Back in the late 1980s, Suffolk brewery Earl Soham took over the derelict stable block of the long-defunct Cambridge Street Tramways depot, renovated it, and turned it into a pub. What an excellent way of giving new life to neglected part of Cambridge’s heritage! (In these less enlightened times a quarter of a century later the site would probably be cleared and a monstrously insensitive and incongruous seven-storey office block would spring up in its place.) Although sadly no longer an Earl Soham house (it was taken over a few years later by Everards), the pub still has an attractive sign, appropriately featuring a horse-drawn tram, whose design has survived at least one replacement.
|Tram Depot: previous sign|
|Tram Depot: current (2014) sign|
But. (Yes, there’s always a ‘but’.)
Is it a Cambridge tram?
Well, unfortunately, no, it isn’t. There are several clues, not least the leafy rural setting, which bears no resemblance to any part of the actual tramway. This I can put down to artistic licence and not think too much more about it, but some other inaccuracies are less easy to brush aside:
- Cambridge Street Tramways livery was red and cream, not this sort of coffee-and-cream affair.
- The tram car depicted here is being drawn by two horses. This was true of the competing omnibuses of the time, but aside from a brief experiment in the late 1880s, in response to widespread concerns about the welfare of the horses, all CST trams were drawn by a single horse.
- CST tram no. 5 was a single decker.
So, a commendable effort in the true spirit of what a painted pub sign should be like, but as is so often the case, the execution is let down by an absence of research.
Leslie Oppitz, Tramways Remembered: East Anglia, East Midlands and Lincolnshire. Newbury: Countryside Books, 1992.