The one downside of meeting old work colleagues (apart from them blaming you for the collapse of the NHS) is that they always want to meet in dining pubs.  Not that there’s many dumpy old men’s pubs left in Cambridge for a pint and scratchings anyway.

The closest boozer to work used to be the Unicorn in Cherry Hinton, one of three casualties in the last decade (wonder why, (cough) 2007) and now emerging from an ill-advised spell selling craft “caps” and burgers to focus on the new drugs of cake and coffee.

Cherry Hinton is far from the picturesque Cambridge village you might imagine, a place of light industry, disused chalk pits,

Image result for cherry hinton chalk quarry

and Chinese takeaways.  There’s more betting shops than pubs nowadays.  Even the famed Folk Festival has managed to avoid becoming a mini Latitude.

The sole real pub left in a village of 9,000 is the Red Lion, the only Beer Guide entry in my drinking lifetime and still a decent advert for Greene King community locals.  It served proper Thai food a decade ago, but that Cambridge fad has largely passed (with one exception). You can tell the customer base by the transport arrayed outside the entrance.


Once upon a time the Robin Hood was a proper pub too, with plenty of discrete drinking areas for discrete conversations.  I had a job interview here over a couple of pints, I danced on the table to the London Boys’ Rquiem* in ’89, it was a almost a community melting pot. Albeit one with a decent local food trade and a play area.


Now it’s an Eating Inn, with greeters and, as WhatPub describes, “an entirely anonymous décor as befits a chain organisation”.  I do like it when WhatPub speaks its mind.

Why do all pubs have exactly the same menu ?  You know the answer.  Fish and chips for £7 were competently dull, the Abbot similar.

But you won’t believe what beer they had on.  On the 23rd November. No wonder it’s a shaky photo.

No, just No

*I’ve checked, this admission is covered by the Statute of Limitation.


    1. I just flicked through WhatPub; the Ship on Arbury estate (see 24 March post) is only real contender. Champion of the Thames is a no-food, no-children boozer that might qualify as long as students stick to the room on the right !


    2. Most dumpy pubs in the country either improved or went under years ago now, and for good reason.

      Cambridge is generally fucking terrible for nightlife, but traditional pubs are one thing where it could compete with anywhere.


      1. You do realise that “dumpy old men’s pub” is an ironic phrase invented by Cooking Lager to describe any mainly wet-led pub that caters for a more mature clientele, something that is still common in most towns?


  1. In neither of my two spells living in Cambridge did I get to know Cherry Hinton, but I do remember the Wrestlers as a dismal pub amongst many in the Kite before it was razed and raised again as the Grafton Centre.
    At the time I think Wells had four pubs in the city and the beer was universally badly regarded. We sold the wonderfully namedWells Fargo in the college bar (24p per pint) ; the name was the best thing about it.


  2. I went in the Robin Hood the other day, it has 12 different beers available, including Punk IPA and Timothy Taylors Landlord. You must have missed them.



      1. Some of the bigger and busier Sam Smith’s pubs have 12 different beers on the bar, albeit only one (OBB) is a real ale. Do those match your criteria?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I went in the Cow & Calf with the wife while on a Nottingham Camra pub crawl,we always went our own way round the pubs.
    We quite liked the pub and the City of Cambridge Jet Black went down a treat and £1.70 a pint but that was on the 20th June 1998.
    It seems to one of very few pubs in Cambridge that there is no photo of on Pubs Galore,but i have a very nice one with my wife stood outside.
    A great shame that it has now closed down.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Cow & Calf was pretty much a dump in the late 70s when it was a Tolly house. However given the nature of some of the city’s pubs then, it wasn’t particularly unusual in that respect.

    Liked by 1 person

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