservation. John has an amateur interest in flora and fauna and became a Trustee in 2017. He became chairman of the Trust in 2020
Elisabeth Whittle is a garden and landscape historian with interests in Tudor and Jacobean gardens. She has supported the Garden History Society (now Gardens Trust) and was the Inspector of Historic Parks and Gardens in Wales. She is a Past-President of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust and a Trustee of the National Botanic Garden of Wales. She joined Hobson’s Conduit Trust in 2018, and became vice-chairman in 2020.
Michael was senior partner of Barr Ellison Solicitors and has lived in Cambridgeshire for many years. Amongst his other many activities, he is Chairman of the Cambridgeshire Cottage Housing Society, and a member of a local Rotary Club, having served as president twice. He is also a churchwarden of a local church in Impington. Michael has been a Trustee for nearly 10 years.
Steve is a geologist and ecologist with expertise in field survey techniques and laboratory analyses. His interests include geochemistry, water quality and sediment dynamics. His work in these areas as well the study of tephra, pollen, diatoms and plant macrofossils has enabled him to act as an expert witness, and to teach throughout East Anglia. Steve became a Trustee in 1989.
Max was born in Cambridge, and studied at Charing Cross Hospital. He worked in Yorkshire, Oxford, London and lastly in Glasgow as a rheumatologist with an interest in medical education. Upon retirement, Max and his family returned to Cambridge. He lives near Nine Wells, sings in a local choir and is interested in Cambridge history. Max has been a Trustee since 2015.
Simon studied at Sheffield University, entered the Army eventually commanding a sub-unit in Cyprus. After working in recruitment for PA Consulting Simon set up a company in Cambridge providing services for science, technology and engineering companies. He has assisted initiatives at Addenbrooke’s hospital and is now in a management role at Cambridge University Health Partners. Simon became a Trustee in 2017.
Formerly Ordnance Survey, President of the Geographical Association, and is Honorary Vice President the Field Studies Council and active member of the Woodcraft Folk. He enjoys nothing more that walking in and reflecting on the rural / urban edgelands. Chris has been a Trustee since 2015.
Marcus is a science fiction author and podcaster with a love of nature. A postgraduate opportunity at Caius lured him to Cambridge, where he's since laid roots. He volunteers for three conservation charities in South Cambridge and strives to support local ethical businesses committed to environmental sustainability. Marcus joined the Trust in 2021.
Amyas Phillips is a chartered engineer working in various “Internet of Things” projects and startups. He came to Darwin College in 2001 near one end of the Conduit and now lives with his wife and two sons in Great Shelford, near its source at Nine Wells. An occasional runner, he often includes sections of the conduit in his routes. He joined the Trust in 2021 and is keen to enhance the amenity and interest of the Conduit for the city.
Jack Rhodes is a consultant ecologist, working for wildlife charities on flood and water management and biodiversity net gain. He lives in Trumpington with his wife and toddler, and became a Trustee in 2021 after fifteen years walking along, past and over Hobson's Conduit.
Jon is a Chartered Landscape Architect, specialising in strategic-scale landscape planning and design. As Technical Director at AECOM Jon works on infrastructure projects across the UK with an interest in character led, multi-disciplinary design and developing green infrastructure networks. Jon also works for the Landscape Institute and acts as an expert witness on landscape and visual impact matters.
Howard took his degree at Cambridge, and had a career teaching mathematics in schools, latterly in Cambridge. He lives in Trumpington, where he is involved with the Local History Group. His interests include birdwatching and family history. He became a Trustee in 2008 and was Trust chairman from 2011 to 2020.
Carl was born in York, studied in Wales, working across the globe for the Ministry of Defence specialising in Military Engineering and Explosive Ordnance Disposal. Upon retirement from the MoD, Carl moved to Cambridge and now works within Cambridge University Botanic Garden, and became a Trustee in 2016.
Roger Thornton lives in Cambridge with his wife; Jenny and daughter; Poppy. He is an engineer working for the Cambridge based computer company Raspberry Pi where helps take products from design to launch. He was a Special Constable for Cambridgeshire Police before joining the Hobsons Conduit Trust. He enjoys Rowing on the Cam and cycling. Roger joined the Trust in 2019.
John came to Cambridge in the 1970’s as a University Officer, having been a researcher and lecturer in London since the 1960’s. As a chartered biologist and engineer, Hobson’s Conduit has been of interest as an example of industrial archaeology and a valuable community amenity. John has since retired in south Cambridge with his family and has enjoyed being a Trustee for over fifteen years.