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.


  1. Seems this is the old one....

  2. Curious as to how much you would expect that to go for?