Percy Robinson and the History of Trumpington

Percy Robinson, c. 1910. From a photograph of Trumpington School (Church School) teachers, late 1900s. Cambridgeshire Collection.
Percy Robinson, c. 1910. From a photograph of Trumpington School (Church School) teachers, late 1900s. Cambridgeshire Collection.

Percy Robert Robinson was born on 11 September 1878 in Chesterton, Cambridge. He married Margaret Emma Amps in 1903 and was Head Teacher at the Church School, Trumpington, from 1908, living at the School House, Church Lane. He died on 2 December 1943 while in post, aged 65. There is a separate page with information about Percy Robinson, while this page concentrates on his contribution to Trumpington’s local history.

Following his appointment as Head Teacher of the Church School in 1908, Percy Robinson built up an extensive knowledge of Trumpington’s history. In 1924, the Trustees of the Village Hall obtained a ‘magic lantern’ which they hoped would be used to illustrate the lectures that were being given in the hall. “They have also, with the help of Mr Robinson, had a set of slides made to show various things of interest in or connected with Trumpington. Carefully handled, these slides may have a long life, and will increase in value and interest as years go by, and the relics of our forefathers vanish …” (Trumpington Magazine, September 1924).

Percy Robinson gave a lecture to the Women’s Institute on Thursday 4 September 1924. The report of the meeting in the parish magazine includes “At 7.15 pm visitors, including 20 men, arrived, and Mr P. Robinson gave a lecture on Local History, illustrated by lantern slides from photographs, taken by Mr Tams and others. The lantern was very kindly managed by Mr E. King” (Trumpington Magazine, October 1924).

Just 4 months later, Percy Robinson gave another local history lecture to the Women’s Institute on Thursday 5 February 1925. There was a report on the lecture in the Cambridge Chronicle and University Journal the following week (11 February 1925). This begins “There is always a fascination about the history of the district in which one resides and little wonder the Trumpington Village Hall was crowded on Friday night when a lecture on Trumpington, illustrated by many lantern slides, was delivered by Mr P.R. Robinson. The lecture was given in connection with the Women’s Institute, but was open to all residents in the village. Mr Robinson dealt with his subject in an intensely interesting manner and it was made all the more delightful by touches of humour and by photographs of comparatively recent times; many old villager saw himself (on the screen) as others see him.” There was also a note under the ‘Women’s Institute’ entry in the next parish magazine, “Mr Robinson very kindly gave a most interesting and amusing lecture on Local History. Mr E. King kindly helped with the lantern. The pictures and lecture were extremely good, and were much appreciated by the audience” (Trumpington Magazine , March 1925).

Two further lantern lectures were given in Trumpington Village Hall in February 1931. They were reported on in detail in the Cambridge Chronicle (11 February and 25 February 1931). The first report begins “The first of Mr P.R. Robinson’s two lantern lectures on Trumpington was delivered in Trumpington Village Hall on Wednesday evening to an appreciative audience.” There was no announcement or report on the meeting in the Trumpington Magazine.

Percy Robinson died on 2 December 1943. Fortunately, the family took good care of his notes and photographs. Over 50 years later, in 1995, the Vicar of Trumpington, Nicholas Thistlethwaite, had a visit from Percy’s son, Reginald Robinson, who was born in the School House in 1909. Reginald brought with him his late father’s typed lecture notes and 69 magic lantern slides. In November 1995, Nicholas Thistlethwaite, Edmund Brookes and Arthur Brookes gave a talk at the Church based on Percy Robinson’s notes and slides, which can be regarded as the inaugural meeting of the Trumpington Local History Group. We have made extensive use of the notes and images in subsequent years and the 1924 announcement about the “value and interest” of the magic lantern slides has proved remarkably perceptive. A further meeting based on the lecture notes and slides was held in April 2019. The originals of the slides are in the Cambridgeshire Collection. The copies held by the Group were processed by Stephen Brown and Howard Slatter. Andrew Roberts and Wendy Roberts have worked on the notes and images.

Poster for the meeting A Trip Through Trumpington, 17 November 1995.
Poster for the meeting A Trip Through Trumpington, 17 November 1995.

We are very fortunate that many of Percy Robinson’s notes and photographs have survived.


A Trip Through Trumpington, typescript covering many aspects of the history of Trumpington.

Individual notes:
Trumpington, introduction.
Domesday Book and Manors.
Trumpington Church.
Inclosure Award Map, 1804.
Cross Hill.
War Memorial.
Birds and animal life.
Trumpington Brass Band.
Trumpington Charities.

Newspaper report, ‘Where the Trumpet was heard. How Trumpington derived its name’, Cambridge Chronicle and University Journal, 11 February 1925, p. 2.

Newspaper report, ‘Trumpington past and present’, Cambridge Chronicle, 11 February 1931, p. 5 and Cambridge Chronicle , 25 February 1931, p. 5. The reports were reproduced in W.E. Dring’s Newspaper Cuttings, volume 1, Cambridgeshire Collection. See full transcript.

Howard Slatter scanned the original typescript of ‘A Trip Through Trumpington’ and ‘Individual Notes’. Wendy Roberts transcribed the text of the 1931 newspaper reports.