Cambridge Pubs – Bath House

Previously the Bath Hotel, it’s listed as a 17th century building, extensively altered in the 18th century, and later extended. In the early 70s it underwent renovation as it was converted into a Beefeater Steak House. Sham timber-framing was removed from the exterior, but the interior restoration revealed 16th century panelling and an old stable wall, and “magnificent fireplaces”, with craftsmen adding reworked Cambridge bricks and “oak timbers from a Petersfield house which date from 1050”, according to a newspaper article. Upstairs, ceiling beams and old floorboards were restored, the interior apparently resembling “a French wine cellar” – by the late 70s it had become Christie’s Wine Bar. When it reopened in March 1975, it was said to have a “Dickensian atmosphere” with a Micawbers Bar, Jem Larkins Bar and, upstairs, “a more spartan ‘Uncle Tom’s room’ where those who miss the old pub atmosphere will feel most at home”. What became of this first floor? It’s now converted into toilets and staff rooms.

Bath House

Glimpse of beamed ceiling in first floor corridor to toilets

By the early 90s it was a Hogshead pub with up to 10 beers on handpump plus 3 on gravity, including Brakspear Special, Whitbread Boddington Bitter and Castle Eden Ale. By the late 90s a change of Hogshead ownership from Whitbread to Laurel has resulted in “a reduced range of beers and the regrettable loss of small brewery offerings – this used to be a regular outlet for City of Cambridge beers”. Now the pub is in Green King’s hands with the predictable beer range – on when visited were GK IPA, IPA Reserve, Olde Trip and Yardbird, plus Redemption Pale. I had a pint of BrewDog Punk IPA (£4.75) from the keg offerings which included Blue Moon, Hop House lager, Leffe Blonde, Guinness and all the usual lagers. The interior was sanitised, the once “magnificent” fireplaces appeared to have been made into seating alcoves, what could be seen of the floorboards, exposed beams and brickwork was somewhat obscured by TV screens and flashing fruit machines, while the modern tiling around the bar appeared to be the same as at the Prince Regent, another Greene King pub.

Bath House

For the first time this year I saw someone actually using a pub’s fruit machine – Million Pound Drop – a woman who didn’t look like a millionaire, but claimed to “always win on this” as she explained how it worked to the barman who’d gone over to stand and watch – when he went to serve a customer she carried on talking to the machine. Meanwhile her boyfriend, dressed in camos and with eyes so wide they looked about to pop, was restlessly shuffling about. Two old gents stared silently into the menu for longer than it would take to read it twice through. I didn’t recognise any of the pop music and it wasn’t loud enough for Shazam to identify – small mercies.

Bath House

Cambridge Evening News, 3.3.1975
Payne, Sara. (1983) Down Your Street


2 responses to “Cambridge Pubs – Bath House

  1. “a Petersfield house which dated from 1050”


    • Ha! I’ve updated the post to put that in quotes and mention it came from a newspaper article of the time – I’d copied that without thinking about it.

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