Maida Vale

Maida Vale first opened on 6th June 1915 on the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway.  Architecturally, the station is a real gem thanks to its ticket hall. Within it, there are mosaics of the early ‘Bullseye’ style Underground logo. The exit to the street is a level up from the ticket barriers so you have to go via staircases that further draw your attention to the impressive mosaics. This whole section of the station interior feels really unique.

The exterior of the station building is similar to the one at Kilburn Park, essentially a modified version of the classic Leslie Green oxblood red frontages but without the distinctive semi circular windows.  The station first opened during World War One and according to Ed Glinert’s very thorough London Compendium, was initially staffed solely by female staff as a result.

The Pub: The Elgin, 255 Elgin Avenue, W9 1NJ

Like Warwick Avenue, the stop that precedes it on the Bakerloo Line, Maida Vale is a well-heeled and affluent area. The Elgin, which is just across the road from the station, is certainly equipped for the locality.  Its based in a grand old Victorian building and you can’t miss it with its well lit, sleek signage.

Inside its got a very modern vibe with a stripped back interior. On our evening visit, the mood lighting was further enhanced by candles on the tables for added ambiance. Several tables towards the back of the pub seem to be reserved for diners but I’m not sure if this is a hard and fast rule.  There are also comfy sofas in this section too. Traditional elements have also been preserved such as the etched glass at the front and the tiling towards the front of the pub could also date from a previous incarnation of The Elgin.

On the beer front the selection included offerings from Meantime such as Yakuma Red, the Hackney Hopster and Fullers Wild River. The beers are listed at the bar by way of electrical style tape lettering which isn’t the easiest to read in mood lighting conditions! I think on balance, pump art is easier to read and work out.

The Elgin’s menu is one towards the high end of the gastropub market with dishes such as ‘Chicken, Pancetta and Leek Crust Pie’ for £15. Being the adventurous type that I am, I unsurprisingly went for a Burger. It cost £12.50 but I certainly got my money’s worth with the hearty offering that arrived.

The Elgin is a very chilled place to come for a pint and well worth a visit if you’re in the area. If you’re anything like me, you may have to ask whats on tap though!

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Willesden Junction

Willesden Junction is a bit of North West London travel hub. As well as the Bakerloo Line, it is served by three branches of the London Overground, the Watford Junction, North London and West London Lines.  It first opened on the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway on 10th May 1915, the mainline rail station having opened back in 1866.

The station is set on two levels, with the Bakerloo Line and Watford Junction line both serving the low level platforms while the North and West London Lines occupy the high-level ones. This, combined with the adjacent Railfreight and train maintenance depot, makes the whole complex quite a sprawling site. Virgin trains on the West Coast Mailine also thunder past here.

The Bakerloo Line platforms are covered by an attractive canopy in a traditional railway station style. In contrast, the ticket hall area and station building(providing access to all platforms and services) is a modern, non-descript design which I think dates from reconstruction work in the late 1990s.

The Pub: Le Junction,47 Station Road, NW10 4UP

In what is becoming a familiar trend at the moment, there wasn’t much by the way of pubs round the tube station here.  We headed a couple of minutes up the road to ‘Le Junction’, in a rather grand old building.

The place is primarily a travellers hostel, with rooms in the floors above the bar. The ground floor is still a pub, albeit one with a reception area built in! Back in the day, I imagine this would have been a successful pub for all the railway workers based nearby. It does still maintain some traces of its former glory with an old wooden bar and the pillars dotted around the place. There have however been some rather clunky modifications, with partitions that look very out of place dividing up areas of the pub.

The seating is also comfy enough with sofas and armchairs. There’s also an old piano towards the back of the place as well as an old clock, which I assume is there for decorative purposes. Sadly there were no ales on tap on our visit, so it had to be a swift Kronenberg. Le Junction does have Sky and BT Sports, as well as regular music nights – ‘Funktion at the Junction’, as one was listed.

There isn’t anything fundamentally wrong with Le Junction. However perhaps because it was so empty on our visit, it didn’t feel to me like somewhere to really go for a drink.

 

North Harrow

North Harrow first opened on 22nd March 1915 on the Metropolitan Railway. I’m getting rather familiar with the area now, this being the fourth ‘Harrow’ station I’ve visited for the blog – only one to go now!

The station was rebuilt in the 1930s. Architecturally, its pretty middle of the road. There are no iconic designs here, but on the other hand, unlike its nearby neighbour West Harrow, at least there are proper shelters and structures on the platforms. I did like the fact the tiles surrounding the advertising frames on the stairwell to the platforms are in the Met line purple mind you.  In peak time, you have to be vigilant on what Met line train you get here. Fast services bypass North Harrow and don’t stop again until you reach Moor Park!

The Pub: The Three Wishes, 20 Broadwalk, HA2 6ED

North Harrow is another station where there are limited drinking options. We chose The Three Wishes, which is a couple of minutes north from the tube stop, up Station Road and then turning left on Pinner Road.

Initially from the outside  The Three Wishes looked a bit gloomy so we weren’t sure what to expect. However once inside we discovered a pleasant, well maintained pub. Its one long room with the back seating area on a higher level than the area around the bar.  On our visit, the raised section was completely empty with the clientele all clustered around the seating near the bar. It had a friendly enough atmosphere, I certainly didn’t feel like we were crashing a ‘locals bar’.

On the ale front, there was London Pride available when we stopped by. Three Wishes also does food at very reasonable prices, with Toad in the Hole and Ham, Egg and Chips both a mere fiver. As you might expect from an Irish Bar, there is plenty of Celtic-memorabilia dotted around the walls. There is a map of Ireland with where surnames hail from, I found mine a few times!  Live music and Poker Nights are also advertised at the pub. They have a Sky Sports licence and there is also a dart board.

To me, The Three Wishes was a good, non-nonsense pub. As a local, it would do me fine!  It had also emerged from the shadows when we left – the lighting for their sign obviously only came on at a certain time.

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Queen’s Park

Queen’s Park first opened to Underground services on the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway on 11th February 1915. The station itself had first opened over 30 years previously as part of the mainline London and North Western railway. It was originally called Queen’s Park(West Kilburn), a name it retained until the adoption of its present title in 1954.

As stations go, the ticket hall is sadly a rather dull, 70s grey block. At platform level, the station roof seems to date from an earlier era and isn’t without architectural merit. Queen’s Park also marks the point where the Bakerloo Line emerges from the tunnels. One in three Bakerloo services terminate here so those wishing to head onwards and upwards sometimes have to wait here for a continuing train.

Mainline rail services to Watford Junction here are now operated by London Overground and as a result, also appear on the Tube map.

The Pub: The Salusbury, 50-52 Salusbury Road, NW6 6NN

I’d never gotten off and or really been able to picture quite where Queen’s Park was, so I didn’t really know what to expect here. Salusbury Road, the route from the station to the pub, gives an interesting flavour of the local area, with a mix between chicken shops you see in the suburbs and artisan bakeries in well heeled destinations.

Right from the off, you can tell The Salusbury is a slick operation as you see their jet black sign. Inside, the pub is divided into two sections, both of which are quite long and thin, without being narrow. The subdued lighting, complimented by the candles on the table, helped give the place a certain ambiance on our visit, while the area behind the bar is made up of sleek white tiles. There are also some tables and chairs at the front of the pub for when sunnier days return.

There was an interesting collection of ales on our visit, highlights included Notting Hill Amber, Fireside as well as more established beers such as Greene King IPA. The Salusbury has built up quite a reputation for its food – its website lists that it was named by the late Egon Ronay as one of his top 10 gastropubs in the UK – high praise indeed! The menu combines dishes you’d expect to see at a restaurant,  such as a Barnsley chop, as well as pub favourites like fish and chips. We weren’t eating here but plenty of people around us were and the dishes all looked very impressive.

In short, The Salusbury is definitely at the high end of the gastropub world. At the same time, it remains a welcoming place for a pint with a good selection of ales. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in these parts.

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Kilburn Park

Kilburn Park first opened on 31st January 1915 – it was very briefly the northern terminus of the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway until the rest of the line opened to Queen’s Park two weeks later.

Architecture wise, its a really interesting station. While ascending on the escalator, look up to see the glass domed roof of the station. Externally it looks similar to a Leslie Green station – with the Oxblood colours – but is minus the trademark arched windows. Indeed, in the ticket office I was struck by the extensive square sash windows at ground level looking onto the street – certainly different from other stations I have encountered where the windows tend to be much higher in the structure.

According to Wikipedia, this was one of the first stations purpose built for escalators. There is something quite old school about the arrangement here – the middle staircase is bigger than the two escalators either side of it and looms over them which seems quite unusual.

The Pub: The Priory Tavern, 250 Belsize Road, NW6 4BT

To reach The Priory,  head up Cambridge Avenue to reach Kilburn High Road. Pass the Overground station and then turn onto Belsize Road where you’ll find The Priory Tavern.

Inside, its a spacious pub, divided into two bars. The wooden bar is the centrepiece of the Priory’s main room. A nice touch above the bar comes in the shape of ‘Bartenders Choice’, with recommended drinks written up in chalk. Talking of drinks, there were a decent selection of ales on our visit –  the ever reliable Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, Truman’s Swifts and the more exotic sounding Voodoo Dawn. For those who prefer something stronger, there was a rather impressive selection of spirits behind the bar too. There is a good food selection too – I took advantage of their weekday happy hour(530-700) and got a beer and burger for £10. It was suitably hefty and definitely did the job. Other food on the menu includes sweet and spicy chicken wings and pork ribs.

We sat in the chilled out back room. The whole place has a rather bohemian feel, the stripped back white walls, wooden floor boards and old glass adverts on the wall for Lamb’s Navy Rum and other drinks. I really like the fact it feels like its evolved organically – i.e: the various trinkets, seats and other bits and bobs have been picked up over time. These days places can go for ‘alternative by numbers’ where its all done very clinically, but it feels real here!

While we were here, the regular Thursday night ‘Juke Joint Jam session was just setting up, where people come along and bring their own jazz, funk or blues instruments There are comfy sofas nearby in this part of the pub, so it all had the potential to become very chilled. It’s not just music, they also have a dart board and a wide array of boardgames.

I was really impressed with The Priory. Its a proper pub with its own unique vibe. It’s well worth checking out!

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