Barking

While Metropolitan District Railway services began serving Barking in 1902, the station itself first opened for rail services way back in 1854.  Today it remains a key interchange with both Underground, London Overground’s wonderfully named ‘GOBLIN’  route and National Rail C2c services all stopping here. It is also the Eastern Terminus for the Hammersmith and City Line.

Architecturally I didn’t find Barking Station inspiring. Unlike some of the others on this stretch of the line, it has been ‘extensively’ modernised and is now a drab, concrete affair. My friend remarked it was reminiscent of Euston Station, in terms of its ’60s/70s bleakness! However apparently it is Grade II listed, but I guess different strokes for different folks?

The Pub: The Spotted Dog, 15a Longbridge Road, IG11 8TN

You can’t miss The Spotted Dog from the station really, it’s just a minute or two down Longbridge Road. Before visiting it, I had been told on Twitter that it was the only good pub in the borough, so while that was a good omen for here, I’d say it was less so for the other stations I have to do in Barking and Dagenham!

From the outside, it looks like a small but friendly pub. My hopes were immediately raised by the fact it advertised it had real ales available.  There was indeed, Bombardier and Greene King. Sadly the barman was having some trouble with the Bombardier on our visit, but these things happen – at least it is available!  We sat in the pleasant, wood panelled room by the entrance closest to the station. There are various items of railway memorabilia on the wall.

There is also the ‘Dog House’ bar, which has timber beams, boothed areas and various garden machinery on the walls. This felt like an area people may sit if they were eating. There is a standard ‘pub grub’ menu that seemed pretty reasonably priced.   In addition, there is the ‘Clink bar’, which I think is named because the door looks like one out of a prison.   There are a few chairs and tables outside in a small seating area, backing onto the road. The pub also advertised regular jazz nights too. It was a sunny day on our visit so there were a number of people making the most of the early-spring sunshine.

Until last year, it was run by Davys of the wine bars fame. When their lease expired, there were fears the pub would shut altogether but thankfully it is still going strong.  The pub itself dates back to 1870 so it is reassuring it has lived to fight another day.

The Spotted Dog is a decent pub. If you are after a drink in the Barking area, this is probably a good shout.

East Ham

East Ham Station is another which opened to Metropolitan District Railway services in 1902.  Architecturally the station retains many original features both at platform and the station building itself – both of which are in keeping with the other stops on the line that opened at the same time.

The supports for the platform canopies actually read LTSR, which stands for London,  Tilbury and Southend Railway, the company that opened the mainline station here in 1858. On the platforms,  there is also still the lightbox operated ‘next train’ displays, alongside the modern platform indicator system.

A nice and unexpected touch to East Ham Station comes in the form of a small garden area to the edge of one of the platforms. This is not something I expected to see at a stop that serves one of London’s Inner suburbs. There is even what looks like a small Yukka Plant. There is also a bench within the area, but I’m not really sure how anyone would access it as it seems to be behind the railings.

The Pub: The Denmark Arms, 381 Barking Road, E6 1LA

Much like West Ham before it, there aren’t really many drinking options at all by East Ham station. To find a pub, we had to walk for around 10minutes south down High Street North to reach The Denmark Arms, on the junction with Barking Road.

The interior is suitably traditional, with the green tiled walls and old wooden bar at the centre of the pub. Sadly tradition doesn’t extend to the drink choices, where once again it was an ale free zone so we opted for a Kronenberg. Indeed, the offers above the bar are for Aftershock and Jagerbombs, rather than cask ales.  There are numerous pictures of the local area in days gone by on the walls.  It advertises that it shows live football, as well as having a pool table and fruit machines.

The Denmark Arms is another pub that feels in need of some TLC. While the building itself isn’t as interesting as the Boleyn Tavern at Upton Park,  the interior isn’t without merit and you feel that it could be spruced up quite nicely into a good pub. Sadly at present I’d say there isn’t a terrible amount to recommend about the place. But then again, if you are after a pint and in the area, I’m not too sure you have too many other options!

(This pub has no website)

Upton Park

We’re forever blowing bubbles! Yes, it’s Upton Park, West Ham’s home ground and tube station too.  The station first opened in June 1902 on the Metropolitan District Line.  It is now served by both the District and Hammersmith and City Lines. The station building itself is a pleasing brick structure, similar to that at Plaistow.

As I said much earlier on in the blog, the District Line rules the roost when it comes to stations with ‘Park’ in the title. That incidentally sounds like a good pointless question. However the urban area around Upton Park is light years apart from the suburban greenery of say Chiswick and Ravenscourt Parks. But that sums up the variety of destinations you get on the tube, and is part of why doing this blog is so enjoyable!

The Pub: The Boleyn Tavern,  1 Barking Road, E6 1PW

To reach this pub, we had to, much like Elijah Wood in that awful US Film, head down ‘Green Street.’  However I haven’t been kicked out of Harvard so I managed to resist the allure of the West Ham casuals….

The Boleyn Tavern is a few minutes away from the Boleyn Ground, more commonly referred to as Upton Park.  On the roundabout opposite the pub, there is a statue of the core of West Ham players that made up England’s 1966 World Cup Winning team. With it’s ornate exterior, you can tell this is a pub of real historical interest.

The interior is equally impressive.  The most interesting part of the pub is the back room. The curved ceiling almost feels like an ornate theatre, topped with stained glass windows. It’s certainly the most lavish pool room I’ve seen in any pub! The interior rooms are divided with wood panelling and cut class reminiscent of places like The Argyll Arms. In short, this is certainly not what you’d expect from a pub so close to Upton Park. It does really feel like it could do with some TLC mind you and notices around the pub about drug use not being tolerated give you an idea of what it could be like on a Saturday night.

Another plus in the pub’s favour, it does ale! After three unsuccessful tries in East London, we finally got a pint of ale. They only had London Pride but still. Unsurprisingly given it is right next door to the ground, it has a few TVs showing live sports and football.

I think  for the impressive interior alone, this pub is well worth a visit.  Whatever you do, just make sure the Hammers aren’t playing at home! I do wonder what will happen when West Ham move out and the ground is redeveloped into a housing and retail complex. Perhaps the pub and the area around it will be gentrified. Only time will tell!

(The pub has no website)

Plaistow

Plaistow Station opened on the Metropolitan District Line in June 1902. The station itself had first opened back in 1858 for mainline rail services. British Rail services through here to Southend were withdrawn back in 1962 and today it is served by the District and Hammersmith and City Lines

Plaistow is a rather pleasant station that seems to have survived the changing architectural fads of London Underground relatively unscathed. The platforms retain the traditional canopies similar to those seen on other sub surface lines. The ticket hall itself is also of merit, with its old wooden roof supported by beams in a grid formation. It looked like it had just been painted on our visit, so everything was looking rather smart.

The Pub: The Britannia, 2 Plaistow Grove, E15 3ER

After the longer than usual walk for a pub at West Ham, we were glad The Britannia was somewhat closer to the station this time around. To reach it, head north along Plaistow Road, until you reach Plaistow Grove where the pub is located.

From the outside, it looks like a small, traditional locals pub with its tiled exterior. And indeed, that’s exactly what it is. In many respects, you could imagine going to this pub 30 years ago and it being much the same. It’s got that typical pub carpet, as you’ll see from the photos, as well as net curtains. There is also a pool table as well as several TVs.

I don’t think any of the above is necessarily a bad thing, and it was certainly doing a decent trade when we visited. Sadly again there was no ale, so we went for Grolsch this time. It certainly seems to be an Irish pub, given all the flags hanging around the place. Horse racing also seems to be the flavour of the day, with At the Races on two of the TVs. There was also a figurine of John McCirrick, controversial racing tipster, behind the bar.

As pubs go, there is nothing wrong with The Britannia. It won’t set the world alight but if you’re after a pint (of lager!), you’ll be ok. I think I somewhat dropped the ball on this one, there is apparently a far more interesting pub also near Plaistow called the Black Lion. It’s in the CAMRA good beer guide and was an old favourite of Bobby Moore’s, as the stories go.

Oh well, as I have said recently – I’m doing 270 stations, I can’t get it right everytime!

(This pub has no website)

 

West Ham

West Ham marks my 100th station on the journey so far and seems quite a fitting stop to mark the milestone. Early on in the crawl, a friend of mine who worked for the Underground thought it would be one of the hardest stations to find a pub for.

West Ham first opened on the Metropolitan District Railway on 2nd June 1902. In 1999, there were major changes when the Jubilee Line extension arrived here and DLR services started in 2011. It is also served by c2c(it stands for capital to coast) services from Fenchurch Street to Southend.  Amazingly, in the early 20th century the District Line used to run the occasional train to Southend,  as shown on this iteration of the original Harry Beck map in 1933. 

Architecturally, the station is very striking which is in keeping with all of those on the Jubilee Line extension. It also feels very spacious thanks to the future proofing of the designers. I quite like the station clock that towers over the platforms and surrounding areas. It seems like a kind of art deco homage to me.

The Pub: The Greyhound, 136 West Ham Lane, E15 4PT

My friend’s ominous predictions were backed up on Twitter – @LondonPubSearch even speculated it could be the bleakest spot on the trail overall. As predicted, there were no pubs particularly close to the station so we made the trek to The Greyhound, about 15 minutes walk from the station along Manor Road.

I have to say, from the outside, it all looked pretty grim. They were quite a few bald blokes smoking outside and I was wondering whether we would get in and find England flags hanging from every wall.  To be fair to the place, it wasn’t half as bad as I had been expecting. We didn’t get the eyes following us around the room as we walked in. Neither did it feel like a fight was imminent at any point. Visiting in mid afternoon no doubt helped in that respect. The barmaid did have a deeper voice than me, but I suppose that is useful in her line of work!

Sadly there was no ale on tap, so we had to go for Kronenberg again. The pub itself is divided into two main rooms, one which is relatively small and has a pool table in it, the other of which makes up the main seating area. This area has a dart board, as well as an old piano in the corner. There is plenty of West Ham memorabilia on the wall, hardly surprising given the proximity to Upton Park.  The walls are also decorated with a number of sombreros, which seemed slightly less obvious. Having just researched it now, I think it must be because the owners are Spanish. As well as showing the football, the pub also advertised live music gigs and karaoke nights.

While I can’t imagine myself coming back here again, it certainly isn’t the worst place I’ve been to so far. I probably wouldn’t recommend visiting on a West Ham matchday though…

(This pub has no website)

 

 

 

 

Bromley-by-Bow

Bromley-by-Bow Station first began life as simply ‘Bromley’, served by the Metropolitan District Railway from 1902 onwards, having opened as an overground rail station in 1858.  British Rail services stopped in 1962 and the station is now served by both the District and Hammersmith and City Lines. It was renamed Bromley-by-Bow in 1967, to avoid confusion with Bromley in South London.

Sadly the station itself is a rather drab, 1970s building after the original was destroyed by a fire.  Some historic elements do remain at the platform level, such as the decorative supports for the platform canopies.  The area around the station feels rather overshadowed by the busy A12 trunk road, heading in the direction of the Blackwall Tunnel and looms large over the nearby houses. There is definitely an industrial feel to the surroundings, with an old gasworks and abandoned factory buildings on the other side of the A12.

The Pub: The Blue Anchor, 67 Bromley High Street, E3 3EN

To find the Blue Anchor, when leaving the station you need to take the steps down to St Leonards Street, then head along that road until you reach Bromley High Street where you will find the pub.  The route to the Blue Anchor serves as a sad reminder of the fragility of pubs existence outside of Central London, with a couple of derelict ones evident in the short journey from the tube to the pub.

The Blue Anchor has a relatively modest, well maintained exterior. The interior feels as if it has been recently decorated and the paintwork on the walls looks relatively fresh. Initially when we arrived on a Saturday lunchtime, we were pretty much the only people in there but it soon started to fill up.

Usually Trumans, an ale brewed in East London, is available but it was off on our visit so we had to go for Kronenberg. Above the bar there are a number of classic quips related to drinking and life in general,  including the charming line from Rodney Dangerfield – ‘if arseholes could fly, this would be an airport!.’

With football on one screen and the races on another, it still feels like a traditional boozer. There is also a dart board and pool table too. Just before we left, I heard what must have been one of the best quotes so far on my journey. One of the locals said to another ‘Yeah but this ain’t Germany, this is Bromley-by-Bow!.’  I am not 100% sure of the context, but I think it could have been football related.

This is a decent boozer in an area that sadly feels as if it has lost a number of its pubs in recent years. If I lived round here, it would do me fine as a local.

(The pub has no website.)

Mile End

Mile End Station first opened on 2nd June 1902 as part of the ‘Whitechapel and Bow’ railway. This line served as a link between the Metropolitan District Line services which had previously terminated at Whitechapel,  and overground rail services that operated from Bromley, now known as Bromley By Bow. These tracks are now used by the District and Hammersmith and City Line services from the station.

The station itself was rebuilt when the Central Line arrived immediately after the Second World War. The building itself has quite a 1930s feel and reminds me of some of the suburban ones at the western ends of the District and Piccadilly Lines.

The Pub: The Victoria, 110 Grove Road, E3 5TH

I was originally intending to visit the Palm Tree, following Twitter recommendations. When I arrived there, it felt like I had accidentally crashed a private party. I was waiting for a friend so decided to leave, as it felt a little awkward. That’s when things got really surreal as one of said large group of people came out of the pub and started calling over at me to come back as I was walking off!  That was all a bit too much for me on a Sunday afternoon. I instead went to The Victoria,  on Grove Road, which is off Mile End Road and just under 10mins from the tube station.

The Victoria has a rather standard 1950s exterior, looking similar to small housing blocks you see throughout inner London suburbs. It has a spacious interior, including a small raised stage are where bands play, with stage lights and a disco ball. There are quite a few comfy sofas dotted around the place, which was where we gravitated towards.

The pub has table football and in their outside seating area, there is a table tennis table too. I’d say the interior veers between traditional decoration, in terms of the wooden bar, wall paper and wood panelling and ‘modern eclectic’. Interesting items on display include a boars head behind where we were sat, as well as a mannequin hula girl in a straw skirt..

On the ale front, there was only Bombardier available on tap but I think others are usually available and it was just the end of a biusy week! As we visited on a Sunday, it was only really roasts available on the menu, which I didn’t really have the appetite for. They looked pretty hearty mind you.  During the week it looks like a solid burger type place. Given its proximity to Queen Mary, a good few of the clientele when we popped in were students.

Apart from a slight misunderstanding when I first arrived over me taking photos for this site, I liked The Victoria. The sofas are comfy and it has a decent laid back vibe.  I would certainly go back!

 Visit their website