ALE Spring 2000 No. 297

Pub News - Cambridge

The Kingston Arms (Kingston Street) is at last in the hands of Lidstones Brewery (Wickhambrook, near Newmarket) and reopened on 22nd March after a quick refurbishment. The pub stocks a range of their beers plus guests such as Milton Pegasus. For the moment there is no fizzy beer though a genuine European lager will be stocked in due course. They hope to move the brewery into the basement later this year. Food should be available from May once the kitchen is ready. The garden is a particularly attractive feature.

The tenancy of the nearby White Hart (Sturton Street; Pubmaster) is on the market, the landlord having taken over the Office (Norfolk Street), which he intends to restore to the Man on the Moon and to regain the trade it's lost.

The Alma (Russell Court) reopened under Ridley's ownership in November, with a fine selection of their beers, piranhas in a red telephone box (where else?) and with breakfast served from 10am.

The Jug & Firkin off-licence (Mill Road) changed hands in January but the same fine selection of beers and wine remains.

Chris & Debbie Lloyd are leaving the Free Press (Prospect Row; Greene King) after 22 years to concentrate on their own pub, the Cambridge Blue (Gwydir Street). The last night of trading is on May 3rd. The trigger was the large rent increase by Greene King, with more to come as GK have applied to extend both floors of the pub over the paved area alongside. Meanwhile Chris at the Blue is concentrating on local breweries such as City of Cambridge and Milton, other East Anglian breweries such as Iceni & Wolf plus old favourites such as London Pride, Black Dog Mild and Tiger. Cassels Shelford Cider will return when the weather improves. Chris & Debbie have carried over their no-smoking policy from the Press. The new couple in the Free Press intend to keep it no-smoking.

GK have changed two pubs from managerships to tenancies: the Hopbine (Fair Street) and the Fort St. George (Midsummer Common). Both have great potential in the right hands.

[Rat & Parrot II] The Rat & Parrot II (Downing Street; Scottish & Newcastle) opened in December, serving no real ale at all and opening at 8am. It was trumpeted in the Cambridge Evening News as costing 2.4M and creating 60 jobs "offering a real future in a growing leisure industry." The manageress Georgina Ryan was also quoted as saying "the pub will be part of the local community". It's been breaching its planning permission conditions and seriously congesting Downing Street - see the article in Newsletter 28 of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign.

Now that S&N own Henry's (Quayside) and the earlier Rat & Parrot (Thompson's Lane) nearby, it seems likely that something will happen to that R&P, whether it be a rebranding or disposal.

[Rat & Parrot I] S&N is in the process of selling off around 700 pubs to comply with competition regulations.

The earlier Rat & Parrot ->

The CEN ran a story in February that the Hat & Feathers (Barton Road) was under threat as the owners, believed to be Punch Taverns, were having difficulty finding a landlord.

The Six Bells (Covent Garden; GK) now has five hand-pumps. On a recent visit it stocked IPA, Abbot, Ruddles Bitter plus guests Tanglefoot and Cocker Hoop.

The Alexandra Arms (Gwydir Street; GK) now has three hand pumps in use and stocks XX Dark Mild, IPA plus seasonals and guests. For many years it's been one of the few keg-only pubs in the City.

Congratulations to the Regal (St Andrews Street; JD Wetherspoon) for being awarded the Cask Marque. Also all Wetherspoons are supporting CAMRA's National Mild Day by stocking the prize-winning Bateman's Dark Mild at 99p throughout May. Whilst making its money from fizzy drinks, the Regal does manage to have some good guest real ales at relatively low prices. However the CCTV cameras in the street outside are proving to be an asset! The Hogshead (Regent Terrace; Whitbread) appears to have lost trade to the Regal, sometimes closing its upper bar early. It doesn't seem to be grasping the challenge of competing as regards pricing. It's also noticeable that groups of young people drift in and out throughout the evening - circuit drinking. Congratulations also for Cask Marque awards to the Salisbury Arms (Tenison Road; Charles Wells) and the Pike & Eel (Chesterton; GK).

The Locomotive (Mill Road; Pubmaster) had a rapid refurbishment over the Christmas period, smartening it up and making it far more welcoming. The Panton Arms (Panton Street; GK) and Earl of Beaconsfield (Mill Road; Bass) have also had refurbs.

The Bath Ale House (Benet Street) has had a major refit, completely changing its character. It used to be a cozy, oak beamed place with old wooden tables and chairs. Now it's a bright, young persons' venue with sofas and comfy chairs.

Charles Wells have redecorated the Elm Tree (Elm Street) and plan to reopen the kitchen for the summer. Landlord John Simons continues to have interesting guest beers from the CW range and from other breweries such as JW Lees and Caledonian, in addition to regulars such as Adnams Broadside.

[Firkin plus Boat House] The Fresher & Firkin (Chesterton Road; Bass) has improved somewhat after a period of little or no real ale on offer. For instance recently Young's Special was on offer at 1.50. Fortunately it seems Bass have decided to leave their other newly-acquired pub the Mitre (Bridge Street) as-is and instead may be converting the Fresher to an "It's A Scream" student theme bar, retaining the upstairs as a venue. Such places are after the "young, stylish, fun-seeking consumer". Being clueless, they don't seem to realise this was tried in 1995/6 and failed once the circuit pubs in the City centre started opening.

The Blue Boar (Trinity Street; Yates Wine Lodges) was featured on the Anglia TV series Some Like It Hot (about Cambridge eateries) as it transformed into "Ha Ha Bar & Canteen at the Blue Boar".

The Rose & Crown (Occupation Road; GK) is said to be under threat of being gutted. It's a classic pub design, essentially the same as the Portland Arms and still with distinct drinking areas. It doesn't need any messing about - it's a thriving pub, especially since 300 students took up residence across the road.

Congratulations to the Uni. Sports and Social Club (Mill Lane) for another excellent beer festival (at the end of February), featuring beers from Okells (Isle of Man), Hampshire Brewery, Broadstone (Newark), Skinners (Truro) and Ventnor (Isle of Wight). A couple of points to note: guests must be signed in by members; membership is available under certain conditions and costs 4 per year.

Across the road the Mill (under its newish landlord and owners Enterprise Inns) is trying to revert to its familiar name from the old "Tap & Spile" label but apparently it's been that officially so long (since 1989) that bureaucracy is blocking it.

There was an arson attack in February upon the derelict Racehorse (Newmarket Road) and in March Mcdonalds applied for planning permission to demolish it and build a drive-through restaurant.

Planning Applications

Bass Leisure have applied for planning permission for a new cafe-bar on East Road. The idea seems to be to convert Willie Thorn's snooker club and the bed shop below it. Bass have also applied for a new frontage for the All Bar One (St Andrews Street) - at the moment it still shows its origins as the Belfast Linen shop.

After a year of neglect, Beauville Properties (Waterbeach) have submitted a planning application for demolition of the Cow & Calf on Pound Hill and one for building four maisonettes and four studio flats plus underground parking on the site.

Developers have applied for planning permission to replace the boarded-up Yorkshire Grey (Chesterton) by 16 flats.

Another development proposed by GK is to spruce up and enlarge the Castle (St Andrews Street), presumably to get a slice of the Drinking Circuit action. Yet another is to add a single storey rear extension plus other alterations to the White Swan (Mill Road).

The Tram Depot (Dover Street; Everards) has applied for permission to absorb its shop units into the pub and as of April this seems to have started.

ALE Spring 2000 No. 297
Cambridge & District CAMRA