History

2001

The Vicars and Nuns of the Order of St Radegund celebrate victory at the Beer Tree (complete with the ancient relic - the Drawers of St Radegund) A rare early archive photo of the Beer Tree (please note ACTUAL tree in existence!) The Beer Tree was founded in 2001 when Richard Naisby (owner of Milton Brewery), at that time rowing for the Free Press, thought it would be a jolly good wheeze to put a barrel of his beer in a tree on the first night of the Town bumps. The beer was left over from a rained-off cricket match and nobody had any idea that the concept would prove popular...

That first night the plucky rowers of the St Radegund Metric Tonne — a Corinthian crowd, whose training mostly consisted of late night drinking sessions — achieved the near impossible — they got a bump! And promptly drank the beer tree dry. Thus setting a precedent that continues to this day.

The Drawers of St Radegund are paraded down the length of the Cam After the startling success of the first night Richard (who owing to the later arrival of his boat hardly got a drink) decided that something good was happening and continued to put beer in the tree. Word got around the rowing community that the beer was there for all — and the amount of beer got bigger!

2002

In 2002, it was suggested that though the beer was free it would be a good idea to collect for charity. So we did!

2003

Thirsty rowers gather around the Tree By 2003 the amount of beer being drunk at the beer tree was so much that "friends of the beer tree" rallied around to help with the cost of staging it (borne up to this point entirely by Milton Brewery). Nearly a thousand pounds were raised for charities over the course of the week and a record amount of beer was drunk (aided immeasurably by the fact that the St Radegund Beer boat, now containing the brewer, got blades!)

2004

2004 saw over a thousand pounds raised for Cancer Research UK. Generous support from the friends of the Beer Tree ensured that ever more beer was drunk.

2005

Discussing *exactly* what went wrong with the boat! 2005 saw the highest (and lowest) point in the life of the Beer Tree. A record number of rowers stopped, more pints than ever were drunk and £1800 was raised for the Milton Children's Hospice. And then some prat ruined what should have been a fun week by picking a fight with the charity bucket collectors.

2006

And so to 2006. After the contretemps on the last night in 2005, Richard was frankly fed up with the whole idea of the beer tree. Organising such an undertaking is not to be underestimated. In the four days of its annual life the Tree gets through more beer than most pubs. Getting it to the tree (and bringing the empties home) is now a major operation in itself and since offers of help were thin on the ground it was decided to let the tree have a rest.

Abandon ship!! - Mutineers keen to get to the Tree before the beer runs out Until... the thirsty rowers of CSR came to the rescue and offered to run the tree on the Friday of the 2006 bumps! The Beer Tree lives!

A busy moment at the Tree! Submitted on behalf of the Beer Tree! Thanks to the generous support of CSR and Rowdata the 2006 Beer Tree was a major success — over 400 pints of beer were greedily devoured and a sum of £1100 was raised for Leukemia Research — and everyone had a fun time!

2007

Receipt from Milton Children's Hospice in 2007 In 2007 the Beer Tree went back to the full four-day format. Over £2300 was raised for Milton Children's Hospice.

Sponsors in 2007

  • Lunchtime UK
  • Mills & Reeve
  • Cambridge Online
  • The Champion of the Thames pub
  • CRA

2008

The Tree in 2008 Receipt from Macmillan Cancer Support in 2008 Second receipt from Macmillan Cancer Support in 2008 In 2008 exactly £3000 was raised for Macmillan Cancer Support. Over 1300 pints of beer were consumed during the four days and, on Friday, we had to resort to delivering the beer via a half-timbered Elizabethan dray. There was a curious outbreak of Displaylink gonks that threatened to take over the tree (but they were really very friendly)...

Sponsors in 2008

  • Milton Brewery
  • RWA Accountants
  • Mills and Reeve
  • DisplayLink
  • Rowdata
  • Burgashell
  • Mythic Beasts

2009

Wet, but pretty! We raised £2800 for the Arthur Rank Hospice. In 2009, we raised money for the Arthur Rank Hospice. £2800 was raised over the four days of the tree and a record amount of beer was consumed. A deluge on the the last night soaked everyone at the tree but at least provided some very pretty pictures (see the gallery for more).

2010

Receipt from Milton Children's Hospice in 2010 In 2010, we raised money for the Milton Children's Hospice. The sun shone, blades were hard earned, spoons were richly deserved and over £4000 was donated by the thirsty rowers and spectators at the Tree.

Sponsors in 2010

2011

Receipt from Milton Children's Hospice in 2011 In 2011, we once again raised money for the Milton Children's Hospice. A record amount of beer was drunk and a record £4120 was donated by the thirsty rowers at the Beer Tree. A soaking on the last night did nothing to dampen the spirits, and the tree will flower again next year!

Sponsors of the Beer Tree in 2011

2012

Receipt from Arthur Rank Hospice in 2012 In 2012, we raised money for the Arthur Rank Hospice, whose palliative care for a veteran of the Beer Tree was sadly needed since last year's flowering. Despite one of the wettest weeks of the wettest summer on record we raised £2620, and the tree will flower once more next year.

Sponsors of the Beer Tree in 2012

2013

Receipt from Milton Children's Hospice in 2013 Water-borne cask removal Mayor of Cambridge The 2013 Beer Tree charity was the Milton Children's Hospice. We raised over £3700. Four days of glorious sunshine saw the usual collection of crashes, blades and this year some rather striking club blazers! The Mayor of Cambridge even put in an appearance. For the first time, we experimented with water-borne cask removal.

Sponsors of the Beer Tree in 2013

2014

The 2014 Beer Tree came within a whisker of being cancelled. An injured brewer looked likely to scupper plans until the Beer Wenches and assorted helpers from the St Radegund Boat Club saved the day. Around £4000 was raised for Milton Children's Hospice.

Sponsors of the Beer Tree in 2014

2015

Three days of good weather and great Bumps racing were followed by one of the most prolonged and miserable downpours witnessed on the riverbank. Despite the soggy Friday, a total of £3700 was raised, to be split equally by this years charities, MIND (cambs) and Neuroblastoma UK.

Sponsors of the Beer Tree in 2015

2016

The 2016 charities were, as always, suggested by the rowers, we supported Milton Children's Hospice and Parkinson's (Cambridge). A sum of £4665 was raised. This brings the total raised during the life of the Beer Tree to a little under £40,000.

Sponsors of the Beer Tree in 2016

2017

Receipt from Mind in 2017

Receipt from Milton Children's Hospice in 2017

In 2017 we raised £4400 for Milton Childrens Hospice. The total raised for this Hospice alone, over all years, now exceeds £27,000.

Sponsors of the Beer Tree in 2017

2018

In 2018, we raised £6001.82 for the Milton Children's Hospice. The total raised for all charities, over the lifetime of the Beer Tree, now exceeds £50,000.

2019 and beyond

Fourth division Men make an early start on the beer If you would like to support the Beer Tree in 2019 please contact the brewery.

Sponsors of the Beer Tree in 2018