2 High Street The Pemberton Arms

John Roadley

In a commanding position

The Pemberton Arms was built about 1870 on the corner of Station Road and High Street on land belonging to Mr Long of Harston House who retained some interest in the inn until it was sold in the 1893 Harston Estate sale to Mr Warboys for £1150. The sales brochure description was

 ‘A highly valuable freehold property consisting of a full licensed public house containing tap room. bar, parlour, kitchen & cellar, 5 bedrooms, with stable,fowl house, paddock,& field of arable land containing in all 2 acres. The property is built of clay bats & slated and is in good state of repair. The boarded & tiled buildings are claimed by the tenant. It is situated in a commanding position for trade at the junction of the Cambridge, Newton & Haslingfield roads, within about 2 minutes walk of Harston Station on the Great Northern Railway. In the occupation of Mr Potts at the low rent of £30 a year’.

It was named after the Rev Jeremy Pemberton, a member of the well-known Pemberton family of Trumpington whose sons married into the families that held the manors of Harston and Newton.

It was very popular, having quoit beds where competition games were played with a number of Cambridge pubs, mostly on Saturday evenings. This, of course, was good for heavy drinking sessions which sometimes got out of hand and ultimately led to the sport being banned. The quoits beds were in part of what became the pub car park which, over time, has had allotments, chicken runs, stables and garages.

In Dec 1886 the Cambridge Independent Press reported that ‘William Bunn, licenced victualler at The Pemberton Arms was fined £2 with costs and a  licence endorsement for keeping the premises open during prohibited hours’. 

In 1907 August 16 and February 1908  the Cambridgeshire Independent Press reported that  ‘Arthur Read, publican of The Pemberton Arms was convicted of being drunk & disorderly, fined £2, and left the post soon afterwards’.

The 1913 licence renewal session description includes:

‘Mr Lyon applied on behalf of Messrs. Phillips of Royston; it is fully licensed and is tenanted by Owen Churchman, rateable vaue £27 15s, including 2 acres of land. The licence had been renewed 8 times during the past 12 years ( trade at the Pemberton Arms was 64 barrels in the past year).

The sanitary arrangements are about the best in the village. About a dozen carts can stand in the yard, which is the largest in Harston. People leave their horses there while they take the train, making it the most convenient in the village. There are allotments and a quoits ground, assets belonging to the premises. During the past 3 years, the premises have been overhauled, including the drains, and it is considered the second best house in Harston.’

Mr Pickering, who had preceded Mr Churchman, had left because of poor health, and the previous 2 tenants had left to run other businesses’.

Newspaper reports in 1919 showed besides providing food and accommodation people were enterprising in using the premises for other businesses and activities: ‘Mr W Ives, who has opened a hairdressing business at The Pemberton Arms, will receive orders for ‘The Press & News’ and  ‘There was another (5th) meeting of the Comrades of the Great War at their Pemberton Arms headquarters, thanks were expressed to Mr A Gentle & Mrs Grace Jude for entertaining the Comrades’.

In 1928 Joseph Lawrance sold for £50 a triangular plot of land adjacent to the Pem to the owners J & JE Philips Ltd which enabled them to build the extension which can be seen today on the left of the pub. He also received a plot of land to the rear of the pub which became part of the garden of Forge Cottage (No4 High Street). This plot was later to become part of No 2a High Street.

During 1980-1997 while  June & Gerry Cooke ran the pub they demolished the garages in the car park near road and built those further back.

The Pem closed its doors for the last time in 2015. In December 2015, South Cambridgeshire District Council established the Pem as an Asset of Community Value.

We have complied this incomplete list of landlords and approximate dates. Can you amend/add to it?

Pemberton Arms’ landlords

1871-75       Luke Jackson                        1970s     Chrissie & Brian Dunne

1881-86       William Bunn                        1975        J Lambley

1888-1900   William Adams                     1979        Jean & Terry Tappin

1900             John Barratt                         1979-80   Bernard & Joy Prescott

1901-04      William Crabb                       1980-97   June & Gerry Cooke

1907-08     Arthur Henry Read               1998         Noel Gibney

1908           John Hicks                              2000        Martin Sellick

1911          Alfred Dixon                           2005        Mark Baker

1912          Mr Pickering                           2007       Ronald Sharp

1912-13    Owen Churchman                  2008       Kay Louise Wheeler

1916          Alfred Ashby                           2008       Katherine Ashworth

1917-25    Charles G Webb                      2009     James Allen

1929-37  George Harvey Nicholls           2011        Christophe Oyevaar & Amelie Grappe

1947        Lily Nicholls                                2015        Closed

1948        Maurice F E Berger

This page was added on 16/10/2015.

Comments about this page

  • My mother always maintains that it has a ghost or two. When she lived there as the daughter of the owner in the 1950s – 60s, she said that after closing she could often see an old man supping a pint out of the corner of her eye, but when she turned there was no one there. There was also a strange coldness around the cellar entrance and the dogs refused to go down there. Not as exciting as the Queen’s Head but it makes you think.

    By Bond (02/02/2017)
  • My great grandfather was Owen Churchman, the landlord in 1912. I would be grateful to receive any information anybody has about his tenure as the family has only just discovered this part of his life story.

    By Ian McIvor (11/10/2016)

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