It was about time another Cambridge pub opened. It’s been all of 360 hours since the last one, and that’s a long time to wait for the novelty of a new shiny thing these days. And the Station Tavern has plenty of shiny things.
Now how about this for a write up:
“This pub is remarkable in that it seems to cater successfully not only for railway passengers and staff but also for a strong local trade. The lounge provides comfort for weary travellers. The well padded seats giving the room a restful atmosphere emphasised by the warm red decoration and subdued lighting. The bars themselves provide all that one could expect from an establishment in this position”
I’ll bet Young’s, owners of the new Station Tavern would take that, but it’s a description from the 1970s of the former Station Hotel, which stood opposite the main building from around the time the railway arrived in Cambridge in 1845, until 1986 when it was demolished and replaced with the offices of Murdoch House.
It’s hard to guess how successful the new Station Tavern will be in achieving “strong local trade”, but surrounded by the major ‘CB1’ development of flats and offices, it must be aiming to catch more than the transient trade the Station Buffet Bar on the platform used to offer – that bar, the “Out of Town“, latterly the “Lord Byron Bar“, closed in the 90s and was replaced with the Marks and Spencer food store. If it does build up a local following, I doubt the nearby pubs will be much affected. I’m sure a Venn diagram of people who’d drink in the Station Tavern and the nearby Flying Pig or Devonshire Arms, even the Earl of Derby, would have a fairly small intersection – this is a pub that will suit people who don’t want their pubs to be too ‘pubby’ – it’s more lounge bar than pub, more All Bar One than Wetherspoon (on that note, with a license to serve beer from 7am, perhaps it might catch drinkers who can’t wait another hour for the Regal to open)
In an interview with the Cambridge News, the general manager said “It will be like another living room for people”. Presumably meaning living rooms like this:
Rather than this:
It’s a large place with lots of seating, padded stools around the large bar, leather armchairs around small round wooden tables, padded seating along the side wall on a raised area, more stools, more chairs. It’s mostly one large room, broken up by brick arches and exposed air ducts and piping, with a couple of those living room areas with carefully cluttered bookcases in the corner to the right of the bar, and a small side room appropriately called the Sidings which offered some respite from the loud bar chatter, if not the piped music.
On the opening evening the clientele was a mix of people of all ages, plenty just having a drink and a bite to eat, some who looked dressed for a night out and who would no doubt have found the loud broken beats were a good warm up for the main event in town later, others looked like they’d just stepped off a train (funny that) or had emerged from the Ibis hotel above and probably weren’t even aware it was the opening night, plus a few curious CAMRA types and pub bloggers who’d come to check out a new bar.
Despite promising “local hero” beers from Moonshine and Milton, on opening the 4 real ales across 7 pumps were Doom Bar, Adnams Broadside, and Young’s Bitter and Special. I found the Keg offerings more tempting and went for a pint of Founder’s All Day IPA; also on were Camden Pale and Camden Hells, alongside the usual lagers & Guinness. A fridge, signposted ‘Crafty’, had bottles from Hammerton and Five Points (including Railway Porter of course) and cans from Beavertown and Yeastie Boys. It’s not a bad selection overall, it’s just painful to remember that a few years ago we seemed so tantalisingly close to having a Cambridge Tap, like those at Euston, Sheffield and York, with the promise of “27 different beers” at any one time – they even got as far as having a premises license granted and revealed designs for the Cambridge Tap sign, before they were “shafted”, and it all fell through. Still, no doubt an improvement on the Tolly Cobbold Bitter and Original the Station Hotel served before it closed.
I liked it more than I thought I would, even though I’m only likely to visit either side of my fairly infrequent train journeys, it felt comfortable and pleasant enough. Nevertheless, leaving a bicycle as conspicuous as that unlocked in Cambridge is just asking to have it nicked.