72-74 Water Lane and boundary walls


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
72 Water Lane, Histon, Cambridge, CB24 9LR
Statutory Address:
74 Water Lane, Histon, Cambridge, CB24 9LR


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Statutory Address:
72 Water Lane, Histon, Cambridge, CB24 9LR
Statutory Address:
74 Water Lane, Histon, Cambridge, CB24 9LR

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

South Cambridgeshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


A pair of post-war private houses and garden walls, erected in 1972, designed by David Thurlow of Cambridge Design Group, for architects Gerry Craig and Richard Powell. Structural engineer: Peter Dann.

Reasons for Designation

72 and 74 Water Lane, Histon, a pair of houses built in 1972 to a design by David Thurlow, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: the building is a development of an innovative spatial approach that uses balconies and bridge construction, employing the architect's signature recessed dormers to particularly good effect.; * Interior: the flexibility of the design and construction is illustrated by the difference between the interiors of the two houses, although the flow of space through interconnected areas is used in both; * Intactness: the design remains almost completely intact, with minor alterations made in the spirit of the original. The use of contrasting colour and texture in materials remains a key feature.


The years after 1955 saw the rapid expansion of the private house market. Most of these houses were speculatively built to conventional plans, but a significant if small number of clients looked to an architect-built house that more closely responded to their lifestyle. Many young architects built houses for themselves or their immediate family, usually on a tiny scale and miniscule budget. These were seen as an exercise in self-promotion or a 'calling card', but developed as a fashion in their own right. The erratic distribution of these houses was aided in Cambridge by a cheap mortgage policy run by the University that encouraged young lecturers in the School of Architecture to build their own homes. In the case of 72 and 74 Water Lane, Histon the houses were designed for fellow architects Gerry Craig and Richard Powell and their families in 1972 by David Thurlow, shortly after he had set up the Cambridge Design Group in 1970. Thurlow (b.1939) initially worked as a council architect, and was an assistant to Colin St John Wilson, four of whose Cambridge buildings are listed, including Harvey Court, Gonville and Caius College, listed at Grade II*, and his own house 2 and 2A Granchester Road, listed at Grade II, on which Thurlow also worked. Although the structural and external design of 72 and 74 Water Lane were David Thurlow's, the interiors are said to have been the work of the individual architects; his clients, with the differences between the two houses reflecting their available budgets. The building was profiled in the Architectural Review of April 1974, which records that the total cost of the project was £9992.56, or £5.059 per square foot.


MATERIALS: the piers and cross-walls are buff-brick, with a timber first-floor structure above. Windows are timber framed and double-glazed, with load-bearing window frames. The pitched roof to No.72 is of Stonewold slate (interlocking concrete tiles); the roof of No. 74 has been re-covered with concrete tiles of similar appearance.

PLAN: a pair of semi-detached two-storey houses, with a long rectangular plan, No. 72 occupying the north half, No. 74 the south half. The structure consists of a series of cross-walls and paired piers down the length of the building which support the first floor and roof. Both houses are entered on the east side. The houses originally had adjacent carports; that to No. 72 has been fully converted to domestic space, that to No. 74 only partly. The staircase halls are to either side of these spaces. The ground-floor living spaces are, on the whole, interconnected, with living rooms at the far ends.

EXTERIOR: the street (east) elevation is partly concealed from the road by high garden walls. On both east and west (back) elevations deeply overhanging eaves partly conceal the upper band of high-level windows that light the ground floor. The walls are set back, the gable end walls extending forward to the line of the projecting eaves. Below the high-level band of glazing, the walls are punctuated by full-height windows. The roof on the east side has Thurlow's trademark inverted dormers, of varying widths and with glazed side cheeks. The roof projects forward slightly over the entrance to the carport of No. 74, with the entrance to the house to the south. The carport entrance to No. 72 has been filled with a central panel of brick; this contains a small window and is flanked by two full-height windows. The entrance to the house is in its original position to the north of this. On the garden (west) side, the roof has roof-lights, fully glazed over the hall at No. 74. The roof projects over the small extension which spans the junction between the two houses. At No. 72 the west elevation is similar to the east, but at No. 74 it is largely glazed. The south gable end wall has a large circular window at first-floor level, made up of two semicircular lead-paned fanlights; the ground-floor has a full-height window. The north wall is blank. INTERIOR: the houses are slightly differently planned. In No. 74, the hall crosses the full width of the house and the living space is on various levels: on its north side, the living room leads up to a study, down to a TV pit behind the fireplace, and up to the dining area, connecting with the kitchen. To the west of the carport and utility room there is a large bedroom and en-suite bathroom. The bedroom is partly within the extended section of the west elevation and looks out onto the garden. From north to south in No. 72 are the double-height living area and the dining area, occupying the width of the house, followed by, on the west side, the kitchen and beyond that a newly-enclosed space, ceiled to create an additional first-floor open balcony space above, now used as a study area. On the east side is the hall and, within the former carport space, a bedroom. For both houses the first floor is supported by beams carried on the cross-walls and brick piers. It forms a bridge that runs the full length of the upper central space of No. 74, ending at the north pair of piers in No. 72, where the main bedroom has an open gallery that looks down over the living room. The balustrades to either side continue into the north wall, with posts rising at intervals to support the roof purlins. The first floor to each house contains three bedrooms and a bathroom concealed under the roof's apex, the rooms accessed by a partially glazed internal balcony along the garden side, and creating partially double-height spaces beneath. The inverted dormers reach in to meet the first-floor rooms, which are smaller in No. 72 than in No. 74. Rooms are open to the timber-lined roof, and the timber first-floor structure is exposed. In No. 74 the multi-levelled living room with study and TV pit is the principal space, arranged around the stone-topped fireplace and addressing the garden. The TV pit and study contain some fitted furniture, and the kitchen retains original timber fittings. SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: The front boundary walls line the drive, that to the south curving round to join the street in front of No. 74, that to the west screening the front garden of No. 72.


Books and journals
Allen, M, Thurlow at Sixty, (1999)
'Architectural Review' in Houae at Histon, Near Cambridge, (April 1974), pp 228-31


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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