ALE Summer 2002 No. 307

Pub News - Cambridge

The Alexandra Arms, Gwydir Street

Congratulations to Mark and Annalise Lister on completing their first year at the Alex, which reopened on Saturday 27th July after about two months of refurbishment by Greene King. The place is now light and airy, with a pastel colour scheme - more tasteful than the recent Mitre (Bridge Street) and Bath (Benet Street) ones. The garden is proving a great success and the four handpumps offer a selection of beers from GK and its guest list. Wine now features prominently and the food side is developing towards the "gastropub" end of the market.

News round-up

The Spread Eagle (Lensfield Road, Laurel) has seven real ales for at most £2.20 (e.g. on a recent visit Tim Taylor's Landlord and GK Abbot).

The Carpenters Arms (Victoria Road), the Town & Gown (Northampton Street) and the Empress (Thoday Street) are believed to be the City pubs sold recently by the Laurel pubco to Enterprise Inns as part of a big package. Hopefully this means that the beer choice will remain or even improve.

The Dobblers (Sturton Street, Charles Wells) is still going through a series of temporary managers till a tenant can be found, which may be soon if rumours of a planned "reopening" are true. The Pike & Eel in Chesterton should have a new landlord by the time you read this. The Greene King managers of the Baron of Beef (Bridge Street) have moved to the Eagle in Benet Street.

In June the Chariots of Fire (Mill Road) was boarded up - a fire inside has rendered it unsafe - and its licence was revoked in July. Any reopening as a pub seems remote.

The Red Cow (Corn Exchange Street, Punch) has reopened as a standard bar called The Cow - no decent real ale seen.

The former Blue Boar in Trinity Street has had its second make-over in two-and-a-half years. Yates have changed it from the "Ha! Ha! Bar and Canteen at the Blue Boar" to just the Bar Ha Ha.

The Rose & Crown (Occupation Road/Newmarket Road junction, GK) under its new management has changed from being anti-student ("students minimum £1") to attracting them with GK IPA and lager at £1.75.

Pubmaster has applied for planning permission to build four terrace houses on part of the Royal Standard's large garden off Mill Road. [Ref. C/02/0860/OP]

The Abbey Ward has famously been "dry" for some years, since the Racehorse was pulled down to make way for a McDonalds. Imminent City Council boundary changes mean that the Rose & Crown and the streets eastward along Newmarket Road (with the Wrestlers, for instance) are transferring from Petersfield Ward.

Apparently another silly pub name has gone: Fat Jack's (Histon Road, Laurel) has reverted to the British Queen.

McMullens

At long last in April hoardings appeared around McMullen's latest concept bar, the old Cambridge Arts Cinema site in Market Passage they bought around October 1999. It's planned to be their third "Baroosh café bar" and to open in September.

However, this family brewery is suffering from similar troubles as beset Morrells, Brakspear and others recently: some of the shareholders want to sell up and some carry on. Greene King is rumoured to be interested in picking up the pieces. The Hertford brewery seems unlikely to survive any change.

Branding

Some pubcos seem to be reticent about declaring their pubs, yet others thrust their branding in your face.

Example: Greene King hides the fact that pubs branded "Hungry Horse" are theirs, whereas "normal" GK pubs tend to be splashed with GK items.

Example: the first Cambridge Rat & Parrot by Jesus Green (formerly the George & Dragon then for a while the Spade & Becket) has been sold off quietly by Scottish & Newcastle to the Noble House pubco. We predicted they'd sell it off after they bought the nearby Henry's bar, which is better located. It's being renamed the Waterside and smartened-up, apparently with the emphasis on food.

Example: the Master Mariner on Perne Road (previously the Weathervane) was also sold off quietly by S&N to the Manderley Pub Co. in Lincoln. It now serves several national blands (such as Flowers IPA & Marston Pedigree) and a guest from either a small regional or a micro - and at a decent price per pint for the area!

All information is believed correct at time of going to press. If our spies have got anything wrong, please contact the editor, who will be happy to print a correction.


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