After several years of investigating regeneration in London, it was time to explore a new location and this year pupils in Year 9 visited Cambridge. Two coaches left Gresham’s promptly and arrived at Cambridge Science Park by 10.15am. The first UK science park was set up in 1970 on land owned by Trinity College. The concept was to create a hub of start-up companies and establish multinational corporations, to commercialise new technology in many scientific fields. The first science park was outside San Francisco and linked to Stanford University. This region became known as Silicon Valley. The success of the science park in Cambridge has led to the spread of high-tech companies setting up in this region and the term “Silicon Fen” has been applied to King’s Lynn, Newmarket and Norwich, as the “over-heating” of Cambridge has spread out to the rest of the region.
The group then visited “The Backs” of the River Cam and the main university area of the city. The classes then split up and explored contrasting urban areas for the next five hours by foot. The city has been constrained by the medieval heritage of the original site, so can only develop eastwards and southwards. We investigated gentrification of the railway district in the south east of the city. The 55-minute connection to King’s Cross has led to many people commuting to London and wanting a central city location too. A geographical highlight was the “reality check post” on a lamp post in the middle of Parker’s Piece, one of Cambridge’s most significant open spaces. This delimits the boundary of the university and visitor CBD from the Grafton Centre and local shopping CBD. Students conducted various surveys to tourists and locals to examine conflicts within the city developments. Fieldwork primary and secondary data to measure environmental quality contrasts of suburban and inner city streets formed a large part of the afternoon. Students evaluated bi-polar charts, subjective and objective data collection methods and sampling frameworks. The city has similarities to both Burgess and Hoyt urban land-use models. For those carrying on with geography next year, this will be valuable experience for the exams ahead.