The Secret Pubs of Cambridge: The Flying Pig

Image credit: Julia Stanyard and Sian Avery

Following our promise on Cam FM, this week we ventured further than ever before to reach ‘The Flying Pig’. Familiar to those at Homerton, but unbeknown to the rest of the student population, we were correct in our assumption that the pub clientele consisted mainly of bearded bikers rather than fresh-faced students. 

Given the name, it perhaps should have been no surprise to find the décor so sow-themed; various pig paraphernalia adorns the walls and dangles from the ceiling, including a weird and wonderfully articulated model of a fully-dressed pig sipping a pint which occupied pride of place at the bar. Even pigs’ heads sat atop the taps: this is a pub which has really taken its namesake to heart, living up to its motto that ends all of the pub’s Facebook posts: In Hog We Trust.

A regular Pig-goer inside the cosy pub. Image Credit: Julia Stanyard and Sian Avery

Some of the beers were also pig-themed (naturally). The Cambridge Hog Hopper of the Moonshine Brewery was the piggy – not to mention local – crowning glory, accompanied by the Dark Star Hophead, a pale golden ale with fruity notes.  Also on tap, Brewers Gold and the malty Old Cornelius were good staples. For the first time in weeks, Julia was particularly pleased to have finally come across a Cambridge pub with a respectable range of ciders, including a Rum Cask option.

Finally some decent ciders for Julia to choose from. Image Credit: Julia Stanyard and Sian Avery

However, it is not the beer, the cider or even the bursting of the student bubble that makes ‘The Flying Pig’ truly special, but rather the ambience of the pub itself. Frequently providing live entertainment, the blues duo of the evening (Stella Hensley and Chris Newman) serenaded the bar with velvety numbers of their own writing as well as covers of Dylan and the Beatles. Their enjoyable performance was interrupted only by the guest appearance of a fellow Flying Pig regular, who, without further ado, broke into a song about the importance of a good “replacement valve”, both medically and in plumbing. Accompanying the many pigs, the walls and ceiling are plastered with fading posters of long-forgotten Cambridge theatre productions, music and beer festivals, dimly lit by red lights and a series of candles embedded in old Jack Daniels bottles (which provided many shadowy corners in which Sian could happily skulk in).

Candles such as these provided Sian with many shadowy corners to skulk in. Image Credit: Julia Stanyard and Sian Avery

Moreover, the regular Pig-goers seem to have really taken this place into their hearts. Our singers for the evening affectionately referred to the place as “the flying pub” (which could perhaps be referred to Pixar as a more entertaining sequel of ‘Up’) and one of them actually immortalised the pub in a song of his own creation. Rejoice, O those who despise Cindies, for we have found the place for you: a proper pub which offers regular live music.

Sadly, it turns out that ‘The Flying Pig’ parallels ‘Up’ in more ways than one. In a series of unfortunate events, and despite the staunch support of the regulars, Punch Taverns has sold the pub to Pace Investments, who intend to transform the site into an office block. Such a disastrous fate has already claimed the former Osborne Arms which used to stand next to the Pig. While we sincerely hope the staff are considering attaching a thousand balloons to the pub and relocating (perhaps to the more peaceful countryside near Girton, or better yet, back home in Yorkshire) for now we can only urge you to soak up the ambience before it’s gone: this is a rare gem with little in Cambridge to parallel it.

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