The demise of Cambridge pubs

Owen Kennedy 30 October 2008

The Bun Shop is among six pubs in Cambridge that have called last orders for the final time in recent weeks. A representative from the local branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) was quoted in the Cambridge Evening News as saying that the situation was the worst it had been for decades.

“It’s absolutely dire,” Paul Ainsworth, a CAMRA spokesman, was reported as saying. “I have been drinking in the city for 25 years and I’ve never seen so many closures or pubs looking for new licensees.

“It’s a national problem, but it seems particularly grim in Cambridge, where lots of them have been converted into restaurants. “

Besides The Bun Shop, the other pubs that have shut are The British Queen (on Histon Road), The Rose and Crown (Newmarket Road), the Barfly (Chesterton Road), The Duke of Argyle (Argyle Street), and, most recently, The Waterman, also on Chesterton Road.

The closures have also affected Cambridge’s music scene, as both The Waterman and the Barfly were well-known as live music venues. The Waterman’s Blues Jam nights have moved to the Haymakers on Tuesdays, and the Hopbine on Wednesdays, but it is unclear what will happen to the cancelled events at the Barfly.

In addition to these, a number of pubs – The Seven Stars, The Hat and Feathers, The Master Mariner and The Grapes – were also reported to be seeking new licensees. Their landlords are selling up as times get harder for the pub trade. A number of factors have been blamed for this, including the smoking ban, the credit crunch, rising beer prices and the relatively low price of alcohol in supermarkets.

With the exception of The Bun Shop, most of the pubs that have closed were not particular student favourites. But Jack Watson, a second year historian at Downing, told The Cambridge Student (TCS) that he would miss the Rose and Crown.

“I loved its grottiness. We went there for a birthday piss-up. It was karaoke night and we had a great laugh. It had a very relaxed atmosphere and I’ll be sad to see it go.”

Owen Kennedy