Every Pub in Cambridge

I’ve decided to visit every pub in Cambridge over the next year. I’ve lived here for over twenty years yet there are still a handful I’ve somehow never visited. But then why would I go all the way out to the Traveller’s Rest*, a Beefeater pub almost 2 miles from the city centre and a mile from its nearest pub, when I live a stone’s throw from the Elm Tree and the Free Press, a 10 minute walk from the Cambridge Blue and the Pint Shop. That’s another reason for this endeavour – I frequent a handful of pubs so there are some great pubs in Cambridge I visit far too infrequently – it’s been years since I set foot in the Earl of Beaconsfield, the Six Bells, the Alma, for no other reason than it requires effort over habit.

Before embarking on this, it seems necessary to define, for the purposes of this challenge, what is or isn’t a “pub”. The Arts Picturehouse for example has a nice enough bar serving real ale, but it’s not really a pub to my mind. Likewise, Las Iguanas has draught Brahma but that’s secondary to the food (secondary to the drink you might argue). So I’ll take the OED definition and visit those establishments whose primary function is “for the sale of beer and other drinks… to be consumed on the premises”. That means I won’t have to tick off the various restaurants and hotel bars, but does probably mean I have the indignity of suffering a pint in the Revolution bar.

UPDATE: What constitutes a pub/bar has provoked the most discussion. I’ve decided that to qualify draught beer must be available, not just bottles. In any case, I’ll attempt the 80 or so traditional pubs/bars before considering tackling the cafe’s/cocktail bars/hotel bars that have also been suggested.

Backstreet Bistro

Former White Hart, latterly Backstreet Bistro, soon to reopen as the Petersfield in 2017

Which leads me to another point – what constitutes a “visit”. I think I’ll have to sit with at least a pint and stay long enough to have soaked up something of the atmosphere of a place. It’s no good nipping in for a quick half and considering that a “visit”. I might regret this when I have to “visit” the aforementioned Revolution. I’ve set an imaginary and arbitrary city boundary that includes Chesterton but not Cherry Hinton for example, and I’ll visit the pubs as I come to them – I was going to go through them alphabetically but this would mean having to go to Arbury on at least two separate occasions to tick off the Jenny Wren and the Ship, and nobody should have to visit Arbury twice in one year.

Update: There’s no getting away from it, Cambridge City boundary does include Cherry Hinton and Trumpington, so I’ve added those pubs (another 5) to the list, making it 92 pubs/bars prior to any of the expected openings.

Finally, I’ll blog about each visit, but I don’t want this to be the most labour-intensive part of it, so I’ll simply try and capture a snapshot of each place – what beers are on, the ambience of the place and any distinguishing features (accompanied by single photos of the exterior and interior), who else is in there and snippets of conversation, that kind of thing – a bit like the observations in A Pub and It’s People. I’ll avoid any generalisations such as “serves two changing guest beers” – WhatPub has that covered – and I’ll try and reserve judgement – Tripadvisor is there for that.

Since deciding all this, I was catching up on Boak and Bailey’s Beer Blog and noticed they’ve already done this with their local town of Penzance. I think that’s no mean feat considering some of the 20 or so pubs there clearly aren’t the most inviting of places. Cambridge has about 90 or so pubs and bars at the time of writing, although I expect some will close and other’s will certainly open over the coming year (the Petersfield, the Station Tavern and Sacré Bleu are already pencilled in for openings in 2017).

So here we go, roll on 2017… well, no point in sitting around waiting for it to arrive, so I’ve made a start a few days ahead of schedule. I’lll add the list of pubs to this post shortly…

* For a brief period in the 90s I worked opposite the Traveller’s Rest at the National Institute for Agricultural Biology on Huntingdon Road, but NIAB at that time was one of those rare workplaces that had it’s own clubhouse and bar, where the old boys would spend long lunches sinking a few rounds of Guinness. Although I was only afforded this privilege on a few occasions, still I never found a reason to nip across the road to the Traveller’s Rest.

List of Cambridge Pubs:

Alexandra Arms
All Bar One
Arts Picturehouse
Baron of Beef
Bath House
Blue Moon
Burleigh Arms
Butch Annie’s
Calverley’s Brewery Tap
Cambridge Blue
Cambridge Brew House
Carlton Arms
Carpenters Arms
Castle Bar
Castle Inn
Champion of the Thames
Clarendon Arms
Corner House
Devonshire Arms
Dobblers Inn
Duke of Cambridge
Earl of Beaconsfield
Earl of Derby
Elm Tree
Flying Pig
Fort St George
Free Press
Golden Hind
Grain and Hop Store
Green Dragon
Green Man (Trumpington)
Hudson’s Ale House (Trumpington)
Jenny Wren
King Street Run
Kingston Arms
Live & Let Live
Lord Byron Inn (Trumpington)
Milton Arms
Old Bicycle Shop
Old Spring
Panton Arms
Pint Shop
Portland Arms
Prince Regent
Punt Yard
Queen Edith
Red Bull
Red Lion (Cherry Hinton)
Robin Hood (Cherry Hinton)
Royal Standard
Salisbury Arms
Sir Isaac Newton
Six Bells
Snug (Lensfield Road)
Snug (East Road)
St Radegund
Station Tavern
Tram Depot
Travellers Rest
Waterman Currently closed but due to reopen later this year
White Swan

Expected openings 2017:
Petersfield (opened February 23rd)
Station Tavern (opened March 10th)
Sacré Bleu

Places that serve beer but it’s borderline whether they are really pubs/bars in the traditional sense:
Arts Picturehouse – I’ve decided this should be included, after all it’s a bar that serves draught beer
196 – never visited, I’m told it’s more a cocktail bar but will give it a look
Cambridge Wine Merchants – I’ve included Thirsty but not CWM because there’s no draught beer
Hot Numbers – bottled beer only, albeit a good selection, but primarily a cafe, so reluctantly this won’t make the list
Chop House (St Johns and Kings Parade) and Millworks – apparently they welcome drinkers, although we’ve been refused drinks at Kings Parade when they were busy serving food which suggests it’s primarily a restaurant rather than a bar
Rathmore Club – private members club so not going on the list
WT’s – forget it


12 responses to “Every Pub in Cambridge

  1. I’ve been in Cambridge 5 years, and been in all the pubs, including the travellers rest, which is as bland as you might imagine.

    I think you should do the whole of Cambridge City (which includes both Trumpington and Cherry Hinton), otherwise its half a job.

  2. Ah so they are – Trumpington and Cherry Hinton both within City boundary – the list grows

  3. Didn’t mean to sound like I was boasting, by the way. I just got to know the city when I first moved here by doing a series of pub crawls.

    I even had a pint in the place in Chesterton that was a Chinese takeaway that looked like a pub from the outside. I think we confused them when we didn’t want to look at the menus.

    Like the rest of the UK, Cambridge has changed a lot in 5 years: I can’t remember many places selling craft keg back in 2011. Sierra Nevada in All Bar One, perhaps? now its bloody everywhere. Even the Rad has Punk.

  4. I wish I’d made more effort to visit all the pubs when I first came here in the early 90s. So many have since closed, and although I visited many of them, the Dog & Pheasant / Golden Pheasant (I think you’re referring to) wasn’t among them. Perhaps a Punk tap each would have saved them all!

  5. Enjoying this series. I reckon Revolution is the only one I havent been to over the years, must remedy that. Might keep wife out of John Lewis.

    Interested in your observations on how busy pubs are compared to previously, town centres pubs from station to Castle really quiet lunchtime when I walk through.

    • John Lewis no competition for “Cambridge’s most exciting and stylish venue”. They have bottles of Chimay Blue in Revs now apparently.

      Definitely noticing how empty some pubs are, I keep an “at risk” list and as you mention it, the Castle is on the list – I hardly ever see anyone in there. I see this in Norfolk too – and when those pubs close, it’s hard to imagine anyone would try to make a success of them again. I’m betting at least one or two more pubs on the Cambridge list will close before the year is out…

      • I meant Castle Inn, you’re right about Castle on St Andrews, of course.

        Agree on Norwich, some fantastic pubs with one other drinker during the week; of course any group of CAMRA visitors trudging round the GBG circuit on a Friday will get a rosier view !

  6. Every time I go in the Castle on Castle Hill its always been packed, In fact, I tend not to go there that often as my experience has been that it is difficult in the extreme to find a seat.

    The Castle on St Andrews St is a dump. Rough AND overpriced, that’s some combination. Its not a pub, of course, its a late night bar in a good location that is currently badly run. It might close, but it would soon re-open.

    • Yes, I was referring to the Castle on St Andrews St. I’ve never found it a very appealing place, but I’ve never seen it as quiet as it seems to be recently. Maybe it’d benefit from a brief closure and a fresh attempt to make a go of it, but I wouldn’t bet against a change of use to a restaurant – the turnover of restaurants on Regent Street is staggering.

  7. Whatever happened to the Fountain by the way, a rare southern outpost for S&N?

    • Sadly, the Fountain was “refitted” a few years ago in a way that can best be described as vandalism, ripping out the whole of the ground floor to open it out to the street. It’s unrecognisable from the pub it was. It’s since had more refurbs and is currently Novi, a “bar and kitchen” type place.

  8. Pingback: Every Pub In Bedford | Girl Meets Pint

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