Waterloo is the busiest of all stations on the Underground network, with a staggering 88million+ journeys beginning and ending here in the financial year 2012/13. It first opened on the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway in March 1906. The Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway began calling here in September 1926 as part of its extension to Kennington.
Despite being based underground, the Waterloo and City was until 1994 considered a part of the British Rail network. Upon privatisation, it was sold to London Underground for the very reasonable sum of £1. The Waterloo and City Line is the only one on the network to run underground for its entire, admittedly short, length. This means that when maintenance work needs to be carried out on the trains, they need to be hoisted from the shafts below ground by the aid of a crane. This happened in 2006. There used to be a lift specially for this purpose but it was demolished during the construction of Waterloo International in the early 1990s.
The Jubilee Line extension arrived here in 1999. Much of the station itself is subsumed into the overall mainline rail complex, which with its grand glass roof, is pretty striking in its own right. One of the slightly more bizarre features of the tube station is the two model elephants by the escalators in the Waterloo Road ticket hall. This is one of the parts of the station that feels like it was redone during the Jubilee Line extension, so I assume they date from then. If anyone can shed any further light on it, let me know!
The Pub: The King’s Arms, 25 Roupell Street, SE1 8TB
Exiting the station via Waterloo Road is your best bet to reach The King’s Arms. Head north along the road and turn off onto Sandell Street. You then need to go under the railway arches on C0rnwall Road, again heading north until you reach Roupell Street where you will find the pub.
Before getting onto the pub itself, I just want to take a minute to describe Roupell Street itself. It is a narrow street comprised of low-rise terraced Georgian housing. Despite only being a couple of minutes walk, it feels a world away from the large, modern office developments that flank Waterloo Station. It felt particularly atmospheric once dusk had set in.
The King’s Arms is another fine, traditional pub. The front bar remains divided into a ‘saloon’ and ‘public bar’ area and hasn’t been knocked through. You have to go through a door or out the front to pass between the two. Enlivening the walls are a collection of historic local maps, old photos of the area and classic beer adverts, such as ‘Guinness as Usual’ which can be seen in the gallery. There is plenty of wood paneling and traditional lamps hanging from the ceiling. As well as that, the pub also has a sizeable back room which has a barn like feel to it with wooden beams supporting the high ceiling. There is also an open fire in both rooms.
It’s another fine venue for ale lovers. Beers that were available on our visit included Adnams Broadside, Red Brick and the rather triumphant sounding ‘Ale of Kings.’ On the food front, The King’s Arms has a full Thai menu apart from Sundays, when traditional roasts are available.
You don’t expect to find such a well preserved pub like The King’s Arms so close the hustle and bustle of the South Bank and Waterloo Station. The King’s Arms is definitely a must visit, it’s a real gem of a pub!