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Thomas Hobson
Hobson's Choice

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Hobson's Conduit

Hobson's Conduit
A monument to Thomas Hobson (1544-1631), sometimes called "The Cambridge Carrier", who is best known as the name behind the expression "Hobson's Choice". Hobson was a mail carrier who delivered mail between London and Cambridge. He operated a livery stable outside the gates of St. Catharine's College. When not needed to deliver mail, Hobson's horses were rented to students and academic staff of the university.

Hobson soon discovered that his best (and fastest) horses were the most popular, and therefore overworked. To prevent further exhaustion of his best horses, Hobson devised a strict rotation system, only allowing customers to rent the next horse in line. His policy, "this one or none", has come to be known as "Hobson's choice", when an apparent choice is in fact no choice at all. The term originated in the mid-seventeenth century.

This octagonal monument, however, has nothing to do with the expression "Hobson's Choice". (I just added that for extra interest!)

Between 1610 and 1614 a watercourse was built, which ran from springs at Nine Wells near Great Shelford to Cambridge to provide clean drinking water for the citizens. Thomas Hobson was one of the benefactors to enable its construction, and he also endowed a Hobson's Conduit Trust to deal with the waterway's maintenance. Hobson's Conduit is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument and historical relic. The monument once formed part of the market square fountain, and was moved to its current location at the corner of Lensfield Road after a fire in the market in 1849.


Love the information - I knew roughly what Hobson's Choice was, but not the detail.
4 years ago.
A very nice monument and I'm glad to know the history behind the saying.
4 years ago.
A light writer
A light writer
Thanks for the info. I had no idea. Brilliant!
4 years ago.