Cambridge had an important agricultural property market and an active property market, as previous chapters have demonstrated. This chapter considers Cambridge's performance as a town relative to its local and regional competitors. It examines the factors that contributed to making the town an attractive place for investment by existing residents, residents of the Cambridge region and even those from outside the region.
The first part of the chapter, sections 6.1 to 6.4, focuses on the regional context of the town. It examines competition between rival urban settlements in the Cambridge region, with special reference to river and road transport networks. It begins by looking at five important towns within about 20 miles of Cambridge, including some outside the county. It then looks at market centres within the county, and finally considers three satellite villages close to the town. The five large towns were all inland ports involved in wholesale trade. Like Cambridge, they were all on the River Great Ouse or its tributaries; so this river system is considered first. The market centres within the county were mainly concerned with retail trade and were all connected to Cambridge by road (though some had river connections as well); so the road system is considered next. Finally, the discussion focuses on three satellite villages within walking distance of Cambridge. While these villages could, in principle, have been competitors, they were also well positioned to support the town's activities.
The second part of the chapter focuses on the national context. The previous chapters have shown that Cambridge not only had important agricultural markets, but an active property market too. Section 6.5 considers the extent to which these markets operated in isolation from other urban markets or were integrated into national markets. We examine if agricultural prices in Cambridge closely follow national trends or were governed by purely local circumstances. Section 6.6 demonstrate that Cambridge's property market had a national context. A combination of its economic dominance, administrative role as a county town and function as an administrative centre for the Bishop of Ely, and the misfortunes of some of its leading families, attracted external investors to the town.