Chalk Farm

Chalk Farm continues my run of Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway opening day stations.  The station serves the  northern end of Camden High Street and very close to the trainshed turned arts venue The Roundhouse.

The station is another stirling Leslie Green effort and actually has the longest frontage of any of those he designed, according to our friends at Wikipedia. It culminates in a rather thin wedge – the photo I got for the site reminds me of those buildings you on American street corners.  Like many stations north of Zone 1 on the Northern Line,  Chalk Farm’s platforms are still reached by lifts as opposed to escalators. It’s often just as quick getting the stairs mind you, there are only 53(of which only 34 are spiral), making it the smallest staircase across the lift stations.

The Pub: The Lansdowne, 90 Gloucester Avenue, NW1 8HX

The Lansdowne is a little bit of a walk from the station. Head up Regents Park Road, crossing the railway bridge and then turning onto Gloucester Avenue where the pub is located a very minutes down the road.  Even though you’re just a few minutes away from the buzzing Camden High Street, it feels fairly quiet and residential around here.

It feels very spacious inside with a clean, uncluttered interior. The sparsely decorated white walls contrasting well with the dark painted ceiling. There are a couple of pieces of art dotted around the place with the menu displayed on large chalk boards.

Food is clearly one of the Lansdowne’s main selling points. It offers high-end Mediterranean inspired food at prices north of £10 with dishes such as roast guinea-fowl available and salmon fishcakes. I didn’t get anything to eat here – my friend went for the burger which was very ample.  The rib-eye steak is the most expensive dish available here, costing £18.50, but if the portion size is as generous as the burger, then you’d be very content with your lot!  A couple of people around us had ordered desserts which looked very tasty, especially the chocolate brownie. For the diner on a budget, Pizzas are also available, most of which come in at just under £10.

There were two ales available on our visit – Doombar and Trumans Runner.  The Lansdowne was buzzing on the Friday night we gave it a try. There are plenty of seats mind you so we managed to grab a table.  It’s a fine pub tucked away in a residential area.  The food looked impressive too. A spot for a celebratory dinner maybe!

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Camden Town

Serving the famous market and a whole host of pubs, clubs and bars, Camden Town is one of those tube stations that always feels busy. It first opened on 22nd June 1907 on the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway as the point in which the line split into two branches, Hampstead and Highgate.  In 1924, a link was built to connect it to the City and South London Railway(now Bank branch of Northern Line). The station becomes exit only during the afternoon at weekends as a result of the swarms of people heading for the market.  Architecture wise,  it’s another Leslie Green ox-blood red design.

In recent years, there has been talk of splitting the Northern Line into two branches, with all Edgware trains going via Charing Cross, all High Barnet via Bank). Doing this would cause interchanges at Camden to increase significantly and therefore necessitate rebuilding the station.  Previous plans to redevelop the station involved demolition of the historic ‘Electric Ballroom’. Camden Council strongly opposed the proposals and combined with a high profile community campaign with plenty of famous faces, the plans were defeated. The split is still on the agenda(albeit several years down the line) so stay vigilant, folks!

The Pub: The Old Eagle, 251 Royal College Street, NW1 9LU

Camden Town is blessed with a wide variety of pubs in every direction from the tube station. However having so many pubs to choose from is a challenge in itself so I did my research before picking! I went for The Old Eagle on Royal College Street.  It’s set away slightly from the bustle around the high street.  To reach it, head down Camden Road(passing the big Sainsburies) until you reach Camden Road overground, then turn north onto Royal College Street where the pub is a couple of minutes up the road.

The Old Eagle is a real treasure trove of a pub – there are so many trinkets dotted around the place! There are musical instruments hanging from the ceiling by the front windows and ballet shoes near the conservatory/garden area. Continuing on the musical theme, there is a bust of Beethoven behind a bar that is illuminated by rather impressive lamps. There is even a (presumably old) Eagle painted on the conservatory roof looking down at you!

Drinks wise, there was the solitary ale on tap on our visit – Wainwright – but as I’m a big fan that posed no problems. On the food front, the pub is renowned for its Thai dishes which plenty of people were enjoying on our visit. As you might expect from a Camden pub,  The Old Eagle regularly hosts live music. There is also a fair sized garden/patio area at the back of the pub. We managed to find ourselves seats on one of the comfy sofas.

I was really taken with The Old Eagle. It’s one of those gems you find slightly off the beaten track and wish you’d discovered years ago. Next time you visit Camden, check this place out. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

(the pub has no website)

Mornington Crescent

Mornington Crescent’s fame extends well beyond the passengers that use it daily. It has been immortalised by the game of the same name which has appeared on long running Radio 4 Panel Show, ‘I’m Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue.’ since 1978.  To the uninitiated,  the game is a parody of strategy games with torturous and convoluted rules.

The station itself first opened on 22nd June 1907 on the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway.   During the 1990s the station’s future looked in doubt. It closed temporarily in October 1992 to allow the replacement of the ageing lifts. It soon became clear further work was required, leading to fears cash strapped tube bosses would be unwilling to invest the funds necessary to reopen a comparatively little used station.  Thankfully in April 1998 it  was finally reopened by the cast of the radio show that had given it such infamy across Britain.

The renovation process preserved and restored the heritage features of the station at platform level. What I have always found curious here is the park-bench style seating on the platforms. I’m pretty sure this is the only deep level tube station with this seating!

The Pub: The Lyttelton Arms,1 Camden High Street, NW1 7JE

The Lyttleton Arms is right opposite the tube station – you can’t miss it.  The pub is named after the late Humphrey Lyttelton, the chairman of ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’ for over 30 years until his death in 2008.

Inside, it’s rather spacious. As well as the main area around the bar, there are some slightly more secluded areas with stripped back brickwork and comfy seats towards the back of the place. These seem more catered for those coming here to eat. We found ourselves a seat here as we’d have had no chance by the bar which was was rammed with people enjoying that first pint of the weekend!

On the ale front, there were a few solid offerings in Doombar, Trumans and Knights of the Garter. The food is advertised as coming from ‘Ruby Jeans’ diner, with a heavily burger orientated menu. One of the possible toppings for burgers here includes Monster Munch! Maybe after several Doombars, I’ll pop back and give it a try!  Other options on the menu include fried chicken and hot dogs. It feels like greasy food, gastropub style.

With the club/venue Koko just opposite,  The Lyttleton Arms is perfectly suitated for pre-gig beers. Overall, it’s a decent pub and I’d happily return for a beer or two.

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As far as mainline railway stations go, Euston is probably one of the least popular in London. The tube station is based within the unloved 1960s concrete building. It first opened in 1907, although at the time it existed as two separate stops – one for the City and South London Railway(the Bank branch of the Northern Line) and the other on the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway. Interchange was quickly introduced between the two.

The station was comprehensively rebuilt at the end of the 1960s to coincide with the arrival of the Victoria Line and the reconstruction of the British Rail station. The tube station now has no buildings of its own. The underground ticket hall often feels rather cramped and overcrowded with poor tourists trying to get their heads around the Northern line!

The original Leslie Green CCE&HR station building still exists on the junction of Melton and Drummond Streets. If you exit the Euston station complex past the Sainsburys, you’ll spot it.

The Pub: The Euston Tap, 190 Euston Road, NW1 2EF

The Euston Tap is based in one of the few remaining fragments of the much missed old Euston station, one of two stone buildings near the entrance to the bus station. Incidentally, it is between these two buildings that campaigners want to rebuild the Euston Arch.  Its exterior lists some of the various destinations you could reach from Euston such as Coventry and Huddersfield.

The small, thin nature of the building means the pub has an interesting layout. There isn’t really much room for seating downstairs, with most people propping up the bar or perching their pints on the handy ledge that skirts around the wall. A spiral staircase leads up to a fair sized seating area upstairs, where we were able to grab a table. What also caught my eye was a very old Underground map, possibly pre-Harry Beck, on the wall.

The real selling point of the Tap is its wide range of beers, the number of which are available on tap runs into the double figures. The selection varies from strong Belgian beers to Punk IPA, as well as some lesser known English beers. Tread carefully though as some of the beers weigh in at close to 10%. They do generally only sell these to you in halves but even so, I still wouldn’t want to attempt the spiral staircase after a few!

The Euston Tap is a fine little boozer and well worth a visit.

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Warren Street

Warren Street first opened on 22nd June 1907, along with the rest of the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway.  It was initially called Euston Road but the name only lasted for a year – this is however preserved on the Northern Line platforms.

The Victoria Line arrived on 1st December 1968. Like all the other platforms on the Victoria Line, Warren Street has its own decorative tile design in the shape of a maze. The delights of this design are covered on the excellent 150 Great Things About The Underground blog.

The station building is an interesting, circular design and dates from a 1934 rebuild when escalators were installed. On first glance it may seem unremarkable but I think it has an endearing, understated quality.

The Pub: The Northumberland Arms, 119 Tottenham Court Road, W1T 5AW

The Northumberland Arms is on Tottenham Court Road itself, a minute’s walk south down from the tube station.

The pub’s interior feels like it has been modernised relatively recently and the large windows help make the place feel pretty open. There are some traditional elements remaining such as the wooden panels and frosted glass by the door.

A couple of ales were available on our visit – Old Golden Hen and UBU being the two that caught my eye. It was quite quiet on our Saturday evening visit, which combined with the stripped back interior, made the whole place feel rather sparse. To be fair to The Northumberland,  lots of the pubs at the northern end of Tottenham Court Road feel quite barren on weekends with the office workers safely back in suburbia.

Mind you, I have to say I was rather taken by the photo of a goose superimposed on the body of what looks like an old washer woman – that worked for me. The light above it makes it look like there is some sort of aura around said goose! There are also some witty drinking related quotes scattered around the place, just below the ceiling.

The Northumberland Arms is by no means a bad pub –   it just doesn’t feel particularly memorable. I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to visit it.

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