The Ranch in Histon Road has had a chequered recent history. It's traded several times under its original name of the British Queen, in between tragic interludes as Bumpers and Fat Jacks. Transmogrification into the Ranch happened in early 2009, offering a "fine dining restaurant menu" which perhaps wasn't best suited to the location. Subsequently it tried to reposition itself as more of a family pub but never got it right (and latterly the real ales were both boring and over-priced). However, we're still sad to see that it closed in June - and even sadder to hear that Lucy Cavendish College, who own the freehold, want to demolish it and build student accommodation on the site. A planning application has yet to be submitted though.
Planning consent has been granted to flatten the Greyhound, Coldhams Lane and erect warehousing and retail units in its place. We understand that the pub building had serious structural problems which put off several would-be buyers.
The City Council has refused a further planning application to redevelop the former Royal Standard on Mill Road for housing. The developers have lodged an appeal and there will be a hearing before a planning inspector in due course. We know of at least one small brewer who is interested in reopening the Standard as a pub.
The Penny Ferry, Chesterton seemed doomed when developers won an appeal earlier in the year to build five houses on its site. Since then, though, the Chesterton Conservation Area has been extended to cover the pub which means that separate planning consent is needed to demolish it. The City Council has now refused the application to do that, following a vigorous campaign by local residents, backed by CAMRA and Cambridge Past, Present and Future. The developers are certain to appeal and, given the outcome of the previous appeal, the pub certainly isn't safe yet. Having said that, the new national planning guidance has come into force in the interim (see article elsewhere) and that ought to have an impact.
The Osborne Arms, Hills Road is now closed and boarded up - though not sufficiently well to prevent thieves breaking in to strip out the copper piping and other items of value. It's very unlikely that the pub will reopen before being swallowed up by the adjacent cb1 development.
Better news, short term at least, from the Flying Pig next door, where a fifth handpump has been installed, courtesy of Elgoods.
The Tally Ho, Trumpington is now in the very capable hands of Tom Goode. Many readers will recall Tom from his long stint at the Wrestlers, Cambridge where he was an early adopter of Thai food, then a great rarity in pubs. Unsurprisingly, the Tally Ho also has a Thai menu and both cooks have had experience at the Wrestlers. Main dishes are priced at between £7 and £8.99 and food is served lunchtimes and evenings (except Sunday, when the pub is closed) On the real ale front, Tom currently has five on the go and hopes to add a couple more. Although this is a Greene King pub, maximum use will be made of available guest beers to keep the selection ever-changing. Tom has also removed the cask breathers. The Tally Ho is a traditional pub with a warm, cosy feel thanks to the extensive wood panelling on the walls and the real fires occupying original 1930s fireplaces. There's an L-shaped public bar plus a lounge which has been opened out and extended towards the garden.
The Fox, Bar Hill has joined the CAMRA discount scheme with 20p off a pint and 10p off a half for members who produce their membership card.
Steve and Hazel closed the Red Lion, Kirtling on 24 June. Their valedictory message stated "we tried very hard to give this pub one more lease of life but, unfortunately, despite all our best efforts, it has not been possible to make it a viable business". What happens to the place now remains to be seen.
Shortly before going to press we were deeply saddened to hear that Terry Kavanagh, legendary landlord of the St Radegund, Cambridge from 1992 to 2009, had passed away. Terry featured strongly in our "Where Did the Characters Go?" article in ALE 354 and they certainly don't make them like Bunter any more. There'll be a full tribute in the next issue.
Jo Laurie and her partner are leaving the George, Babraham in September for pastures new. Her dad Stuart is returning to run the pub, having sold the lease of the Three Kings near Bury.
The Longbow, Stapleford is presently closed following a police raid and suspension of the licence. The long term intentions of owners the Wellington Pub Co aren't clear.
The saga of the Cambridge Tap continues. Latest rumour is that a lease has been taken within the cb1 development with an aim of opening autumn/winter time.
Greene King plan revamps for the Brook and the Castle (St Andrews St.), both in Cambridge. They have also secured planning consent for major improvements at the Portland Arms, particularly to the gig room.
New racking is being installed in the cellar of the Pickerel, Cambridge which will enable the range of real ales to be increased to around ten.
The Tram Depot, Cambridge (Everards) closed for a refit at the end of July which should take around a month to complete.
The City Pub Company has carried out an excellent refurbishment job at the Mill, Cambridge, which had been closed for the best part of a year. Significant work has been carried out but all very tastefully with a new wood-panelled side room being an especially attractive addition. The bar counter now sports a wood-block top adorned with four handpumps. Two of the real ales will be from local breweries with Fellows, Lord Conrad's, Black Bar and Moonshine all featuring regularly. The menu uses locally sourced ingredients where possible. It's marvellous to see this fine pub return and in such good shape too, just in time for summer evenings by the mill pond. The company has also acquired the lease of the Jolly Scholar, King Street from Punch Taverns and the site will be fully free from any drinks tie. Significant investment is planned and the site should be open in mid-September. The letting was dealt with by Everard Cole.
Turning to the pubs up for grabs, Everard Cole are offering the Rupert Brooke Grantchester on a free of tie lease. They also have on their books the freeholds of two Punch Taverns pubs, the Reindeer Saxon Street (£365k) and the Kings Head Dullingham (£425k). Greene King seek tenants for the Bakers Arms, Fulbourn, Hopbind Cottenham, Jenny Wren Cambridge and Dog & Duck Linton. We gather that a temporary tenant has been installed at the last of these, tasked with rebuilding the pub's reputation for great food. Christies still want a buyer for the King Bill, Heydon though the price has come down from £845k to £725k. The Pheasant Great Chishill, which they've also been advertising for ages, remains at £595k.