The original 19th century pub, the Man In the Moon, which stood near this site, was purchased from the Star Brewery and demolished as part of slum clearances in the early 60s. Shortly after it was resited and rebuilt as the Man On the Moon, opening in 1964 and inspiring NASA to achieve the feat a few years later (although conspiracy theorists believe the pub was never actually rebuilt and is in fact a film set). The themed interior described in the 70s sounds wonderful, decorated of course with pictures of moon landings and astronauts, one wall with “plastic model rockets stuck on a mural of the milky way”, another with “a mural of a spaceman with his space-dog waving in greeting”, with formica topped tables and a lino floor.
Then in the late 90s it suffered the indignity of being restyled and renamed “the Office”, complete with a decorative photocopier in one corner and a pub sign showing a city gent with a bowler hat. It seemed to me like a charmless attempt to promote itself as a ‘town’ pub (likewise, a couple of years later another pub clumsily attempted to align itself with the ‘gown’ by renaming to ‘the Graduate’); I hadn’t realised the ‘office’ was supposed to be slang for ‘pub’. Less than 2 years later it reverted to the Man on the Moon and had a good run as a live music venue, with beer limited to lagers and a couple of draught bitters. I never really took to the place and found the atmosphere about as hospitable as the moon itself, only visiting a few times before it closed in 2013. At that point, despite the council owning the freehold, I thought its days as a pub were over.
Eventually it was rescued and reopened as the Blue Moon, sister pub to the nearby Cambridge Blue. I still find it hard to love the design of the buildings in the whole of the 1960s redevelopment it’s part of, but the pub’s interior has been much improved by the addition of old Cambridge pub photos on the walls, wooden floorboards and mood lighting, and there’s a welcoming atmosphere at last. The back room has a pool table and arcade games and hosts regular live music. Then there’s the beer.
Having opened with 10 keg and 4 cask, it’s since doubled the keg lines (surely more than any other Cambridge pub) and will make good use of them with a series of monthly tap takeovers this year, including Thornbridge, Tiny Rebel and Three Blind Mice. In the past week I’ve had beers from Magic Rock, Wiper and True, and Ægir Little Bro, and there’s at least one from Dark Star permanently on cask. It’s one of those pubs that’s always worth popping in, and although the original interior may be long gone, these days you can at least get themed pizzas.