As Kennett prepares to settle the issue of 500 extra homes, here’s how a Cambridgeshire journalist reported on the village in 1962
- Credit: Archant
Kennett is in the news with the ‘Community Land Trust and plans for 500 homes Fenland History on Facebook has gone back to January 1962 when the Cambridge Independent Press started a series of articles about Cambridgeshire villages with an aim to recall some of the history and to indicate modern trends.
Kennett is a small village of 200 population on the borders of Cambridgeshire and West Suffolk. But the major part of its community life takes place in Kentford, Suffolk recognised by local people as a complementary part of Kennett.
As far as administration is concerned the position is complex. County councils and rural district councils differ for each settlement with the result that something done for one is not done for the other.
Even though in almost every aspect of village life the people of Kennett and the people with Kentford share and share alike. Generally people do not mind which county they are in providing that they go with Kentford. The two really do want to become one entity.
Kennett is pleasantly wooded and pleasantly quiet with narrow roads, scattered houses which sturdy if not picturesque, and several groups of farm buildings; a typical rural community set in the heart of the countryside.
A new aspect has been introduced by the erection of a small council housing estate, while private dwellings, particularly bungalows, are going up under the supervision of Mr J. Lofts, a builder and coal merchant from nearby Fordham.
To these dwellings are coming people from all over the country, from Colchester and Nottingham, London and Portsmouth, with the inevitable result that the whole new outlook on life is arising and fusing itself into the conservation that has characterized Kennett for so many years.
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Further expansion is anticipated; with the village being so ideally situated between Newmarket and Bury St Edmunds.
Employment constitutes no real difficulty and with land in the immediate vicinity of these towns becoming scarcer the only solution to the housing problem has been to encourage development slightly further afield as has been done in Kennett.
Mr Lofts owns over 400 acres in the parish which he purchased from the Kennett Hall Estate. Until that time the hall was a private residence, an early 19th century building erected in replacement of the former manor house burnt down some years previously.
Today it has been converted into flats and houses and a number of American servicemen’s families with on a fairly permanent basis.
It was once destined to be a transit camp for servicemen moving from the north of England to the Mildenhall and Lakenheath stations, but this scheme never really materialized.
The estate afforded some very fine shooting. Much of it is now let out for farming purposes while more acres are destined for forestry utilisation, the only real opposition to this endeavour being a propensity of rabbits.
About a quarter of a mile away across the fields stands the parish church of Saint Nicholas the living of which is shared with that of Moulton. There is no alternative to the church as far as religious worship in Kennett is concerned
There are few buildings of any great interest. The School House is distinctive but not very noteworthy. In the past couple of years new classrooms and other school facilities have been erected providing more modern and convenient accommodation for children up to the age of 11.
Shops are non-existent but this is alleviated by a fair number of delivery vans which call once or twice a week, or a two-mile walk to two shops at Kentford. Other amenities are perhaps adequate if not luxurious; water and electricity are laid on but there is no main sewerage system and no general street lighting.
Employment constitutes no urgent problems. Apart from obvious opportunities to work on the land where root crops are the main produce cultivated, there are one or two other sources of employment of no mean size.
The highway engineering business of the Maclaren Brothers has been established since 1947 and provides work for over 50 men and women. Haulage was once the strong side of the business but this is now been superseded by the civil engineering side.
The business deals with many types of road building and the surfacing as well as actual manufacturer of tarmacadam. It also has gravel pits which provide sand and gravel for building and road surface purposes.
Not far away is the Canine Health Centre of the Animal Health Trust which is primarily concerned with research into diseases of smaller animals. It provides work for about 40, having a hospital wing and two resident surgeons.
The property, purchased in 1948 was originally a bloodstock stud farm and then requisitioned by the army for an R.E.M.E. workshop and repair depot. It then became an Italian Prisoner of War camp and it is no wonder that people are amazed at just what has been salvaged and ultimately achieved.
One further place of work which caters for half a dozen local people is the barley store belonging to Mitchell and Butlers Brewery of Birmingham.
Barley is transported from eastern England, dried and stored until germination when it is forward elsewhere for malting. The premises now belonging to the brewery were formerly utilised by the Ministry of Food.
Should none of the types of work appeal then the solution is to travel either by road or rail in to nearby towns
After work ends, can it has its single public house, the Bell. An occasional meeting or whist drive is held at Kennett school but otherwise clubs and socials are conducted in the village hall at Kentford.
It has a sports field given by Mr Donald Mclaren only a few years ago with a thriving cricket and football team.
Today Kennett is gradually changing face; with its increasing population will inevitably come increasing activity and as a result of both these there may well come the time when the future of the village will create a somewhat greater source of contention and determined argument between the authorities and, more important, between the residents themselves.
If this is so the village will have emerged from the comparative obscurity and isolation it enjoys at present, and will have taken its place amongst the more progressive elements of one or other county
FOOTNOTE: Librarians in the Cambridgeshire Collection at Cambridge Central Library took this article as a cutting in 1962, something they have done ever since. It is just one article in one of over 800 files covering all aspects of local life