Punch Taverns have sold the Flying Pig on Hills Road to the owners of the surrounding cb1 development. Licensees Justine and Matt have the lease until 2014 but the pub's future beyond that looks very uncertain. The original cb1 plans envisaged both the Pig and the Osborne Arms next door being demolished but planning consent was refused after a spirited campaign by Pig regulars. The developers must have bought the place for a reason and it's hard to believe that their intentions are benign.
As expected,in goes a planning application to demolish the Rosemary Branch, Coldhams Lane, Cambridge, and build eight houses and two flats on the site.
The Haymakers, Chesterton High Street, has been closed and on the market for a while. We gather that the new owners will convert it into a high-end restaurant. Not long ago, Chesterton had five pubs; only the Green Dragon remains open. Having said that, there's a glimmer of hope for the old Dog & Pheasant, which has traded as the Saigon City restaurant for some years. A planning application to redevelop the site for housing has been refused and local campaigners, led by Councillor Ian Manning, are keen to see the place reopen as a pub.
News on the proposed micro-pub, the Bank, in Willingham. Chris Warren has now obtained both change of use planning consent and a premises licence - he'll next seek permission for the necessary building works, such as installation of toilets. A late summer/early autumn opening is still on the cards.
Welcome developments on Cambridge's Arbury estate. The Ship on Northfield Avenue has reinstated real ale, in the shape of Youngs Bitter, after being without it for some ten years. Landlord Andy Hatton is contemplating a beer festival later in the year. Meanwhile the nearby Jenny Wren is closed for refurbishment and will emerge as part of Greene King's Meet and Eat brand; real ale is expected to feature.
On the debit side, the on/off affair with real ale at the Osborne Arms, Hills Road is currently in off mode, with the handpump beer-free. However, we understand that the cb1 developers, who own the building, (see above) have given the current occupants notice to quit so closure seems imminent. That would mean that only one of the 234 pubs in the branch area didn't sell real ale - the Cow (former Red Cow) near the Guildhall. We've been told that a new mangeress will be arriving there soon and that she is keen to install cask beer. If that comes to pass then, so far as we know, the Cambridge CAMRA Branch area will be the only one in the country to have real ale in all of its pubs.
The phrase "end of an era" tends to be batted around over-liberally but it's the only way to describe the departure from the Waggon & Horses, Milton of Nick and Mandy Winnington. They leave on 24 June to take up well-deserved retirement in Wisbech, following which the pub will close for a couple of months for refurbishment. Nick and Mandy have been at the Waggon for 12 years during which time it's been a GBG fixture and both Branch and Cambridgeshire Pub of the Year. We celebrated Nick's "Forty Years Behind Bars" at length in ALE 353 - before the Waggon, he had many years at the Cambridge Blue and Alma in Cambridge and has always been a great friend of, and colleague in, CAMRA. He and Mandy will be much missed but at least they're not moving far away.
Still in Milton, the Jolly Brewers reopened on 23 May after being shut for nearly three tears. It was bought from Punch Taverns by Milton Inns, a consortium of locals, and serves four real ales - Greene King IPA, a changing Milton beer and two guests sourced from Greene King. Adrian Hill from Milton Inns tells us that it has a very friendly, village-oriented atmosphere. Contemporary pub food is served in the restaurant, cooked by chef Steve, whose partner Caroline is front of house. More next time when we've had chance to visit.
We mentioned in the last issue that the villagers of Thriplow were hoping to buy their local, the Green Man, and as we go to press it looks like they've succeeded. 55 people stumped up a total of £300k for shares in the pub, sufficient to meet the purchase price, and the organisers hope to raise a further £150k to make improvements like new toilets, a revamp of the bar and putting back the log fire. The community already runs the village shop, which is thriving, so the pub is clearly in good hands.
The Black Bull, Balsham was in the news recently when it was kept open despite being without part of its roof and two of its walls. The Grade II listed thatched pub is undergoing extensive restoration but it's sufficiently large that the bar area was able to double up for dining whilst the restaurant became a building site. The work should be completed by the end of June so a full report in the next issue.
The Clarendon Arms, Clarendon Street, Cambridge has started selling cask cider, beginning with Weston's Old Rosie. On the same theme, sister pub the Green Man Grantchester has added another pump so that both a cask cider and a cask perry are available at all times. The Green Man also recently won an award for excellent service standards in a national "mystery customer" scheme run by Cask Marque.
The Pemberton Arms, Harston has joined the CAMRA discount scheme, with 10p a pint off its Greene King real ales for Members.
The Champion of the Thames, Cambridge has installed a fifth beer line enabling two guest beers to be served at all times in addition to the regular beers. Another Cambridge Greene King pub, the Free Press, has added two extra handpumps - when we called they were selling two new IPA variants, IPA Golden and IPA Reserve.
The Pavilion, Longstanton is holding its first Beer Festival on 25-26 August. Four local independent breweries will be supplying beers in their own tents.
Oh dear! The much anticipated Cambridge Tap at the railway station has been derailed. Bloomsbury Leisure, who are behind this venture and other Taps at stations around the country, cite "irreconcilable differences" with the property agents concerned. They are, though, looking at other possible locations including a unit in the nearby cb1 development and "a couple of failed pubs in the city", so here's hoping.
The Jolly Millers, Cottenham reopened on 11 May after being closed a while.
Welcome to Helen and Sholto Moroney, the new owners of the Pear Tree, Hildersham. The pub reopened on 13 April after renovation work which included fitting a wood-burning stove. The beer range is unchanged, with Adnams still dominant, but the opening hours are much increased - 11.30am-3pm, 5.30pm- 11pm Tuesday to Saturday and 11.30am- 3.30pm, 6pm-10pm Sunday. Food is served every session.
Open again after a quick refit is the Bakers Arms, Fulbourn, now part of Greene King's Meet and Eat franchise. This apparently is aimed at new or inexperienced tenants, the brewey providing them with a package of support to reduce their risk of financial failure. As their ads say "You get a newly decorated pub, with food and drinks menus set up for you". Sounds like a halfway house between a tenanted and a managed pub.
Greene King seek traditional tenants for the Dog & Duck, Linton, the Five Bells, Burwell, the Hopbind, Cottenham, the Tally Ho, Trumpington and the Wheatsheaf, Duxford. Everards have instituted similar searches for the County Arms, Cambridge and Rose & Crown, Histon.
Excellent news from Shepreth. The Plough closed early in 2010 and the owners subsequently put in a planning application for residential use which South Cambs Council turned down. The owners went to appeal, claiming that the Council's policy of protecting the last pub in a village didn't apply because the Plough had been trading as a restaurant. Happily the planning inspector didn't buy this specious argument and dismissed the appeal. Let's hope the owners now put it on the market as a pub at a sensible price. Congratulations to Shepreth Ploughshare, the village group who have fought a brilliant campaign to save their local.
Down in Trumpington, the Unicorn is now the Lord Byron Inn. It hasn't changed ownership but a revamp of the menu and other facilities will be happening. It will though continue to sell four real ales and two real ciders.
Greene King have put the Crown, Burwell on the market, thankfully as a freehold pub, for £225,000. Having said that, GK are retaining the current car park (presumably to build a house on) making the new owner responsible for creating a new car park in the current beer garden. This would require demolition of the barn previously used as a function room, all of which makes the place less of an attractive buy than at first sight. In the meantime, some local wag has rearranged the letters from the inn name to give the place a name too rude to repeat here. (clue - they didn't use the T,C or N)
The village of Stow-cum-Quy is associated with jackdaws, hence the newsletter being Jackdaw Chatter. This explains the recent presence in the White Swan of Jackdaw Bitter, a 3.8% beer with bags of flavour and a nice dry finish. It was brewed at Le Brewery in Normandy, owned by the brother of Gerry, one of the Swan's publicans.
Increased demand for real ale at the Waggon & Horses, Linton means a guest beer now always accompanies the Greene King IPA and Abbot.
By the time this ALE hits the bars, the Red Lion, Brinkley (ex-Greene King) should have reopened as a free house. Another former GK pub, now free of tie, is the Chestnut Tree, West Wratting. New owners are Peter and Rachel Causton, who used to run the Plough & Fleece, Horningsea and have more recently been at the GBG-listed Bell in Odell, Beds. Before reopening, they had all the beer-related equipment replaced as beer quality is their top priority. They offer a minimum of four real ales, with the aim of five at weekends - the opening selection was Greene King IPA and Abbot, Oakham Inferno, Sharps Doom Bar and Green Jack Trawlerboys. Food service will probably have started by now. Initially the menu will be kept small and constantly changing, expanding as trade grows. The intention is to keep the food simple and traditional but tasty, filling and value for money. Peter and Rachel say "We are committed to protecting the Chestnut Tree as, essentially, a village local. We are confident that, free of the constraints of brewery ownership, the pub can thrive and we look forward to playing our part in ensuring the future of this lovely pub".
We're grateful to estate agents Everard Cole for news on some of their recent dealings in the licensed trade. The Chequers at Orwell (ex-Punch) has been sold to a private investor (an Orwell resident) and Everard Cole are currently marketing a new free of tie lease for the place. Also acquired through them from Punch is the Waterman, Mitcham's Corner, Cambridge. A local investor now owns the freehold and a free of tie lease has been agreed with the current tenants, Gao and Shui. The Mill, Mill Lane, Cambridge has been let to CPC Ltd, a very experienced operator, whose team includes the legendary David Bruce, who started the Firkin chain many years ago. The pub has been extensively refurbished and reopened on 2nd June.