The Rock was named after Alcatraz Island when the pub’s late night lock-ins gained a reputation for being impossible to escape from…
The Rock, originally a music venue, named to distinguish itself from nearby rival pub ‘the Mod’…
Well they might have been more captivating explanations, but the pub is actually named after the Rock Freehold Land Society which developed this area of Cambridge in the late 1890s.
It’s another Cambridge pub with links to Cambridge City Football Club – the late Johnny Gavin, who previously played for Norwich and Spurs, ended up a Cambridge City player in the early 60s, later running the Rock Hotel, where he would break records too – for the number of barrels of beer he’d sell in a week, much to Greene King’s delight.
It was a “boisterous” two bar pub when I first knew it in the 90s, a public bar with a couple of pool tables (one of which has been retained), and a lounge bar with live music three times a week, but that all stopped when it was opened out and refurbished in 2008, the lounge part becoming more of a restaurant area. No doubt this change was driven by Greene King CEO Rooney Anand who lives nearby and declared in a 2015 article for the Morning advertiser this was now his favourite pub:
“I love the Rock that’s around the corner from my house in Cambridge. Before the team changed it a few years ago it was a place my wife and I weren’t comfortable going to, certainly with the children. It was run by a select group of customers where the music was very loud. But now you see people in that pub coming together of all denomination. You see older people going in there for a glass of wine or a cup of coffee during the day, you see mums going in there with kids – it’s not a gastropub, it’s not cool hip or funky, it’s timeless, it’s classic, it’s for everyone.”
Now it’s been made more comfortable for him, I bet he’s in there all the time with his family, if he can get a seat what with all those mums and their kids. I didn’t see Mr Anand, but he’d probably just nipped out to pick up a group of interfaith pensioners and bring them back for some coffee tasting. Instead, when I went the “timeless” restaurant lounge was almost empty, while the public bar was busy with beer drinkers watching the England vs. Scotland rugby shown on 2 or 3 screens. That bar at least seemed like a real community pub; there were a few elderly gents to be fair, perched on stools at the bar, a few tables of younger lads, and the rest middle-aged couples and single blokes. Plus a guy in the corner drinking a pint of Amstel, making notes and sheepishly taking photos of anything but the busy public bar.
Greene King IPA, Abbot and London Glory.