Predictions and Firsts

Parker’s Piece is not shy of invention or future foresight: indeed such prescience is not bound to the realms of history but continues for all who have dwelt here since. This is the site where the football rules were invented in 1848. Records in the diary of a Master of Jesus College record boys playing football on Parker’s Piece, each to their own set of rules, leading to confusion. Kings boys preferred Rugby so separated off, while Trinity man Beaumont along with others devised a common set of rules that they attached to the trees around the piece. In 1863 when the Football Association was formed, a match was played on Parker’s Piece to demonstrate these new rules, which have since become the standard rules of football across the world today.

The University Arms Hotel predicted and invested in the success of the motor-car, subsequently becoming home to the Cambridgeshire and Ely Automobile Club in 1907. They were the first hotel in Cambridge to have electricity in 1893 and installed Britain’s largest solar heating system in 1980. As a postal department, the University Arms was part of the history of the development of standardised time that evolved through this national network.

The first steam coach was test driven here in 1839 and the central lamp-post Reality Checkpoint was the first electric light in Cambridge and the first fluorescent lamp in the UK.

This is a site of change and these predictions, inventions, and imaginings join a long activist history on this land of hustings, rallies, and protests.