15 OCTOBER 1954, Page 11

City and Suburban

MUCH as I love Oxford, one of whose sent-down sons I can claim to be, I realise that Cambridge has now become the more beautiful of the two places because she has suffered less from, industrialism. The old market town and the colleges in it are surrounded by green commons and meadows. These protect old Cambridge and keep it one of the most beautiful towns in Europe. But I learn that Cambridge is to have a multi-storey car park in a cleared part of the centre of the old town and con- veniently near the multiple stores which have helped to make Cambridge the chief shopping centre of the whole county. The car park will ' implement,' to use Civil Service jargon, Sir William Holford's ' spinal relief road ' which is to cut in and out of the commons and modest white brick houses which fringe the eastern flank of the old town. Now that Sir William's plan is held up, I sincerely hope that this particular site for the car park will not be used. . Reading the text of the plan, one finds in it a note of regret about haying to cut about the old part of Cambridge at all. One of his critics, Mr. S. Dale, writing in The Times, made a suggestion for the salvation of Cambridge which is still prac- ticable. He pointed out that the geographical centre of the town is no longer the academic part, but east Cambridge. And whether one walks, as I did, or takes buses to their furthest termini, one finds this is true. Here is a world of hygiene and progress which may want Boots and Woolworths but has little use for King's Parade and the crumbling glory of the colleges. The natural centre of this huge new Cambridge is, as Mr.Dale suggests, the now rather squalid commercial district between Fitzroy Street and the East Road. Here should be the multi-storey car park and here should be branches of the multiple stores and a civic centre created suitable to modern industrial civilisation. Old Cambridge, surrounded by its grass and trees, is no longer the natural centre of the new develop.. ment, as alas! Carfax is the natural centre of Oxford, even though Cowley is the other side of Magdalen Bridge. The truth is that Cambridge now has the opportunity to give shape and dignity to the new development east of it, an opportunity which Oxford missed at Cowley thirty year ago.

* A City rector has been showing to me the table of pamphlets for sale in his church. As he pointed out, the missionary pamphlets make much the more attractive display. Here are the usual arguments against missions. (1) ' Leave the natives just as they are. I am sure Christianity is not good for them, but corrupts them.' People who say this obviously do not really believe in the Incarnation, because if they did so they would know that the Christian religion has the full truth. (2) ' Anglican missions are only a disguised weapon of British imperialism.' If this is true, then surely the brave stand of the Church against the policy of the _South African government towards coloured people must sound rather anomalous.

(3) ' We should convert our own country first before bother- ing about people elsewhere.' This is only a variety of the first argument. But 1 think we would be greatly helped to appre- ciate the value of missions if we were made more aware of the vastness of the Anglican Communion.

* No style of architecture is more out of favour today than the Edwardian baroque which goes with banks, town halls and civic state. Yet there is much which can be singled out from the merely dull in this style and which is full of merit. Next time you are in Aldwych, take a look at Australia House. Its Portland stone eiterior with huge pairs of columns behind which are the first, second and third floors; its imposing entrance front facing St. Clement Danes; its subtle regard to the proportion of the rather dull buildings in the rest of Aldwych; its solidity and unity—all these make it an adorn- ment to that end of London.