The Guildhall, Cambridge. CB2 3QJ
13 May 1997
Mr J Jarrett
Our Ref: E/JC/DB DR/4
Dear Mr Jarrett
Your letter to Shirley Pays has found its way - no doubt by a suitably circuitous route to me. This may be because it is one of my more diverting duties to turn on (and off) the water that flows down the Trumpington Street runnels from Hobson's Conduit.
I don’t know about the River Pem, but Hobson’s Conduit was actually called the Cambridge New River in the Seventeenth century when it was first constructed. Not many people know that.
In the recent past the runnels ran each year from spring till autumn, being turned off when the leaves started to fall, and on again when the risk of frost seemed to have passed. Lately however, we have had difficulty in keeping them going all summer due to low flows in Hobson’s Brook. As you may have heard, East Anglia is now officially a 'semi-arid zone’, and the fish ponds in Emmanuel and Christ’s Colleges (which are also fed from the Conduit) take precedence. At the moment, though, the immediate reason for the runnels being off is that the feedpipe has sprung a leak, so that when the flow was turned on recently, it caused a flood in a big hole being dug in the road near the Engineering Laboratory.
Sadly, therefore. I shall not be able to help you for a while. The Hobson’s runnels in St Andrew’s Street are on at present. I realise that they are quite a long trudge from Pembroke (even further than Silver Street), but there are a few establishments on the way where sustenance can be obtained, so perhars all is not lost.
Engineering Techician (Drainage)
pp. The Engineer to Hobson’s Trustees
Peter W Littlefair
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