I pass this building most days and it still manages to impress. One of the “Tolly Follies” built by the Tollemache brewery in the 1930s, a mock-baronial pub based on the design of Helmingham Hall, the Tollemache stately home in Suffolk, although sadly with a car park where the moat should be, and a beer patio instead of a deer park. It was designed by Ipswich-based architects Cautley and Barefoot, who’d previously designed the 1935 neo-Tudor south corner extension to the present Lloyds bank on Sidney Street; its twin pub, the Golden Hind in Ipswich also still survives.
The Star Brewery of Cambridge proposed to erect a pub in this area in 1928, and had the application not been turned down then, Cambridge might have lost what’s now one of its finest pubs in the process – the Elm Tree, two miles away in the centre of Cambridge!
The Cambridge News of February 1928 records:
Justices turned down an application for the removal of the licence of the Elm Tree, Orchard Street, Cambridge, to premises proposed to be erected at the junction of Milton Road and Green End Road. The Elm Tree was redundant and not necessary for the needs of the locality and there were over 100 people in favour of the new site. Large numbers of houses were being erected in that area which would be inhabited by people who would not be able to afford a wine cellar of their own and have to go to a public house for their bottle of beer. But the residents were people who’d been taken from the slums; their incomes were small and there was no margin for drink in their budget.
In 1936, after having been taken over by Tollemache, the brewery applied again for the new pub, the area of Milton Road having had over 1,000 new houses built over the previous decade, with the Milton Arms pub being built half a mile south-west of the site in 1930. This time the brewery offered to surrender the licences for the Racehorse on Newmarket Road (since demolished and replaced by a McDonald’s) and Plume of Feathers (stood the near the Maypole until it was demolished in 1953), but instead the Bowling Green in Chesterton (the building still exists, near the Haymakers) was the unfortunate pub whose license was transferred. The license was granted despite the Women’s Total Abstinence Union surprising everyone by opposing it.
The original interior must have been impressive too; although now much altered, it still retains the leaded and stained glass skylight above the bar. There are many areas on multiple levels, and there’s plenty of natural light thanks to the skylight and large windows, and it generally does good trade – there were plenty of people of all ages in there at 5pm, and at lunchtimes I’ve joined large queues for food on occasions. There are TV screens for sport (actually on all the time regardless), a pool table and table football.
Despite having up to 8 real ales, on previous visits four of these were from Cottage Brewery, but as that brewery closed earlier this year, I was interested to see what would have replaced them. It was a pleasant surprise to find an improved selection, including two from Lacons, of which I had an excellent pint of Falcon for £3.50, alongside Milestone Honey Porter, Penine Howzat, Navigation New Dawn, Bootleg Twisted Groove, a beer called Starry Night with a flashing pump clip and no mention of the brewery, the obligatory Doom Bar, while Keg beers included Meantime Yakima Red.
It’s a decent pub in an area that lost the Jenny Wren estate pub earlier this year, and one I’m likely to visit a little more frequently if Lacons turns out to regular.
Cambridge News articles
Mike Petty – Looking Back