A Short History of Bar Hill

The Beginning

Planning for the village began in the late 1950s in order to alleviate the housing shortage in South Cambridgeshire, and the first residents arrived in 1967. The development of the village was rapid and industry began to grow during this decade. For several years after their arrival in 1968, Cambridge Consultants were the Industrial Estate's only resident, others joining them progressively during the early 1970s. The nemesis came downwind from Tesco, when the proliferation of paper bags and tally rolls forced them to move to the Science Park late in 1977. The Trafalgar Way warehousing area received planning permission in 1975.

10th Anniversary

During the weekend of 21st and 22nd of May 1977, Bar Hill celebrated the tenth anniversary of the first residents moving into the village. As a community, Bar Hill had plenty to be proud about, despite the hostility and cynicism "the county's disaster area" being leveled against it in the Cambridge Evening News and in other publications. At a time it should have been finished, however, it was only about 40% complete. (In 1975, there was a population of 1,673 residents occupying 599 homes in the village. Twenty two organisations met regularly at the school and Church Centre.)

The Completion

The 1980s was a period of consolidation rather than expansion. In 1982, fifteen years after the arrival of its first residents, the village was still not complete. Chestnut Rise, Thruffle Way, Hillcrest, Watermead, part of The Spinney, Field View and Little Meadow had not been built. These were, however, to be completed during the next six years, and in 1989, 23 years after development began, 15 years after it should have been finished, the last brick was laid.

Organisations

From a community point of view, Bar Hill's success story continued. The last of Bar Hill's community buildings took shape; a branch library took its rightful place near the school gates. The Village Hall and Social Club provided a focus for recreational and leisure activities in the village, and, like the Church Centre and school, were hives of activity throughout the week. In 1982, over 40 organisations held meetings on a regular basis. Several football teams, a cricket club, tennis club, karate, golf and sports club (at the hotel), netball and ladies keep fit were among the sporting organisations in the village. During the decade, the population reached 5,000, with an increasingly broadening age range. The number of children at the school reached 300 and beyond, and the those at the Pre-school Playgroup, originating back in 1967, reached saturation point and the Sunshine Playgroup opened early in the decade.

Industry

Domino Printing Sciences, one of the world's foremost manufacturers of laser printers, had been founded in Bar Hill in 1978, and in 1989 moved to large, purpose-built premises in Trafalgar Way. They joined the Cambridge Optical Company, another of the hi-tech companies proliferating around Cambridge, who had established premises there in May 1987. Trafalgar Way had now ceased to be merely a warehouse area, and premises here as well as on the original industrial estate were now full and thriving. Parts of the latter were showing signs of age and neglect by both the owners of the premises and the land they occupied, particularly the former Cambridge Consultants premises which stood by the perimeter road in forlorn abandonment.

The Church

The 1990s started with a celebration of God and finished with one of Mammon. By the end of the 1980s, the congregation of Bar Hill Church had outgrown the Church Centre. A large new church, over three times the size, was planned, and in 1991 opened with a fanfare of praise, attended by members of the original participating churches (the Anglican, Methodist, United Reformed, Baptist, and the Society of Friends) and the Roman Catholic Church.

30th Anniversary

In 1997, Bar Hill was thirty years old and marked it with a week-long series of events. Those residents who had been in the village for much of this time could look back with feelings of achievement and satisfaction. The Residents Association, which had its inaugural meeting on October 20th 1967, continued to publish the Bar Hill News, one of the country's foremost local newsletters, and organised the annual Summer Fetes and November 5th firework celebrations . Many of the 15,000 trees planted in this time had matured, absorbing it into the south Cambridgeshire landscape like any village which had existed for a thousand years. The barbed comments leveled at it during the early years had now ceased, though descriptions like "the Tesco village" or the "houses around Tesco", or, by Estate Agents, "this estate or development" were constant irritants.

The 90s and Beyond

Dominating the decade was the theme of the Tesco re-development. Originally announced in 1992, plans ebbed and flowed between Tesco, the Parish Council, Bar Hill residents and the District Council. Finally once again, the centre of the village is a gigantic building site: the store will be switched round 90 degrees, the shops re-located where the store now stands, and the original shopping precinct demolished to create additional car-parking space. No one knows whether the sum of over a million pounds received from Tesco as a result of the sale of parcels of land to them will strengthen or fracture the sense of community which has served the village so well throughout its history. Whether the additional traffic and the road-widening necessary to accommodate it will make Bar Hill a less congenial place to live in, or the promised landscaping will ameliorate the harshness of the vast car-park in the centre of the village, only time in the early years of a new century will tell.