Northwood

Since I started the blog, many people questioned why I was visiting the stations in the order they opened, rather than on a line by line basis.  They warned me I’d end up having to trek from one end of London to another just for one station. I didn’t think this would be an issue, as generally a set of stations opened on the same line on the same day.

Northwood is probably the first station where I’ve been cursing my own logic.   Given that the last station I visited was Hounslow Central, the journey to Northwood took us the best part of an hour and four tube changes. Oh well!

The station itself first opened on 1st September 1887,  on the Metropolitan Railway’s extension of its line to Pinner.  It was rebuilt in the 1960s so architecturally, there isn’t very much to write home about.

The Pub: The Gate, Rickmansworth Road, HA6 2RH

Much like Pinner before it,  you immediately get the suburban vibe when you get off at the station. At the time of writing(October 2013), there is even a Blockbusters adjacent to the station. I wonder if it will still be trading when I finish my journey at Wood Lane…

There was a Wetherspoons/chain pub just down from the station but given I am trying to avoid them unless absolutely necessary(i.e: Finchley Road), we kept pressing on. Our final destination,  The Gate, is a fair walk from the station. The roads themselves are fairly leafy so providing the weather’s ok, it’s a nice enough walk!

Given its location on the outskirts of the suburbs, it is unsurprisingly well served by a decent car park by its mini outside garden area.    The Gate has a spacious interior, with an area dedicated solely to diners. The prominence of wooden beams helps to give it a traditional atmosphere.

On the ale front,  The Gate puts in a particularly strong showing with Doombar, London Pride and Youngs all available, as well as Adnams Lighthouse.  On their back wall there is even a chalk board showing how many pints of each ale they have sold. At £3.25 a pint, it also comes in at significantly cheaper than most of the pubs I’ve visited to date. There is also a quiz machine,  always a plus in my book!

On our Sunday afternoon visit, the pub had a fair amount of people in enjoying their Sunday roasts.  From the menu we spotted, the food offering is perhaps unsurprisingly more towards the gastro end of the market.  During the week there are decent deals like Two Burgers for £10, or Pizza Night, which I assume is the same but with Pizza!

If I were to live out in Zone 6, I think I’d need a decent local.  The Gate certainly ticks those boxes!  I’m sure I’d be a regular at Burger Night…

Visit their website

Hounslow Central

It is at this stage in the journey that my logic of visiting each station in the order they opened has started to throw up some tricky combinations.   Following on from Pinner is Hounslow Central, so my trail has jumped from one end of London to the other.

The station itself first opened on April Fools Day 1886 as Heston and Hounslow on the Metropolitan District Line branch line to Hounslow Barracks.  It gained its current name in 1925.Central is second in the Hounslow Trilogy of Tube Stations.  Hounslow East didn’t open until 1909 so it will be a little while before I return to these parts for the final chapter.

The station itself is a fairly typical suburban station.  On the sunny Sunday afternoon we visited, Hounslow looked fairly leafy from the platforms above street level.

The Pub: The Bulstrode, 55 Lampton Road, TW3 1JG

The Bulstrode is right by the station, so it didn’t take long to find.  The pub itself is based in a building reminiscent of a large suburban house.   Further adding to the suburban house vibe, the exterior is well stocked with hanging baskets and window boxes. The small yard at the front of the pub has plenty of wooden benches in it and serves as a decent enough beer garden.

The interior of the venue is fairly light and airy, without being particularly distinctive.  While I think the pub does serve ale, all the taps appeared to be off on our visit so we had to go for a Kronenberg.   The Bulstrode is going for the sporty pub vibe with a selection of memorabilia on the walls.  One of the more ‘interesting’ items was a photo of the infamous scene from the late 1980s where Vinnie Jones grabbed Gazza in a slightly compromising place.  Sadly the photo wasn’t signed by either protagonist.

The pub’s menu offers both English and Indian food, the latter is not surprising given the large Indian population in the area.   The food itself is very cheap, for example Fish and Chips is only £4.95 according to the pub’s website. Pub food under £5 generally sets the alarm bells off for me, but plenty of people seemed to be tucking in happily around us.

In short,  The Bulstrode certainly compares favourably in comparison to the grim offerings we came across earlier in Boston Manor and elsewhere.   While I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to come here,  it’s a solid bet if you need a pint in the Hounslow area.

Visit their website

Pinner

Pinner Station first opened on 25th May 1885 as the then northern terminus of the Metropolitan Railway.   It is the first station I’ve arrived and really felt removed from the built up atmosphere of Inner London.

While places like Richmond and Kew Gardens were more leafy than the average Zone 1 or 2 stop, they still felt fairly tightly packed in terms of housing, shops and activity.  Pinner felt much less densely populated to any of the stops I’d visited so far.

Getting off at Pinner, you really do get the feel of being in a small town in the Home Counties.  At the station, there was a noticeboard of the various local activity groups in Pinner – amateur dramatics, philosophy, local history… enough to keep any budding enthusiast busy!

Talking of local history, Pinner isn’t short of it.  It was where the love child of Lord Nelson and Emma Hamilton got run over by a Horse. It’s also Elton John’s birthplace. The surrealist cartoonist, Heath Robinson, also lived in Pinner, hence the Museum dedicated to him which we sadly didn’t have time to visit.

The Pub: The Oddfellow Arms,  2 Waxwell Lane, Pinner,  HA5 3EN

A short walk through the town centre and up the hill brings you to  The Oddfellows Arms, the pub recommended to me.  It was fairly quiet on our early Saturday afternoon visit.  The interior felt like a welcoming country pub, complete with wooden floorboards and comfy seats.  The side seating area where we based ourselves had an interesting collection of board games including one I’d never heard of before – Worst Case Scenario.  We didn’t risk finding out what that scenario was..

As well as Quiz Nights, which I was assured were very good, the pub also has regular Jazz and Music Nights. It also benefits from a spacious garden which I am sure came into its own over the past Summer.

According to the Hoodies on sale behind the bar, the pub has been going since the early 1850s. The pub itself was named after the ‘Oddfellows Society’,  a group of local ‘friendly societies’ that delivered co-operative welfare provision to their members. The Oddfellows Arms still closes during the afternoon, and the bell for last orders rang shortly before 3pm.  In our culture these days of relaxed(ish,..) licensing hours, it seemed strange to think at one point every pub was like this!

On finding out the pub was closing then, I asked the barmaid where else was good nearby. She said there was only one other pub as the others had closed due to trouble.  I couldn’t imagine Pinner being an area you got much trouble, unless a meeting of the Local History Society got particularly heated..

If I lived in Pinner,  I’d be very happy to have The Oddfellows Arms as my local!

Visit their website

Aldgate East

Aldgate East Station first opened on 6th October 1884 on the Metropolitan District Railway.  During expansionary works to the tube during the 1930s, the station was shifted very slightly to the East. This led it to be close enough to the next station East, St. Mary’s(Whitechapel Road) to necessitate the closure of the latter in April 1938.

For the eagle-eyed, there are a few nice touches at platform level. There are a number of small tiles depicting London landmarks, such as the Houses of Parliament, as well as Underground locations like 55 Broadway.

The station has a particularly pleasing exit underneath The Passmore Edwards Library building, located right beside The Whitechapel Art Gallery.

The Pub :  The White Hart,  89 Whitechapel High Street,  E1 7RA

The White Hart is just a couple of doors down from the tube station.

It has a fairly narrow interior which stretches back a fair way, so there is a decent amount of space for seating.   The interior, like the exterior, has a traditional wood paneled feel.  There are a number of interesting trinkets on the wall, including a number of items which look like garden machinery. As well as that, there is also a quiz machine!

The pub itself had a welcoming atmosphere when we dropped by on a Saturday afternoon.  As you’d expect, there is a decent ale selection with Doombar, Adnams and other ale staples.  What you wouldn’t necessarily expect is that alongside it’s ‘English food menu’,  The White Hart also boasts a comprehensive Thai menu too.

Being the adventurous soul that I am(ahem..), I went for Chicken Kiev and Chips but my friend tried something from the Thai menu.  Both were hearty portions, tasty and very well priced at £6. The pub also has a Sky Sports subscription with a projector on the back wall as well as a couple of TVs.

Like The Blind Beggar slightly further east on the trail,  The White Hart boasts a link to a grizzly chapter in London’s history.  According to a display above the bar, one of the men suspected of being ‘Jack the Ripper’,  George Chapman, lived in the cellar of the pub, working there as a barber.

Overall,  The White Hart is another good solid pub just to the east of the City of London.  It’s well worth a visit!

Monument

To any visitors new to London or the Underground, Monument Station is probably not the best place to start. It in itself seems quite simple, it’s on the District and Circle Line.   But it is linked to the sprawling multi-line and multi-level Bank station.  The complex itself has been nicknamed ‘The Worm’,   something you’ll understand if you see this diagram of how it all joins together!

For now, I’ll just stick to Monument, Bank will have its day. It first opened as ‘Eastcheap’ on 6th October 1884, the same day as Cannon Street station which marked the completion of the ‘Inner Circle’ Line, which is now today’s Circle Line.

Overall, Monument Station is in good condition. It feels like it had a good refurb not too long ago.   The platform Roundels appear to be flanked with Griffins, the ceremonial mascot of the City of London.

The Pub:  The Ship, 11 Talbot Court, EC3V 0BP

When you leave the station, it’s worth stopping for a moment to admire The Monument itself.  Built to commemorate the Great Fire of London of 1666,  it was designed by Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke.  While the recent skyscrapers across the City may have obscured the view a little, it is still well worth the 311 steps to the top!

In amongst the skyscrapers,  there is still plenty of the narrow streets that characterise the City of London.  It’s down one of those narrow streets just north of the station, Talbot Court, we found our pub, The Ship.   Like many in the City, its a Nicholsons pub.   According to its website, prior to the Great Fire of London, it was called The Talbot but after the rebuild was renamed The Ship due to all the dockers that drank here.

The exterior is decked out with an array of hanging baskets. The downstairs room is quite thin and narrow, like a number of London’s historic pubs. It has a rather traditional feel – especially the red ceiling, always a favourite of mine in pubs.   The pub had a standard selection of ales plus a few slightly less well known offerings, including the ominously named ‘Gathering Storm.’

Like many traditional city pubs, there is also a dedicated dining room upstairs – ‘The Talbot Room.’  The Ship doesn’t have a garden but given its in a small courtyard, plenty of people were drinking outside on our visit and that’s where we perched ourselves.   Again, it’s another pub popular with city workers and at weekends is only open on Saturday lunchtimes and afternoons.

Overall I was a fan of The Ship. I rather like these historic narrow London pubs, always good to pop in for a quick pint or two!

Visit their website