Once upon a time there were two little brick-built pubs, who went out to seek their fortune.
Presently, along came a wolf who knocked at the door of the first pub, the Osborne Arms, and said
“Little pub, little pub, let me in”
To which the pub answered
“Not by the hair of my Conservation Area protection”
So the wolf huffed, and he puffed, and he demolished the pub in a conservation area without consent, because he claimed he wasn’t aware of the need for consent, which in any case was granted retrospectively.
Then the wolf knocked at the door of the the Flying Pig pub, and said
“Little pig, little pig, let me in”
“Not by the hair of my petition to refuse Conservation Area consent to demolish the Flying Pig public house, signed by almost 7,000 supporters”
So the wolf huffed, and he puffed, and he nevertheless produced plans for the redevelopment with the Flying Pig suspiciously absent…
The Flying Pig is a cosy, laid back, characterful retreat from the encroaching modern development, candlelit in the evenings, with dark wooden floorboards, rows of bottles on the shelves, the walls and ceiling covered in old posters and yellowed from the years as a smoky bar. It’s one of those places where conversations start effortlessly between anyone that walks in – locals, students, office workers, one man and his dog. After we’d ordered our drinks, a chap sat at a table for two offered us the seats as there were none free, saying “In any case, I’d prefer to stand at the bar so I can chat to someone”. At one point I stood up and the barman pre-emptively grabbed a pint glass and said “what can I get you?”. I was only getting up to go to the gents, but another pint seemed like a good idea. The real ales always include Crouch Vale Brewers Gold, and one from Dark Star – on this occasion a satisfying American Brown – and usually one from Cambridge Moonshine, who brew a special HogHopper beer for the pub.
Originally the Engineer, then the Crown Inn from the late 1800s, keeping that name for over a hundred years, in the nineteenth century patrons of this pub and the now demolished neighbouring pub the Osborne Arms probably included workers on the nearby railway and station, opened in 1845, and later those from the cattle market, opened in 1885; a row of cattle pens are shown behind the Osborne Arms on a map from the 1880s. A 1975 pub guide says custom of the Osborne Arms was then mainly drawn from an adjacent bus depot, no longer there, and in 1986 the Flying Pig, at that time still named the Crown, was “often thronged with Radio Cambridgeshire personnel”, but the studios have since moved. The bar billiards table, later a pool table, that used to take up the backroom has been replaced by more seating, but despite these changes it’s still essentially the same pub it has been for years. It’s by no means certain this fairy tale will end happily ever after – the wolf is still at the door. But for now, this little pig still has hairs on its chinny chin chin.