Soham Pubs and Brewery

Phil Chaplin

Most of the town’s ale houses still stand, but as private homes. The depression of the 1920’s saw many of them close their doors for good. Successive brewery amalgamations have seen a further thinning out over the years and only seven had lasted to 1975. Four were owned by Watney Mann, four by Greene King. The longest serving landlord was Phil Chaplin of the Station Hotel. He was the licensee of the Sportsman and later the Station for well over 23 years. Phil had stated that; ‘Soham never had 40 pubs. Many were simply ‘alehouses’ where townspeople could buy a glass of beer. To sell spirits you needed an additional sanction from the local licensing magistrates.’

The Crown went in 1967, The Tiger in 1979. Most closures were made by Steward & Patteson and their successors, Watney Mann. Greene Kings Hop Vine, along Clay Street, is now a dental practice, the Angel a private home but the Fountain, Cherry Tree, Ship, Carpenters Arms and Red Lion are still trading.

Soham’s Own Brewery

Soham’s own brewery closed through competition in the late 1920’s.
The Red Lion
Owned by Treadway and Percy, it supplied many houses in the town as well as outlying villages. The pubs were taken over by A B Hall and Sons of Ely, who in turn merged in May 1931 with another Ely Brewery firm – Cutlack and Harlock.

Further mergers in October 1950 and East Anglian Breweries came into being. One of the earliest price lists from the firm was on display at the Station Hotel. Draught mild was 1s 1d, bitter 1s 3d and stout 1s 3d. In decimal terms, that’s little over 5p for a pint.

Bottled beers, still a rarity even after the war was a little more expensive.

  • Pale or brown was 1s 6d, and stout 1s 7d.
  • Strong ale was 1s 3d. Strong ale was 1s 3d a half pint.

No fancy names, straight beer in straight bottles.

The ShipThe late 1950’s brought perhaps the most memorable name to the lips of Soham’s drinkers – Steward and Patteson.

This much mourned firm dominated the scene until February 1967, when the present owners, Watney Mann, came on the scene. Their beer was almost exclusively supplied from Norwich.

Three pubs managed to avoid the onslaught of the beer barons. They were owned by Wells and Winch of Biggleswade until being taken over by Greene King of Bury St Edmunds in 1961.

Odd man out was always The Cherry Tree on Fordham Road. Burnt down after the war it was completely rebuilt and owned by Hudsons of Pampisford until 1931 before being brought by Wells and Winch and finally Greene King.Map of Pub Locations


  • 1 Windmill
  • 2 Traveller’s Rest
  • 3 The Hoops
  • 4 Fox in the Wood
  • 5 Jolly Farmers
  • 6 The Tiger
  • 7 The Holmes
  • 8 Jolly Farmer’s
  • 9 Plough
  • 10 New House
  • 11 Globe
  • 12 King’s Head
  • 13 Yew Tree
  • 14 Bushel & Strike
  • 15 Black Horse
  • 16 Boat House
  • 17 Ten Bells
  • 18 Garner’s Arms
  • 19 Angel
  • 20 Station
  • 21 Saracen’s Head
  • 22 Fountain
  • 23 Jolly Gardener’s
  • 24 Crown Hotel
  • 25 Horse & Groom
  • 26 Crown Tap
  • 27 Sportsman (Dog & Gun)
  • 28 Elder Bush
  • 29 White Hart
  • 30 St George & Dragon
  • 31 Hop Vine
  • 32 Red Lion
  • 33 Queen’s Arms
  • 34 The Ship
  • 35 Carpenter’s Arms
  • 36 Cherry Tree
  • 37 Waggon and Horse
  • 38 Bull
  • 39 Anchor

Inns and Alehouses

Alewives were recorded in the late 14th century, when the Duchy manor court supervised 6-10 of them. Taverns were recorded c.1640. The village’s alehouses then included the Bull, certainly an inn in the 1630s, and the Lion, which stood in 1656 on the high street near the ends of the lanes named after them, while the Bear was recorded 1628 × 1656 and the George mentioned in 1637. One public house recorded from the 1610s bearing the sign of the Lion, by 1787 known as the White Lion and renamed 1823 × 1835 the Fountain, occupied a house opposite the churchyard. After its front part was destroyed by fire in 1900, it was mostly rebuilt in red brick with prominent gables, but part of its timber-framed, 16thcentury rear wing survived.

There were several other inns on the high street. The Crown, perhaps open by 1701 and well equipped to take guests in 1816, closed in 1967. The White Hart, recorded from the 1790s, occupied until its closure c.1945 a timber-framed 16th-century house, containing an original hall range with a crownpost roof, into which a floor was inserted c.1600; a rear wing was added c.1630. The plastered front was remodelled in the 19th century and again after closure when it was converted into two shops. The Red Lion, mentioned in 1677, still occupied in the 1990s a thatched house, fivebayed and one-storeyed with dormers, standing north of the square named after it from the 1850s. Those four long remained the village’s principal inns: auctions were held at them from the late 18th century, and all four were open into the 20th century. Outside the village were the Cherry Tree, opened by 1845, off the Fordham road southwards beyond Mill Croft, and the Tiger beyond North field, opened by 1820 and closed in 1970. Both were usually run with adjoining farms.

From the mid 19th century the parish had almost forty public houses and beerhouses; two, including the Crown, styled themselves hotels from the 1880s. Three quarters were in the village. Others stood out in the fen or on the roads towards it. From the 1880s Soham had a substantial brewery, opened off Paddock Street by the Cutlacks and owned and worked from the 1890s to c.1925 by their successors, Treadway and Percy, who also sold wine and spirits from a shop on Churchgate Street. Their former brewhouse remained in use, following takeovers by outside breweries, into the 1930s. It still stood, disused, off the east end of Brewhouse Lane in 1997. In the late 1930s there were still twelve public houses on the village streets and lanes. Among nine others on its outskirts and elsewhere in the parish were two at the Shade, one at the Cotes, and two more in the fen. By 1976, two having closed since 1967, only four were open in the village centre with two near the former station. The few still open in the 1990s included the Bushel and Strike, recorded by 1841, at the south end of Hall Street, occupying an early 18th-century house with pilaster strips. Of five public houses outside the village in 1976, the largest was the Cherry Tree, rebuilt after a fire in 1946 as a redbrick roadhouse.

Additional Text Taken From The British History Website