Monday 2 October 2017

How did the name Marmalade Lane come about?

How does marmalade fit together with a new housing development and a cohousing community? How did the name come about and who decided on it? This is what this post is meant to explain.

The K1 Cohousing development lies alongside several existing roads: Topper Street, Graham Road, Starr End as well as the guided busway and Kings Hedges Road. The layout of our community created a new lane, which, for several years as we went through the design and planning process, was simply called ‘The Lane’ amongst ourselves. However, the name of the lane needed to be formalised so that the houses alongside its southern edge, as well as the common house, could have a proper address.

According to Section 17 of the Public Health Act 1925 (why the Public Health Act?) a person who creates a new street has the right to propose a name for that street. This was an exciting prospect: could we come up with a suitable name for the lane that would be fitting for our cohousing project?
We played around with several names. Other names that were in the mix were: ‘The Lane’ (simple, and we were used to it), ‘Acorn Lane’ (we have oak trees on the site, and we are growing a great community out of a small seed), and ‘Winstanley Lane’ (the founder of the True Levellers or Diggers in the 17th century), and more.

We then realised that the council has strict guidelines for naming new roads and places, one of which is: “Developers are encouraged to preserve any historic link to the land which they are developing, eg field names the land may be previously known as, or previous property names located on site such as farm names or any other associated historic link”. This was actually giving us a chance to come up with a name that would somehow describe our project but also link us with the wider community and the history of the area.

This was the first step towards the naming of ‘Marmalade Lane’.
Orchard Park was originally known as Arbury Camp, named after the Roman camp that lies at the western end of Orchard Park. When the area was developed for housing it was rebranded Arbury Park but the name was later changed to Orchard Park - apparently after a campaign by local residents.

The name Orchard Park connects the area with the Chivers jam-making and farming business based in Histon and Impington. In the early 19th century market gardening was an important part of the local economy with plenty of orchards distributed around the edges of Cambridge. In the mid-19th century the Cambridge and St Ives branch railway line was constructed (now the guided busway) and offered good transport links for produce to London and other parts of the country. Stephen Chivers recognised the potential for business and in 1850 bought an orchard next to the railway and founded the Chivers fruit distribution and jam making business.

A factory was built on the orchard site next to Histon Railway Station in 1875. This was first called Victoria Works, and renamed Orchard Factory around 1910. Fruit jellies, custard powder and orange marmalade were made at Histon from the 1880s onwards.

After the first World War the Chivers enterprise had become an integrated farming operation, growing all of its own fruit as well as raising pedigree cows and pigs, and the company owned many orchards, farms and agricultural land around Histon and Impington.

The Chivers family were paternalistic employers implementing a profit sharing scheme as early as 1891. Consultation with the work force took place through a system of advisory committees. By 1914 welfare provisions included a factory nurse, surgery and canteens, evening and day release classes. The business paid a family doctor and established the village firebrigade. Contributory pensions were introduced from 1933. We felt that the ethos and practices of the early Chivers business lie close to the heart of those of the Cohousing movement which was another reason we wanted to link our place with the history of the area.

We love marmalade. There are also nice connotations of having breakfast together, with marmalade on toast, the colour orange - and the word ‘marmalade’ forms a nice lyrical alliteration and sort of ‘swings’ together with ‘lane’. Hence the name Marmalade Lane was born.

As we make all decisions by consensus-based decision making, the name of the lane, together with all the other names that had been suggested, were put to the vote by the whole K1 community. Marmalade Lane narrowly made the cut!

Initially we thought that the connection of the Chivers jam making business with the local area is commemorated in only two road and place names: the site of the Orchard Factory next to Histon Station was re-developed for business use and lies alongside Chivers Way; a balancing pond, on the other side of the A14 opposite Orchard Park is called Chivers Lake. We didn’t know that apparently the street names around the K1 Cohousing site are the names of former Chivers employees! This almost put a stop to our plans as apparently there is still a list with unassigned names which should have been used for the lane.

Not that we do not want to commemorate former Chivers employees, but we also loved our name, so we pleaded with the city council and put our case forward. The Council kindly conceded that we would be able to call the new lane Marmalade Lane, as long the Orchard Park Community Council agreed. So we visited the community council and put our case to them. Luckily they liked the name as much as us. It seems a lot of people like marmalade!
We hope that the name will appeal not only to us, but to the wider community of Orchard Park and Cambridge and help link us all together. It is meant to be unusual, historic, poetic, invoke a sense of community, and be fun!

(The author would like to thank the K1 Cohousing Community, Cambridge City Council, Orchard Park Community Council and Paddington Bear).

By Christiane