Hobson's Conduit Trust

The trust

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.

Trust Objectives


  • To preserve an historic chalk stream for its ecological and public amenity value.

  • To provide water supply to the Trumpington Street runnels, Emmanuel, Christ’s and Pembroke Colleges and the University Botanic Garden.

  • To continue to provide a drainage water course and to preserve its character as an example of early civil engineering.

  • In pursuance of the above to maintain an acceptable maximum and minimum volume of flow and an acceptable minimum quality of water.

  • To secure and preserve a level of funding adequate to support these objectives.

  • To manage the finances of the Trust, balancing current requirements whilst ensuring long-term security.

Volunteer for the trust

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. 

Volunteers for the Bio Blitz. Attribution - Richard Fraser


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 included 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 Latham (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 (vice-chairman)

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.

Steve Boreham

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 Field

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 King

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.

Christopher Kington

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 Martin

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

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

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.

Carl Tatterton

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 (treasurer)

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.