Cambridge Pubs – Burleigh Arms

Following one former brewery tap, the Panton Arms, with another, the Burleigh Arms, former brewery tap to the defunct Star Brewery. Cambridge Breweries (Flood, 1987) says the brewery was founded here on Newmarket Road c.1822, on land purchased from James Burleigh, a carrier and landowner, and the brewery tap appears to be recorded from the 1830s – an underground passage ran from the brewery direct to the pub cellar. Brewing ceased in 1972, leaving Cambridge without a brewery for a while, and although the brewery was demolished in the early 80s, the Burleigh Arms remains. In the 1970s it had a public bar and a themed “galleon bar”, full of nautical equipment and model galleons. In 1983 the Cambridge News reported that the Burleigh Arms had reopened after being closed for six months while the frontage was rebuilt and the interior refurbished. In an attempt to go up-market, it had a 1930s theme with a pianist playing period music, and it was noted “Its profusion of potted plants gives a further touch of atmosphere”.

Burleigh Arms

The themed bars of this Charles Wells pub have long gone, and in 2014 it was overhauled again when present licensee Steve Murphy took it over as sister pub to the Old Spring. It’s really smart and clean, and they’ve managed to turn part of the car park into a large outdoor seating area, a pleasant surprise we only discovered last summer.

There were three real ales on – a nice drop of Wadworth Swordfish, Young’s Special, and Wells Eagle, along with keg offerings Young’s London Stout (which has become my default beer in Charles Wells pubs), Wells Dry-hopped Lager, Erdinger Weissbier, Amstel, Kirin and Estrella. Piped music was unchallenging – The Script, Mumford & Sons etc – and all the place lacked was a few more people, but it was early on a Monday evening. It’s a nice place, quite a large pub with a raised seating area in each of the two bars, and feels light and airy owing to the numerous large windows, but as we’ve learnt, a profusion of potted plants might give a further touch of atmosphere.

Burleigh Arms


4 responses to “Cambridge Pubs – Burleigh Arms

  1. Venue for some of Cambridge’s finest!! post punk bands in the early eighties
    …..long live Hansa Lager.

    • I didn’t know that Dave! Apparently the two went hand in hand – according to wikipedia “The low price (of Hansa Pils) led to its popularity in the punk subculture in Germany.”

      A search reveals in the late 80s the Burleigh had bands on 5 nights a week, billing itself as “The home of live entertainment” with “the best live atmosphere in town”. Amongst the bands were the House of Love who played as a showcase for bands on Alan McGee’s Creation label in 87. The rest I’ve never heard of – The Fire Dept/Killdares, The Herbs, Fuzzniks, Men From Uncle etc.

      Post punk? I’m hoping you’ll tell me the Burleigh hosted the Talking Heads? XTC? Durutti Column? The Fall? (The Fall, supported by Talk Talk, apparently played the Imperial War Museum, Duxford in 1986!), or were you thinking of MJ Trayner’s tribute to Elvis?!

      • I remember seeing John Otway there several time in the mid-80s, as well as a few local bands. It had two distinct sections then: on the right was was the 1930s bit; on the left, much smaller (and sweatier) a dingy gig room.

  2. Hansa will have been brewed in Hartlepool by Cameron’s and supplied to its sister company, Tolly. I was there (Hartlepool).

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