Cambridge Pubs – The Wrestlers

Wrestlers

Every previous visit to the Wrestlers has been primarily for the great Thai food (though no tofu in the veggie dishes sadly), and this time I was the only person not eating, and it is hard to resist when sitting enveloped in the aroma of lemongrass and spices. Nevertheless, it’s a pleasant pub to sit with a pint, and the Adnams Broadside I had was superb, as good as I’ve had it anywhere. This being a Charles Wells pub, it had the usual keg stout, dry-hopped lager and triple-hopped IPA, with cask Bombardier and Double Chocolate Stout (for which I should have stayed for a pint) plus guest beer Robinsons Pint of Thrones.

This must be the oldest Thai food place in Cambridge; I think Sala Thong restaurant opened in 1999, whereas the Wrestlers started serving it perhaps in the late 80s; “authentic homemade Thai food” is mentioned in a 1991 guide, along with a log fire, jukebox, and pool table. The 1994 Good Beer Guide also mentions the Thai food, describing it then as a “boisterous town pub with live music twice a week”, and a “notable collection of bottles”. It’s a much calmer place these days, clean and comfortable too, and I enjoyed relaxing with a pint.

Wrestlers

The Wrestlers was rebuilt in the 1930s, one of the few pubs to have survived on this side of the city. The walk back into the centre, along the dismal Newmarket Road, passes a handful of pubs that have closed relatively recently; at one time, this road had more pubs and breweries than any other in Cambridge; now, just three pubs survive – the Wrestlers, the Corner House and the Burleigh Arms (not counting the bars at the new Travelodge and Premier Inn).

Newmarket Road Closed Pubs

Clockwise from top left – Five Bells, Seven Stars, Rose & Crown, Bird In Hand, Zebra

Even the underpass at the East Road/Elizabeth Way junction has a mural depicting scenes of the pop-up pubs at Stourbridge Fair, which took place nearby for hundreds of years until its demise in 1933. My guess is that the Wrestlers pub takes its name from the wrestling and boxing competitions that were a common feature of the Stourbridge and Midsummer Fairs; a Wrestlers Inn, reputed to be one of the finest buildings in the city, stood on Petty Cury in the town centre until it was demolished in 1885.

Stourbridge Fair

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8 responses to “Cambridge Pubs – The Wrestlers

  1. How many pubs have you got left now?

  2. Which suburbs are you doing? I see you did Milton and Cherry Hinton so far. Trumpington, Grantchester and Fen Ditton to come?

    • Only those within the city boundary – just Trumpington left to do (Milton wasn’t part of this series)

  3. I walk through that underpass every week and never noticed the pop-ups ! Good spot.

    Glad you enjoyed the beer, I think it’s good quality though I always end up driving the wife when he pop there to eat. The key is high turnover and a range of beer folk have heard of.

    I think Wrestlers started Thai late ’88/early ’89, which is when I was remember eating there. It was a proper football pub under Tom, with pool and juke box used to celebrate Cam U victories into early 2000s,when it was refurbished. I don’t begrudge it the upgrade, the food is great.

    • Interesting, I didn’t know it was a football pub – I think the Wresters sometimes closes on ‘big’ match days now. I remember the Globe and the Greyhound as football pubs (both closed now, of course).

  4. I very seldom visited the Wrestlers when living in Cambridge, nor being a fan of Wells beers at all (although my college bar did sell the wonderfully named Wells Fargo).
    However our Kite runs started at the Zebra and I later remember it being a decent food led pub when I lived in Trumpington in the mid 80s.
    A couple of those other photos bring back hazy memories of underwhelming pubs; the Bird in Hand in particular was a pretty basic GK tenancy from memory, and the Five Bells I think a small keg Tolly pub with few redeeming features.

    • Yes, the Five Bells and Bird in Hand were underwhelming, although I thought the Rose & Crown was decent, and I worked near to the Zebra at one time and it was a thriving pub. There are plans to redevelop the site of the Five Bells and include a new bar.

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