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Cambridge City Council

Tribute unveiled for founding member of Mill Road History Society and former council employee Allan Brigham

8 December 2022

CAMBRIDGE City Council and the Mill Road History Society have unveiled a memorial bench on the Mill Road railway bridge in memory of Allan Brigham.

Allan was a founding member of the Mill Road History Project and Society, a local historian, and a long serving employee of the council.

The society worked closely with Janice Western, Allan’s partner and the council, which organised the installation of the bench in time for the Mill Road Winter Fair. 

A celebratory event was held at the beginning of the Mill Road Winter Fair on Saturday 3 December. A group of approximately seventy people, including the Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Cambridge, Cllr Mark Ashton and Barbara Ashton, city councillors, friends and family gathered at the bench to the accompaniment of a saxophonist and drummer. Sophie Smiley, Green Badge Guide and Cllr Richard Robertson, Ward Councillor for Petersfield, both spoke of their admiration and affection for Allan. The bench was unveiled by Cllr Robertson on behalf of the council and Mary Naylor, chair of the Mill Road History Society.

The bench has been funded with the help of generous donations from friends and family, the Mill Road History Society and the council.

Allan worked sweeping the streets of Cambridge for nearly four decades as an employee of the council. He also led history tours around the city for tourists and residents.

Cllr Alex Collis, Executive Councillor for Open Spaces, Food Justice and Community Development, said: “Allan wore many hats in this city as a council employee and well-known member of the community.

“This bench is a tribute to Allan, to Allan’s passion for Cambridge and its history, and his many contributions to making our city a better place. You couldn’t help but be drawn in by his love of Cambridge, and of the environment – I remember going on a fantastic bat safari with him around Romsey recreation ground. I am so pleased that we have been able to come together as a community to pay tribute to someone who gave so much to our city.”

Caro Wilson, a founder member and secretary of the history society said "Allan was a street sweeper, a shop steward, a local historian, tour guide and a community activist, and was very much loved by many people in Cambridge. It seemed right to place the bench on the railway bridge, next to the one dedicated to Suzy Oakes, overlooking Petersfield, Romsey and the former depot site where he worked. Suzy was another much-loved Mill Road champion who worked closely with Allan. I think these benches look good side by side and will be welcomed by many passers-by.

“We would like to thank people for their donations and are hugely appreciative of the council for commissioning and arranging the installation of the bench, just in time for the Mill Road Winter Fair. Allan loved the fair and always ran an early morning tour of the road before it started. He is hugely missed."

Lucy Walker, Chair of the Museum of Cambridge and a founder member of the Mill Road History Society said "Allan knew Cambridge and Mill Road like no one else. He was a trustee of the Museum of Cambridge and his enthusiasm for local history was infectious. People loved his tours because he combined great research with an interest in people and place and the processes which bring about urban and social change. Allan wrote about sites and buildings on Mill Road, as part of the history project, and you can find all these now on the social history website, Capturing Cambridge, hosted by the Museum of Cambridge. I will enjoy remembering Allan and Suzy, and their contribution to the community, as I walk over the bridge and sit on one of their benches."