Spotlight On… South Cambs Motor Company’s Building

frontCould it be that a notice of an auction of a property in Melbourn back in May 1829 could refer to this building?

Auctioneers William Cole advertised the sale to be held at the Bell public house in Melbourn as an auction of
“A very respectable Freehold Dwelling-House, containing three capital sleeping-rooms, parlour, and kitchen, all fitted up with necessary conveniences, together with two Front Shops next the Street, excellently adapted for carrying on a Grocery or Drapery Business; together with the yard, stable, hayloft, chaff-house, cow-lodge, piggery, and hen-house to the same belonging.
Also all those Three Acres (more or less) of fine old rich Pasture Land, divided into two excellent Orchards, well fenced, and planted with choice and valuable fruit trees in full bearing.
The House, Yard and Buildings, are in the parish of Melbourn. The land is in the parish of Meldreth, and is chiefly Freehold, there being only a very small portion of it Copyhold, fine certain, which is equal to Freehold. Annual quit rent 8d.”

During the World War II the business run from the building was the South Cambs Electrical and Motor Company and at this time it occupied itself repairing cars and maintaining agricultural equipment sent from far and wide. One story tells of a Cyril Kenzie being sent to Duxford to collect a tank which needed work done to it. He is reputed to have driven it all the way back to the workshop in Melbourn – it must have been quite a site!

Campkins Ginger beerBefore that (as far back as 1875) the building was part of Campkins – a Grocers and General Store which also manufactured Mineral Water and Ginger Beer (the latter sold in stone wear bottles).

highstreet_cross71In 1955 the Dash family took over the South Cambs Electrical and Motor Company from Jack Wedd. At some time the business dropped the word electrical from its title as people no longer visited to have their lead acid accumulators charged to power valve radio sets. Petrol was still sold from the pump, that remains to this day, up until the 1960s. Another story tells of courting couples leaning against it…

Undoubtedly housing one of the oldest businesses in Melbourn (and quite possibly THE oldest) the building would certainly have a story or two to tell us. What do you remember about the building? Do you remember when it housed a gents hairdressers (run by Jack Jones)? Was it ever thatched as the steep pitch of the roof might suggest?

Do let us have your memories!

Many thanks to Terry Dash, Owner, South Cambs Motor Company
01763 260246