Waterbeach is on the Car Dyke, a Roman waterway whose course can be traced as far as Lincoln. Recent archaeological investigations have found extensive evidence of Roman settlement at the southern end of the village.
Waterbeach appears in the Domesday Book as Utbech. In the 12th century, the Knights Templar were at Denny Abbey to the north of the village. The parish contains a number of Scheduled Ancient Monuments including: Denny Abbey (which houses the Farmland Museum), the site of Waterbeach Abbey (to the south of the present church) and part of the Car Dyke.
The lawyer/politician John Yaxley acquired an estate at Waterbeach by 1610 and lived there. He and Edward Aungier of Cambridge purchased the manors of Waterbeach and Causeway from the Crown for £900 in 1614.
RAF Waterbeach and Army Barracks
A Royal Air Force station, RAF Waterbeach, was built on the northern edge of the village in 1940, operating under RAF Bomber Command. After the Second World War, the station was operated by RAF Transport Command and then RAF Fighter Command until 1966, when the site transferred to the Royal Engineers and became Waterbeach Barracks. The small Museum has now closed, though it has been saved and the collection put into storage, for a few years.
The barracks closed on 28 March 2013, after a move by all the remaining Army units to RAF Kinloss in Scotland and to RAF Wittering in 2012–13. The site will be used to provide 6,000–10,000 new homes.
Waterbeach expanded considerably in recent years due to the economic growth in the region and has become increasingly a dormitory for Cambridge. The village has several shops and businesses. There is a small industrial estate at the edge of the village and a number of small companies have premises in the village itself. Waterbeach Community Primary School has approximately 300 pupils. It is adjacent to Waterbeach Independent Lending Library.
A Parish church dedicated to St John the Evangelist, a Baptist church famous for its connection with Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and a corps of the Salvation Army are present in the village, as is a primary school. Active community groups include the Scouts and Girl Guides, the Army Cadet Force, several playgroups and a play scheme, and a Community Association. The Denny End industrial estate accommodates several businesses, such as the Milton Brewery and A&R Cambridge Ltd.
Waterbeach railway station lies on the Fen Line. The village lies close to the busy A10 road that also links London to King's Lynn. A regular bus service also operates through the village that links Cambridge to the towns of March, Wisbech and Littleport and the small city of Ely. There has been talk of the railway station moving closer to the development at the Barracks when it is developed.
An Ordnance Survey map from the 1920s shows an agricultural tramway running north from Clay's Farm on Joist Fen to Middle Farm, between the railway and the River Cam, opposite the ferry to Upware.
In birth order:
- Richard Jugge (died 1577), Royal Printer generally credited with inventing the footnote, was probably born in Waterbeach.
- Robert Masters (1719–1798), writer, historian and cleric, served as Rector of Waterbeach in 1775–84.
- William Keatinge Clay (1797–1867), antiquary and cleric, served as Rector of Waterbeach from 1854 until his death in 1867.
- David Stafford-Clark (1916–1999), psychiatrist, poet and author, served with the RAF Bomber Command at Waterbeach during World War II.
- Terry Hale (born 1936), player for Cambridgeshire County Cricket Club (1957–78), was born in Waterbeach.
- "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
- History of Parliament Retrieved 9 July 2017.
- "Museum's collection is saved". Retrieved 21 December 2012.
- "Waterbeach Barracks closes to make way for housing". Retrieved 29 March 2013.
- "First tranche of Army unit moves confirmed". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- Waterbeach Baptist Church, History Archived June 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
- "Waterbeach". Oliver Merrington. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
- "Jugge, Judge, Richard (JG531R)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
- Hamlin, John F. & Oliver J. Merrington (2011, updated 2014) At the 'Beach: the story of Royal Air Force Waterbeach and Waterbeach Barracks. Peterborough: GMS Enterprises (available from Waterbeach Military Heritage Museum) ISBN 1-904514-63-4
- Clay, William Keatinge (1852) A history of the parish of Waterbeach in the county of Cambridge. Cambridge: Deighton Bell. (Cambridge Antiquarian Society. Octavo series ; Vol.4).
- Masters, Robert (1795) A short account of the parish of Waterbeach: in the diocese of Ely. London: publisher unknown.
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