Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Whatever happened to the Newmarket Road graffiti?

Remember the graffiti on Newmarket Road?  I blogged about it in 2012:  Graffiti on Newmarket Road.

It looked like this:

All graffiti by the Blight Society.

Well, that's all just a memory now.  Because it's gone.

Instead, we have:

What is happening on this building site?  There will be another new hotel.

One new hotel already exists, right next to the building site.  It's the new Travelodge.

Source of photo:  © Cambridge2000

The architects are Barber Casanovas Ruffles.  This firm designed a number of other buildings around Cambridge, including:

Portugal Street.  Source:  BCR


Cambridge Water Company, Fulbourn Rd (Cherry Hinton - as you drive towards Tesco) Source:  BCR
This is what the architects Barber Casanovas Ruffles say about the Travelodge project on their website:

'The approved design satisfies the demands of this focal "Eastern gateway" to Cambridge City Centre and creates a vastly improved public realm with a generous new hard landscaped area to Newmarket Road.
The rigid budget hotel requirements and costings were carefully balanced with the Cambridge City's aesthetic demands.'

You know, I had no idea that Newmarket Road near the Elizabeth Way roundabout had morphed into an "Eastern gateway".  As far as I'm concerned it's still the ugliest road in Cambridge, and the worst approach to the town.  I also was unaware that Cambridge City had 'aesthetic demands'.

So I checked the Council website and discovered that yes, indeed, this area is referred to as Eastern Gate Study Area (sic).  The framework planning document does not mention the word 'aesthetic' but it does state its 'vision':

Regenerating and transforming this key approach to the city through high quality development coupled with key projects that will connect people and places.  (Eastern Gate Development Framework)
I'm very happy that somebody is devoting some tender loving care to this unlovely corner of Cambridge (somebody besides the Blight Society).  Although I do worry about the preponderance of commercial hotels.  It would be good to have a few more diverse and public spaces in the mix but given Cambridge City Council's history with disasters like the Cineworld complex or offices on the Hills Road railway bridge, I am not sanguine about any sort of imaginative urban planning.

The Travelodge sits next to where the graffiti used to be.  On the actual spot of the graffiti, there will be another new proposed hotel, a Premier Inn.

Edited to add:  An anonymous commenter (see below) pointed out to me that the new hotel will actually be on the other side of the Travelodge.  Sorry for the misleading error...!

  The Premier Inn will, apparently, look like this: 

Source:  Cambridge News June 2012

I couldn't find out the architects responsible for this hotel.  Does anyone know?

So what did people think of the loss of the graffiti?  Here's some vox pop.

And what do you think?  Are the hotels an improvement?

Related posts:

•  The murals in the tunnel under Elizabeth Way roundabout (just up the road from  the two new hotels)

•  Is there art in Arbury?  (Well, there's certainly graffiti by the Blight Society plus a Travelodge and a Premier Inn -- these two hotel chains seem to come in pairs)

•  The Snowy Farr statue (involvement from Cambridge City Council)

Have a lovely sunny April day!


  1. The 2nd hotel is on the other side of the travel lodge, the site where the graffiti was is to contain 70 odd houses in one previous proposal. Not sure what got the go ahead but they've finally started something. Have you tried mill road bridge for graffiti? This is maybe the only spot being legally painted in the city.

    1. Hi, thanks for commenting! Aha, so I got that site completely wrong... OK, so it will be (from left to right): Premier Inn (still being built), Travelodge (finished), and 70-odd houses?? As far as we know? Mill Road Bridge is also currently yarnbombed!

  2. I am really looking forward to this WHOLE area being renovated and made into a fabulous venue - it is also the gateway to the Riverside - take out all the crappy rows of shops

    1. Well, I guess it can't get much *worse*... The housing in the site of old CRC is sort of OK although I miss the old Riverside nursery... Somehow, though, they always miss out on the stipulation to include public art (or anything much in the way of public space).

  3. For a city with such a distinguished architectural heritage as Cambridge, this is a fairly pedestrian effort for its ''Éastern Gateway''

    1. The thing about Cambridge is that most of the architectural heritage is in private (that is, College) hands. The city itself has so far managed to commission or support precious few distinguished buildings. It baffles me anew every time. They leave it to developers; there is no urban planning.

  4. Hi. The art work was salvaged by a yard in Norwich and sold on a TV programme about reclaimation. But was was forgotten and I've just managed to buy it - it's being framed as it is amazing - a white ghostly face in a black dress / coat. The other art works I guess are now in London selling for a lot! Mine is soon to go in my lounge!

    1. O wow, that's brilliant to hear. I'm so glad they weren't just scrapped. I'm loving the fact that you have this in your lounge.


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