Papworth Everard

Papworth Everard is a large village in South Cambridgeshire containing a hospital renowned for heart transplants.

At the end of WWI, the Cambridgeshire Tuberculosis Colony moved there from nearby Bourn (which is now renowned for infertility treatment). Papworth became a settlement that combined a hospital with community rehabilitation, including appropriate work and housing.

The settlement diversified into other disabilities, and Papworth must now boast one of the highest rates of disability in the country. By contrast, nearby Cambourne certainly boasts the highest birthrate.

Papworth happens to contain my GP's surgery, so I need to pop in from time to time. I pedalled around the village and hospital today, looking specifically at the cycling facilities. A place devoted to rehabilitation and fresh air would hardly neglect cyclists, would it?

How many cycles did I see parked at the hospital, or even cycle stands? None. Maybe they were all tucked up inside.

How many Sheffield stands in the recently redeveloped centre? Eight. None were occupied (except mine).

How many cyclists did I encounter? None. There was a chap in hi-vis jacket and cycling helmet, but he was in a wheelchair. It was a hand-propelled wheelchair, the only one amongst many electric mobility chariots.

At the hospital restaurant, I managed to lock Brown Bike to part of the building. At the doctor's, I had to use a children's plastic climbing frame. (I must write a letter to the practise manager.)

Were there any cycling facilities? Yes. The main road has traffic-calming pinch-points, and some of these have bypasses for cyclists.

Why do I see a dozen cyclists every time I go to Cambourne, but none in Papworth? Cambournians are on average younger and more able-bodied. But Papworth does contain plenty of young people, including many medical staff.

Until recently, the main street through Papworth carried heavy traffic. The village was only bypassed a year or two ago. This bisection may have discouraged cycling.

The non-cycling culture seems to have an effect. Twice today I was on a quiet residential street, with cars parked on the other side. I took primary position to discourage overtakers and oncomers. Despite this, on both occasions an oncoming car decided to pull out towards me on my side of the road. On both occasions, neither of us gave way until I chickened out at the last moment and swerved for the gutter. This behaviour would never have occurred in Cambourne, where motorists seem accustomed to cyclists and our rights. There really is safety in numbers.

Papworth Hospital is soon to be transplanted to Cambridge. The end of an era, doubtless. But Addenbrooke's does, at least, provide plenty of cycle stands.

9 comments on “Papworth Everard”

  1. Patrick wrote:

    Alan wrote: Papworth must now boast one of the highest rates of disability in the country. By contrast, nearby Cambourne certainly boasts the highest birthrate.

    I think you might have answered your own question there Alan (why there are no cyclists in Papworth). Plus the presence of the busy main road. I suppose there will always be cycling black holes here and there. Do the hospital workers actually live in the village? Where is the nearest bike shop? Bike shops tend to stimulate local cycling. Judging from what comes in through my letterbox I'd say the bicycle retail industry does more to promote cycling in the UK than official bodies sponsored by the government.

    It's good to hear that Brown Bike is now back in service.

  2. Mike wrote:

    I am a cyclist living in Papworth (though currently working overseas). Unfortunately Papworth is an island surrounded by fast A-roads frequently used by heavy lorries. Although the village itself is bypassed, you can't get anywhere else (save one or two or the local villages such as Hilton) without taking excessive risks on narrow roads without space for trucks to pass safely. That's why you don't see many other bikes around – the minor roads just don't link up sufficientlyy to get you to eg St Neots rail station or Huntingdon or Cambridge...

  3. Alan wrote:

    Gosh, a cyclist who lives near me! Hi, Mike.

    I have seen folk cycling away from Papworth: down the A1198 (Ermine Street) to Caxton Gibbet and on to the dual carriageway A428 towards Cambridge, or the narrow cyclepath that runs parallel to it; and one overtook me that evening on the B1040 on my way home to Eltisley.

    St Neots via Yelling and Toseland, or Cambridge via the old A428, are reasonable routes, I'd say.

    Certainly, the heavy traffic on the narrow roads discourage cycling between places. But I was surprised at the absence of bikes within Papworth, eg from houses to local shops, especially given Papworth's history as a place of treatment and recuperaton. Perhaps there are some in summer.

    Is cycling any good where you currently are?

  4. Rob wrote:


    I've just cycling to work to Papworth from Cambridge, the road in and out (Ermine Street South) is bloody horrible. There's no pavement for about a mile and isn't much room for cars to pass. Lorries also use it regularly but they don't have room to pass you, meaning that as you're slogging up hill on the way out loads off traffic builds up behind you.

    They need to build a paved route for cyclists and pedestrians between the caxton gibbet roundabout and the bypass roundabout. Once you're past that you can get on to a cycle path that leads to the relatively quiet St. Neots Road which is a really nice route all the way back to Cambridge.

  5. Alan wrote:

    Yes, that's not my favourite road. You can avoid it by ignoring the cycle path to Caxton Gibbet roundabout and following the road to Elsworth. But that would add about 5km to your route.

  6. David wrote:

    I moved to Papworth Everard in August 2012. Unfortunately the other posters are correct. There is very little cycle way or route to Cambourne, Cambridge or to St Ives. They do have a great busway which is like a train that stops in St Ives and Fen Drayton lakes and goes into Cambridge science park where I work. However there is no public transport out of the village to the St Ives busway before 7.40am or after 17:05. So I ended up cycling that way. The road is very dangerous with fast cars on the A1198 to St Ives and also through Hilton. I'm trying the route along the cycle way to Cambourne but that only lasts 1 mile. I'll let you know how this goes. I will also try the Elsworth route.

  7. Gavin wrote:

    I too live in Papworth Everard and am very disappointed in the lack of a cycle path leading out of the village. At the very least we should have a cycle/foot path on the A1198 that connects Papworth to the path that runs parallel to the A428 heading towards Cambourne.

    Everyone here is absolutely right about how dangerous it is cycling from Papworth to the Caxton Gibbett roundabout in order to pick up the path and head towards Cambridge.

    I have heard through an unreliable source that there has at least been some discussions about building a path there but cannot find anything about it online, perhaps we should all write to the Council about this?

    David, how was the Elsworth route? I've been that way in the car, it doesn't look much better and is very hilly! There is a footpath off Rogues Lane that takes you cross country to Papworth but again this is really unsuitable for cyclists.

  8. Mattie wrote:

    Has the cycling situation around Papworth ? I was hoping to cycle close to the hospital ?
    would It be safer to go in to Cambridge by bus and cycling to ? from there .Is there a really beautiful safe cycle route in the area ? Thanks

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