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Work in progress

Published 07 March 2012


Breheney’s have completed the new roads for John Lewis with the erection of barriers, gates and planting of trees and hedgerows.

Work is still ongoing with moving services on Hauxton Road.   The next phase is to start on the 30th which will include Hauxton Road junction and the new primary street. 

It has been decided to move my office (some call it the hut) down to the southern entrance where new designs for the hoardings have been erected.

We welcome Simon (Breheney contracts manager) and Peter (Breheney site supervisor) on site.  The next phase has started, stripping of topsoil for the primary street, outfall works for the drains and ditches, leveling off for the kick about area in the Country Park and work on the balancing pond which is between the old Cambridge to Oxford railway line and the M11.

Archaeologists are back to do a watch and brief.

My office (hut) moves to the southern entrance. It stands so high off the ground I need to paraglide to get out.

All work still ongoing.

I’m sure people not involved in the construction industry don't realise the amount of work required in building a new road and opening up a new junction. What and where services are and getting the utility companies to try and work together, I’m sure Ian must have a headache under his hard hat sometimes.

The archaeologists have completed their watch and brief, nothing exciting found.

The weather is still good for ground work.

Our Artist in Residence Caroline organised a “Do” on Sunday 9th inviting local interested people to have a walk around the site including the future country park and we all finished up with a nice afternoon tea at the Trumpington Bake House.  That's me in the red jumper!

Barratt’s have set up their compound ready to start building houses so we welcome Peter and Paul (hope they don’t fly away yet).


Moving forward

Published 27 July 2011


The site now becomes Trumpington Meadows. Agents Januarys take over running of the site for Grosvenor/USS and ask me to stay on as site manager. We lease vacant buildings out to various companies for up to three years. RAGT and Monsanto stay on site also.



March - Wildlife Trust appointed for the country park.
June /July - Busy showing demolition contractors around site to look at moving existing tenants off. Organizing moving of equipment.
August - Tenders received for demolition of the site.
November - Hunts begin demolition. RAGT are still occupying some glasshouses; it's going to be fun keeping some services on for them!
December - I move from my office on site to what I assume is a temporary office, not realizing how long I will be there. Christmas in a portakabin! No address, no Christmas cards - and no company Christmas dinner. Oh well, I’ll get a mince pie from Waitrose.

Years of building and planning and it’s coming down in minutes. Sad to see, but that’s progress. I’m used to putting buildings up and refurbishing them. This is all new to me.


Hunts complete the demolition. All quiet now, apart from a few contractors doing soil tests and our monthly meetings in Cambridge, which I look forward to because it's a chance to get into town and see people. Now I know how Robinson Crusoe felt.

River development

June/July - Discussions ongoing with WSP regarding services. 
August - The River Cam Enhancement Project starts, led by Rob Mugovan. The work involves the creation of gravel shoals, re-grading banks to allow the public to get safely down to the water's edge, and using local trees to create flow deflectors, which will introduce diversity to the flow of the river and provide cover for fish.
September/October/November - Various tests still being undertaken. Visits from Cambridge Challenge.
December - A year in my portakabin. No Christmas cards yet again.



January - May - Meetings, tests and visits.
June - Archaeology starts. Cambridge Archaeology Unit on site. They have three areas to look at and will be on site until March 2011.
August - Start meetings with Breheny who will have the contract for the infrastructure.
September - Hoardings go up at the southern junction: "TRUMPINGTON MEADOWS, SO CLOSE YET FAR ENOUGH AWAY. HOUSING DEVELOPMENT. OCTOBER."
Took delivery of a Hyundai 4x4 vehicle for the site. Merlene arranging branding and vehicle graphics.
River developmentNovember - Exciting news! South Cambs (Rob Mungovern) have been awarded a Green Apple Environment Award 2010 for the river Cam enhancement work. I have been asked to represent Trumpington Meadows and to go with Rob to collect the award at the Houses of Parliament. Snow covering the site. Don’t know how the archaeologists manage to work in this weather.
December - Another year gone. Still no Christmas cards.



February - Meeting with Sarah and Sam of Insite Arts. Archaeologists are making some interesting finds: skeletons from the Bronze and Iron Age.
April - Meet Caroline Wright, Artist in Residence, for a chat about the history of the site.
June - Breheney arrive on site to start. Buildings start appearing: an office for their site manager Ian, a changing room, an eating area, toilets, a store and even a drying room for their wet clothes (and this morning Cambridge have just declared a drought!). It’s like cabin city. How times have changed. When I started on a building site it was a shed with a log burner in the centre to have your lunch in (this was called your 'dockey break'). The toilet was a bucket in another shed with a stand-pipe to wash your hands.
Breheney's first phase works involve upgrading the park and ride road that runs parallel to our land and putting in a new road to the east of the John Lewis distribution warehouse. We can then take up the old road.
River developmentJuly - Work ongoing. Breheny are removing the existing road, putting in ducts for the services, laying kerbs and gullies. Insite Arts are organising an event in August for local interested people to walk the site and enjoy a picnic. Work has started moving the services on the east side of Hauxton road ready for the new access road to some of the houses. This is part of the work required for the new northern entrance to the site.

Mick, the 'Man on the Ground'


Forty one years

Published 26 April 2011

The site pre-demolition

Still here on site after forty one years, I thought I had been here the longest but the archaeologists have discovered that there are signs of the Neolithic period so I’ve lost out by a few thousand years.

I arrived at the Plant Breeding Institute as it was called then as a maintenance electrician on 16th May 1970. PBI was part of the Agricultural Research Council under the Government control looking for new varieties of Wheat, Barley, Potatoes, Sugar beet and Forage crops. Our main entrance to the site was off Maris Lane Trumpington hence the  ‘Maris’ name on varieties that were bred here. Famous for our potatoes Maris piper, Maris Peer.

Coming from a small company to PBI was a completely different environment from working with one other to working with around two hundred. We had a very successful sport and social club of which I became a committee member organising dances, sports days, Christmas parties and I was also Father Christmas at the children’s party’s ( don’t tell the children ). Later years we had a couple of punts that we kept on the river Cam for staff to use at weekends.

A couple of weeks after my arrival a new building was opened, not I’m afraid because of me joining the company and named after me but after Dr Douglas Bell the then director.

The flood meadow

From installing lights and sockets in houses to working on Hydroponic systems, Glasshouse control panels and numerous other hi-tec. systems it was a big change.
I went from building our own growth chambers which you can grow three years of plants in one year by changing the temperature and day and night times to ordering very hi-tec conviron chambers and converting a building to install these. Although plant breeding has changed over the years with new technology some work still goes back to the old days, staff still sit in glasshouses for weeks on end crossing ( mixing different varieties of plants to produce hybrids ) this has to be done by hand.

I went from Maintenance Electrician, to Electrical Supervisor to Engineering Coordinator to Site Manager.

I have worked under six directors for PBI, two for Unilever and three for Monsanto.

I lived on site for twelve years with my wife Christine who in fact I met here at PBI.

The site becomes Trumpington Meadows

Mick Sullivan


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