Before reviewing Oxford Circus, a quick word from me – this weekend has marked the first anniversary of me starting the blog. For the most part, I’ve been lucky to stumble on countless good pubs and even when I haven’t, it’s still been good fun! Thank you to everyone who has enjoyed reading the journey so far and here’s to the next year!
As tourist hotspots in London go, you don’t get much hotter than Oxford Circus, the link between the two key shopping streets of Oxford Street and Regent Street. The station first opened in July 1900 on the Central London Railway, the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway(snappy names back then..) arrived in 1906 and the Victoria Line in 1969. It is the fourth busiest station on the network and the busiest that doesn’t serve a mainline rail station.
In terms of station buildings, two fine examples of classic station architecture remain. The CLR building, one of the Harry Bell Measures efforts, and the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway’s Leslie Green ox-blood red design. Green was prolific on the stations front in the early 1900s, so I have a feeling I will seeing a lot of his efforts in the coming months! Both buildings are now paying their way to the tube network – Aberdeen Steak House is resident in Greens, while there is ‘Wok to Work’ at Harry Bell’s place.
The Pub: The Argyll Arms, 18 Argyll Street, W1F 7TP
I think The Argyll Arms could be the closest pub to a tube station I’ve visited so far. It is the next building down from the Leslie Green station building. Like the two station buildings, it is Grade II listed. Inside it retains a traditional Victorian interior, complete with various booths, intended to shield the class-conscious Victorians from the drinkers in the other booths. In the excellent ‘London’s Best Pubs’ by Peter Haydon, it is described as having one of the best preserved pub interiors around.
Unlike some of the other pubs I’ve just visited, this very much is on the tourist trail – after all, how could you miss it?! It’s part of the Nicholsons chain, who run a fair number of pubs across Zone 1 area. On the ale front on our visit, we went for the Nicholson’s Pale Ale, which is very nice. There was the Welsh favourite Brains SA alongside good old London Pride.
The back room is equally impressive, complete with hanging chandeliers and more of the fine etched glass from the booths in the front room. To me, it is the star of the attraction. I tried to get a good shot looking down on it from the upstairs area to do justice to it.
As I have said before, I usually go in rather warily to Zone 1 pubs so close to tourist sites for obvious reasons. The Argyll Arms is however a fine pub. Give the shops a miss and pop in for yourself!