In photos: Comparing Cambridge lockdowns then and now

Cambridge now vs. what it was like five months ago, with some very surprising results

Way back in June, in the middle of a heatwave (hard to imagine now, I know), I took a trip up to Cambridge. I claimed it was to clear out my room when in reality, my room was very much empty, I simply wanted an excuse to visit during the May Week I had been robbed of. The Cambridge I found was a strange one – beautiful sunny weather, college gates glittering in all their hideous pomposity, but absolutely no one in sight. The streets were completely empty – bizarrely so, and while I had a lovely day, it all felt very wrong. Figuring I’d never see the bustling city I was used to like this again, I took a load of photos to capture the moment.

Now, five months later, we find ourselves back in lockdown. On Thursday morning (the first day of lockdown) I expected to walk out of college and find the same ghost town I’d seen back in June. The reality was very different. So, I decided to return to the scenes of the photos I took all those months ago and take them again. Here are my results…

King’s Parade

‘Rona who is she?’ asks November’s photo. June, by contrast, was a pretty eery sight.

Trinity Street

Usually bustling with students rushing to Heffers to buy that last minute supo book because the faculty library is just too far away (is this just me?), Trinity Street was very calm back in summer. Now, despite most of the fancy restaurants and expensive clothes shops which the street is known for being shut, it still felt just as mad as ever.

Market Square

June’s photo features my mum, November’s features a lot of strangers who looked at me like a crazy person for photographing them.


Petty Cury

I’ve decided that the only factor influencing the change in these two photos is the opening of Nanna Mex. Prove me wrong.

Sidney Street

As with all the other photos, there are far more people on Sidney Street now than in June. The biggest – and most exciting change though was, of course, the new Christmas lights! At least some things are looking brighter now.

King’s Parade again…

… just cos.


Covid signs

One of the only things that’s stayed the same from one lockdown to the next. Much more ignored by people now than back in June…


Christ’s Pieces

Actually another thing that hasn’t changed much between my two visits. A little colder and less sunny this time round, but still just as many people pretending to be out for their unlimited exercise but actually just there for a chill and a chat with mates. The biggest change here was probably a seasonal one.


Christ’s College

During my trip in June, I absolutely had to head into Christ’s (my college) to see what it was looking like. I found all the empty chairs in the Fellows’ Garden very sad, a symbol of the vacant college (yes I’m an Engling, if you can’t tell). I then, however, went back to find the same chairs, in November, still empty. I guess maybe it’s too cold for a sunbathe.

Christ’s Milton Tree (sorry, this part was maybe quite self-indulgent)

One change in our Fellows’ Garden – the infamous Milton Tree has been cordoned off and now exists solely for self-isolating students to enjoy.


More November lockdown

Here are just a couple of other photos of the November lockdown I thought I’d tack on the end. First, some tents that Christ’s have put up in the Fellows’ Garden in order for students to be able to socialise. It’s very cute.

And, finally, the biggest change between the last lockdown and this one – the new electric scooters that have recently arrived in Cambridge! If you want an honest review of the Vois, luckily for you we have one right here.

This may be the second lockdown Cambridge has seen, but it most definitely looks nothing like the first one. And honestly it’s quite a relief to see at least some traces of normality in what is frankly probably the weirdest term anyone will ever experience.

Cambridge when it isn’t busy, with stressed students rushing to and fro and far too many people on bicycles who definitely shouldn’t be, just isn’t Cambridge.

All images are the author’s own.