Cambridge & the "Millennium"

Cambridge City Council has decided to follow the crowd and waste money celebrating the "Millennium" a year early.

For a long while there was hope that they'd do nothing but in late 1998 they started putting out plans.


[Guildhall] First up was a clock, stuck on the face of the Guildhall, paid for by local businessman Albert Gazeley and advertising his property company. They had to wait to get planning permission from the Secretary of State as it's a Listed building, which must have involved considerable work by Council officers.

There were plenty of complaints in the Cambridge Evening News about the pointlessness and visual impact (debatable on such an ugly building) but the Greater Cambridge Millennium Association got its way. It has a mission to raise "Millennium awareness" (huh? as if we don't know) and to encourage relevant projects.

Apparently the clock is linked to the MSF Rugby radio time signal so as to stay accurate over its 300 days.

Day of "celebrations" - 6 March 1999

This was supported by various organisations such as Cambridge Building Society and included an exhibition in the Guildhall on the following projects. The clock was started then but it broke down a week later (and several times since).

Other plans for 1999/2000

80,000 has been budgeted by the Council, including:

The (wrong) night

In mid-November the City Council wrote to residents of the Parkers Piece area giving them the bad news and the CEN on 18-Nov had a centre-page spread describing what's planned for Parkers Piece. So it seems the only sensible way of getting to this bash is to use the majority form of transport throughout the Millennium - walking.

There doesn't seem to be enough to entertain people (unless glued to the Road Show) for more than about two-three hours.

It's all desperately worthy but people may well stay away in droves due to the apparent hassle of getting there and the dubious attractions once there (compared with easy alternatives such as staying at home, watching the TV coverage and drinking sensibly-priced booze). It'll be interesting to see how accurate the Police estimate of 30,000 - 40,000 attendance is.


As expected, Kimbolton Fireworks rose to the occasion and the "Marshall Millennium Firework Display" was awesome, innovative and very loud, setting car alarms off and making buildings vibrate. Imaginatively, they set the fireworks off from Fenners, rather than take up space on Parker's Piece and have safety problems.

At that time the Police estimate of 40,000 seemed about right, with most attending just for the fireworks. As soon as the fireworks finished, most people walked away, filling Mill Road, East Road etc. - a memorable sight.

Towards 31st December 2000

Many cities and towns applied to the Millennium Commission for funds for a similar event. For instance Norwich wished a rerun as they felt the 1999 event was a flop (their laser light show was a disappointment). Marshalls had already announced they wouldn't repeat the sponsorship.

The Commission responded by funding Peterborough but rejecting Cambridge's bid, saying they wanted an even spread of funded events across the country.

Cambridge * The New Millennium - 1st January 2001 * Adhoc: Millennium - Millennium Celebrations official Web site