Ealing Common

Ealing Common Station first opened on 1st July 1879 on the Metropolitan District Railway.  In 1886, it was renamed Ealing Common and West Acton before returning to its original name back in 1910.  In 1932, the Piccadilly Line also arrived at the station as the District Line branch to Uxbridge was transferred over to that line.

I really like the station building with its hexagonal structure and windows in the shape of the Underground Logo.  It’s a classic Charles Holden design that dates from 1932, around the same time many other design masterpieces were being put up on various tube line extensions during that period.

The station signage also has a suitably retro feel, as I tried to capture in the gallery.  This is my second trip to an Ealing Station but I’m not done yet, I’ve still got North Ealing and South Ealing to come later in the journey. I’ll be getting used to this part of town…

The Pub: The Grange, Warwick Road,  W5 3XH

The Grange is located in a very pleasant, leafy suburban corner of Ealing.   To get to the pub from the station,  head onto Leopold Road, carry on along this till you cross Gunnersbury Avenue to reach Warwick Road.   You then head down Warwick Road, passing the small Warwick Dene Park to reach The Grange.

From the outside, The Grange is another striking pub, again looking like a posh suburban house or charming old Railway station.  The interior is equally impressive with a main bar area complete with comfy looking sofas.   There is also a conservatory area, as captured in the gallery.

The Grange also has an extensive and impressive garden with a wide array of trees and plants populating it. These in turn are illuminated, giving the area some extra atmosphere.  There is also a ‘Summer House’  attached to the garden which was open when we visited but is also available for private hire.

As a Youngs pub, you know where you are on the ale front.  For a warm, albeit not particularly sunny, evening the garden was pretty busy.  With its impressive garden and laid back homely interior, The Grange really is one of those charming suburban pubs that makes living a long tube journey away from Central London bearable.  I certainly want to come back here!

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Ealing Broadway

Ealing Broadway Station first opened on the Metropolitan District Railway on 1st July 1879,  following an extension of the line from Turnham Green.   Mainline trains had been calling here as far back as 1839, when the Great Western Railway first opened here.

The Central Line arrived here in 1920 and is I think the faster route into central London –  I’m not sure if there is much in it mind you as both have plenty of stations to traverse first.

Sadly most of the station itself has a rather modern, uninspired feel after a ’70s style rebuild – witness the looming tower block above.   There is still a rather nice roof near the District Line platforms mind you.

The Pub: The North Star, 43 Broadway, W5 5JN

Following a recommendation via Twitter  -( thank you @pinkpino76)  we headed for The North Star pub.  It’s very close to the station,  situated on ‘The Broadway’ itself. From the exterior, it seems like a charming suburban house.

The interior is kitted out as a modern, clean gastropub.  There are plenty of signed photos of actors on the wall, which may or may not be due to the proximity of the former Ealing Studios,  synonymous with ‘Ealing Comedies’ of the 1940s and 1950s, but also used for contemporary films such as Shaun of the Dead.   I was particularly taken with one of the lamps near the main bar, I think it looks like a game of KerPlunk.  I put that to the barmaid but she’d never come across it sadly. I did begin trying to explain but that didn’t help matters…

On the beer front it was stocked with Doombar, as well as other solid ales such as Oxford Gold.   There is also a good selection of Czech lagers if you’re that way inclined.

We took our residence in the garden as the weather was muggy, without being particularly sunny.  There is a ‘grotto’ type section in the garden, crafted together out of a number of twiggs.  We also tried the food, both the Fish and Chips and Burger were very impressive.

I really liked The North Star.  The danger with Gastropubs is that they can stray into a generic formula – but  The North Star has plenty of character of its own and I heartily recommend it.

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Finchley Road

Finchley Road Station opened on the same day as West Hampstead,  30th June 1879, on the Metropolitan Railway.    It joined the Bakerloo Line in November 1939 when new tunnels were added to that line to deal with congestion on the Met.  These services then became part of the Jubilee Line when it launched in 1979.  The station building itself dates from 1914, and is incorporated into a small parade of shops. Finchley Road Station offers you the chance to interchange between the (stopping) Jubilee Line services and the (fast…well quite fast!) Metropolitan Line services.

Arriving at the station, you immediately see the back end of the large O2 centre. Leaving the station takes you straight onto the busy Finchley Road.  It seems to be on some of the main bus routes into airports like Luton and Stansted, so you see plenty of gaudily decorated coaches going past, bringing back memories to all of us of heading off for budget flights at the crack of dawn…

The Pub: ‘Wetherspoons’, First Floor,  O2 Centre, 255 Finchley Road, NW3 6LU

Unfortunately because of its thoroughfare status, there aren’t really any pubs round there.  This led me to a first on this journey, a trip to a Wetherspoons!  I think I’ve done well, being as I’m 43 stations in now! It’s inside the O2 centre, which is basically a small mall with a cinema and restaurants on the first floor. It also has one of the few remaining Habitat’s in the country, if you fancy getting an interesting lighting display.

The pub itself is simply called ‘the Wetherspoon’.  It’s quite spacious as these places often are.  It has big glass windows looking over Finchley Road itself, giving good views of all the passing traffic.  Opinion is divided on Wetherspoons, some people see it as a good place to get a cheap drink that also does a good selection of ales, others as soulless places with microwaved food – see the rather cutting Will Self review

In truth, as ‘spoons go, this is fairly standard. We went for the Beer and Burger option and the food was alright.  They are obviously trying to go upmarket as it arrived on a block of wood.   This ‘spoons seemed to have a music licence(most don’t) but the music was quite Vodka Revolution, which didn’t really match with the subdued mood of most people here.

I may be wrong but I don’t think there is anywhere else to drink round here so if you’ve got time to kill before your film, it’s your only option. That said, it’s far from the worst place I’ve been for a drink before.

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West Hampstead

After an enjoyable trip through West London on the District Line, I’m back North at West Hampstead. The station first opened on the Metropolitan Line on 30th June 1879. It then transferred over to the Bakerloo Line on 20th November 1939. It was then transferred over to the Jubilee Line when the service launched in May 1979, along with the Stanmore branch of the Bakerloo Line.

The Northern end of the Jubilee and Metropolitan Line is the closest we really get to having the New York Subway style system of local and express trains. The Jubilee Line stations in effect acting as the ‘local’ and the Metropolitan as ‘express.’

The Piccadilly Line(Heathrow branch) also has a similar arrangement with District Line stations but anyone who has got the tube to central London from Heathrow would stop me labelling that journey as express!

The station itself has some art deco looking shelters at platform level as well as some well tended plants when I visited. There is a brick ticket hall at street level.

The Pub: The Black Lion, 295 West End Lane, NW6 1RD

I know Hampstead fairly well, having lived nearby a few years back. West Hampstead is however new to me. Friends living locally duly directed me to the Black Lion. To reach the pub,you just need to head straight up the Hill from the station – a good way to earn your pint!

The pub itself has a very modern feel, with a sleek black exterior and stripped back brick work inside, alongside a rather impressive chandelier as you see in the gallery. There was an interesting selection of ales on tap,  including Trumans Ale, from the old East London Brewery of the same name, and the wonderfully titled Old Growler.

The Black Lion benefits from both having a front garden – effectively a seating area backing onto the street, as well as a large multi levelled garden terrace out the back too. Given it was a warm Thursday evening when we visited, the back garden was rammed so we took out residence in the front. We didn’t eat here but it’s clearly in the modern, gastro end of things – a Wasabi Peas rather than Pork Scratchings kind of place.

This is a good solid modern pub in a part of town I barely know. Certainly worth a visit, especially in good weather where the back garden’s potential can be exploited to the full!

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Ravenscourt Park

Ravenscourt Park is the final of my five leafy District Line stations that all opened on the Metropolitan District Railway on 1st June 1877.  Like the others, it was first served by London and South Western Railway.  It began life as Shaftesbury Road and gained its current name in 1888.

It is now served by the District Line. Piccadilly Line trains speed past non-stop on their way to Ealing and beyond.  The station itself is above street level, giving you a good vantage point and view from the rooftops of the surrounding area.  The entrance into the station has impressive ornamentation similar to those previously seen at Ladbroke Grove and elsewhere.

Unsurprisingly given the name, it’s another leafy stop on this section of the line.  The Green Flag award winning park that gives the station its name is just across the road from the entrance.

The Pub:  The Salutation, 154 King Street,  W6 0QU

As it was a very sunny day when we dropped by we made the short walk down Ravenscourt Road to King Street. A few minutes along this road and you reach The Salutation, located very nearby the ’60s and rather bleak Hammersmith Town Hall.

The Salutation itself dates back to 1750, where it started life as a coaching inn. Back then, this was the main route west from London.  It certainly has a charming exterior which I tried to capture in the gallery. The interior is equally impressive as while recently refurbished, it still retains a traditional feel with chandeliers, black leather backed seats and a nice old fireplace.

One of the pub’s main selling points on sunny days(assuming we haven’t seen the last of them this year) is its impressive garden.  We found ourselves seats here.   As a Fullers pub, you get their usual range of ales.    It also does great food too, I went for their foot long hot dog and my other friends tried varieties of burgers which also looked very filling.

The Salutations also apparently comes with Royal Approval. The late Queen Mother apparently dropped in here at the end of the ’80s and poured a pint.

On a sunny Tuesday evening the pub was fairly busy, especially the garden.  I really liked this pub and would thoroughly recommend it, whether you’re getting off at Ravenscourt Park or in Hammersmith – it’s certainly worth the walk!

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Turnham Green

Turnham Green Station opened on the Metropolitan District Line on 1st June 1877. As well as being served by the MDR’s modern successor, the District Line,  Piccadilly Line trains have also called here during early mornings and late evenings since 1963.

Turnham Green is synonymous with a pivotal battle of the English Civil War – on 13th November 1642 the forces of King Charles I were blocked by the Parliamentarian Army, thus stopping the King reaching London.  For more information, click here.

A previous resident of the area was William Hogarth,  the 18th century artist,  commemorated by a statue near the green itself. One of his best known works, Beer Street and Gin Lane, celebrated ‘the virtues of beer’  while showing the perils of the foreign import gin. Given my own experiences with gin, I couldn’t agree more!  See them for yourself in more detail here

The Pub: The Tabard, 2 Bath Road, W4 1LW

Walking around Turnham Green, we were struck by just how many ice cream parlours there were dotted around the place.  The area itself is a fairly upmarket suburb of Chiswick, to all intents and purposes.

The Tabard is slightly north of the station, requiring you to head up Turnham Green Terrace and turn onto Bath Road.  The pub itself was built in 1880. There are two main rooms on either side of the bar with original tiling in certain sections.  The range of ales on offer was particularly impressive, they had to double up the beers on display on the individual taps to show all the ones available on draught – 10 on my count you can catch a couple in the gallery.  We went for a very pleasing ‘Golden Ale’.

You can tell you are heading out to leafier parts of London when the pub has a cricket team, as the Tabard does.  There is also a fair sized front garden.  Above the pub is The Tabard theatre, which plays host to a selection of comedy shows, including previews before the Edinburgh festival/  It seems Turnham Green is the area for this, as I’d seen another comedy show at a pub down the road a few months back.

On a Saturday night,  The Tabard had a lively atmosphere,  mixed between older locals and a younger clientèle.   All in all, well worth a visit if you’re in these parts.

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Gunnersbury

Gunnersbury Station first opened on the Metropolitan District Railway on 1st June 1877 – the station initially opened on the London and South Western Railway as Brentford Road in 1869.

I’m afraid there isn’t really any historical features to note at Gunnersbury station. The platforms have a distinctly /60s feel to them and are shared between the District and London Overground services.  The station building is pretty non descript too, especially the entrance we used.  Then again, apparently we shouldn’t be surprised. The station was hit by a Tornado in the 1950s  which ripped the roof off..

I have got off at Gunnersbury once before. I was meeting my brother before seeing Brighton play Brentford back in 2007. It rained, we were terrible and lost 1-0.  A ‘highlight’ of the game was where our new signing Bas Savage tried to control the ball and ended up sliding into the mud…

The Pub: The Pilot,  56 Wellesley Road, W4 4BZ

Immediately leaving Gunnersbury Station, I felt like I was on an American suburban boulevard in the shape of the Chiswick High Road. It’s a wide, tree lined street with plenty of shiny ’80s era buildings – my pick of the bunch being the Chiswick Moran Hotel, as seen in the gallery.

Unless you want to enjoy the bouleveyard, the quickest route to the pub is down a short footpath that takes you to Wellesley Drive, where you will find The Pilot on a more traditional British feeling leafy suburban street.   It’s another pub with a bit of history, as its function room was the stables for the ‘Pilot Horse’,  which used to pull boats down the River Thames. The Horse motif is reflected on the pub roof, although they look a bit like chess pieces to me.

It’s got a decent sized interior with both a side section and a main bar.  They have a fairly large sized decked garden with equipment in position for barbecues and the like. There is some interesting artwork on the wall including one that says – ‘I like it. what is this?’   I liked the old Fullers Brewery sign at the back end of the garden, another nice historical touch. As a Fullers pub, you get their usual selection of good ales so no complaints on that front  either.

The Pilot is a charming suburban boozer.   If you find yourself in these parts, pop in for a pint of London Pride and enjoy the delights of their garden.

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