Westminster Station opened as Westminster Bridge on 24th December 1868, on the Metropolitan District Railway. It gained its current name in 1907. The station changed beyond recognition in 1999 when the Jubilee Line arrived and the entire building was rebuilt to accommodate the deep level line.
The Parliamentary office block, Portcullis House, was also built during the construction period. Both buildings were designed by Michael Hopkins and Partners.
It’s when you head down to the Jubilee Line platforms you really appreciate the stark, metallic feel of the new station. Like all those on the Jubilee Line extension, the scale and scope of the station is breathtaking. It will be a long time before I come across the other new builds on the line past Waterloo mind you!
Given the proximity to the Houses of Parliament and with Buckingham Palace and the London Eye not far off either, Westminster station is one of the biggest tourist traps on the Underground.
The Pub: The Red Lion, 48 Parliament Street, SW1A 2NH
Drinking around Westminster never really appeals to me, mainly due to working in the area. When I finish for the day, I like to get away from the immediate area – part of the reason behind this blog!
For those who aren’t at Westminster saturation point, there is the The Red Lion. It perfectly sums up the mix of people you get in Westminster. I’d say its 50% tourists, 50% political staffers/hangers-on. It boasts quite a history, with a pub on the site reportedly since 1434. The ‘Division Bell’ indicating a vote, also sounds in this pub, allowing MPs and Peers to rush back to the Chamber and vote. Given the well publicised on-site drinking establishments within the Palace of Westminster, I don’t think too many MPs venture here. The TVs show BBC Parliament when the House is sitting, so confused tourists can catch the days proceedings.
It’s a Fullers pub so it has their usual range of ales. Whenever I’ve been in, it’s always quite busy so not the easiest place to get a seat. It also has an upstairs dining room area, although I’ve never eaten here. A book I’ve got on London Pubs suggests that some of the strategy for ‘New Labour’ was devised up there. I can’t see it myself personally but it’s a bit before time.
If you want a drink around the Westminster bubble, The Red Lion is a solid enough bet.