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Cambridge’s smallest pub The Rad reopens after four years

The St Radegund pub on King Street, Cambridge – the city’s smallest pub – reopened this week following a four-year renovation.

Now known as ‘The Rad’, the taproom will be primarily beer-focused, with 25 taps offering an extensive range.

Ben Harradine, general manager at The Rad. Picture: Keith Heppell
Ben Harradine, general manager at The Rad. Picture: Keith Heppell

Visitors are promised everything from hoppy hazy IPAs and imperial stouts to cask ales and fruited sour beers.

The focus will be on independence and quality, and some of the best local breweries – as well as those from around the UK and further afield – will be represented.

The establishment will also be serving wines, ciders, cocktails and spirits, as well as non-alcoholic beers and soft drinks.

Food-wise, it will mainly be bar snacks, as there isn’t really room for a kitchen, but the team is hoping to pair up with some local food vendors to see about the possibility of food being brought into the pub.

Heading up the day-to-day management of the taproom will be Ben Harradine, who is a familiar face within the beer scene, having brewed at some of London’s top breweries.

He also previously managed a craft beer taproom in St Ives and joined the team at The Rad last summer.

Ahead of the opening, he noted that there was “a lot of excitement, a lot of buzz”, both from previous regulars and new customers.

“I think everyone’s interested just to see how it now looks and what we’re all about,” he told the Cambridge Independent, “and there’ll be a lot of new people because we’re focusing a lot more on the craft beer scene – so there’ll be a lot more people coming for the more modern-style beers as well.”

The Rad on King Street. Picture: Keith Heppell
The Rad on King Street. Picture: Keith Heppell

On the arduous renovation process, which took longer than originally thought, Ben said: “It’s been four years of building.

“Because it’s got a lot of history, this pub, it had a lot of rotten joists, rotten floorboards and the ceilings – everything had to be replaced.

“We kind of started from the ground up again with it – it was a lot more work than the guys that started building it thought would have to be done.

“They found things like there were no support beams in the ceilings, so they had to put them in – the pub was just being held up by pure luck at the time.

“There wasn’t any previous waterproofing, and obviously beer has been spilt in the pub for 100 years and it’s got to the wood and rotted it slowly.

“I don’t think they [the team behind it] pictured it being anywhere near this long; they basically purchased the pub just before Covid, so as soon as they signed the paperwork Covid happened.

“Obviously no building work happened for quite some time, and then even after Covid there was a shortage of building supplies and builders to come and do certain parts of it, like plastering and things like that.

“So I think they thought they’d have it done in quite quick time, but obviously all these things got thrown in the way.”

The building has had many forms over the years and its history is written into the fabric of the place, as the team discovered during the extensive renovation process.

Square head nails and cigarette boxes from the 17th and 18th centuries were found under the floorboards and behind the plasterboard walls.

There were also rusted stoves and bells used by people to call from rooms when it was the Garrick Head Inn, demolished in the early 1900s.

Ben Harradine, general manager at The Rad. Picture: Keith Heppell
Ben Harradine, general manager at The Rad. Picture: Keith Heppell

And there are plenty of events planned at the tiny pub. Ben intends to open the cellar event space later on in the year.

Look out for ‘meet the brewers’ events and guided tastings, along with quizzes and gigs. Find out more at facebook.com/TheRadCB1/.

The Rad held a soft launch on Wednesday (6 March) and opened to the public the following day.

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