The village of Trumpington is subsumed by the Cambridge city boundary, and therefore has three pubs that are included in the list of every pub and bar in Cambridge. We walked there from the centre of Cambridge, via the meadows to Grantchester, where in retrospect we should have done our drinking, continuing to Trumpington, a four mile jaunt. There’s a much more straightforward, 2.5 mile route along Trumpington Road, but that was too obvious.
Lord Byron Inn
Formerly the Unicorn, the youngest of Trumpington’s remaining pubs, it was renamed the Lord Byron in 2012; the pub is about half a mile from Byron’s Pool, the former millpond of Trumpington Mill, where said Lord used to swim in what was presumably a more picturesque place before the concrete weir and metal railings were added in the 1940s. With a pub in neighbouring Grantchester renamed after another renowned author, Rupert Brooke, it’s surely only a matter of time before one is called the Lord Archer.
Reaching the first pub at lunchtime I boldly ordered a pint of real ale and returned it after one sip, it tasting distinctly on the turn. A cautious taster of TT Landlord was equally unpalatable, so I ended up with a Corrs Light, which was at least drinkable, but not as flavoursome as the bottle of mineral water I’d carried with me. Perhaps it was a slow Sunday; the kitchen is currently undergoing refurbishment so there were no diners, just a group of chaps playing dominoes in a side room, and I’ve no idea what they were drinking but the ale didn’t seem to have had much throughput.
It’s a nice enough pub inside with plenty of rooms to explore, but doesn’t seem to make best use of its character; in the main bar one fireplace bizarrely screened from view by white armchairs. The large ‘real grass’ beer garden is in good shape, overlooked on one side by the extended accommodation block, on the other the large conservatory extension, but we were the only ones out there too. The car park, as large as the garden, was another empty space, except for one car which had made best use of the space by parking directly in front of one of the pub’s windows.
Reasoning we’d caught the pub on a bad day, we moved on, though with such reliably good pubs just down the road in Grantchester, I’m not sure when we’re likely to return.
A 15th-century timber framed building recorded as an inn by the late 18th century, but again one that largely conceals its character, save for the low ceilings and a few exposed beams in the front bar. Even the pub sign, which used to stand roadside as one would expect, has been removed and affixed to one side of the building.
Ignoring the ubiquitous Abbot Ale and Doom Bar, alongside Marstons 61 Deep, I had a pint of keg Adnams Mosaic and wandered outside, passing the room at the rear of the pub which is very much a restaurant, but seemed nice enough for that purpose, and was busy with diners.
Outside is a large outdoor patio overlooking the busy Trumpington Road, to the other side a massive car park at the back of the pub, this one full of cars unlike the Lord Byron’s. Nevertheless a rural feel had been achieved by the thoughtful positioning of two bales of hay.
Getting hungry, and ignoring the Wok ‘n’ Grill in what was formerly the Coach & Horses, a wonderful old coaching inn we’d had the pleasure of visiting several times before its closure as a pub, we held out for the final pub, Hudson’s Ale House, about which we’d heard good reports since its refurbishment a couple of years ago.
Hudson’s Ale House
Formerly the Tally Ho, an uninspiring pub we visited a couple of times a few years ago to see live music. Back then even the keg lager was in poor shape, let alone the real ale, but it closed and reopened under new ownership after a significant refurbishment. The pub is much improved and is clearly being taken care of, the new layout creating a lot more space, the bar lined with 7 real ales and accompanying jars showing their respective colours – Woodfordes Reed Lighter, Tydd Steam American Eagle, Cotleigh, Lymestone, and so on, as well as a Hudson’s labelled beer, no doubt Greene King IPA or similar in disguise (it’s a Greene King pub with the Local Hero agreement, allowing for half the cask ale choice to be free-of-tie). There was a queue at the bar when we arrived, but we were immediately acknowledged while coffees were being prepared for someone, which is all it takes really; I don’t mind waiting if I know I’ll get served in turn.
The two real ales we had weren’t at their best, and I can’t help thinking it would be better having fewer pumps getting better throughput; it seemed a lot more coffee and keg lager was being served this particular lunchtime. I’ve no doubt they’d have been replaced without a fuss had we asked, I was just feeling jaded at this point.
For some reason, despite the Trumpington Local History Group publishing well researched information about the past and present pubs of Trumpington, the pub’s website mistakenly says it was “first opened in 1840 under the name of ‘Hudson’s Noted Ales & Stouts’”, only becoming the Tally Ho in the 2000s. I’ve trawled through the directories myself and can confirm it clearly opened as the Tally Ho by 1840 and carried that name until the current owners changed it a couple of years ago; old photos show the “Hudson’s” name painted on the outside because it was owned and supplied by Hudson’s Cambridge & Pampisford Breweries.
Despite these observations, the veggie Sunday roast was excellent, the service was welcoming and attentive, and Hudson’s Ale House was the best, and most improved, pub in Trumpington. It deserves another visit…