Cambridgeshire's The Cock in Hemingford Grey named Pub of the Year

  • The Cock in Hemingford Grey, Cambridgeshire has won the top accolade
  • The 2013 Good Pub Guide finds Staffordshire has the best value pint at £2.56
  • Pubs are opening earlier, selling coffee and offering cooking classes to cope with recession

By
Emily Allen

02:26 EST, 4 September 2012


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08:06 EST, 4 September 2012

A pub once dubbed a ‘smokey local boozer’ has become the best pub in Britain, turning itself around in just 11 years.

The Cock in Hemingford Grey, Cambridgeshire, has bagged the top spot in the 2013 Good Pub Guide after receiving hundreds of good reviews from regulars.

The guide praised the traditional pub and its top restaurant, saying: ‘Getting rave reviews from our army of reader-reporters, the Cock offers the best for all its customers.

The team outside the pub from left owners Oliver Thain and Richard Bradley, chef Jamie Burton, bar staff Elizabeth Hall, chef Barry Greenshields and general manager Tim Prior

Team
work: The team outside the pub, from left owners Oliver Thain and
Richard Bradley, chef Jamie Burton, bar staff member Elizabeth Hall,
chef Barry Greenshields and general manager Tim Prior

‘This well-run, pretty pub is just
the sort of place that pub-lovers return to again and again as it
cleverly manages to appeal to both drinkers and diners.’

Oliver
Thain, 40, the Cock’s
co-licensee with chef Richard Bradley, 42, described the pub as a
‘smokey local village boozer’ when the pair took it over in 2001.

He
said: ‘It was just that. I’m not saying it was poor, it was just the
sort of pub that needed investment and it was the only pub in the
village.

‘You
literally walked in and it was filled with smoke. But we’ve kept the
local pub, we’ve kept the restaurant separate and we don’t do any food
in the pub so it keeps that local pub feel.’

Father-of-three Mr Thain said the pub’s ‘warm welcome’ was its biggest asset.

General Manager Tim Prior with bar staff Elizabeth Hall behind the bar with the award

Proud: General Manager of The Cock at Hemingford Grey, Cambridgeshire, Tim Prior with bar staff member Elizabeth Hall behind the bar with the Good Pub Guide’s Best Pub 2013 award

The Cock in Hemmingford Grey in Cambridgeshire

Warm
welcome: The owners Oliver and Richard say the pub’s warm welcome is
its best asset as well as its customer service and knowledge of the food

He said: ‘People often say it is like walking
into a second home.’

Former area manager for Scottish and Newcastle pub company Mr Thain jumped at the chance to snap up the pub when it came on the market, and knew the area well after growing up nearby.

He decided to team up with Mr
Bradley, also a father-of-three, who was working as head-chef at the
Anchor at Sutton Gault, Cambridgeshire at the time, after meeting him at a
wedding. 

The pair now have five pubs and a catering company to their name – although they describe The Cock as their ‘baby’.

Mr
Thain said: ‘It’s a lovely village, right on the banks of the River
Great Ouse. It’s quite well to do, but there’s a good mixture of
housing. We were pretty busy from day one, I think it was needed in the
village.

GV of the pub and Reatsurant interior

Number one: The Cock in Hemingford Grey, Cambridgeshire has bagged the top spot in the 2013 Good Pub Guide after receiving rave reviews from customers. Just eleven years ago it used to be a ‘smokey boozer’

GV of the pub

Local produce on offer in the pub

Local produce is on offer in the pub, including potatoes and olives. The Good Pub Guide lists 4,700 pubs, including more than 250 new entries despite years of closures

GV of the pub

Popular: The pub (beer garden pictured) and restaurant are separate at The Cock and the most popular dish is the duck parcel starter which as been on the menu for 11 year

‘Our most popular dish is our duck parcel starter, it’s been on the menu since the first year and if we take it off people get a bit upset.’

Chase at Upper Colwall, Herefordshire, was named Best Newcomer of the Year, which was praised for its ‘gorgeous sunset views, good drinks and cost-conscious food’.

BRITAIN’S TOP LOCALS

The Good Pub Guide

1. The Cock, Hemingford Grey, Cambridgeshire

2. Masons Arms, Cartmell Fell, Cumbria

3. Watermill Inn, Ings, Cumbria

4. Merry Harriers, Clayhidon, Devon

5. King’s Head, Bledington, Gloucestershire

6. Oliver Branch, Clipsham, Rutland

7. Crown, Southwold, Suffolk

8. Running Horses, Mickleham, Surrey

9. Potting Shed, Crudwell, Wiltshire

10. Blue Lion, East Witton, North Yorkshire

The Fat Cat in Norwich won the Beer Pub of the Year accolade, with reviewers describing a visit to the pub as ‘a bit like coming to a private beer festival.’

Outside Loo of the Year award – introduced for the first time this year – went to the Tram Inn at Eardisley, Herefordshire.

The prestigious Good Pub Guide lists 4,700
pubs, including more than 250 new entries despite years of closures amid
the increasing price of a pint.

Researchers found that pub landlords are more upbeat about their prospects as increasing numbers of people go to their local rather than a restaurant for a meal, according to a new report.

It said there were clear signs of a turn-around.

Co-editor Fiona Stapley said: ‘Most strikingly, the mood among publicans themselves is changing.

‘Although it is extremely hard work, for the first time in over 10 years most landlords and landladies have been more upbeat.

‘People are choosing to spend
weekends away in country pubs and customers like to eat out in pubs as
opposed to restaurants because the atmosphere is more informal – and the
food is just as good, if not better.’

Guide authors said that in England,
the North/South divide is stark, with the price of a pint of beer in
Surrey and London around £3.50, but in the Midlands and the North, pints
average under £3.

Staffordshire had the best value pint, where pubs charge an average of £2.56.

The Fat Cat in Norwich

Watering hole: The Fat Cat in Norwich won the Beer Pub
of the Year accolade, with reviewers describing it as ‘a
bit like coming to a private beer festival’

In addition, researchers said they had received fewer complaints from readers about service and more and more pubs were welcoming dogs.

Many pubs have been looking at new ways to draw in customers during the recession, including opening earlier, with more serving morning coffee and even breakfasts.

A handful of pubs have turned their hand to serving other goods, including jams, chutneys and sometimes bread.

The guide said: ‘Other pubs are branching out in different ways’ a new venture is the pub cooking class or demonstration letting pub chefs show their fined honed skills, and pubs are starting to make something of a specialty of their cream teas.’

The comments below have not been moderated.

Worked with Tim for years at the bridge and Pheasant in the area. Top guy and deserves all the accolades.

Mikey
,

Hunstanton,
04/9/2012 17:14

smokey boozers rule

its me
,

nannystone, United Kingdom,
04/9/2012 16:55

Hemmingford Grey is a lovely area too with it’s waterways, great for a family day out and what could be better than a pub lunch.

she
,

somewhere,
04/9/2012 16:50

Don’t like to look of it. All laminate flooring and posh lighting. A bit like an Ikea display. A lot of pubs look like this, no character at all.
I’ve been to a lot of pubs. I would highly recommend The Hole In The Wall in Torquay.

Roy
,

Melcheter,
04/9/2012 16:49

Looks too geriatric…

paevo
,

USA, United States,
04/9/2012 16:04

what is wrong with a “smokey boozer” ? they are better than these noncy gastro pubs that charge £5 per pint and a quid for a bag of “organic” crisps

– cornholio , stalbans, 04/9/2012 13:47

^^ Spot on! And this place is exactly that. I live a couple of miles away and went there once. Full of pretentious idiots.

jim
,

huntingdon,
04/9/2012 15:39

what is wrong with a “smokey boozer” ? they are better than these noncy gastro pubs that charge £5 per pint and a quid for a bag of “organic” crisps

cornholio
,

stalbans,
04/9/2012 13:47

Just 11 years!?! I could be Prime bloody Minister in less than 11 years!!

LauraMD
,

Halifax,
04/9/2012 11:54

I will have a drink in the Fat Cat next time I’m in Norwich.

Glasgow Kiss
,

Glasgow,
04/9/2012 11:28

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