Cambridge CAMRA is of course lending its support to the campaign and the Branch Committee paid a visit to both pubs on 14 June. A bad choice of nights as it turned out because The Osborne was temporarily closed, having just changed hands. However, we were made very welcome at The Flying Pig, where landlady Justine Hatfield updated us on events.
The firm behind the proposals, Pace Investments, never actually submitted a planning application for the original scheme, perhaps because of the reaction it received. They are understood to be working on new plans to put forward to the City Council, so its currently a matter of watch this space. Justine explained that the campaigners were not against development in the area but find the proposals over-ambitious; they are working with the Council (who, Justine says, have been "brilliant") to find a solution which all parties would be happy with and which, of course, saves the pubs.
And The Pig is very well worth saving. It's an eccentric and characterful L-shaped affair with walls and ceiling liberally plastered with posters and beer bottles lining the top of the dado rail. Pig-related imagery is everywhere, even on the handpumps. There's that increasing rarity, a bar billiards table, with a pool table in a separate room at the back. Outside is a large, secluded patio-yard. The Pig attracts a wide, varied and loyal bunch of customers who obviously relish its "shabby-chic" (Justine's words) atmosphere.
On the real ale front we enjoyed well-kept pints of Fullers London Pride, Shepherd Neame Spitfire and Wells Bombardier, their condition being a tribute to Justine's partner Matt, for whom the cellar is a "labour of love."
Pub-grub style food is served lunchtimes only.
As to what The Osborne will be like under its new regime we'll wait and see (and report in the next ALE). Meantime, both pubs deserve your support and please help us fight the good fight if the development proposals resurface.