In the nineteen sixties major changes to Newmarket began when the old Icewell Hill complex of streets and houses was demolished, making way for the present blocks of flats.
Today many people remember with affection the jumbled warren of streets, houses pubs and shops that made up Icewell Hill, and the community spirit that was lost with the buildings. But this was the brave new post war world and people had to be housed in modern dwellings, centrally heated with bathrooms and other amenities we now take for granted but completely lacking in the old buildings.
Thanks to local historian Peter Norman, former resident of Icewell Hill, Derek Coombes and NLHS archives we are able to recapture in pictures some of the atmosphere of Icewell Hill as it was.
This 1896 map of the area shows how Regent Street (now the start of Rowley Drive) splits by St Mary’s Church graveyard, with a building in the middle of the road. Fitzroy Street turned off to the left, but the main road (now the continuation of Rowley Drive) bore to the right and ended in paddocks.
The area was originally Crown land that gained its name from the Icewell that existed there to keep food fresh for the Royal residence at Palace House. The latter was once owned by the Rothchild family. The location of the old corn windmill is shown top left.
Exning Road is seen at the top of the picture – Regent Street (now Rowley Drive) on the right
The large house to the right of the crossed paths and facing Regent Street was The Red House, where the
much respected Newmarket resident Col. Arthur Herbert Catchpole (1880 – 1962) lived his last years.
This old picture of the Icewell Hill area of Newmarket has been kindly supplied by Robert Rodrigo. The house marked with crosses is Heath View House, built by his grandfather Robert Edward Rodrigo, who became known as ‘The King of Touts’.
An article in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ of 1884 by the Hon. Francis Lawley described the house which he christened ‘Castle Dangerous’: “A certain tout at Newmarket has built for himself a snug house at the highest spot at the racecourse end of the town. From an upper window of his residence its inmates can sweep the Flat, the Cambridgeshire Course and the trial grounds under the Ditch with his commanding telescope; nor can anything that transpires upon the Heath escape his vigilant and piercing gaze.”
The area shown lies between what is now Rowley Drive and Mill Hill occupied by the Icewell Hill Flats, the yard left centre is that of trainer Richard Prince.
The old windmill can be seen in the distance. The row of four cottages left foreground were known as Regent Terrace and the building half hidden centre foreground was the Wheatsheaf Pub. The small cottage immediately behind Regent Terrace was the nineteen thirties childhood home of one of our past members, Peggy Parfitt-Moule, who remembered it backing onto ‘Prince’s Yard’.
The picture seems to have been taken from the tower of St Mary’s Church, by courtesy of Mrs Cant
We have more pictures of the old Icewell Hill community kindly supplied by Derek Coombes. When they have been identified, some additional ones will be added to this page.