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Cambridge & District CAMRA

Cambridge Drinking Circuit 1998-2001

Cambridge & District CAMRA is extremely concerned about the formation of a "drinking circuit" in Cambridge

Youth drinking circuits of large bars have been a feature of larger town & city centres since the late 1980s and have caused immense public order problems. They've also distorted the local pub trade, harming community pubs and therefore consumer choice. Some city authorities are now taking action, refusing permission for new city centre "beer barns".

Unfortunately Cambridge licensing magistrates and planners are behind the times on this and have been happy to grant permission for developments.

The developments we mean are listed below. They are all large bars in various trendy town-centre styles, all of which aim to make most of their money from young customers on Friday & Saturday nights.

As described in our key article, these are fine individually. It is the ensemble which is so threatening, especially when there's a lack of other types of nighttime venues in the area. These would broaden the appeal of the city centre to other age groups and interests, diluting the effect of so many youth bars.

Back in 1999 many of the big bar and pub chains announced plans to switch from their trendy themes to "community" ones - they've realised that's what works in the long term. The pace of development has indeed slowed down.

However as of 2001 there's no sign of any progress and indeed the public order problems have attracted a lot of media and government attention.

The young persons' venues and similar branded outlets

For the future


St Andrew's Street - Quayside

Articles & News

The sequence of events so far.
Circuits elsewhere
A collection of news items on drinking circuits elsewhere, to put the development of the Cambridge one in context.
ALE 283, More Pubs for the City?, Easter 1996
Back in the beginning
ALE 292, On The Circuit, Nov. 1998
What it's all about - why it's bad news for consumers.
ALE 293, Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush, Feb. 1999
A general review of the big pub chain business and examples of cities which are trying to get to grips with the problems.
ALE 294, Pubco News, May 1999
With statistics on the high cost of trendy theming for bars.
And finally... The Regal opens, September 1999
And, as feared, it's enormous, so it will establish a major drinking circuit in the area, with all the bad effects which follow.
Problems at The Regal & progress with the R&P II, October 1999
R&P II waffle, November 1999

Cambridge & District CAMRA