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Cambridge Area Guide

Cambridge University, Cambridge Image courtesy of Flickr user foshie

The administrative centre of Cambridgeshire, Cambridge is dominated by the University of Cambridge. It attracts some of the brightest minds in the world, which in turn draws companies in the high-tech industries like computer development and biotechnology. Sometimes university alumni simply set up their own start-ups in the city to work on their ideas. In fact, more than 40% of the public have a qualification from a higher education institution, which is more than double the national average.

The university isn't just influential in shaping the city and tech sectors. It was also crucial is shaping modern association football. The Cambridge Rules, developed at the university in 1848, consolidated the individual public school rules for football, notably goal kicks, throw-ins, and forward passes and keeping players from running whilst holding the ball. These rules were largely adopted in their entirety by the Football Association in 1867.


Because it is such a large university city, the demographics of Cambridge can vary wildly depending on the time of year.

The city has about 125,700 people in it. About 13.5% of the population is aged 15 and under, lower than the 18.7% throughout England as a whole. Similarly, only about 13% of the population is aged 65 and over, compared to the national proportion of 19.5%. The largest difference is in those aged 16 to 24: in Cambridge, they make up more than one-quarter of the population, and in England they make up only 12%.

The city is more diverse than other areas. Just over 81% of the population is white and white British, whereas 90% of the population of the east of England and 87.5% of the population of the whole of England is white and white British. In Cambridge, over 8% of the population is Asian and Asian British, about 3% of the population is black and black British and the remaining nearly 7% include those who are Chinese, people of mixed ethnic backgrounds and people with other backgrounds.

The intellectual nature of the city means that a significant proportion of the population, 48.8%, work in professional and managerial roles, whilst relatively few people, 6.6%, work in skilled trades. Comparatively, 28.4% of people in England work in professional and managerial roles, and 11.4% work in skilled trades.


As befits the home of the 7th best university in the world (according to the 2012-2013 Times Higher Education World University Rankings) there are a great many options for education in Cambridge. Primary schools rated outstanding by Ofsted include St Matthew's Primary School and Arbury Primary School, and there are many independent schools in the area as well.

Outstanding secondary schools include St Bede's Inter-Church School and Parkside Community College, though independent secondary schools vastly outnumber state-sector schools, especially in the city centre.

In addition to the University of Cambridge, the city is home to another university: Anglia Ruskin University. Anglia Ruskin was originally the Cambridge School of Art, founded by John Ruskin. As its course offerings expanded, it became the Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology, then the Anglia Polytechnic, Anglia Polytechnic University and in 2005 it finally became the university it is today.


Cambridge has a very congested road network, due to its massive growth in the 20th century. The M11 connects the city to London and terminates into the A14 just north of the city, making it a major link between the southeast and the Midlands. Other main routes include the A428 to St Neots and Bedford and the A1303 to Newmarket and Colchester.

The congestion has encouraged many residents and students to take up cycling, and Cambridge has become the city with the highest cycle use in the country.

The bus network is quite comprehensive. The Cambridgeshire Guided Busway goes to St Ives and Huntingdon from the city, and the main bus stations and interchanges are Drummer Street bus station, Cambridge Railway Station and near Addenbrooke's Hospital.

Cambridge Railway Station has excellent links to London, with direct lines to London King's Cross and Liverpool Street Station. The rail hub at Peterborough is only an hour away, and other destinations include Leicester, Birmingham and Ipswich.

Residents in Cambridge have easy access to most London airports, and the closest airport is Stansted, which is about 30 minutes away by rail. Luton, Heathrow and Gatwick are about two hours away by rail.

Amenities and Shopping

As a magnet for some of the country's smartest, most talented students, Cambridge has a whole host of museums, galleries, venues, festivals and many more amenities.

Museums and galleries

The University of Cambridge is home to many world-class museums and galleries, including the University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the University Museum of Classical Archaeology and the University Museum of Zoology. The Kettle's Yard gallery is formed of the personal art collection of Jim Ede, former curator at the Tate Gallery, and is shown in his former home. He gave the house and collection to the University of Cambridge, and the house and its collection have been preserved, giving the gallery an informal, relaxed feel. Anglia Ruskin University is home to the Ruskin Gallery, which showcases traditional art and new media.

Away from the universities, the Cambridge and County Folk Museum and the Cambridge Museum of Technology tell how the culture and technology of the area developed, whilst the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences tells the story of the Earth, and The Whipple Museum shows the development of the discipline of science. The Fitzwilliam Museum boasts artwork and antiquities from around the world.

Theatres and venues

Cambridge's main theatre is the Arts Theatre, which puts on both local and large touring productions. The Cambridge Corn Exchange is the largest theatre in the area, with a 1200 seat capacity, though it is a flexible venue that also hosts motor shows, live music performances and more. The Mumford Theatre at Anglia Ruskin University puts on shows by students and non-student groups. The ADC Theatre on the Cambridge University campus is home to the Footlights, a theatrical club known for honing the comedy chops of many of Britain's biggest comedians.

The Junction bridges the gap between theatres and venues. It has live music, comedy and club nights, but it also puts on theatre and contemporary dance productions. The Man on the Moon is a music venue and pub in the city centre, with regular salsa and lindy hop dance nights. The West Road Concert Hall is dedicated to classical music, opera and art music from around the world.


The Midsummer Fair dates back to 1211, though now it is a funfair with a market on site. Strawberry Fair is a live music fair, complete with food stalls and arts and crafts. The Cambridge Beer Festival is one of the biggest celebrations of the tipple in the UK. Similarly, the Cambridge Folk Festival is one of the biggest folk festivals in the country. The Cambridge Film Festival has been running since 1977.

More artistic festivals abound, too. Classical music is promoted with the Cambridge Summer Music Festival, and The Cambridge Shakespeare Festival is a two month long showcase of Shakespeare's plays, performed in period costume.


Cambridge United F.C. represents the city in the Conference National league, and there are other semi-professional and amateur teams which play in lower leagues. Cambridgeshire County Cricket Club competes with other minor counties team, and there are seven amateur cricket clubs as well. Cambridge R.U.F.C. plays rugby union, and the Cambridge Eagles are the Rugby League team.

Cambridge's River Cam is home to many boating activities. The Cambridge University Boat Club trains on the river for the annual Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race on the River Thames. The Cambridgeshire Rowing Association is a rowing club for people not a part of the university.


Market Square is a cobbled street market featuring quality food shops, vintage clothes boutiques and gift and book shops. Rose Crescent is the heart of independent shopping in the city. On Saturdays, the All Saints Garden Art and Craft Market showcases the best artisan food and crafts.

The newest shopping centre in Cambridge is the Grand Arcade, with more than 60 premium shops including Hollister, Kurt Geiger and Apple. The Lion Yard Shopping Centre is more concentrated, with around 35 shops like Miss Selfridge, Lush and Accessorize. The Grafton has more than 60 shops and a multiscreen cinema.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact

All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith.

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