As an area, Elephant and Castle has a bit of bad reputation. This is no doubt due to the rather unwelcoming roundabout that greets you as you get off the tube here and the drab 1960s buildings that dominate the area.While that is true, it is incredibly close to Central London and you can easily walk to Waterloo and the South Bank in less than half an hour.
Elephant and Castle first opened on the City and South London Railway on 18th December 1890. Sadly, like Borough, no original features of that station now remain. Further services arrived in August 1906, as part of the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway, later thankfully shortened to the Bakerloo Line. The original building for the Bakerloo Line Station thankfully still remains and one of the classic Leslie Green style designs seen throughout the network. There is also a nice touch there, in the shape of a print of Elephant and Castle from what I assume was the Edwardian Era.
One of the other things you have to navigate when getting off at Elephant and Castle Station is the subway underneath the roundabout. It is like some sort of modernist maze, there are so many entrances and exits it can take ages to get to where you want to go. On our visit, a man had clearly given up and was wandering over grass embankments, asking us how to get to Nandos. I assume he got there..
I often imagine more of London would have looked like this area, had widespread rebuilding taken place in the 1960s, I’m very glad it didn’t! The first time I visited E&C back in the mid 1990s, the shopping centre had been painted pink to make it more distinctive. Thankfully it isn’t anymore..
The Pub: Prince of Wales, 51 St. George’s Road, SE1 6ER
Given everything I knew about the area immediately around the station, my hopes weren’t high for a pub here. Having ruled out the Wetherspoons above the station, we set off up St Georges Road in the direction of the Imperial War Museum.
Having done some prior research, my friend had found decent reviews of a place called the Prince of Wales, so we came across that a few minutes up the road and popped in. It looked like a fairly traditional pub from the exterior, which is actually quite a nice building. The missing ‘e’ from the sign was perhaps an omen of things to come.
The Prince of Wales is divided into two rooms, one smaller room with a pool table inside, and a larger one backing onto the garden. Both were very busy on the Saturday afternoon we visited. Sadly there were no ales on tap so we went for a Kronenberg. We initially tried to find a spot in the main room but had to hover by the bar. It definitely felt like a locals pub and a few eyes were certainly on us. We then moved into the pool room which was more welcoming.
Regrettably this wasn’t an enjoyable visit, it’s one of the few times I’ve felt I’ve stumbled into a locals pub at a bad time! Perhaps you’d be better placed visiting The Rockingham Arms(the Wetherspoons) afterall..