Barbican

Barbican Station first opened on 23rd December 1865 as Aldersgate Street, as part of a short extension of the Metropolitan Railway from Farringdon to Moorgate. It was then called Aldersgate(1910-24), Aldersgate and Barbican(1924-68) and Barbican thereafter.

The street level buildings for the station are rather uninspiring modern constructions, the previous ones having been damaged during the Second World War and then finally demolished in the 1950s. There are some more period features at platform level, such as the arches that are synonmous with much of the Circle/Metropolitan Line within inner London.

The station is currently served by the Hammersmith and City Line, Circle Line and Metropolitan Line. Crossrail will pass close by the station and an interchange is to be built here with the new Farringdon station on that line.

The Pub: The Fox and Anchor, 115 Charterhouse Street, EC1M 6AA

The first thing that greets you as you leave the station is the imposing Barbican Estate and Centre. You could dedicate an entire blog to the Barbican, its divided opinion ever since it was completed in the mid 1970s and looks like it will continue to do so. Whatever way you look at it, there is something eerily impressive about it all.

The pub we visited was a few minutes down the road, on Charterhouse Street, just by the historic Smithfields Market. The Fox and Anchor itself has a very impressive period exterior. Inside, the pub is decked out in a smart, classic style. It is quite thin and narrow, as many pubs within the city are. That said we did manage to get a seat.

It offers a wide selection of ales, beyond the usual London Pride/Doombar selection. My friend went for a Milk Stout for the novelty value but wasn’t overwhelmed by the flavour. I went for Seduction which had a more conventional ale taste. From a quick glance at their menu, they also offer rather posh looking pub food. The Fox is also a mini-hotel, with six rooms if you’re feeling suitably flush with cash. Unsurprisingly they aren’t cheap.

If you’re in this historic part of town, I strongly recommend a trip to The Fox and Anchor. If you’re feeling adventurous with the beers, I recommend asking for a sample first!

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Kensington Olympia

Kensington Olympia may be one of the oldest stations on the network, but it is now only served by the District Line at weekends, bar one token weekday service.

It began life as Addison Road on 1st July 1864, with a service linking up to what is now Ladbroke Grove(but was at the time called Notting Hill). You can see the link up between Addison Road and what is now the Hammersmith and City/Circle Lines as can be seen in this early Harry Beck era map from 1938, alongside the now closed Uxbridge Road. This northern link closed in 1940 and did not reopen after the war with the underground platform stations simply becoming the link for a shuttle from Earls Court.

When I first moved to London, the shuttle service was still operating daily. Since December 2011 this has now been pared back and only runs at weekends and special exhibitions at Olympia only.

It has now been uncovered that the mainline station would have played a pivotal role were nuclear attack during the Cold War imminent, as it was to be where the selected Government Civil Servants would board the trains to take them to the Government’s underground bunker in Wiltshire. Read more here.

The Pub: The Albion, 121 Hammersmith Road, W14 0QL

Given the lack of mid week tube service to the station, we elected to walk from Hammersmith. As we were nearing the station, the bright lights of The Albion pub beckoned us.  Now to me this was an omen, as I had just found out Gus Poyet was staying as Brighton Manager, so it was an obvious choice to celebrate!

Upon arriving, it didn’t disappoint. The pub had a vibrant atmosphere and good contemporary décor – nice spiral staircase and open fire. It also had a fine selection of ales and the London Pride tasted particularly good here.

The walls were decorated with photos of music stars, perhaps given the proximity to Earls Court. I particularly liked the advert I’ve included in the gallery for a Led Zeppelin gig – Zeppelin Rail – suggesting getting there by train. Given this was probably during the 1970s, a very early example of a sustainable transport plan?

The pub also had an upstairs bar, this wasn’t staffed on our visit. All in all, The Albion is a top pub and I’ll be looking for reasons to come back to the area in order to pop in!

(At the time of writing, their website is down)

Hammersmith(Circle/Hammersmith and City Line)

This part of my trip will soon feel like Groundhog Day. Like Edgware Road, there are two stations at Hammersmith.

The station for the Hammersmith and City/Circle Lines is the earlier of the two. It first opened in June 1864 as the terminus for the Metropolitan railway’s extension from Paddington. It was resited to its present location in 1868.

Unlike the later station on the District and Piccadilly lines which now finds itself within a 1990s shopping mall development, this station retains many heritage features, as shown within the gallery. This is a nice contrast for the busy roundabout you are plonked right beside as you leave the station.

The Pub: The Hop Poles, 17-19 King Street, Hammersmith, W6 9HR

Hammersmith itself always reminds me of the TV sitcom Bottom, as that’s where Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson lived. Having got our bearings at a roundabout I always get lost at, and avoided bumping into Richie or Eddie, we popped into the Hop Poles on King Street.

Back in the day, this pub was frequented by Ian Dury(of Blockheads fame) but these days it is kitted out as a smart gastropub and I couldn’t see any rhythm sticks in sight. It was fairly busy, not surprising given it was a Thursday night and it took quick thinking and even quicker reflexes to finally grab a seat. The pub had some nice little touches, not least a clock by the bar indicating when the last tube for the night is! There is also an upstairs room but it was well and truly locked when we were there.

Where this pub’s appeal really kicks in is with its roof terrace. We ventured up to have a look, braving the cold. It’s a decent sized area which am sure will be a great spot for a pint when we finally emerge from the current ice age. The pub also has a quiz machine, which now sadly seem to be vanishing at alarming rate, so that’s another plus in its favour. There is also an outdoor garden area on the ground floor but I only had eyes for the roof terrace.

Next time I’m seeing a gig at the Hammersmith Apollo, I’ll definitely pop here for a drink afterwards.

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Shepherd’s Bush Market

Shepherd’s Bush Market first opened as Shepherds Bush (no comma) on 13th July 1864. It was resited on 1st April 1914, gaining a comma in its name in the process.

For added confusion, from 1900 there was also a Shepherd’s Bush station on what became the Central Line. This state of affairs remained until the Shepherd’s Bush Overground station opened in 2008 and it was decided having three stations with the same name in the same area would be too confusing even by London standards. It was rechristened Shepherd’s Bush Market on 12th October 2008.

The station itself is a fairly standard design, similar to others on this stretch of the Hammersmith and City Line. The big development in the area has been the Westfield shopping centre, which looms large in the background and spurred on the transport developments that saw this station renamed.

The Pub: The White Horse, 31 Uxbridge Road, Shepherds Bush, W12 8LH

Up to this point on my journey, all the pubs I had visited had all been relatively modern and either gastro or tourist focused. Nothing wrong with that in the slightest but I was starting to wonder what had happened to traditional old school boozers. At Shepherds Bush Market, I found one.

We decided to go in on the basis of the building’s exterior, a curious arch type construction – as you can see below. As we entered, we could quickly tell this was a local’s pub. The regulars were watching At The Races on the TV and excluding bar staff, there wasn’t a single woman in the pub.

The pub had a snooker table, certainly a dying breed these days as more and more places have them taken out to get more seats in. Given our proximity to Loftus Road, there was a fair share of QPR memorabilia dotted around the walls. There was also a jukebox but we decided against using it.

While in a way it was nice to have a contrast from the sleek venues I’ve visited so far on the journey, I certainly won’t be heading back here. You can visit their website but it just appears to be a generic site put together by yell.com,  it isn’t even a photo of the right pub on the main page!

Ladbroke Grove

My trip to Ladbroke Grove was a first on this blog, the first station I’ve visited that I’d not got off at before.   Of course, there will be many more to come. It first opened on 13th July 1864 as Notting Hill on an extension of the original Metropolitan railway to Hammersmith.  It then went through a variety of names, Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove(1880-1919), Ladbroke Grove(North Kensington) (1919-38), before settling on its current title.

The station itself is above street level, you have to take steps down to reach the road. Given its heritage, there were a number of nice touches such as the ornate ironwork above the platform arches.  The station itself is adjacent to the raised Westway section of the A40, a strange feeling to anyone used to central London tube stations that feel light years away from busy trunk roads.

It is currently served by the Hammersmith and City Line and since the December 2009 timetable change, the Circle Line.   The train frequency has improved with the Circle Line extension but the station still felt quite sleepy when we arrived.

The Pub: The Elgin, 96 Ladbroke Grove, W11 1PY

The station roundels advertise it as ‘Ladbroke Grove’ for Portobello Road but we arrived far too late in the day for the market.   Leaving the station you get a distinct feel of the large townhouses of the Notting Hill area.  It feels slightly less polished here though – in a good way –  with a fried chicken shop right by the station.

Heading down Ladbroke Grove, we stumbled upon The Elgin.    The pub looked perfectly decent from the outside but gave little indication of what was to be seen inside.    The interior is filled with lavish, decorative touches, a selection of which you can see in the gallery.

The pub was packed with a young clientele which contrasted nicely with the classic decor.  As we got to the bar, there was a very strong smell of Jägermeister, which most people around us seemed to be ordering.   Thankfully there was also a fine selection of ales including a range of Youngs Beers and Doombar, so that kept us happy too.

The pub was buzzing with what felt like a pre-club atmosphere.  The Elgin definitely gets a hearty recommendation from me. If you’re down at Portobello Road market,  make the trip over to Ladbroke Grove to visit this pub.

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Edgware Road(Sub Surface Lines)

Edgware Road is the first of the non-opening day stations on my journey.  It opened on 1st October 1863 between Paddington and Baker Street on the first stretch of the Metropolitan Railway It is currently served by the Circle, Hammersmith and City and the Wimbledon branch of the District Line.

The station was also the site of one of the 7th July 2005 London bombings, with a device detonated on a westbound circle line train as it left the station. Six passengers were killed in the attack.

It is now the location where the circle line ‘stops’. Trains no longer run in a continuous loop but terminate at Edgware Road at the end of their journey that now starts at Hammersmith. They also call at the station on their journey towards the city.   This was done by transport supremos to improve reliability on the line. I don’t use it enough to judge whether that has been a success or not.

The journalist Andrew Martin in his excellent book ‘Underground Overground’ described how the station used to have an ornamental pond with a collection of garden gnomes by platform 1. Sadly they have now vanished; maybe TfL could reinstate them in time for the stations 150th birthday on October 1st?

There is however a statue of a a window cleaner outside the station. I don’t know why, it’s always puzzled me.

The Pub: The Chapel, 48 Chapel Street, NW1 5DP

Edgware Road is synonymous with a large and vibrant Middle Eastern population, with a variety of restaurants, Shisha cafes and the like. Regrettably on the day we arrived the heavens had opened so exploring was not top of the agenda.   I’m back in Edgware Road later in the journey for the Bakerloo Line station so hopefully things will be better next time around.

We found sanctuary in The Chapel, a stones throw away from the station.  The pub itself is bright and smart, with a strong emphasis on food as roughly half the pub is given over to diners.  The clientele was a mixture of those who had arrived for food and locals looking for a quiet pint and a place to read the paper.

If we ever seen the sun again the pub also has a sizeable garden, always a plus point in my book.  The Chapel was a perfectly pleasant place to escape the downpour. My only gripe was a limited ale selection, with just two Greene King beers available.

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Farringdon

Farringdon is the last of the original stations on the first stretch of the Metropolitan Railway from 1863. It opened as Farringdon Street. It moved to its present location in December 1865 as the line was extended to Moorgate. It was then renamed Farringdon and High Holborn in 1922 before becoming Farringdon in 1936.

The station building dates from the ‘High Holborn’ period, as this can still be seen on the sign on the building’s exterior walls.  The station itself runs alongside platforms for the Thameslink North-South London link. This is currently being extensively upgraded as part of the ‘Thameslink Programme’ with major building works also spilling across to the tube platforms.

Farringdon will also be a location on the new ‘East-West’ Crossrail route, with a stop between the present Farringdon and Barbican tube stations. Indeed, Farringdon gained infamy last week when Crossrail workmen hit a plague pit dating from the Black Death era. 13 Skeletons have already been found with the Evening Standard predicting there could be up to 50,000 more.

The Pub – The City Pride, 28 Farringdon Lane, Clerkenwell, EC1R 3AU

Plague Pits were not enough to deter us from venturing in search of a pub. Farringdon Station is located towards the edge of the city, close to the Clerkenwell district. Indeed it is this area north of Farringdon that is somewhat of a black spot for tube stations, at least by North London standards, as it is fair distance before you reach Angel.

We headed a short distance up Turnmill Street to reach Farringdon Lane and The City Pride.  On a cold and wet Saturday evening, the pub was warm and welcoming.   It had a very cosy feel and was busy without being rammed. It had the vibe of a good local pub, which surprised me given how close it is to the city. It’s a Fullers Pub so London Pride and co on the taps.

In addition to the main bar, there was a back partition with comfy sofas which is where we sat.   We also tried some of their home made Pizzas.  I have to say I don’t really think of pizza as pub food but they certainly pulled it off.   I was rather taken with The City Pride and will definitely be heading back.

Good beer and good pizza, what more could you want?

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