… Everyone around here is old.
“It was nowhere near as nice as our old house (in Cherry Hinton),” he says. “The neighbours are better, within reason. But I think where we lived before was kind of a squared off area, so everyone knew everyone. And when something went wrong, someone knew someone who could have done something about it. Here we’ve got our little sort of square where we live and it feels like it’s more secluded from the rest of the estate. No one really comes onto this little bit.”
The three Warburton brothers were lucky, he says, because they already knew their next door neighbour’s oldest son. And they weren’t complete strangers to Trumpington when they moved across town either. Their Nan lived round the corner from their new house on Byron Square. And their Mum, who works for the council, had lived on the estate for most of her life. She went to the local primary school – Fawcett – and the three brothers went there too, travelling across from Cherry Hinton for the first few years.
Even though the Warburtons (no relation to the breadmakers that gather wheat from the nearby Pemberton farm!) already knew some of the families on the estate, Tom remembers it wasn’t that easy to impress some of their new neighbours when they first moved to Paget Road.
“They used to take the piss out of me quite a lot,” he says, brushing his Kooks-inspired floppy fringe from his eyes under his trademark koala bear hat (which he wears all year round, even through the hottest summer months).
“They didn’t like me because I was some weird kid,” he says. “And I can be a bit of a cocky bastard... Then I became 6’ 4” and the shit stopped. Now they don’t pick on me. They seem to be alright with me. I get the general nod. That’s about it.”
In his old neighbourhood in Cherry Hinton, Tom was sometimes woken in the night to the sound of all-night parties, neighbours shouting and police sirens. “I can still remember quite clearly the police coming to our door and asking if we’d seen anything,” he says.
That doesn’t happen on Paget Road, at least not at his house, he says. You’re more likely to hear the sound of ambulances in the middle of the night, he adds, “but that’s because everyone around here is old”.
“There are a few families that give [the estate] a bad name,” he says. “But a few of them have gone to prison so it’s a lot better now.”
A decade after moving to Trumpington, Tom has finished at Fawcett Primary School. He’s been through secondary school (Sawston Village College) and he’s finished a year of college (he studied software development, coding and gaming at
Cambridge Regional College). When we first met him, he was working at the local chip shop along Anstey Way to earn some money while he waited to find out if he could back go to study at Long Road Sixth Form College. He wanted to study animation.
“This job’s alright for now,” he told us. “But I do want something long term. I do want to go back to college.”
“I earn £6 an hour at the chippy,” he says. “I work a minimum of six hours a week. Sometimes they can’t tell me when they need me. It puts you on a bit of a downer. I earn nearly £40 a week and half of that goes to my Mum. If I was living on my own, I’d be dead.”
There’s not really anywhere we can go…
When we revisit Tom nine months later, he’s got a job in a pub in Sawston. His plans to go back to college are on hold for now. “I decided that working was the best way to save up to pay some rent,” he says. Eventually, he’s hoping to find somewhere to live on the south side of Cambridge, maybe with his girlfriend, who lives a few miles down the road in Sawston.
It’s fair to say that Tom is not that sad at the prospect of leaving his childhood home in Trumpington behind.
“I do enjoy living here,” he says. “But our house wasn’t really in the best shape when we moved here. Considering it’s a council house, we didn’t want to spend thousands of pounds on extensions and things. Our neighbours built this huge extension,” he adds, “which blocks out our sun. So we put a basketball hoop on it. And there are also these huge trees in the back garden that block out our light.”
When we first met Tom at the age of 17, he was already considering his best escape route out of the estate. He could have followed his oldest brother Chris to Norwich, who was working at Burger King for two years and now works in an office job. “But I don’t want to move there to have the same situation as here – stuck in a dead-end job,” he told us.
Tom’s middle brother Ash trained as a plumber, but there’s not much work to be had for him at the moment either, apparently. Most of Tom’s friends work in part-time jobs. But it’s not that easy to find a job that pays well.
“To be honest, I don’t know anyone my age that doesn’t work in a shop,” he says. “They don’t seem to take anyone from Waitrose from the estate – unless they’ve gone to Hills Road (the best college you can go to around here). The amount of people I know who live on Bishops Road, they apply once and they get a job. But friends from here who’ve been to Long Road College and Cambridge Regional College and live on the estate, often they don’t even get a reply.”
Tom isn’t necessarily proud of the estate that’s been his home for all these years. He’s fairly indifferent to the fact that Trumpington is now in a sought-after part of town, in estate agents’ eyes, where houses are regularly selling for upward of £250,000.
And it’s a neighbourhood that was once considered posh by post-war refugees from London like 81-year-old Joan Haylock – who has lived on the estate since cows grazed on the recreation field where Tom now hangs out with his mates. To him, it’s just a bit boring.
“We’ve got so much stuff compared to so many other estates, yet I still manage to find myself being bored,” he acknowledges. “I think they do a lot more to the estate because it’s crap. The nickname for it among my friends is ‘Trampington’. They don’t really come on the estate. Trumpington has always been that one place, other than Arbury, which is like – ah – grim… The initial assumption is that it’s pretty crap.”
But it’s not quite as rubbish as people might think, says Tom. Although he did used to prefer it in the olden days, when he was growing up.
“The old park was great,” he says. “There’s a hill in the middle of the green that used to be part of the park – there used to be a slide that started from up there and a roundabout on top. It was really cool. Then they made the new park and they shut it all off and it wasn’t as good.”
“But then again,” he says. “They laid down the new football pitch. I remember it being amazing. It was the year of the World Cup and everyone was out there.” Tom hardly ever plays football these days: “I start to look like a child molester!” he deadpans. “It’s not right to play football with ten year olds.”
“There are football teams playing there on the green every Sunday,” he says. “But they aren’t even a Trumpington team. They’re from Duxford…”
What Tom does appreciate about the new park is the skateboard ramp, because skateboarding is one of his biggest passions – alongside playing his guitar.
“I’ve been skateboarding for four or five years,” he says. “In winter, it’s not so good because the ramp is always wet or icy or slippery. So you can’t do much on there. I go around town sometimes but you mostly get told to get off your board or it’s private property, even though there are no signs.”
“Our next door neighbour, her Mum worked for the council, she always said she could get us an extra ramp so we could do different tricks – but they never really got around to it. Now that the Pavilion has been built on the green, we go there to skateboard sometimes. But we get kicked off there too. So there’s not really anywhere we can go. Our skateboards must make too much noise or something.”
“The Pavilion is quite nice,” he says of the sports pavilion that was renovated and reopened in 2009 as a community space that hosts a youth club and other community events, including the over-60s bingo. “I don’t ever use it in the summer. But in the winter, obviously it’s indoors. You tend to sit in there with your mates. It’s something to do.”
We’ve got so much stuff compared to so many other estates, yet I still manage to find myself being bored…
Tom is also largely indifferent to the houses that are being built on the new Great Kneighton development on the fields behind the estate – some costing upwards of £2 million. He has no chance, he says, of affording to live there.
He has been to visit friends on the Trumpington Meadows development – which is being built on the other side of Trumpington behind Waitrose. His initial reaction was that the new estate didn’t look like his image of Trumpington at all. It was like going on holiday and waking up somewhere different.
“It’s all new,” he says. “And it looks too good to be Trumpington.”
He hasn’t been to see any of the houses on the new Great Kneighton development yet, although he and his mates did used to go and explore the guided busway and the building site before any of it was opened up.
“People had already been there because the fences were down,” he says. “So we said ‘we’re not vandalising any.thing, so we might as well use it’. The only problem was that going down the Addenbrooke’s bridge when it was being built, there were gaps about a foot long... That was quite fun, when you were skateboarding at high speed.”
Today, he uses the guided busway as a super convenient cycle route into Cambridge. “It’s the only way I get to town,” he says. For him, that’s far and away the best thing about the new development.
So what would entice him, if anything, to visit this new part of Trumpington that’s springing up on his doorstep?
“Something similar to the skate park in Saffron Walden,” he says. “An area where you can actually go – and it’s a nice place to hang out... The amount of people I know round here who, if they had the space, would BMX, skateboard, inline skate, scoot. It would be packed. It just gets people out and gives them something to do.”
He doubts whether the new community square that’s being built on the no man’s land between the estate and the guided busway will be a place where he’ll want to spend too much time. For him, it belongs to the new development – not to the Trumpington where he’s grown up.
“I think it’s too out of the way,” he says. “It’s not really our square, it’s theirs. The estates aren’t really connected. It’s a territorial thing.”
For the time-being, Tom’s favourite place to hang out in Trumpington is the community orchard, which Foster Road resident Ceri Galloway helped to set up on a disused patch of fly-tipped land next to the allotments. He likes to go and sit there with his girlfriend. And with his mates, when they’re not complaining too much about the cold…
“It’s a grassy area in the middle of a concrete jungle,” he says. “It’s out of the way. It’s not completely in the middle of the busy-ness of the estate. It’s really peaceful.”
Tom also likes to go and sit by the new lake that’s been created by the developers on the 120-acre country park. It’s not strictly open to the public yet. In spite of the “No Public Access signs” (some of which have been graffitied over), nobody stops you from walking there now. Tom remembers playing on these same fields when he was a boy.
“I looked at a picture recently of these ‘backs’,” he says. “You just had rows and rows of fields and trees.”
It annoys him that he can’t get across the former
Clay Farm fields to the Nine Wells nature reserve any more, but he doesn’t really mind the fact that the fields where he used to play are disappearing to make way for 2,300 new houses.
“It’s progress,” he says. “But for people who are younger, or who have lived here a long time, it’s a bit of a chip on their shoulder.”