<- The Champion of the Thames
Let's start with The "Champ" itself. The interior here is late nineteenth century
and, apart from removal of the door between the bars and some work around
the former fireplace in the lounge, has been largely unaltered since. The wood
panelling in both bars is very fine and the etched windows (showing the
Champion in action) are marvellous (but not original - the pub's position on
the notorious King Street Run means they've had to be replaced several
times). As a bonus, the pub is a regular
Good Beer Guide
first-class Greene King ales.
The Portland Arms
in Chesterton Road was rebuilt in 1930 to the designs of
Basil Oliver, a notable pub architect and author of "The Renaissance of the
English Public House". It was built for the brewers Barclay Perkins in a style
known as the "Improved Public House". There were originally more rooms
than you see today; the current lounge was formerly two rooms and the bar
counter, now much shortened, served both. The space occupied by the
kitchen used to be a snug and there was also a "bottle and jug" for off-sales.
The public bar and concert room are essentially intact and the lounge still has
much original panelling and a fine fireplace. This is another pub with excellent
Greene King ales (including XX Mild).
Oliver also designed The Rose and Crown
on Newmarket Road, the exterior
of which is quite similar to the Portland. This has kept two bars but there has
been a considerable amount of internal alteration.
The Tolly Cobbold brewery of Ipswich used to own many pubs in and around
Cambridge, having taken over the Star brewery in Newmarket Road. In the
Thirties they constructed a series of massive suburban pubs which became
known as "Tolly Follies". The local example is The Golden Hind
in Milton Road. Sadly, it was trashed in the mid-Eighties, though some vestiges of the
former opulent interior remain, notably the skylight over the bar and the
arcading adjacent to the garden. Another Golden Hind was built to the exact
same design in Ipswich and survived intact until a few years ago, when it was
tragically modernised/vandalised by Pubmaster.
<- The Baron of Beef
Two other pubs which would have made the Regional Inventory suffered at
the hands of Greene King in recent years.
The Baron of Beef
in Bridge Street
had a delightful front bar but in 1998 the whole place was opened out into a
single long room. Some good panelling still exists. Not so at
The Cambridge Arms
in King Street where the wonderful front room was completely blitzed in
another unforgiveable opening-out exercise. Ironically, having spent
loadsamoney converting the pub into a disco-bar, Greene King later spent a
load more to turn it back into a "traditional" pub - too late! Both pubs are
however still well worth visiting given the quality of their beer.
What about The Free Press
in Prospect Row, I hear some people say? Well,
what you see now is a faithful reproduction of much of the original interior
which, by 1975, had been gutted in preparation for demolition as part of the
Kite redevelopment. Good sense prevailed, the pub was reprieved, and the
interior re-fitted; the left hand bar and snug are the more authentic copies.
Another reliable real ale outlet, hence its regular spot in the
Good Beer Guide
Our final stop is at The Fort St George in England
on Midsummer Common
which, though much altered and enlarged over the years, still has
considerable charm. Especially notable is the snug to the right of the main
entrance which has some wonderful ancient panelling and a good tiled floor.
Once again, top-notch cask ales to complement the surroundings; the drop of
Bateman XXXB I had here was my "Pint of the Month" for October.
<- The Pickerel
Other pubs worth mentioning are The Pickerel
in Magdalene Street and
The Green Dragon
Chesterton. Both are claimants to being the oldest pub in the
city, both have been much opened out but both retain a good deal of
character (and both have superb beer). The inglenook fireplace at the Dragon
is a particular delight.
in Bene't Street is perhaps the city's most
famous pub and has some interesting features but the interior has been
massively altered and extended.
The Royal Standard
on Mill Road continues
to offer two separate, high-ceilinged rooms, though there are few original fittings.
Next time we'll have a look at the surviving heritage interiors in our rural area.