All this used to be fields….

I spent some of Sunday playing Monopoly with one of my sons. He beat me easily, getting the light blue set of Hills Road, Cheddar’s Lane and Bateman Street early on and milking me for cash every time I came around.

We have the Cambridge Monopoly set, as you will realise, in which the University of Cambridge is green and the Fitzwilliam Museum and King’s College Chapel are purple. Hills Road, as I say, is light blue, and the Newmarket Road, where I live, is for some reason a more salubrious (or perhaps commercial) yellow.

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On the subject of property, I read that a detached house in Cambridge will cost you, on average, £660,000 or thereabouts. A flat, on average, will cost you £286,000 (for a searchable table of house prices in Britain, see here).

That seems like quite a lot, but Cambridge has been experiencing a housing and property boom for as long as I can remember, fuelled largely by the influx of companies associated with the research facilities of the university in sectors such as software and bio-tech (the latest to arrive is the pharmaceutical giant Astra Zeneca – see here).

When I first started working at OISE (admittedly, quite a few years ago) all of the area between the school and the railway was scrubland and parking lots. Now it is all blocks of apartments (at £286,000 a throw, I recall). I walked over the Hills Road bridge with a student a couple of weeks ago on the way to lunch, and we stopped for a moment to admire the horizon, which for 360 degrees was thick with cranes.

I may be exaggerating a little. Cambridge is not yet Shanghai. But I do occasionally find myself looking out of the classrooms at the back of the school and telling my students that all this used to be fields, y’know.

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All this used to be fields…

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