Parsons Green

Parsons Green Station opened on 1st March 1880 as part of the Metropolitan District Line’s extension to Putney Bridge, which also opened on the same day. It currently forms part of the District Line branch to Wimbledon.

Again, it’s another ‘Green’ or ‘Park’ on the leafy District Line. The station building itself is also pleasant, in an understated kind of way. This is a very posh suburb of London, so you’re met with plenty of upmarket bakeries, restaurants and the like right by the station.

When I visited, there was also a florists by the station exit to further add to the leafy suburban vibe.

The Pub: The White Horse, 1-3 Parsons Green, SW6 4UL

The White Horse is just a short walk from the station, passing down Parsons Green Lane to reach the pub, which is opposite the green itself.  I’ve been here once before, back in October 2011, when I was told it has the nickname the ‘Sloaney Pony’ given its regular clientele.

On our visit this time, there was certainly some evidence of this – we took a seat in the well sized front garden area and just beside us were some gents with some rather large ,and I assume, expensive cigars.

The pub has an impressive and eclectic range of beers on offer, I especially liked the Art Brew Monkey IPA.  It is perhaps not surprising therefore the pub has just hosted, for the sixth time, an annual American Beer Festival.  It feels like American Beer is certainly on the up at the moment – I’m a big fan of Sam Adams myself-  so am sure it was definitely worth checking out. Hopefully it will be returning next year!

It is certainly a venue that values its beers.  When we dropped in there was a large Pilsner tank in the main room, as you’ll see from the gallery.  The interior is a nice mix between traditional and upmarket gastro.  I especially liked the reference to one of my favourite breweries, Harveys, via one of the pictures on the wall.  Belgian Beers are also marked too, look for Chimay in the gallery.

The White Horse is a good solid bet if you’re in this area.  Whether it’s a Horse or a Pony to you,  the range of beers on offer are well worth checking out.

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Putney Bridge

Putney Bridge Station marks a mile stone on the INNside track journey – it’s the 50th station and pub I’ve visited. The station itself opened on 1st March 1880 as Putney Bridge and Fulham as the terminus of the Metropolitan District Railway’s extension from West Brompton. It then became Putney Bridge and Hurlingham in 1902, before settling on its current name in 1932.

Putney is often thought of as one of the more salubrious London locations to live in, but the view you get from the platforms isn’t particularly inspiring. On a grey Friday evening, probably the last before the July heatwave kicked in, the vista of a rather ‘70s looking Premier Inn tower block doesn’t set the imagination racing. You certainly can’t imagine them having Lenny Henry visit that one!

The Pub: The Larrik, 425 New Kings Road, SW6 4RN

I’ve been drinking around Putney Bridge Station a few times before, my usual haunt being The Temperance, but this time I felt like we should go for something different so we tried the Larrik, which is just opposite it.

It was quite quiet when we arrived at around 7pm, but with a bouncer on the door, I assume it must be somewhere that gets busier as it goes on. To me the interior felt like a bar of a European hostel. There are plenty of photos of sporting heroes on the walls, alongside mocked up graffiti on corrugated iron. The corridor towards the toilets also has plenty of classic sporting quotes and cricket ‘sledging’ exchanges from time gone by. It feels like quite an Aussie haunt, so I can’t assume it has been that cheery in recent weeks. Finishing off the hostel vibe, there is also table football facilities.

During our visit, there was also the added bonus of live music, courtesy of one man and his acoustic guitar. Like I said, the pub wasn’t that busy but he gamely played an eclectic set list, varying from the current chart hit ‘Get Lucky’ to more 80s material such as ‘Tainted Love’ and UB40. I’m a big fan of Tainted Love but less so UB40, I’d have preferred ‘Electric Avenue’ for the acoustic treatment.

We also ate here – three sturdy burgers all round. It seemed like more like a lager venue than ale, but Adnams was available on tap.  The Larrik strikes me as the place that could be good fun when lively. Especially if it is frequented by Aussies and they keep up their current form in the Ashes..

All in all, a very memorable venue for the 50th pub on the crawl so far.Here’s to the next 50 stations!

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Kilburn

When visiting Kilburn I had no idea we were going to stumble into a venue at the front line of the battle between individual pubs and  large pubcos that currently dominate the industry.  Kilburn Station first opened as Kilburn and Brondesbury Station on 24th November 1879 on the Metropolitan Railway.  It was transferred over to the Bakerloo Line in 1939 and then, along with the entire Stanmore branch, over to the new Jubilee Line in 1979.

The station itself is placed on a viaduct over Kilburn High Road itself.   The viaduct itself has ‘Metropolitan Railway’ inscribed on it. Also just as you exit the station, there is a  rather interesting mural on the wall opposite the station.

The rain was coming down hard as we ventured down Kilburn High Road. Our original recommendation of The Ship was charging entry as a band was on, so we kept going a little further, past Kilburn Rail Station, to reach The Black Lion.  This is both a pub and B&B, so various people were claiming their pillows and bedding from the reception desk just away from the bar.

The Pub: The Black Lion, 274 Kilburn High Road, NW6 2BY

The Black Lion has a very lavish interior with particularly striking designs on the ceilings and walls.  There are plenty of comfy sofas and an assorted collection of old books by the windows.  The clientele was a mix of people popping in for a drink and tourists staying there, complete with maps to plot their sightseeing.

Now for the serious bit…

When getting our drinks, I noticed no beer was on tap.  The fridge was however stocked with plenty of good ales, so I went for a Wainwright. The windows of the pub had posters up for ‘fair deal for your local’ – reminding me of an article I’d read earlier that week about a pub that had taken all draught beer off as a protest against the charges pub companies apply to pubs to buy their beer.  It turns out the pub in question was The Black Lion. This is a very live issue at the moment, major groups such as CAMRA are strongly against the ‘beer tie’ and related practices.

I am very sympathetic to this cause and the pressure it puts on pubs.  One of my favourite pubs in South London(Sun and Doves, Camberwell) closed in the summer of 2011 thanks to problems with their pubco landlord.     There has been major pressure on the Government recently in this area, forcing them to launch a consultation following some excellent work from Shadow Pubs Minister, Toby Perkins.   For more details, check out the campaign website ‘fair deal for your local’.

I wish the Black Lion every success in their battle against anti-competitive practices which threaten pubs not just across London, but right across the UK.

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Willesden Green

Willesden Green Station first opened as Willesden Green and Cricklewood on 24 November 1879 on the Metropolitan Railway.  It became part of the Bakerloo Line(Stanmore branch) in 1939 and the Metropolitan Line services were withdrawn in 1940.  Since 1979, it has been part of the Jubilee Line.

The station building itself is very striking,  dating from the 1925 reconstruction by Charles Walter Clark, the Metropolitan Railway’s architect.    Apparently the tiles in the tickethall are rare survivors of his work and helped lead to the station being Grade II listed in December 2006.

The Pub: The Queensbury, 110 Walm Lane, NW2 4RS

>Our visit to Willesden Green was bleak and rainy – unlike the glorious weather we’ve just had this weekend. Fortunately the Queensbury Pub(recommended via Twitter) was just across the road from the station. The pub is on the ground floor of what looks like a large suburban house.   Like a suburban house, it also has its own front garden, complete with yukka plant.

The pub has a dark, sleek interior.  In fact it may have been because of the bad weather but it took me a few moments to adjust to the lighting levels in the main-room.     The pub certainly seems ‘kid friendly’ as there was a young child at a table in the main room. I know there are arguments on either side of that debate – it can get irritating if there are lots of screaming kids in a pub but equally it doesn’t seem fair to banish parents from pubs for years!  The kid in question was quiet so no problems there..

The Queensbury also has a spacious backroom for those eating but as the room wasn’t full, they kindly let us have a table without ordering anything there. It looked hearty gastrofare but neither of us were that hungry.

Before leaving, I noticed a petition at the bar. It seems The Queensbury pub is at threat of demolition to be replaced by new flats.   Given the premium on property prices in London,   this seems to be happening more and more, approval for the demolition of an old haunt of mine at Centre Point was confirmed last week.

I really hope The Queensbury doesn’t go the same way. The original plans for demolition have now been withdrawn but the campaign team’s website suggests the pub is still under threat.      Pubs can be real community hubs and it seems like the Queensbury really is – offering events for parents, children and families on top of being a good boozer.  I really hope it is still going strong when this crawl comes to an end!

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Chiswick Park

Chiswick Park Station opened on 1st July 1879 as Acton Green Station on the Metropolitan District Railway. It was renamed as Acton Green and Chiswick Park in 1887 before gaining its present name in 1910.

Like the last couple of stations I’ve visited(Ealing Common and Acton Town), it was rebuilt at the start of the 1930s as part of the extension of the Piccadilly Line from Hammersmith. Like the previous two, it is also from a design by Charles Holden. This was the first time I’d got off at this station and I really like the station tower, with the Underground logo on top, seems to loom over the platforms like a totem pole. This, according to wikipedia, was to make the station visible from nearby Chiswick High Road.

I was also rather taken with the windows in the ticket hall, as you can see from the gallery. Again according to wikipedia, these aspects of Holden’s station work were inspired by Alfred Grenander’s ‘Krumme Lanke’ station in Berlin.  Maybe one day once I’ve finished this,  I’ll be reviewing a German beerhall by Krumme Lanke as part of my Berlin blog…

The Pub: The Duke Of Sussex, South Parade, W4 5LF

After admiring the circular qualities of Chiswick Park tube, I and my American companions headed off in the direction of Acton Green. We were originally heading for The Swan pub via Acton Lane thanks to a Twitter recommendation but there was a change to the advertised schedule as we passed ‘The Duke of Sussex’.  From its rather impressive exterior the place looked rather nice, and coming from Sussex, I couldn’t resist the allure of the name so we went here instead!

Inside, it is very smart and clean gastropub with touches of its old pub heritage remaining in the shape of the decorated glass windows partitioning parts of the pub’s front room.   In addition to the main bar area, there is also a seated back room dining area with an impressive roof and collection of chandeliers, as captured in the gallery.

As it was a sunny day, we parked ourselves in the spacious back garden.  Given the area, its menu is certainly placed within the higher end of gastropubs, with a distinctly Spanish flavour with a number of Paella dishes. Staying true to my  Sussex routes, I went for Fish and Chips but the other dishes looked particularly nice too – especially the steak!

Given the standard of food, this almost feels like a restaurant with a very big garden and a selection of real ales – no bad thing in my opinion.  A fine place to grab a pint!

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Acton Town

Acton Town Station first opened as Mill Hill Park on 1st July 1879,  before gaining its present name in 1910.  Like Ealing Common Station before it, it was rebuilt at the start of the 1930s ahead of the transfer of the District Line branch to Uxbridge over to the Piccadilly Line.

Once again,  Charles Holden was behind the station redesign.  While I like the ticket hall building, I think the structures at platform level look pretty weathered and could do with a lick of paint!

It is currently served by the serene District Line(stopping at intermediate stations) and the slightly swifter Piccadilly Line.

Looking at the tube map ahead of this visit, I was struck by just how many tube stations Acton has.  In addition to Acton Town, there is East Acton, North Acton and West Acton.  By the end of this journey, I will be an Acton aficionado.

The Pub: The King’s Head, 214 High Street(Acton),  W3 9NX

The journey to Acton Town took us deep into suburbia with no pubs in the immediate vicinity of the station, a good introduction to the pub crawl to the two American visitors accompanying me!    My initial searching and call for suggestions had drawn a blank on Twitter so I took the the decision to head down Gunnersbury Lane towards Mill Hill Road. Initially this street seemed very residential too so I was thinking we were going down a blind alley but just as the road curves onto Crown Street,   a few pubs spring into view.

We went for the Kings Head, on the High Street, as we were impressed by the striking exterior.   It has a large and spacious interior complete with dart board and pool table, as well as equipment for disco/karaoke.  It was pretty quiet when we dropped in, although to be fair it was a Wednesday evening. It definitely felt like you were out of central London, I had a quick joke with the barman about the perils of falling asleep on a nightbus to these parts and ending up at the Hayes Bypass-  both he and a friend of mine have managed to do that…

The pub is in decent nick and seemed welcoming enough to us. Unsurprisingly it felt like quite a local’s pub, but not in a bad way, the beer was fine and it didn’t have the unpleasant air of The White Horse in Shepherd’s Bush Market.  I doubt I’ll be back in this part of Acton anytime soon mind you.

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