For an area that is considered to be a hub of digital industries and hipster hangouts, Old Street Station itself must rank as one of the bleakest on the network. It first opened in November 1901, as part of the City and South London Railway’s extension from Moorgate to Angel.
Following a 1960s rebuild, the entire station is now underground. Once you’re through the ticket barriers you find yourself in an unpleasant underpass which dates from the same period There are a number of shops based there, including a hairdressers and cafe, but I’m not sure I’d like to spend anymore time there than I had to!
With 9 potential exits, Old Street must also surely rank as one of the easiest stations to lose people at. It’s also not the quickest place to find them again, given that the exits place you at differing edges of the rather large roundabout above the station.
As well as Northern Line services, First Capital Connect operate a weekday service to Welwyn Garden City. This travels along what was known as the Northern City Line, which used to be a seventh(!) branch of the Northern Line until it transferred to British Rail in 1975.
The Pub: Old Fountain, 3 Baldwin Street, EC1V 9NU
To find the Old Fountain, leave the underpass that time forgot via Exit 8, heading north along City Road until you hit Baldwin Street, where the pub is located. It’s down a little side street so you could feasibly miss it if you didn’t know it was there. I first became aware of it on the O is for Old Street pub crawl, organised by the excellent Londonist website.
While it looks traditional from the outside, the interior is a mix of traditional features such as the old lamps, contrasted with an open, modern feel. In an interesting twist, there are fishtanks, which I don’t think I’ve encountered in any other pub on the crawl so far.
We didn’t eat here but the food that was coming out looked pretty impressive. It’s on the beer front where the Old Fountain really comes into its own, which may not surprise you seeing as it was CAMRA’s East London and City pub of the year in both 2011 and 2013. The selection of ales is extensive and rotated regularly, with a large beer board behind the bar displaying the latest options. On our visit, there were a number from one of my local breweries back home, Dark Star, in West Sussex. I went for Hophead, a refreshing light ale.
It is also well served on the lager front, with Brooklyn available on tap, as well as the Camden Town Unfiltered Hell. I wonder if the latter is named after the toilets at the Worlds End. The range of bottled lagers includes a number of the increasingly popular Brewdog range.
As well as the decently sized main area downstairs, there is also a popular roof terrace. For me, The Fountain Head is a perfect example of how to modernise a pub well. There are plenty traditional touches combined with a contemporary finish. On top of that, it has an excellent beer selection and is an essential stop for all London pub fans!