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The Cambridge pub that keeps changing colour and the antics of its wacky landlord

It's tucked away along Thoday Street, off of Mill Road, but it is a pub that is very loud – in ..

By admin , in Cambridge , at May 7, 2018

It's tucked away along Thoday Street, off of Mill Road, but it is a pub that is very loud – in colour.

Dave Utting is the landlord of The Empress and just loves to add a splash of colour onto his pub to mark special occassions.

He has also got up to a few wacky antics over the years.

Dave said: "It's been fun painting the pub over the years and at the moment it is red but I will be painting it for this summer's World Cup so you'll have to wait and see what I do this time."

So ahead of it's latest makeover, we decided to take you through some of the pub's most colourful moments…

Seeing red

Dave splashed out at least £10,000 to turn his pub into a Christmas wonderland in December.

He decked the halls of the pub with lashings of tinsel, lights and decorations.

It took a total of six weeks and several of Santas helpers to do it.

And he even painted the front of the pub bright red to give punters an extra festive feeling.

Dave has a loft full of decorations which he adds to every year.

It takes weeks for him and his employees to decorate even a single room, and they could be working all through the day.

Mr Utting said: “We painted the front of the pub red and have had hundreds of people go by admiring it with just a couple of old blokes moaning humbug.

“And the inside of the pub looks beautiful although my regulars think I am absolutely crazy."

Happy with blue

Dave Utting and Enas Utting painted the pub blue in honour of the birth of their son Winston Utting

In 2012 the pub turned blue after Dave became the proud father to a baby boy.

Winston was born at the Rosie Maternity Hospital.

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The landlord named his baby after a regular customer and friend who died of cancer.

The baby was named after a customer

Of the pubs paint job, he said at the time: “I swore that I would paint it pink if it was a girl and blue for a boy. It is now a brilliant bright blue with orange and stands out like a sore thumb. I have been getting punters saying they knew I must have had a boy.

“I also said after my friend Winston died that I would name my son after him.”

Going ape

Gordon the Gorilla, missing from the Grafton Centre and found at the Empress Pub in Cambridge

The stolen head of Gordon the Gorilla – the Grafton Centre's mascot – was found propping up Dave's bar – after it was won in a game of pool.

A major hunt was triggered by police to find the shopping centres mascot and childrens favourite and the News even launched an appeal for its return in 2013.

Gordon was tracked down to The Empress where he had been helping out landlord Dave Utting behind the bar.

Dave said: “A friend brought him into the pub and said he had won the head in a pool game at another pub. He thought I might like it to display in The Empress as I do have a few strange objects here.

“Then I got a call to say it was the same one that had been stolen from the Grafton. I couldnt believe it.

“My son Winston had had him in his room and is really going to miss him but I am glad the children at The Grafton will have him back.”

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Gordon, who was spotted around the city before he handed himself in to Parkside police station was taken back to his home in the shopping centre.

Det Sgt Chris Tatum-Horsfield, who had been investigating the theft, was delighted.

He said at the time: “I am really pleased he has been found and the children at The Grafton will be especially delighted. Thank you to the News for tracking him down. We will now do everything we can to bring those responsible for this theft to justice.”

Michael Wiseman, centre director of The Grafton at the time, said the children were devastated – and would go ape at Gordons return.

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He said: “That was a great piece of investigative journalism and we thank the News for finding Gordon. We all love Gordon.

“We never thought wed see him again.”

Controversial

Dave also hit the headlines when he painted the front of his pub with anti-German slogans and the flag of St George in the run-up to Englands crucial World Cup match in 2010.

He and a team of willing helpers daubed the flag on The Empress and covered the front of the building with phrases poking fun at the Germans.

They included “Dont mention the war” and “Russian linesmen welcome”, referring to Englands victory against the Germans in the 1966 World Cup final.

“England vs Germany and the French have gone home – ring any bells?” was also emblazoned across the property along with “We were only following last orders”.

But Dave insisted he was not out to offend anyone.

He said: “We thought wed go all out to support England and have a bit of a laugh at the same time. We are having a bit of a joke at the expense of our German and French friends but its all in good fun."

Dave three live-in micro-pigs also wore the England colours for the crunch match.

Pork scratchings

David Utting and his pig Romsey

Dave brought in three little helpers in 2009.

The pint-sized porkers called Romsey, Chester and Barney, were the latest additions in the Empress.

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The pub held a pig-themed beer festival.

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