My journey began, like the Underground’s itself, at Paddington Station. For historical accuracy we got off at the Hammersmith and City(and now Circle too) line platforms, as this was where the first train of the Metropolitan Railway departed for Farringdon back in January 1863. The original station was called Paddington (Bishops Road) and as you will see from the photos, is right by two platforms from Paddington mainline station.
The later platforms for what became the District and Circle line were initially called Paddington(Praed Street) which opened five years later. They were followed by the deep level platforms for the Bakerloo line in 1913. This complex arrangement of platforms has before been shown on the tube map as two different stations as recently as the 1990s. It is now shown as only one – meaning I won’t be returning to Paddington later in the trip.
The Pub – The Fountains Abbey, 109 Praed Street, W2 1RL
Given the size of Paddington mainline station and the fact it is the destination for Heathrow Express trains from the airport, the surrounding area has a very touristy feel with plenty of hotels and hostels, alongside the usual souvenir shops. I think it is for those reasons I’ve always struggled to find a decent pub in its immediate vicinity.
As the rain was lashing down on a bleak Friday evening, it was fortunate that our destination was close to the station, The Fountains Abbey is on Praed Street, a few minutes’ walk from the entrance to the mainline station. The pub itself is run by Taylor Walker and is decked out in a traditional style with plenty of photos of ‘Old London’ on the walls. In the downstairs bar, there is this rather curious fireplace which I took a photo of, but I have little idea of its significance.
There is also an upstairs room, the ‘Samuel Lane’ room, primarily for people wanting to eat. We based ourselves up there and had a hearty burger to set us on our way. There were plenty of tourists up there too, including a group from Copenhagen who wanted to know many league cups QPR had won. I told them I thought it was none but have subsequently found that out to be wrong…
There is a decent selection of standard ales such as Doom Bar and London Pride as well as a Dart Board upstairs. It is also opposite St Mary’s Hospital, where Alexander Fleming discovered Pencillin in 1928. Fleming was a regular at the pub and the story goes that it was mould spores from the pub that blew through his window at the Hospital, leading him to his historic discovery. The Hospital also hosts the Fleming Museum but this is only open during the week – full details here.
All in all, The Fountains Abbey is a solid venue for a few pints if you find yourself in the Paddington area. View the pub’s own website here.