The Kingston Arms dates from the early 1870s when these backstreets off Mill Road were rapidly being developed. The street then was populated mostly by workers on the nearby Great Eastern and Great Northern Railways, in the decade after services began operating between Cambridge and Kings Cross – railway servants, engine drivers, guards, porters, firemen – alongside local tradesmen – butchers, builders, carpenters, coal men, plumbers. Nowadays the average price of a house in this street is approaching half a million pounds, and there probably aren’t many ticket collectors or tailors living in them – a bow maker has a workshop opposite the pub (there’s a violin maker just over the Mill Road bridge, early signs of clustering no doubt – before you know it you’ll be tripping over wood shavings and horsehair around here).
The line of pump clips at the Kingston could cheer the weariest luthier – five Supreme Champion Beers of Britain, including the reigning champion Binghams Vanilla Stout, twice winner Crouch Vale Brewers Gold, Mighty Oak Oscar Wilde mild, Oakham JHB, and Woodforde’s Wherry, along with twice Gold Strong Bitter winner, Thornbridge Jaipur, and probably the most decorated British beer, Hop Back Summer Lightning. And there’s more… Tydd Steam Armageddon, Electric Bear Red, Little Critters Sleepy Badger, and.. you get the picture. So, faced with this difficult choice, my first beer was of course Wiper and True Amber Simcoe Rye – did I mention the keg beers?
The worn upholstery gives it a comfortable lived-in feel, and theres a nice walled courtyard at the rear with covered seating – when I first came here in the 90s under previous owners the garden was just a bare space with patchy grass at the back of a rundown boozer, so it’s quite a transformation. I’ve eaten here several times and the food is good value. Nevertheless, I doubt there’s much for less than a pound – even a packet of crisps costs a pound, right? And if there was, that wouldn’t get you free internet access – that comes only “if you buy something at the bar at £1.00 or more”. “Free” internet for a pound. That’s a new one on me.