Monday, 15 June 2015

Pigs (Three Different Ones)

Flying Pig, Hills Road, Cambridge

Having been known as the Crown for most of its life (apart from one brief period when it was renamed the Engineer, presumably to attract custom from the workers at the nearby railway station), this 1830s-ish pub was renamed the Flying Pig in the late 1980s by the then proprietor – and amateur pilot – Mick the Pig.

Naturally a new name means new signage, which included this distinctive signboard.

By 2010, however, it was becoming rather weather-beaten and was in danger of becoming the ‘Fallen on Some Poor Soul’s Head Pig’, so it was removed and eventually, in April 2011, replaced by this eye-catching double-sided job, the work of Mr Penfold:

Here beer here? Hear, hear!

(Update: Well, wouldn't you just know it: as soon as I finally get round to blogging about this sign, it gets taken down because it's too heavy for the bracket. Replacement sign in due course: watch this space (or another one).)

Wednesday, 6 May 2015


This smallest estate pub on a rather sprawling mid-20th-century estate was probably just about my local when I was growing up. I can say without shame, though, that I’ve never been in, and as it remains real-ale-free, I can’t see myself doing so any time soon either.

The sign, though, I like: it has a certain Tenniel-like quality and charm, though so far as I’ve been able to discover it’s not by the man himself, but an anonymous piece of clipart.

As for the origin of the name, well, everything so far proposed strikes me as fanciful, claw-clutching nonsense so I won’t be acknowledging any of them even in passing.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Ringing the changes

A quick note about a couple of new bell-related signs.

First, Burwell. As is the case with most pubs with the word ‘bell’ in their name, the Five Bells stands close to the parish church, the stunning St Mary’s, which Pevsner describes as ‘[t]he most perfect example in the country of the Perp[endicular] ideal of the glasshouse’. And it did indeed have a peal of five bells from c.1709 to 1955, when three further trebles were added, so the pub is rightly named. It got a new sign over the summer.

On the left is the sign that graced the Five Bells until about August 2014. A fairly tradition motif, nicely arranged and executed. The new sign on the right, apparently designed by the current licensee, is anything but traditional, an inventive idea of nesting the bells Russian-doll style. I gather opinion in the village is mixed. I think it’s quite a clever idea, and it’s certainly eye-catching, but I can see why others might not like it much.
Back in Cambridge the Six Bells has also finally been visited by GK’s branding facelift pixies. The new sign, as of January 2015, is on the right, another traditional treatment like the old sign at Burwell, t bells arranged symmetrically and linked by a charming ribbon. Inoffensive, and it could have been a whole lot worse. But I have a soft spot for the more unusual sign it replaced, with shiny new bells sitting in he foundry. I hope it’s been kept safe.

As for the name, well, there isn’t a church, with bells or otherwise, anywhere near the place, nor was there when the pub first appeared in the 1830s, and at no time since, so this one’s a complete mystery. If anyone knows, do get in touch!