Leicester Square is another tube tourist hot-spot, given the status the square itself has with film premieres and the like, as well as being pretty close to Trafalgar Square. It first opened on 15th December 1906 on the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway. The Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway followed soon after on 22nd June 1907.
As a result of growing passenger numbers and the need to replace lifts with escalators, the station’s underground ticket hall was comprehensively rebuilt in the 1930s. However unlike others on the Piccadilly Line, the original street-level buildings remain, with a Leslie Green station building on the east side of Charing Cross Road. Above a section of this building that is now occupied by ‘Wok to Work’, there is picture of some cricket stumps. The offices above the station used to house the publishers of Wisdens Cricketers Almanack(‘the bible of all cricket’, to those who aren’t inititated).
The platforms on both the Piccadilly and Northern lines are decorated with film sprockets. This dates back to the ’80s scheme to jazz tired Underground platforms up a bit.
The Pub: The Salisbury, 90 St Martins Court, WC2N 4AP
Given Leicester Square is a tourist hotspot, I again feared it would be hard to find a pub in this vicinity with any character. Fortunately I was proved wrong. The Salisbury is about 2 minutes walk from the station. Walk down Charing Cross Road in the direction of Trafalgar Square, turn onto St Martins Court and head along here till you reach the pub on the junction with St Martins Lane.
To be honest, you get a hint The Salisbury might be a little different from its striking exterior, with gold-painted cherubs above the main door. The interior is no less understated, with the striking cut-glass that adorn the walls. Directly beside them are ornate gold lamps, above the alcoves of red-leather backed seating. The pub in its current form dates back to 1898. Given its impressive interior, it has featured in a number of films including Victim starring Dirk Bogarde.
There is also a good range of ales on offer here, with Youngs Best, Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, Bombardier and Hophead from the Sussex Brewery Dark Star. On the food front, it’s pretty standard fare with ‘Great British Sunday Roasts’ and ‘Fish and Chips’ being advertised – well you’ve got to have something for the tourists!
A further tick for the Salisbury for me came with their music selection. Now this was no doubt due to the inspired choices of a staff member, but while we were there they played Prince, Rick James, Morris Day and The Time AND Jermaine Jackson. I’m not sure how many other fans of ale, traditional pubs and 80s funk/soul there are out there, but I found it a great combination!
The Salisbury really impressed me. I went in with low expectations given the manic, touristy nature of the surrounding area but very impressed by what is a very lavish and well preserved pub. Definitely worth stopping in for a pint!