The true meaning of Hobson’s Choice


In Cambridge’s Lensfield Road, behind some railings, is a memorial to Thomas Hobson, one of Cambridge’s most famous residents.
Hobson was employed as the university “carrier” and ran a stables in the south of the city, where travellers could rent horses to travel to London.

Inevitably, the travellers always wanted to hire the fittest and fastest horses – with the result that they quickly became tired and lame. So Hobson devised a strict rotation system whereby travellers were always given the horse next to the door of the stable. This led to the popular saying “Hobson’s Choice” – that is, no choice at all!

Hobson was also responsible for the building of Hobson’s Brook – a conduit that brought water from Nine Wells springs, to the south of the city, into the centre of Cambridge. The brook still carries water into the city to this day – stopping right here – though it no longer runs right into its original destination in the market square.

However, the water course that used to serve the market square is still very much in evidence, and you will no doubt notice it running along the right-hand side of Trumpington Street as you continue through this part of Cambridge.

Find out more about Hobson on our Cambridge tour. Click here for more information

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