ALE Spring 2005 No. 317 : Next section

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Unique Pubs of East Anglia

Number 5: The Cock, Broom, Bedfordshire

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Very few pubs nowadays don't have a bar counter. Although they had long been a feature of shops (including gin shops), counters didn't start appearing in alehouses until the 1820s, their appearance coinciding with that of the hand-pump, for which they offered a secure base. Nonetheless, many rural pubs continued to do without these new-fangled features up until quite recently. I can vividly remember the country pub my grandparents ran in Cumbria which even in the early sixties had no bar counter; you summoned my granddad by ringing a bell in the single drinking parlour and he would then toddle off to fetch your beer from a set of handpulls in an alcove down the corridor.

In our area, pubs which still have no counter are very rare. In fact, I know of only two - The Low House at Laxfield, Suffolk, and the subject of this article, The Cock at Broom, near Biggleswade.

On your left as you enter the pub is what was once the only public drinking area; it's now used mainly as a games room where Northamptonshire skittles are played. To the right of the entrance is a glorious room, with lots of old panelling (some full height) and cupboards each side of the fireplace (which betray the room's origins as part of a shop). In winter the roaring fire and all that panelling make this an immensely cosy space.

A panelled corridor leads to the serving space on the left; this is simply a hatch, with the cellar beyond, your beers being poured direct from the barrel. Beyond this are further rooms including a bonny little snug and a dining room. These are all quite recent additions but have been sensitively done, with little or no detriment to the atmosphere of the historic core.

The Cock has been in the Good Beer Guide for 30 years. It's a Greene King house and has IPA, Abbot and a guest from the GK range. Food is available every session except Sunday evening.

ALE Spring 2005 No. 317 : Next section
Cambridge & District CAMRA