Cambridge Pubs – Tram Depot

Originally the stables for Cambridge Street Tramways who operated a horse-drawn tramway service from 1880 to 1914 – there’s an original section of track by the front door leading to a former tram shed (the only known remaining Cambridge tram is currently being restored at the Ipswich Transport Museum).

Tram Depot

It had apparently become a derelict furniture warehouse when in 1987 the Suffolk brewery Earl Soham, along with architects Ken Neale of Cambridge, converted it into The Tram Depot pub. In the early 90s it was bought by Everards brewery, who also took over what is now the Architect on Castle Street. The Tram Depot became one of my favourite and most frequented pubs at the time, especially when I lived in a neighbouring street. Only in Cambridge would you find a pub where the graffiti in the gents consisted of palindromes (“Mr Owl ate my metal worm” was one I recall). Most fondly remembered was the mezzanine level, with the furniture including repurposed cast iron Singer sewing machine tables. The seats up there were always the most coveted, and I remember sitting looking down on the bustling bar area on many evenings. Alas, in 2000 the pub suffered a complete refit and extension that turned it into one large barn, moving the toilets into what was the mezzanine, and extending into what was the kitchens and two shop units behind it.

Tram Depot

That said, despite remembering how characterful it originally looked, I think it’s still a nice place, particularly the original part of the pub which has retained the impressive brick floor, timber beams and high ceiling, if not the mezzanine. There are large raised padded seats along the walls (I preferred the previous booths which appear to have been moved into the lounge extension), a few sofas, and plenty of other tables and chairs. Although its been opened out, it has been partly divided into different areas – the original pub with the brick floor, the present main bar area with the tiled floor which the pub was extended into (I seem to remember it was where the original kitchens were located), and at the far end of the pub a lounge with wood floorboards that was previously shop units – I’ve never sat in this part of the pub, preferring the original part. The large bar (at right angles to it’s previous position) serves the first two areas. The Victorian style cast iron canopy with a glazed roof over the outdoor seating, or “smoker’s yard”, is a nice recent addition. Bonus points for the piped music being Bruce Springsteen on the last couple of visits.

Tram Depot

I’m not too keen on Everards beers so mostly stick to the Pilsner Urquell here, but on this visit had some of the keg Titanic Stout and Maisel’s Weisse, and the cask Nethergate Old Growler. There are generally 6 cask ales on, with Everards Original, Tiger and Tram Light (aka Sun Chaser) permanent, and on this occasion joining the Old Growler were Brunswick Old Accidental and Grimwalds Damson Stout. Curious Brew lager, Peroni and a few others are also on keg. I might drink here more often if it wasn’t just around the corner from what, for me, are two of the best pubs in Cambridge. I’ll get to them in due course – suffice to say, neither of them is the Duke of Cambridge.

6 responses to “Cambridge Pubs – Tram Depot

  1. Yes,like most of the Everards estate, it lacks character (though the Project Williams pubs in North Midlands are often very good). I remember the dreadful conversion now !

    Used to enjoy the strong (by 1990s standards) Original there, not enough cask turnover nowadays so your Pilsner a wise choice.

    Will presume your two alternatives are the Snug and Willie Thorne’s.

  2. Quality! Well, you’re close. I was referring to the Working Mens Club on East Road and the public Petersfield park where I’ve enjoyed many a fine drop of Tennants Super

  3. Shame the bar billiards table has disappeared. Still, the chips are excellent, and the huge pizza deal is an absolute bargain.

    AND they have beer tasting notes on a blackboard behind the bar – why don’t all pubs do this?

    • Agree about the bar billiards: it was what got me in there in the first place. I’ve been back a few times more recently and it seems to be doing well and developing a decent atmosphere. Also has regular live jazz on a Sunday evening.

  4. You’re going to say the Free Press, and I just don’t get it. The beer is nothing special (in fact poor by Cambridge standards), its always overflowing with tourists getting in the way of the bar, and for some reason it always honks of cabbage. There are 20 pubs in Cambridge I’d rather go to.

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