Wimbledon Park

Wimbledon Park is the third in this stretch of stations on the District Line which all opened on 3rd June 1889.

It is a relatively small station.  At platform level there is some intricate supports for the canopies that span the platforms.  There is also some decorative ironwork on the stairwell up to the station exit.

Some people have said the District Line is green because it passes by so many green spaces and parks.  Indeed it stops at six stations with Park in the title. (I’ve already done St James Park, Ravenscourt Park and Chiswick Park.)  I’m dubious to how leafy Upton Park is mind you..

The Pub: The Woodman, 222 Durnsford Road, SW19 8DR

Wimbledon Park felt equally, if not more suburban, than Southfields.   The Woodman Pub is just up from the tube station,  on Durnsford Road.     Before we entered the pub, we noticed what must be ‘The Woodman’ himself on the pub’s frontage.  Although in the dark I thought it looked a little like he was carrying a scythe..

The pub is part of the ‘Flame Grill’ chain, which doesn’t feel too dissimilar to a Harvester.  The interior itself is fairly spacious and there is also a small garden, but by the time we arrived it was far too cold and late for sitting outside.

As this was the third pub on this leg of the journey, we also stopped to have some food here.  According to the pub’s menu, the food comes with a ‘flaming guarantee’ –  if you aren’t satisfied, they will replace it apparently.  Fortunately we were so we didn’t have to put that guarantee to the test – the criss-cross fries with my burger went down particularly well.

The Woodman also has a quiz machine.  When I started the blog back in March I was rather worried they were vanishing from London’s pubs, but they seem to be fairing marginally better in the more suburban locations.

Being part of a chain group, it is perhaps inevitable The Woodman feels a little generic.  But the food was decent and it had ales on tap like London Pride, as opposed to something like John Smith.  I’d come back here again for a pint.

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Southfields Station is the second of four stations on the Wimbledon branch of the District Line that all opened on the same day –  3rd June 1889.  Like East Putney before it,  it was also served by mainline rail services until 1941 and  owned by British Rail right up until privatisation in 1994.

Southfields Station is listed as the most convenient for those wishing to go to watch the Tennis at Wimbledon. As well as no doubt being packed full of people who still think it is witty to shout ‘come on Tim’ during those two weeks, the station platforms are also redecorated in adverts each year.

Earlier this year it was the turn of washing powder brand Ariel, who coincidentally used Tim Henman in their TV ads a few years back,  who installed a whole host of tennis related fun and special effects .  That’s according to the CBS Outdoor press release anyway –  I think I was up in Willesden Green and Kilburn as the tournament was going on! I have to say I do like the sound of the crowd cheering as the tube pulls in…

The Pub: The Gardeners, 268 Merton Road, SW18 5JL

This was only my second visit to Southfields. My first hadn’t been a particularly happy time – it was towards the end of a rather jinxed flat hunt in October 2012 and the place I viewed here hadn’t solved my problems either…

The pub we visited,  Gardeners, is a fair walk from the station.   Before entering,  I noticed its impressive green tiled exterior. I don’t think you find too many tiled pubs these days, I certainly don’t recall finding many on the crawl. With the well lit, spacious interior combined with comfy seats, the pub has a welcoming atmosphere which suits the vibe of a suburban pub well.

As a Youngs pub(no surprise given their former brewery was only up the road), you get their usual strong ale range.    Like a number of pubs I’ve visited recently, it has a good selection of board games.   I spotted a ‘Goldenballs‘ offering, based on the now defunct ITV show with Jasper Carrott.  I only hope the board game is better than the TV show was.

While we didn’t eat here,  The Gardeners has a hearty looking menu with themed food nights during the week.  Who could go wrong with ‘Spice Night’ or ‘Pie and Pint Night’?  With both a dog water bowl and bones available at request, it also seems like a canine friendly pub. Although I missed it, the pub also has a garden.

Like I’ve said with a few suburban/outer London pubs recently,  I’d be glad to have The Gardeners as as my local!  Certainly worth a visit if you’re in the area.

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East Putney

After my trek up to Zone 7, I was rather pleased to return to the relatively central(in comparison) East Putney in Zone 2.  It first opened on the Metropolitan District Railway on 3rd June 1889 as part of the extension of that line to Wimbledon.

The station was initially served by mainline rail services when it first opened, as the extension of the branch had been built by the London and South Western Railway.  Despite these services ending way back in 1941, the section of line still remained the property of British Rail until privatisation in 1994, when it was sold to London Underground for the tidy sum of £1.

Architecturally, East Putney is a rather interesting station.   In addition to the pleasing but standard ticket office building, there is a rather striking station sign, as captured in the gallery.  After doing a bit of research myself(first time for everything..) it seems as if it was put up in 1982 by part of a PR exercise by British Olivetti.   It was even called ‘Piazza Di Putney’  – well, it was the 1980s…

The Pub:  The Prince of Wales, 138 Upper Richmond Road, SW15 2SP

You can tell East Putney is a fairly salubrious area,  the station itself has a florist in situ for all those commuters who may have forgotten an anniversary/the birthday of a loved one.  Providing you haven’t,  head a short distance up Upper Richmond Road which will bring you to The Prince of Wales.  Don’t head too far up or you’ll end up at Fez Club..

The pub has a rather pristine looking exterior, painted in white.  The interior itself is a mix of the traditional pub vibe with the wooden panels and the modern gastro with its uncluttered, well lit layout. A particularly nice touch to me is the collection of old tankards on the wall.

On our visit, there were a couple of interesting ales on offer, including Red Head and Tunnel Vision which I went for.  When I pick a beer on the basis of its name, I am always a little apprehensive but this was a good solid pint.   At £4, it was a little pricey but I suppose keeping the outside of the pub that clean isn’t cheap.

During our visit there was also a guy playing acoustic guitar.  I’m not sure if he had any connection with the pub or was trying to launch an impromptu open mic night. He wasn’t a patch on the gent that we came across in Putney Bridge in July though!

The Prince of Wales was another good find. Certainly worth dropping in if you’re passing through!

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The trip to Rickmansworth was the first stop on my journey to be out of Greater London altogether.  It falls within the charmingly named ‘Three Rivers’ Local Authority.  It opened on the same day as Northwood Station, 1st September 1887.

As well as being served by the Metropolitan Line, trains from the National Rail Chiltern Line also stop here on their journey from Marylebone to Aylesbury, offering a speedier journey than the Met line into Baker Street which takes just under 40 minutes.

The station itself is fairly leafy with a number of hanging baskets and plants on the platform.  The roof of one of the platforms reminded me of a lower league football stand for some reason.

The Pub:  The Coach and Horses, 22 High Street, Rickmansworth, WD3 1ER

Rickmansworth is a small town in its own right and we passed along some pleasant streets en route to the pub. Being outside Greater London,   the buses aren’t red anymore.  I spotted one that was named after Luther Blissett –  a former football star at nearby Watford FC and latterly the alias of a group of Italian anarchists.

Following on from the other pubs nearby, The Coach and Horses looks every bit the charming country pub from its flowering exterior. The interior follows much the same pattern, with plenty of wooden beams that make it feel like an old cottage.   On the ale front we went for the ever reliable Landlord.   Again, like a number of the more gastro-pubs I’ve visited so far, there is a separate room given over to diners.  We didn’t have time to eat but once again the roasts looked rather impressive.

Where I think the Coach and Horses really comes into its own is with its garden.  On the warm Autumnal Sunday afternoon we visited,  it was a great spot to enjoy a pint.  I really liked the fact old (presumably beer?) barrels had been refashioned as plant pots.  As well as that, we noticed a rather impressive apple tree with a squirrel running up it, to further add to the country vibe.

The Coach and Horses is a Zone 7 gem. Being the final stop on a rather epic journey that had started in Hounslow Central, it needed to be good and it certainly didn’t disappoint!   I’m sure there are some fine country walks that can be done nearby, this would be the perfect place to stop in afterwards!

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