Thursday, 18 July 2013

A tree with a view

A reminder that those lovely people at Greene King did once know what a proper pub signboard should be like. (That is, not like this cheap-looking tat.) Unfortunately, the pub itself, and therefore even more so the signboard, is under threat, GK having put it on the market freehold. Let’s hope the locals are able to rally round and save it.

As for the sign, I have no idea whether the artist had a particular view or scene in mind, although one of the chaps sat outside the pub when I took the picture suggested that the background looked a bit like the view from Lose Hill to Mam Tor in Derbyshire. There is a certainly a slight similarity, but I’d have thought that the tree – and the boy climbing it – would be somewhat out of place in that landscape.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

What the blazes?!?!?

The Rock (Hotel), Cherry Hinton Road, Cambridge

Yet another makeover for the Rock.

This cheap-looking identikit piece of tat is, it would seem, the delightful new branding for GK’s ‘family friendly pub concept [sic], Flame Grill’. Sounds ghastly . . . A rich heritage of decorative and individual pub signboards cast aside in the interests of The Brand (and a crap one, at that).

OK, the previous signage at the Rock wasn’t much cop to start with, but the same fate is threatened for the Green Dragon, Chesterton, which would be a thoroughly unforgivable piece of cultural vandalism. Watch this space.

Uninspiring, insipid, bland, characterless . . . as a Camra colleague put it: ‘If I saw a pub sign like the one at the Rock I'd assume it was a temporary one until they got a decent one done.’


Wednesday, 6 February 2013


The Alexandra Arms, Gwydir Street, Cambridge

Reopened on 30 November 2012 after a rather fine refurbishment, including, of course, a spanking new signboard. Recently its name had been abbreviated – rather discourteously in my view – to The Alex, but now its full name has been officially restored: the Alexandra Arms. Arms.
That’s ARMS. As in ‘coat of’.
As were depicted in the previous sign, which was one of Greene King’s finer efforts.
The new sign, however, looks like this:
That’ll be a sort of portrait, then. Not a coat of arms. Nor even her actual arms. At all. This seems odd to me.
That said, I like this sign a lot, because it is unusual: I can’t think of any other pub signboards based on postage stamps except the odd one using a Penny Black for Queen Victoria. But this is even more unusual because British stamps during Alexandra’s lifetime bore only the image of the reigning Sovereign, so you wouldn’t expect to find a picture of her on a stamp at all.
Elsewhere in the Empire they were not so fastidious, and this image is taken from a 10c stamp from the Dominion of Newfoundland,[1] issued in 1911 to commemorate the coronation of her son, George V. The portrait used for the engraving seems to be derived from this photograph, the inversion and simplification presumably being introduced during the engraving process. Note the very high collar, reportedly worn to conceal a scar from a childhood injury. This, of course, became instantly fashionable – the ‘Diana haircut’ of its day.
So, it’s a good signboard, even if not heraldic. I hope the old one didn’t end up in a skip.
[1] Specifically, judging by the tears on the perforations, this very one – yep, it’s another of those ‘found it on the Internet’ images.