75 Stations in and I’ve finally hit the first to open that was truly ‘Underground.’ All that have come before fall into what are now called sub-surface lines – while they are obviously in many places below street level, they were constructed via a technique called ‘cut and cover’, where roads were effectively dug up with the tracks put underneath and then re-roofed. This means the tracks are only just below street level, which is why you can sometimes get mobile signal on stretches of the District and Circle Lines.
Borough Station first opened on 18th December 1890, as part of the City and South London Railway, the first ‘deep-level’ tube. The original section of the line ran from Stockwell to King William Street, however the latter had a short shelf-life and closed in 1900 when a station was constructed at London Bridge instead.
The CSLR was quite a trail-blazer, not only was it the first deep-level tube, but it was also the first to offer one flat fare rate. Then again with tiny slits for windows(due to the fact it was assumed passengers had little to see in the tunnels) and carriages that got nicknamed ‘padded cells’, perhaps its not surprising..
The station closed during the 1920s to expand the tunnels to improve capacity and allow more modern trains to run. It became part of the new unified Edgware, Highgate and Morden Line which in turn became the Northern Line in 1937. Sadly for somewhere with such history, Borough Station building itself dates from a 1960s-rebuild and has a drab, functional feel.
The Pub: The Royal Oak, 44 Tabard Street, SE1 4JU
Borough Tube is very much on the cusp of Central London, with London Bridge just up the road. The Royal Oak pub is a few minutes from the tube, down Tabard Street. The area immediately around the pub is a mixture of old shops and houses with new apartment blocks looming above.
The Royal Oak has a traditional, tiled exterior. The interior also has a traditional feel with a wooden bar that spans both the two rooms the pub is sub-divided into. The pub itself is one of two London outposts of the Sussex Brewery, Harveys. As a native Brightonian, The Royal Oak often served as my home from home when living in London.
The walls are decorated with a combination of images of the Harveys Brewery itself in Lewes, as well as posters from old London Music Halls. My personal favourite though is a TfL advert from around 10 years ago that could serve as an inspiration for the blog – ‘Pubs and Bars by Tube and Bus.’
As a Harveys pub, you get their strong range of ales – Sussex Best is my favourite but other offerings include Armada Ale and a number of seasonal offerings. Bonfire Boy is very popular around Fireworks Night, another claim to fame for Lewes.
On the food front, it’s good solid fare – steak and ale pies, fish and chips etc, and ample portions too! The Royal Oak has always been one of my favourite pubs in London. After a visit to Borough Market, it’s well worth going slightly off the beaten track to pop in here for a fine pint in a traditional setting.