The History of Cambridge and Roofers

With a population of 123,867 (estimated in 2011), Cambridge is one of the larger cities in the UK. The city only gained official ‘city status’ back in 1951, which seems crazy. Cambridge is world renowned. Go abroad and everyone has heard of Cambridge, mostly because of the university. We recently saw an article how a famous philanthropist donated £100m to Cambridge University, probably for tax breaks!

But still, that’s a lot of cash. The area is reasonably diverse with the white British making up 66% of the population. White Irish make up 1.4% of the population. White other make up 15% of the population. Black British make up 1.7% of the population. 3.2% are mixed race. 11% are British Asian and Chinese. We don’t know how important this truly is though as virtually everyone is some sort of mix. How you act and behave culturally is more important than the colour of your skin or your genetic heritage, in our opinion. We have been roofers in Cambridge for quite some time now. We hope you enjoy our writeup! 

Notable locations include the likes of Cambridge University which was formed back in 1209. The other main university is Anglia Ruskin (ARU), home to many foreign students who want a taste of the Cambridge lifestyle. We personally went to Long Road Sixth form college, nearby to the more famous Hills road Sixth form college. Another good option would have been Cambridge Regional College (CRC), but we thought Long Road was a good median point at that time.

Eventually, we went back and got our roofing qualifications and skills from college, but went the more ‘educational’ route at first. It’s a brainy area, as more than 40 percent of the population are educated to a high level – although we don’t put much stock into that. You can easily access Cambridge from the popular roads the M11 and the A14, which make it a convenient commute to London and other nearby cities, like Milton Keynes and Bedford.

Whenever we get away from Cambridge and come back, we’re always blown away by the fantastic buildings more than anything else. You simply don’t see buildings like those in the Cambridge city centre compared to other cities in England. Sure, some of the other southern cities and areas like London boast great buildings too, but not many can compare. It’s a great place to visit and even better place to live.

Before prehistoric times, some of the first known settlements in the area were Roman. The settlements were forming around 70 AD in areas like Newnham.

Next came the medieval times, when the Romans withdrew from England. Anglo-saxons started occupying the area and it eventually was known as Cambridge after being called Grantebrycge.

Next came the Vikings in around 875. Trade went into overdrive and the area started to become more prominent. Two years after the famous 1066 conquest, William of Normandy built a castle on the famous Castle Hill where he controlled the area. Next came Henry 1 further developing the economy.

Eventually the Black Death came in 1349. 16 out of 40 people died at King’s Hall. A wild number. It makes the recent Coronavirus scares look like absolutely nothing, which we think that is the case for the most part. More people have died from the flu than Corona! But this is what the mass media hysteria will do to people.

The city developed and developed in the following centuries until we reach the Early Modern era, in the 16th century. Finally Cambridge had sanitisation, fresh water and a healthier lifestyle. Life expectancy increased significantly. Disruption occurred in the form of Oliver Cromwell, who has a famous house in Ely which you can visit.

The 19th century saw an even higher increase in life expectancy and standard of living. Agricultural production was at an all time high and the city was becoming richer and richer. The city slowly expanded and absorbed local areas like Cherry Hinton, Chesterton and Trumpington – by the way, we operate in those areas too! Rail found its way to Cambridge in 1845 which obviously helps efficiency for everyone and trade.

Let’s fast forward 100 years to WWII. Cambridge was left relatively unscathed. The railway was hit a bit and the casualties were lucky enough to be as low as 29 people dying. There was even a secret meeting in 1944 where the foundations of the allied invasion of Europe were lain.

Fast forward today and Cambridge is a vibrant city, thriving and one of the tourist hot beds of the world. Again, we love living here and hope you learnt a few facts about the city.

History of roofing

The history of roofing dates back to 3,000 B.C. There is evidence of a 3,500-year-old farmstead which was found at the Fitzwilliam College – another famous building in the area. This, of course, makes sense as we have always needed shelter. Shelter is one of those primal things we need, as necessary as food and water. Without shelter we become cold, damp, sick and feel terrible. Even at war, shelter and staying clean is an absolute necessity for hygiene and morale. It was no different when we were back in the caves grunting and throwing rocks at each other. Even when you go camping, I remember we would make a tent out of large branches and throw the plant Bracknell over them for protection.

According to Roof Rocket, the first known glazed cay roof tile was used in China 5,000 years ago. Greece and Babylon formed earthenware roof tiles somewhere in the region of 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. Then the Romans innovated with variations of the Greek clay tiles back in 100 BC. Of course, unofficially, people were probably making roofs out of whatever they could get their hands on. The world wasn’t as we know it today, far more primitive, so it’s like that people would make a roof out of just about anything. Mud, straw, leaves… Whatever they could find.

But before these superior materials came along, 735 AD saw thatched roofing used. Wood shingles came 300 years after that. As is the problem with thatching, many were catching fire. You can imagine the kind of weapon you have at your disposal when the neighbour you hate has a thatch roof above their head! Probably a lot of arson was committed back then. The plains Indians used buffalo as they used buffalo for just about everything.

Finally, clay tiles became industrialised in the 19th century. They were finally being made on a mass scale. What else?

Well, asphalt was made readily available in the 19th century. Most of these dramatic changes have happened over the last 200 years so it shows how far we have come recently in technology. Of course, technology is expanding and growing at exponential rates, with the likes of AI and cryptocurrency.

Metal roofs have been used throughout history because of their extreme strength and fire resistance. For the longest time, they have been far too expensive to be used en mass, though. People with metal roofs were rich, or they would be used on prominent commercial buildings, temples and museums etc.

Some crazy metal roofs have existed, like the Temple Rock in Israel, which was rumoured to be made from gold. We would presume the roof was metal underneath with gold added on top, but you never know with those lot. Metal roofs dates all the way back to the Roman times.

Even the Ancient Egyptians used aluminium compounds to enhance their roofs. Zinc was used in the 1700s and is still used instead of copper a lot of the time. Copper is used a lot because it’s cheap, ages well and is easy to mould. Copper has been used on notable buildings like the Castle Kronborg in 1587, as well as other prominent religious buildings. That Kronborg castle for example, didn’t need renovation until 2009, 400 years later! So that shows you how resistant copper roofing is. Although yes, it would have need some minor works in the meantime.

The state of roofing today is in a really good place. Thousands of years have led us to this point and obviously, our roofs are stronger and more affordable than ever. Obviously it depends where you are, where you get your materials from and so forth, but we are spoiled in England and Cambridge. Colours are endless, materials are endless. You can be environmentally friendly these days, you can go for metal, you can go for light and recyclable materials, you can go for beautiful, quirky… The options are limitless.

So there you have it folks. A history of Cambridge and roofing rolled into one. We hope you found that interesting and insightful. It was certainly interesting to look up and find out more about our city and craft. Be on the look out for our next post which will be up within the coming weeks.