Just back from taking Mrs RM and two hungry lads (when are they not ?) for Sunday lunch at the Salisbury Arms, just off Cambridge’s famous Mill Road. We’d also popped in on Mothers Day, a dry day for me.


This is, oddly, one of the city’s historic pubs, run by CAMRA Investments in the ’70s and Pint and Pub’s report contains this classic piece of everyday sexism from 1976.

Real ale for people

A sign of the times, as is this report of the volumes sunk back in ’76.

“Prior to reopening in 1976 only three breweries provided real ale in Cambridge, but this increased to ten under its new ownership, including the likes of Sam Smiths and Batemans, 180 gallons from each being served in the first few days”

My maths aren’t great, but 2 x 180 x 8 = 2,880 pints in a few days, which is more than I’ve seen poured in my entire pub-going career. And that’s just two pumps.

Back then, in the bad old days, you only had a choice at the Salisbury of Bass, Sam Smiths, Batemans, Adnams, Elgoods, Marston’s, Greene King, Ruddles, Wells and Hannan (who ?). Oh, and Duvel and Chimay.

I don’t know how folk coped back then.

Changed less than you’d think

I used to use the Salisbury regularly in the late ’80s, when bicycles hung from the walls and Bombardier was a premium beer. But then I was a student.

Nowadays it’s quieter, with a decent family lunch trade and presumably a few visitors from the Youth Hostel.

If Directors, Ghost Ship, 61 Deep and Youngs Ordinary doesn’t convert them to the joys of BBB I don’t know what will.


Pleasingly, the bikes are still hanging on for dear life, as is what looks like a bath tub. You could be in a Tut ‘n’ Shive, but I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

The Salisbury is a prime demonstration of how the family brewers have given up on beer and stuck to the knitting of stone baked pizza.


In Tayside or Fife this would be the Pub of the Season and a GBG regular; here it’s got as much chance of a Guide spot as the Hungry Horse on Milton Road.

But the Marston’s is decently kept, cool and refreshing (NBSS 2.5/3).

More competent Cambridge cask

I couldn’t blame Mrs RM for going for the Double Hop though. All the usual keg suspects from a decade or more ago. I almost felt nostalgic.

Pleasant staff, quick service, excellent homecooked Sunday lunches and pizzas. It’s a decent diner that sticks to the basics.

And it’s nice to have a Cambridge pub that reminds you of the 1990s.

Recreation of the great cask v craft debate of 1976


  1. “Changed less than you’d think” but it’s unrecognisable from when I first played bar billiards there before it was closed by Whitbread in 1973. I think though that I recognise Christopher Hutt on the right of that 1976 photograph.

    I’m well overdue a Proper Day out in Cambridge. Maybe in the autumn.


  2. are they talking about Cambridge as a whole? or just that pub, as surely Tolly Cobbold is missing off that list as a brewery providing real ale to Cambridge, as it had its own pub the Golden Hind


    1. Clive,
      I clearly remember that up to 1976 the only three breweries providing real ale in Cambridge were Greene King, Tolly Cobbold and Charles Wells.
      Greene King and Tolly Cobbold had most pubs and the great majority of their beer was from casks but served by top pressure which was commonplace in some areas then but is very rare now.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Clive,
      As Paul says, those 3 including Tolly dominated Cambridge. Those beers I listed were what the Salisbury alone had on (too many !, too many !). Clearly Tolly beers didn’t find favour with the management at the Salisbury, or a deal couldn’t be struck (or the Punch horses couldn’t walk far).


      1. I think that “Hannan” was a mistake from the Cambridge News which published the same photo as the front page of the July 1976 What’s Brewing. The cask beers on reopening were Charles Wells Bitter, Greene King Abbot and, new to Cambridge, Batemans Mild and Bitter and Sam Smiths Bitter.
        I don’t know when in 1973 Whitbread closed the pub after securing planning permission to convert it to three separate dwellings – yes, it was happening back then – but a check of my archives indicates that it was on 25th February that I got round several Cambridge pubs, and I now realise that was two months before I turned eighteen.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My memory is that Tolly’s premium bitter was called Cantab. In the summer of 1979 I attended a “course” held at Hughes Hall in Cambridge which was intended to give managers from various companies practice at interviewing undergraduates, I being one of the guinea pigs. During this I remember going to the Salisbury Arms and also the Fort St George in England.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes, Cantab was a stronger bitter, and that’s when Tolly Cobbold, along with Camerons, were owned by Ellerman Lines.


      1. No, Nottingham branch couldn’t possibly be wound up.
        Their beer festival is far too profitable, or rather returns too great a surplus.


      2. It’s good to know that campaigning has been ditched in favour of competing for real ale sales in a reducing market. And before someone says “Variety of beers at a festival” I’ll bet I could find 200 different beers in Nottinghamshire pubs this very evening without much effort.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. More recently their magazine has included a column from the anti-drink lobby moaning about the evils of the off-trade.

        Shouldn’t the modern-day “PC Plod” be cracking down on abominations such as that?

        Liked by 2 people

      4. I know the Coopers Tavern isn’t the pub it was but what were the out of the “spurious grounds” ?
        And I’ll have you know that some of my best friends are East Midlanders !

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Change of licensee. Even though the branches responsible for some of the most famous longstanding GBG pubs have waived those rules.

        Those friends are probably Northerners.


      6. thanks.
        I think they are ‘guidelines’ rather than ‘rules’ hence branches abiding by them or not as they choose.
        And some of my best friends are northerners !


  3. “and two hungry lads (when are they not ?) ”

    LOL, indeed!

    “= 2,880 pints in a few days”


    “I don’t know how folk coped back then.”


    “of how the family brewers have given upon on beer”

    You do tend to go on and on at times. 😉


    Is that ‘all’? 🙂

    “Recreation of the great cask v craft debate of 1976”

    Ah yes. Similar to the Avengers vs Justice League debates. Though in this case, from the photo, it appears to be Avengers vs G.I. Joe? (that figure in the front looks a bit like Destro)



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s