Stephen Hawking has enhanced his legendary status – by attempting to stop hotel chain Hilton expanding on the Cambridge countryside.
Cambridge legend Stephen Hawking took to the riverbank recently to protest against plans to expand the city’s Hilton hotel.
Despite being confined to a wheelchair by Motor Neurone Disease, he joined over 30 students and townies for a picnic staged in protest against the plans.
Hilton want to expand their Doubletree Hotel in Granta Place by building an imposing three storey block made up of 31 new rooms and a new leisure centre.
But Hawking leapt to the defence of the city hotspot, which was once frequented by the likes of Charles Darwin and the Bloomsbury group. He expressed concern that the expansion could ruin the picturesque area surrounding Mill Pond.
The Cambridge genius near the contested land (Photo: Cambridge News)
Ruth Lambert, organiser of the protest, said: “All the literati and scientists found it to be an extraordinary green finger into the centre of Cambridge and it’s anathema to have it covered in bling.”
The hotel chain claims they will be able to build the expansion “without detriment to the conservation area,” even though their original plans were for a whopping four-storey building, incorporating 56 new rooms. Thanks to the valiant efforts of campaigners including Professor Hawking, those plans were scrapped, but now it seems the battle is on again.
Hawking is supported by the likes of MP Julian Huppert, who said: “It would be a great shame to spoil the natural beauty of the area.”
And Cambridge students agree. James Eales, a second year classicist who often runs along the river past the hotel in the question, told The Tab that the area: “provides an easy outlet for anyone needing to get away from the hectic Cambridge lifestyle because of its serenity.
“This is why the area is so important not just to students, but to the greats like Stephen Hawking,” he added.
Hawking’s fight for the Cambridge countryside lives up to his title of ‘Britain’s Best Bloke’, as voted in Nuts magazine earlier this year.