Goodge Street

Goodge Street marks the start of a stretch of stations for me on the Northern line – the second busiest on the Underground and probably the one I’ve used most throughout my time in London.

The station first opened as Tottenham Court Road on 22nd June 1907 on the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway. The line opened with two branches, one heading to Golders Green, the other archway.  This stop was soon renamed as Goodge Street in September 1908 following construction of an interchange between the Central London Railway’s Tottenham Court Road station with the CCEHR’s stop, at that time called Oxford Street.

The station building is a typical Leslie Green ‘oxblood’ red affair, with plenty of offices above it. The whole complex was covered in scaffolding on my visit so you couldn’t see much of the structure! A deep level air raid shelter was built by the station in World War Two – this ended up being used by the US General Eisenhower. One of the entrances has been renamed the Eisenhower Centre. These days it seems to host a business called ‘Recall’, although hopefully not the one in the Arnie film…

Pub: The Draft House, 43 Goodge Street, W1T 1TA

The Draft House is a couple of minutes walk from the tube, heading along Goodge Street until you reach the junction with Charlotte Street where the pub is located. The pub’s name isn’t immediately distinctive from its sign mind you!

Inside, The Draft House has a rather stripped back ambiance, epitomised by the lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling. The light brown walls help to give it the feel of a European bar, while seating comes in the form of church-pew like benches, which remind me of many pubs from my hometown of Brighton.

One of the main selling points of The Draft House is its range of beers, both on tap and in bottles. Ales available on tap on our visit included the marvellously named ‘3 Weiss Monkeys’ from the London Fields Brewery and one of my old favourites, Wandle. The bottled beers include Belgian offerings such as Kriek and Kwak, the latter of which is famous for its test tube like glass. I didn’t get the chance to try the food here, but the pub is reportedly well regarded for its burgers.

I think the Draft House is the first ‘craft beer’ pub I’ve visited on the crawl.  I like it here and think it works well. I do view the overall trend towards craft beer pubs with caution thouugh. It can be done well, as The Draft House proves. However, like gastropubs before them, its easy for rather lazy imitations to jump on the bandwagon and jack up the prices without offering anything original.  Overall, The Draft House is a good pub and worth checking out.

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Edgware Road(Bakerloo Line)

Edgware Road is another one of those confusing spots on the Underground. There are two stations both with the same name, on different lines. They are counted as seperate stations by TfL, hence my return visit here. The one serving the District, Circle and Hammersmith and City Lines opened in 1863 and as a result, was one of the first stops I visited on the crawl.

Edgware Road on the Bakerloo Line first opened on 15th June 1907, as part of a short extension of the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway from Baker Street itself.  Its a lift only station and was shut for several months last year to allow their upgrade.  There are some nice heritage features within the station building, including the old green ticket booth windows.

The distinctive Leslie Green station building stands out even more as a contrast to the imposing Westway Road junction which is right by the station. Road widening works saw other Edwardian era buildings demolished in the 1960s with the tube station remaining as an island amongst the concrete.

In 2007, Murad Qureshi, a member of the London Assembly, called for this station to be renamed as ‘Church Street Market’ to put an end to the confusion over the two Edgware Roads. TfL rejected the proposal, citing the cost of doing so.

The Pub: The Green Man, 308 Edgware Road, W2 1DY

The Green Man is a minute or two’s walk from the station, heading north up Edgware Road and staying on the same side of the road. Like some other places we saw in the area, there is a hostel above the pub.  To the Green Man’s credit, it does still feel like a pub with traditional wood panelling and some sketched glass windows. It’s quite light and airy, as well as having a fine collection of hanging baskets  ooutside.

The Green Man has a decent collection of ales on tap including Adnams Ghost Ship, Wainwright(which I went for) and Trooper, the beer developed by Iron Maiden. On the food front, the pub proclaims it serves some of the best burgers in London courtersy of the ‘Juicy Bastard Burger Kitchen’ Online reviews I saw before visiting here seemed to back that up.  They also do ‘pub tapas’ with snacks such as chicken wings, pork skewers and southern fried chicken all available.

Unfortunately as we arrived around 4ish and the burger kitchen wasn’t opening till 5 –  the Juicy Bastard obviously has mid afternoons off. They did say some small food was available so we went for Pizzas. I didn’t see but my friends saw them putting what looked like Chicago Pizzas in the oven!  To be fair, they did say the kitchen was closed and while the pizzas were tasty, they were still essentially oven pizzas!

Cheekiness on the Pizza front aside, I thought The Green Man was alright. The area around the Bakerloo Line station feels a bit overshadowed by the Westway and busy road junction, so it’s nice to find a pub with a chilled out vibe nearby! Worth a visit when the Kitchen is open, then you can tell me what the burgers are like!

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Covent Garden

Covent Garden first opened on 11th April 1907 on the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway, a few months after the line itself opened in December 1906.  The station is a well preserved Leslie Green ‘oxblood red’ building.

Given Covent Garden’s popularity with tourists, this station gets incredibly busy. The fact it has lifts rather than escalators only makes things worse! At weekends the station has been exit only, especially when any of the lifts are being repaired. TfL’s advise passengers to get off at nearby stations instead.  I strongly agree with this, especially given you can see Leicester Square tube from this station!

The Pub: Punch and Judy, 40 The Market, Covent Garden Piazza, WC2E 8RF

The Punch and Judy is actually located within the Covent Garden market building which dates back to the 1830s. The building was converted into its current mix of shops, pubs and cafes at the start of the ’80s when the market relocated to Nine Elms. Like everywhere else around here, it was teeming with people on our visit! I really like the roof of the market which feels reminiscent of a railway station trainshed.

The Punch and Judy is set over two floors, one based within the lower tier of the market building, the other on its top floor. Both have outside areas, with the balcony overlooking the nearby area extremely popular when we visited. Infact everytime I’ve walked past it, the balcony has always seemed rammed.

The pub was very busy and pretty manic on our visit, which is to be expected given its location within a tourist hotspot. destinations. There were also a fair few stag and hen do’s here too.  On the beer front, there were a couple of ales available in the shape of London Pride and  Wadworth’s 6X. On the chalk board outside it advertised ‘traditional Fish and Chips’ on the menu, but I think it would be a struggle to get a seat to eat it!  Fair play to the staff at the bar mind you who were serving everyone pretty quickly.

In short, the Punch and Judy perhaps sums up the area around the old market well – completely rammed and teeming with tourists. The beer was fine but overall the pub reminded me of going on foreign holidays where you accidentally end up in a tourist trap bar. It probably goes without saying if you want somewhere a little less manic, your best bet is elsewhere!

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Marylebone Station first opened as Great Central on 27th March 1907 on the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway, as part of that line’s short extension from Baker Street to Edgware Road. The name ‘Great Central’ refers to a former mainline railway route that used to operate from Marylebone up into the Midlands and Manchester – this line fell victim to the Beeching cuts in the 1960s.  This name on the platform tiles so look out for that when you are travelling through.

The station gained its present name in 1917. The entrance to the tube station is incorporated into the mainline station, the separate Leslie Green building was closed in 1943 following war-time damage and demolished in the 1970s.

The Underground entrance within Marylebone Station has quite an 80s feel and dates from when the British Rail Station was refurbished at the end of that decade. The ticket machines are located on the outside of the very ’80s white building, still carrying the Network SouthEast logo, the British Rail branded operator that ceased to exist in 1994!

The Pub: The Victoria and Albert, Marylebone Station, Melcombe Place, NW1 6JJ

It’s not often that I visit station pubs but sadly our first choice, The Perservance, had not lived up to its name and was shut for some reason. So we ended up at The Victoria and Albert, contained within Marylebone’s charming Victorian station building.

On the inside, it’s a pretty standard fit out of a ‘traditional pub’ – wood panelling, chandeliers and so on. The V&A had four ales on tap on our visit, London Pride, Greene King IPA,  St Edmunds and Old Golden Hen, a decent showing all in all.  There are also the obligatory old photos of Marylebone Station and the surrounding area. There is also a small beer garden area at the front of the station.

Being based in a train station, you definitely get the feeling this is somewhere people make a quick pitstop before moving on elsewhere – much like the people doing the Monopoly pub crawl who were here when we dropped by!

Station pubs in general are at a bit of a crossroads at the moment. On one hand you have the unreconstructed efforts like the Iron Duke at Victoria. On the other, there are places like The Betjeman Arms at St Pancras going for the higher end gastro market. To me, The Victoria and Albert sits between the two and that’s no bad thing. Overall though, I don’t think there is enough here to recommend going out of your way to visit.  But it’s certainly fine to pop in here for an ale if your train to the Chilterns is delayed for 20minutes!

(The pub has no website)



Finsbury Park

Finsbury Park draws to a close my long run on the Piccadilly Line which started at Knightsbridge 9 stops ago.  The station first opened as the northern terminus of the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway on 15th December 1906. The mainline station here had opened some 40 years earlier, on the East Coast mainline.

The 1930s saw the Piccadilly Line extended north to Cockfosters as well as aborted plans to extend the Northern City Line, then considered part of the Underground network, onwards to Edgware and Alexandra Palace. If you think the Northern Line is confusing now,  have a look at what might have been!  The war however got in the way of these ambitious plans and they were scrapped.

The ’60s saw more change at Finsbury Park with the arrival of the Victoria Line. Existing and previously redundant tunnels were configured in such a way to allow handy cross platform interchange between both lines at the station – this also saw the end of Northern City Line services to the station.

The station building itself is pretty unremarkable, no doubt a victim of all the upheaval that has taken place here. There is a mix of ’60s looking buildings and more modern structures closer to the mainline rail platforms. There is however a rather nice mosaic of a balloon on the walls of the Piccadilly Line platforms.

The Pub: The World’s End, 21-23 Stroud Green Road, N4 3EF

The easiest way to reach the pub is to exit the station onto Wells Terrace, which is signposted in the long subway bit you find when you get up from the Underground platforms.  From there, walk along to Stroud Green Road, head north for a few minutes until you find The World’s End.

I’ve always found The World’s End to be a bit of an ominous pub name but thankfully there is nothing forboding about this place. It’s a large spacious gastropub with plenty of seating. Given the proximity to Arsenal, there are plenty of football pictures on the wall, as well as photos of the Finsbury Park of yesteryear. The pub also has a Sky Sports licence, which you don’t see too often with gastros.

Continuing the sporting theme, the World’s End also has Table Football. They also offer a wide selection of board games too which I’m sure are very popular on Sunday afternoons as people relax on the comfy chairs at the back.  The pub also plays host to a number of gigs and music events. As we popped by on an afternoon, there was no-one on so I popped into the empty backroom and took a photo. As you’ll see, it has a really intricate ceiling if you look past the black paint!

There was one ale on tap on our visit, Trumans Swift, which was a very pleasant pint.  The food menu is a mix of traditional pub dishes and sandwiches, as well as more modern entries such as Gnnochi.  We ate here. As I so often do, I went for the Burger and was certainly not disappointed. A very hearty portion with nice chunky hand made chips.

The World’s End has plenty of good things going for it and is well worth a visit!

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Arsenal marks an important milestone for the blog – I’ve now reached the halfway mark on the journey! This is the 135th station I have visited. As today is transfer deadline day, it also feels somewhat appropriate to be putting the review up now…

The station first opened as Gillespie Road on 15th December 1906, and this name remains on the platform tiles. It became Arsenal(Highbury Hill) in 1932 at the instigation of their manager at the time, Hebert Chapman,  given how close the station was to Highbury. This in turn was streamlined to the current name during the 1960s.

The passageway leading from the platforms to the street is divided by a metal fence, in order to manage the flow of people using the station on matchdays. The station building is rather plain, with the white wall dominated by a large Underground roundel. The original Leslie Green building was demolished during expansion and upgrade work in the 1930s.

The Pub: The Bank of Friendship, 224 Blackstock Road, N5 1EA

The Bank of Friendship is around a 10minute walk from the station. Head along Gillespie Road until you reach Avennell Road.  Heading down this road, you will pass the site of Arsenal’s former ground, Highbury, and the preserved frontage of the old East Stand which has now been turned into luxury apartments.  From there, head along Elwood Street until you reach Blackstock Road and you’ll spot the pub.  The name refers to Highbury’s old North Bank stand, which according to the club themselves, ‘sheltered the heart and soul of Arsenal’s support.’

As we visited on a non Matchday,  it was pretty empty.  The Bank had a couple of decent ales on tap in London Pride and Landlord, which makes a change from certain football pubs that simply pump out lager. It feels like a pretty standard old school pub with sprinklings of Arsenal memorabilia on the wall. To their credit, they haven’t gone over the top with this and it certainly doesn’t feel like a modern ‘sanitised’ supporters bar. There is a dart board too.

We found some rather comfy chairs to sit in although the fact they also had wheels was a little disconcerting at first!  As you would expect, the pub has a Sky Sports Licence for fans eager to catch the early kick off before heading to the ground. I have walked past the Bank of Friendship on a Match Day and it was definitely popular with home fans.

I’m not sure if I would recommend going out of your way to visit here. That said, it is undoubtedly better than many other pubs near football grounds which are often pretty bleak. The beer was also reasonably priced so if you do want a drink before an Arsenal game, you are better off popping here for one than paying the inflated prices inside the ground.

(The pub has no website)