Shopping around Cambridge

This document reflects my personal preferences for shopping, and is not intended to be implicitly libellous about any I don't mention. That being said, there are a few lousy shops around...

The local government round here says things like ``we must encourage city centre trade'' but I don't think it's proper for government to promote trade with particular businesses (witness the scandals in which companies have bribed MPs to ask questions in Parliament for them) and so try to avoid the city centre shops. Don't be taken in by the ``helping local people'' claims -- the people helped by the city centre shops are the chain store magnates, and the pattern of claims about what helps local people suggests that ``local'' simply means ``non-university, non-high-tech-industry'' regardless of where the people come from. I particularly avoid Marks and Spencer, as they have a totally unnecessary ban on parking bikes in the alley leading up to their rear entrance (presumably to toady to the council who implemented the bike ban zone).

Also, the taxis have been making a nuisance of themselves, protesting about the release of more taxi licences (despite the fact that Cambridge keeps on getting busier) so I now recommend avoiding them.


Books and stationery
CB1 [32 Mill Road]
This is my brother's second-hand bookshop (and first-class cybercafé). See its home page for further details!
Heffers [Sidney Street (stationery), Trinity Street (books), King Street (art materials) and others]
This has long been the major booksellers and stationers in Cambridge. They do accounts, have a web entry, and you can email orders to them.
Staples [Mitchams Corner, Chesterton Road]
Discount office store with easy parking. Basic stuff, I prefer Heffers but Staples is easier to get to if I'm in the car.
Ironmongery, string, and other practical stuff
Simpers Ropeworks [Garlic Row (off Newmarket Road)]
This sells ironmongery, webbing, marquees, tarpaulins, work clothes, and, of course, rope (and string) of just about all sizes. Pretty much anything you can fold or tie, in fact.
Mackays [East Road]
General engineering shop, all sorts of tools and metal things, pulleys, paint, drills, nuts, bolts, trays, drawers and so on. Sheet metal seems expensive, but apparently it is everywhere. Still a family business; it really is run by Mr. Mackay. Web site:
Motor vehicles
See my Cambridgeshire Land Rover contacts page. There's also Discount Autoparts (off New Street, near Newmarket Road) which is more of the boy racer stuff place.
Howes Cycles [Regent Street]
I reckon this is the best of the local cycle shops, although a bit expensive compared with some.
Ben Haywards [Kings Parade]
This is also good, and stocks some more old-fashioned stuff than Howes, useful for doing up old or bizarre bikes.
Daily Bread [Kilmaine Close, Kings Hedges Road]
Ethical trading wholefood retail/wholesale warehouse with Traidcraft shop etc... good for dried things in particular, such as pasta and granola; also good for flour, olive oil, vinegar, fruit juice, mineral water, rice, etc etc!
Nasreen Dar [Histon Road]
Asian supermarket, open 'til 10pm. Wide range of stuff, both Asian and non-Asian. It's the kind of place where you find yourself asking the assistant ``Excuse me, do you sell extra-hot chili powder in quantities of less than 5kg?'' (they do! down to about 500g, I think).
Burwash Manor Farm Shops [just off New Road, Barton]
A complex of farm shops a couple of miles outside Cambridge, selling vegetables, furniture, toys, scones, carpets, ornaments, aromatherapy oils, educational software, and various other things.

Cafés, Restaurants and Pubs

I recommend Gareth McCaughan's collection of Cambridge Restaurant Reviews for further details of these. Much as I like the places I recommend here, I'm now rarely to be seen at some of them, because of the low-cholesterol diet that I've been put on.

CB1 [32 Mill Road]
This is my brother's first-class cybercafé (and second-hand bookshop). See its home page for further details!
CB2 [Norfolk Street]
This one is a cybercafé, restaurant and bookshop. It's brilliant. Home page:
Hot Pot [Chesterton Road]
This is the Chinese restaurant my Chinese friends recommend.
Maharajah [Castle Hill]
The food is OK, but last time I went, we had to wait for 45 minutes for a table (despite having booked) and then an hour for the food, and when we didn't pay the service charge, they were very unpleasant to us, although when I loudly and clearly stated why we weren't prepared to pay the service charge, in front of a lot of customers, the owner then waived the service charge. Oh yes, and when tidying the dishes away, they split some food on someone's jacket.
Curry Centre [Castle Hill]
This was my personal preference, but some of my student friends avoid it because the staff were unpleasant to them.
Kebab shops etc
Gardenia [Rose Crescent]
This is in a class of its own; I particularly recommend the Mixed Yiros.
Istanbul [East Road]
Conveniently open until 3 a.m.
Pubs for eating
The Bun Shop
Now run by the CB2 group, and doing similar, but pubbier, food.
Free Press [Prospect Row]
Cambridge's excellent non-smoking pub -- good food as well as beer.
Wrestlers Arms [Newmarket Road]
Good down-to-earth pub with excellent Thai food at pub prices.
Black Bull [Balsham -- out of town]
Excellent food, free house.
Royal Oak [Barrington -- out of town]
Excellent pub, good food (well-known for vegetarian curries), fair range of drinks, distinctive land-lady.
Queen's Head [Newton -- out of town]
Serves excellent soup and the best sandwiches around, carved out of solid chunks of bread, butter, beef, salmon and stilton.
Black Swan (The Swan?) [Fowlmere -- out of town]
Good food, excellent cheesecake, noisy ducks and geese in the yard.
Pubs for drinking
The Free Press [Prospect Row]
An excellent smoke-free pub, and therefore my favourite Cambridge pub.
Panton Arms [Panton Street]
A pleasant large pub, although not of very strong character.
Six Bells [Covent Garden]
This was ``The Internet Pub'' (although the terminal and the web page seem to have disappeared)... don't worry, it's still a real pub.
Old Spring [Chesterton Road]
Ordinary decent pub, although perhaps a bit smokier than most.
The Hoops [Barton -- out of town]
A country pub with a big garden in a pleasant setting near the village pond; also serves decent food.


I don't like the Parkside pool, too much chlorine; it's now been knocked down and a new one built. I don't know what the new one is like for chlorine.
Kelsey Kerridge gym [Gonville Place]
This is the municipal gymnasium. A bit pricey, but the equipment and services seem OK (in my limited experience).
John C. G. Sturdy
[John's home] Last modified: Sun Jun 10 22:10:59 GMT Daylight Time 2007