Wetherspoons – Cambridgeshire

As I bored everyone with here, my travel has meant that I’ve managed to visit a lot of JD Wetherspoons over the years. So in an attempt to remember them all, I’ve decided to try and write about them. As explained elsewhere, other perfectly good pubs are also available and of course should be visited   🙂

There are nine JD Wetherspoon outlets in Cambridgeshire, and one which has closed. I’ve visited seven of the nine open pubs and the only closed one.

Figures: (which are more for me than to interest anyone else):

Number visited : 7/9 (open pubs) 1/1 (closed pubs)

Favourite pub in county : Sandford House

College Arms (Peterborough) – The older looking red-brick section of this pub was formerly the County Technology College, hence the name of College Arms. Wetherspoons opened the building as a pub in 1996, making it one of the earlier pubs which the chain opened outside of London. I’ve encountered some of the friendliest of Wetherspoon’s staff in this pub and the environment is comfortable, with a usually quiet small upstairs section.

Although I like the pub, the reviews aren’t particularly positive and they’ve suffered from the same debacle of poor quality 2019 Christmas meals that is littering the reviews of Wetherspoons across the country…. Not least:

“Went to the Collage Arms today for a Christmas lunch ,the meal was very poor quality, they forgot to put the pigs in blankets and peas on the plate and had to take the meal away to add the forgotten items. The roasted seasonal veg were clearly reheated in the very thick salty gravy and not like roasted veg and hidden under the very processed Turkey roll, mashed potatoes had clearly been over microwaved and the pigs in blankets cremated in a deep fat fryer.”

What completely surprises me is that there’s also a positive review of the same meal, so at least someone is happy with it somewhere in the country….

This review of the pub though seems just a little harsh….

“Smells of death and sick. Smells of men’s broken dreams drowning in tequila and death, with a side of sick. Gone to turtle bay.”

Draper’s Arms (Peterborough) – I can’t wait to come back here for another exciting night of quizzing…. What I hadn’t realised on my visit a few weeks ago is that the pub was about to close until February 2020 for a £1.4 million refurbishment which will increase the space available to customers by moving the beer cellar into, well, a cellar rather than being on the ground floor and adding a rear extension. There’s also going to be a new roof terrace garden and hopefully they’ll fix up the toilets which are currently too small and just a little rickety and worn. CAMRA report that this was the first pub in Peterborough to go smoking-free, all the way back when Wetherspoons took it over in 2005, and after it was a drapery (hence the pub name) it became the Old Monk pub in 1996.

George Hotel (Whittlesey) – It’s a while since I’ve been to the fine town of Whittlesey, it dates back to the late seventeenth century when it was named the George & Star. Formerly a hotel, although no longer, it’s a large venue with plenty of space.

I’ve heard this complaint a few times over the years:

“I don’t understand how I can have fried egg but i cannot have poached egg?? He said we have run out??? Do you realise how easy it is to make one?”

I don’t dislike that Wetherspoons bring in poached eggs which are just reheated, at least it leads to them nearly always looking the same and being appropriately cooked.

Anyway, that’s about as far as I can go about the George, primarily since it’s so long ago that I’ve visited, I can’t remember much about it…

Hippodrome (March) – I recognise that Wetherspoons is, by its nature, a generic chain in some ways, but they have a real ability to transform buildings and this is no exception. Formerly a cinema which opened in 1929 and could seat 900 people, it later became a bingo hall before finally closing in 2009. Wetherspoons reopened it in 2011 and also turned part of it into a hotel, with the whole refurbishment being sympathetic to the building itself. It’s a very well reviewed pub and I remember it being clean and organised, with particularly engaging staff.

I like reviews like the one below, as often this is my sort of pub….

“Shame they haven’t got a music license as it can become abit boring and the atmosphere in there well is rubbish!”

This is the entirety of a 1 out of 5 review, I hope it made more sense to the pub…

“Thursday curry John chicken balti Michael lamb durriage it cold we had 2 sweets its cold custery cold. i stroke sorry”

Regal (Cambridge) – This was apparently once the largest pub in UK, although I’ve never been entirely convinced by that, although it’s a bit irrelevant now the Wetherspoons in Ramsgate has opened. It’s spacious, although it’s still not always that easy to find a seat in. There are two bars which makes things easier, although I keep forgetting that the upper bar is there and stand like an idiot waiting at the lower bar.

Anyway, onto TripAdvisor:

“My partner and I went to one of the bodyguards to ask where we can leave our jackets to which he impolitely answered ‘no where’. My partner then answered that it’s crazy they don’t have a clock room open in such a big place so we were kicked out of the bar.”

I like the idea of Wetherspoons supplying bodyguards, and I’m also intrigued as to whether any of their outlets in the country has a cloakroom…

And, the review below probably has a really interesting back story, shame the pub didn’t reply to the customer’s comments as I like reading about dramas such as this.

“Was sitting with a good friend of mine, enjoying our time, some food and all, at one point the friend goes to toilet. Upon coming out the toilet he is met by Theo, a Duty Manager who accuses my friend of doing ‘naughty things’ in the toilet and that he needs to leave. Keep in mind that the friend is smartly dressed, and a lecturer at one of the universities here, in his 30s. Very rudely tells me to ‘shut up’, and tells us that someone reported he’s been doing… ‘cockaine’! Friend offered to be searched by said Theo, upon inspection finding NOTHIN”

Given the number of students in Cambridge, I’m surprised there aren’t once again two Wetherspoons in the city, but maybe in the future…..

Sandford House (Huntingdon) – This is my favourite pub in the county and is another really well converted building, half from a former chapel and the other half from solicitor’s officers, with a new connecting area between them. A combination of modern design with old buildings, it’s open and bright with plenty of space for customers. There’s also a hotel element to the operation and it has a more relaxed feel than some other pubs, with the manager saying on one review that “Since opening, no one has ever failed to find a table”.

I also like the pub’s review to one customer and their side of the argument seems more likely to me….

“On looking into this matter, I can say there are always two sides to a conversation. Our managers and staff always try to give perfect customer service. You may not always like the outcome but we all follow our company policies.”

Swan & Angels (St. Ives) – Never been here…..

[Closed] Tivoli (Cambridge) – This pub, formerly the Graduate, was once a cinema which was open from 1925 until 1956, before being used as a warehouse. It was turned into a pub in 1995, the Fresher & Firkin (what a horrible name) before Wetherspoons transformed it into one of their outlets in 2010 at a cost of over £1 million. Then a little incident happened and the damn thing burned down in March 2015, less than five years after it opened. And, it has never re-opened since. Wetherspoons have now sold the still fire damaged pub and plans were submitted in early 2019 to open it as a student orientated pub with crazy golf. A shame that it hasn’t survived as a Wetherspoons, but hopefully the new owners will ensure what is left of the art deco design can be maintained.

Weeping Ash (St. Neots) – Never been here…..

Wheatsheaf (Wisbech) – Not the most visually appealing either internally or externally, but entirely acceptable in terms of the food and drink. Since I’ve written about this pub recently, I’ll just link to that page  🙂