The Plough is a pub in the South Cambridgeshire village of Shepreth, less than ten miles from Cambridge.
There appears to have been a pub on the site since at least 1743 when William Fairchild of Cambridge leased to John Stevenson of Newton and Joseph Woodham of Debden, Essex, land including “the ‘Plough’ messuage”. The original building burnt down and was rebuilt as the present building in 1896. During the second World War, Spitfire and Hurricane pilots from nearby Duxford, Fowlmere and Bassingbourn air bases used to drink in the bar.
When I first visited the Plough in the late 1990s it was a thriving pub, the beer garden packed on sunny weekends when we’d cycle out to it. Then in 2004 it was turned into a fine dining restaurant-with-a-bar, and when I next visited I had the indignity of eating the one vegetarian dish, the ubiquitous Goat’s Cheese Tart, while seated on a leather pouffe. The business went into liquidation a few years later.
The Plough Inn closed in December 2010 and an application was made to convert it to a house. The planning application was rejected, with help from a village co-operative dedicated to keeping the building as a pub, but the building stood empty until it was bought by current owners Nick Davis and Robin Gomm in 2013.
An open day was held at the end of January 2014 to give locals the opportunity to have a look at the plans and see for themselves the size of the job ahead. The pub had been stripped almost bare by previous owners, and it looked like it would take a lot of work to get it up and running again.
Architect’s drawings and mood boards showed plans for themed areas like the Spitfire Bar, remembering the pub’s links with the Spitfire and Hurricane pilots. Nick was keen for the Plough to be the hub of the community, offering a space for arts, live music, cinema, games, shop space, perhaps building accommodation at the rear of the garden. Initially though the focus was on just getting it open.
The Plough reopened on 5th July 2014. It was still a work in progress, but was back to serving beer again, and amongst those available was Citra from Calverley’s, a Cambridge brewery which had itself only recently opened.
One year on and the Plough continues to thrive, serving the community with a range of events, and it recently received the Cambridge & District CAMRA award for Most Improved Rural Pub. Local breweries are well represented on the bar with the likes of Calverley’s, Crafty Beers, and Elgoods, and there are plans for another beer festival in September this year.
The Plough is well worth a visit and is easily reached from Cambridge – just 13 minutes by train, with the pub only a few minutes walk from Shepreth Station.