Features

A pint at the local #16 The Plough, Cuffley

Written by Les Middlewood

Today’s Plough on Plough Hill, Cuffley is a modern McMullen food-led pub, a little outside the village centre, on the road leading north-west towards Brookmans Park. The pub (if not the current building) is a survivor from pre-local railway days though has grown to serve the community as it has grown into a large commuter village.

A new cottage built in 1836 opposite what was then Hill Farm was licensed in 1842 as a beerhouse when it was bought by Thomas Chatteris of Waltham Abbey, an Essex brewer.

Waltham Abbey Brewery was taken over in 1877 by George H. Lee – who amalgamated with McMullen’s of Hertford in 1898. With this came Lee’s tied estate of pubs including, by this time, the Plough. Brewing at Waltham Abbey stopped in 1906 with all beers subsequently being supplied from Mac’s expanding brewing operation in Hertford.

Cuffley Station opened in 1910 as the Hertford loop line was constructed and Cuffley was to change evermore from an agriculturally based community into a commuter village growing quickly to its current size of over 4,000 souls. Cuffley’s only other pub, the Railway Tavern (later called the Cuffley) was built to serve the station but closed in 2007.

In September 1916 Lieutenant Leefe Robinson became the first pilot to successfully shoot down a German airship, using incendiary bullets that had been specifically designed for the task. He was awarded the VC for his action. The SL-11 airship crashed into a field behind the Plough killing all the crew. In the days after Londoners travelled to Cuffley to collect relics and remnant souvenirs from the wreckage which were scattered over a wide area. The pub sold out of beer and food. The Inquest that followed the crash was held at the pub.

With the arrival of the railway and the village now quickly expanding, the old pub (pictured above left) was demolished in 1923, Mac’s building its replacement to the familiar adopted company style of pre-WWII architecture (above right and left). The two-bar pub became a popular stop for weekend motorists from north London. By 1978 it had been knocked through into one bar. A handpump had also arrived for the dispense of Country Bitter though it wasn’t until the 1990’s that AK joined it – previously only the top-pressure version being available. Briefly Mac’s Gladstone Bitter was a pub favourite as too were Mac’s emerging seasonal Special Reserve draught ales.

The Plough was significantly modernised in 2011 now with a contemporary interior featuring a split between restaurant area (to the left) and drinking areas (mainly on the right). It is open all day from 11am (12 noon on Sundays) serving a range of McMullen’s cask ales and a Mac’s ‘chicken n’grill’ style menu – spot the rotisserie which can be viewed from the bar. Manager, Donna Townsend says “We have regular customers and drinkers from the village and from all over. We like to provide a welcoming and relaxed dining experience for all our customers and a friendly environment for our regular drinkers. We stock AK, Country and the monthly Mac’s/Rivertown cask ale.” There are weekend music nights at the end of each month and pleasant outside drinking areas to the side and rear.

The pub is a seven-minute walk from Cuffley Station (links to Hertford going north and south to Enfield, Finsbury Park and Moorgate). The 242 Potters Bar to Waltham Cross bus service (Mon-Sat) stops at the shops in the village – a three-minute walk away – and the infrequent 308 service occasionally meanders from Hertford stopping outside the pub.

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