South Wimbledon

South Wimbledon marks the second stop on my run of stations on the City and South London Railway’s extension from Clapham Common to Morden which all opened on 13th September 1926.

Like others on the extension, this was another designed by Charles Holden. The station building here is at a street corner, rather than in a parade as had been the case in Morden. It also remains more visually striking, benefitting from the fact there is no other development behind it. Its been Grade II listed since 1987.

Soon after opening, the station name was modified slightly to South Wimbledon(Merton) reflect the fact it is closer to Merton than Wimbledon.  This suffix was dropped in the 1950s but remains on a couple of the roundels at platform level.

The Pub: The Trafalgar Freehouse, 23 High Path, SW19 2JY

To reach the pub,  get onto Morden Road and head South until you reach High Path a couple of minutes down the road.  The Trafalgar Freehouse is located a short walk along High Path, just past Merton Abbey Primary School. You have to look out quite clearly for the pub, its located in an unassuming building so you could easily miss it!

Its equally modest inside, a small one roomed pub which in some respects feels closer to being in someones living room.  The walls are decorated with a collection of paintings relating to the Battle of Trafalgar and Nelson, as well as other naval related items such as a Ship’s wheel. Everything is presented in a very understated way.

Above the bar, The Trafalgar advertised that it has a regularly rotated selection of real ales.  On our visit, these included a selection from the Surrey Hills brewery. I’ve been walking out in those parts recently so it felt appropriate to go for their Greensand Way Ale,  a very pleasant IPA.  My friend went for the High Wire IPA and gave it a glowing recommendation. The Traf doesn’t do much by the way of food – sausage rolls are available though

The pub was very quiet when we first arrived but gradually over the course of our pint, more and more people filed in. There was one TV towards the back of the back, which had Athletics on BBC One showing but was very firmly in the background. There are also live music nights on Thursday evenings, given the pub’s size, am sure these are quite intimate affairs!

I was really taken by the Trafalgar. Something here just clicked for me. At a time where pubs are increasingly bustling venues with various goings-on vying for your attention it’s so refreshing to find somewhere where you can enjoy a fine pint and have a good chat with your companion without any other distractions. Sometimes that’s exactly what’s called for, for those moments, you can’t go much wrong with The Traf!

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Morden marks the southernmost point on the whole tube network. It’s a bit ironic that the Underground’s southern extremities are all on the Northern Line, but there you go, that’s London for you!

The station first opened on 13th September 1926, marking the completion of the extension of the City and South London Railway down from Clapham Common. This route also saw the first real involvement of Charles Holden in London Underground architectural design. Morden station itself is an impressive example of his work with the octagonal roof within the ticket hall and the distinctive Portland stone box design of the ticket hall.  I think the wider impact of the building is a little diluted by the 1960s office block behind it.

The Northern Line finally surfaces from its tunnel here – on the route to High Barnet vis Bank, the longest on the entire network at 17.3miles.  The platforms are covered by a roof very similar to the one seen all that way North and then some at Edgware.

The Pub: Ganleys, 43-47 London Road, SM4 5HT

Ganleys is just across the road from the station – you can’t miss it with its very vivid green sign and painted frontage.

Now a number of the Irish bars I’ve visited in North London have tended to be rather small, one room affairs. Ganleys is anything but – its really expansive once you get inside, you could cram so many people into this place! They’ve also gone all out on the Irish decorations with crests of arms, Irish street signs and even Celtic patterned floor tiling. There’s also plenty of other memorabilia here like an old accordian and typewriter on one of the wall shelves. I’m not sure if the hexagonal tables and more Gothic type seating is also Celtic, but I liked it anyway.

Ganleys must also have the most TVs I’ve seen in any pub outside America(bar Sports Cafe types obviously!) with plenty of different sports on offer including Rugby, GAA Hurling(as you might expect in an Irish bar), Cricket plus At the Races. There are lots of beer taps here but most are lagers – a couple of ales were available in the shape of Ruddles Best and Golden Bay, with puntastic ‘Ale Fresco’ coming soon.

We went on a Sunday where their carvery was in full flow – indeed there is separate part of the building for people who just want to eat.  A couple of people near us were enjoying one – they are massive.  If you’d had one of them at lunch, you’d be set for the day. There is a strict notice on the sign towards the Carvery section though – ‘no plate sharing!’.  There was a healthy amount of people here for an early Sunday afternoon – it wasn’t rammed but enough people were in for a lively atmosphere.

I was a fan of Ganleys and would definitely come back. The interior is a little over the top but it works here!

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Croxley first opened as Croxley Green on the 2nd November 1925, gaining its present name in 1949.   The station itself is similar in design to Watford, if a little smaller in scale. The whole place has a little bit of a country air to it, in part helped by the traditional looking lamps on the platforms.

From 2018, northbound trains from here will be diverted via the new Croxley rail link to reach Watford Junction.

The Pub: The Artichoke on the Green, Green Lane,Croxley Green, Watford, WD3 3HN

While there are a couple of pubs close to the station,  I was given local recommendations that the best bets are by the green itself so I duly headed in that direction. It’s a simple enough 15minute walk from the station –  head onto New Road from the station and keep going until you reach Croxley Green.  From there, you’ll easily spot the Artichoke.

The view as we reached the pub felt about as far away from London as you could get with the tree lined green and nearby houses all feeling distinctly rural.  The Artichoke itself fits into this perfectly.  Inside, its contains many of the hallmarks of a classic Country pub, with low ceilings and wooden beams throughout.  There were a few ales on tap including London Pride, Directors and Hobgoblin.

Like an increasing number of country pubs, The Artichoke has an extensive and varied food menu from classics such as fish and chips through to more contemporary options like rigatoni and butternut squash. It was very busy with people eating on our Thursday evening visit so it is clearly proving to be a success!  Having tried one of their impressive burgers myself, I can certainly see why.  If you’re out in Croxley early, you can even drop in for breakfast which is served here between 830 and 1130. The food is a little bit more expensive than you might find in other pubs, main courses varying from £13 to £16, but perhaps reflecting the fact it is closer to a restaurant in its food offer.

As well as the small area around the bar when you enter the pub, there is also a larger conservatory type room which seemed to be effectively the pub’s dining room. There is also a back garden as well as a nice decked area at the front of the building, backing onto the Green.

The Artichoke is a very pleasant, high-end country pub. If you live near these parts or enjoy a drink in a more rural setting, its certainly worth a visit.

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Watford marks another one of the tube’s final frontiers  – at the end of the Met Line branch of the same name. It’s also one of the few stations outside the boundaries of Greater London. It first opened on the Metropolitan Railway on 4th November 1925. The station building looks like a large suburban house and was designed by Charles Walter Clark.

Watford tube station is currently living on borrowed time. Its due to shut in 2018 when the Croxley Rail Link sees the Metropolitan Line diverted over the old British Rail Croxley Branch line into the centre of Watford. The current station is based in a more suburban area of Watford. While bringing the Met line into the centre of Watford is popular, not everyone is happy with plans to shut this station and there were posters in the shops based in the station promoting the ‘Save Watford Station’ campaign.

The Pub: The Horns, 1 Hempstead Road, Watford, WD17 3RL

As I said, Watford station is based in the Hertfordshire town’s leafy suburbs. As a result, its a bit of a walk to the pub. Its a nice one though as you can go through the very pleasant and expansive Cassiobury Park. If you’re looking for a more direct route, turn right from the station onto Cassiobury Park, stay on here until you reach Rickmansworth Road. Stay on the left hand side of the road until you reach the civic offices, then turn left onto a short pedestrianed street where you’ll find The Horns.

From the outside, it appears to be very much a traditional pub. However there’s a twist! It’s a live music venue complete with sizeable stage, lighting and speakers. There’s lots of music memorabilia, predominantly classic rock orientated, hanging on the walls. I spotted gold disks of iconic Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and The Who albums.  The Horns has live music on most evenings, ranging from tribute acts to up and coming local bands and charity fundraisers.  The rest of the interior is also pretty traditional with wood throughout – I really liked the stained glass Horns on the pubs windows.

On the ale front, four were available on our visit. Doombar, Seafarers, Abbott Ale and Betty Stoggs. They serve food on weekday lunchtimes only and Sunday roasts. In addition, they do pre-match food if Watford are playing at home. As we were here during the evening, we made do with their fine selection of crisps available including a range of Monster Munch flavours.  The pub also has a sizeable garden if you want to enjoy your beer in the sun.

I really liked The Horns – its a proper pub with a good atmosphere and vibrant live music scene. Who said Metroland needed to be quiet and retiring?!

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Burnt Oak

Burnt Oak first opened on 27th October 1924, two months after Edgware, the northern terminus of the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway. For a spell it was known as Burnt Oak(Watling), as can be seen on this map from 1946.  This in turn had disappeared by the map’s 1950 edition but Watling still appears on at least one of the station roundels.

Like the majority of stations in this stretch, the station was designed by Stanley Heaps and has much in common with its contemporaries as can be seen from its small ticket hall. I liked the old school Underground sign, complete with capital U and D, outside the station which seemed to act as a beacon for it.

The Pub: The New Inn, 19 Burnt Oak Broadway, HA8 5LD

The New Inn is just over 5 minutes walk from the station –  head down Watling Avenue,turning left onto Burnt Oak Broadway where you’ll find the pub a couple of minutes down the road.  On route there, we passed a number of former and now very derelict looking pubs including the Bald Faced Stag, which I hear was pretty infamous during its heyday. The four leafed clover, green sign and gaelic underneath the main ‘The New Inn’ text are rather big giveaways this is an Irish bar. The fact they still had a ‘Merry Christmas’ sign above their main frontage was probably not a great omen though!

Inside, its a small one room bar. The walls were painted a pale blue colour and decorated with various Irish memorabilia. There were no ales available here but on the plus side, two pints of lager only came to £6, making even Wetherspoons(at least in London anyway) look pricey.

There were a couple of TVs with At The Races on but with the sound off as the musical soundtrack for the evening came from Magic Radio. There was also a dart board as well as a piano towards the front of the pub.  I’m not quite sure why but there was a cuddly toy dog perched on top of the end of the seats by us.

Excluding a member of the barstaff, I don’t think there were any women in here. While we weren’t made to feel unwelcome, it definitely felt like a locals haunt. In short, The New Inn is a pretty basic pub and I’ve come across far better Irish bars on my travels through the North London suburbs.

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Edgware marks the end of the Northern Line, well once branch of it anyway. It first opened on 18th August 1924 as the northern terminus of the then Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway.  In the 1930s, it was planned to extend the line northwards to Bushey Park but this was curtailed by the Second World War. After the war, the area the extension was to run through was designated as part of the new green belt and therefore housing development, which would have helped make the new route profitable, was prohibited.  The plans were dropped in 1954.

The New Works plans would have also seen Edgware linked to the High Barnet branch of the Northern Line via Mill Hill. Again, these never saw the light of day and the link only made it as far as Mill Hill East, hence why it is now stuck out on its own on the map. If you think the Northern Line is confusing now, imagine how it would have been if this had been completed! All these projects were flagged as under construction in tube maps until the late 1940s – as seen on this map from 1946.

The station ticket hall is much the same as the others at this end of the Northern Line. However unique to Edgware is the impressive roof covering the platforms which is more reminiscent of a main line rail station.

The Pub: The Three Wishes, 122-126 High Street, Edgware, HA8 7EL

The Three Wishes is just under a ten minute walk from the station, head along Station Road passing the Broadwalk Shopping Centre, then turn right onto Manor Park Crescent and follow this till you hit the High Street and the Three Wishes is a couple of moments away on your right.

The Three Wishes is part of a mini-chain of suburban pubs, I’ve also visited one of theirs in North Harrow. In common with others I’ve visited for outer stops, the pub is located within a 1930s era shopping parade and with housing above it. The hanging baskets were in fine fettle we dropped in.

Inside, its a pretty roomy place and extended further back than I initially thought. There is a small area that looks set up for bands – the pubs listings point to regular live music taking place here at weekends. The interior has been decorated in a mixture of purple and dark green colours which seemed to go quite well together. The large windows stop the place getting too gloomy. As you might expect, there are a collection of black and white photos of old Edgware on the walls. The pub also has a small back garden.

Only one ale was available on tap on our visit, Greene King IPA. As far as food goes, I think they only extend to Sunday roasts. The Three Wishes has a number of TVs, set on a variety of channels from Sky Sports and At the Races. In contrast, the one near us was showing an international news channel. There is also a dart board as well as a quiz machine, although the latter was sadly broken when we tried it.

The Three Wishes is fine as places go to stop for a drink and it certainly didn’t feel like a locals only pub. That’s fortunate really, because I don’t think there are any other pub options nearby!

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Colindale first opened on 18th August 1924, as the Charing Cross and Euston Railway began its final northward extension to Edgware, which opened later that year. The original station building, designed by Stanley Heaps, closely resembled those at Hendon and Brent Cross.  During the Second World War, the station was bombed in 1940, 13 people were killed and 400 injured.

The attack also destroyed the station ticket hall. It was replaced by a ‘temporary’ structure that survived well into the 1960s. This was then followed by a rather typical and uninspiring ’60s station underneath an office block. This in turn has been replaced within the last year or so(Wikipedia still has a photo of the ’60s one) with a non-descript modern modular box.

Despite everything that happened above them, the structures on the platforms appear to date from opening and so have proved incredibly resilient in the face of wartime bombing and post war redevelopments!

The Pub: The Chandos Arms, 31 Colindale Avenue, NW9 5DS

The Chandos Arms is a very easy five minute walk from the tube station, simply head west along Colindale Avenue after leaving the station and you can’t miss it.

Inside, its a spacious pub with a large open plan area which you’ll come across first if heading in from the station. It changed hands a couple of years ago and decor wise, everything still seems fairly fresh. Even though we visited on a Monday night, there were a good few people here.

On the drinks front, there was a varied range of ales including their own Chandos beer which was a little sweet for me so I ended up going for Trooper, the Iron Maiden inspired beer.  Before going in, we noticed a sign saying ‘free hotdog with every drink’ and true to their word, we both were offered one after getting our beers. They were frankfurter sausages which weren’t massive but hey, you can hardly complain when getting it for free. As well as free hotdogs, The Chandos also serves up a wide range of pizzas and burgers, plus a few other pub staples.

We sat at the back of the main room. Just behind us was the pub’s ‘community calendar’, a grid with each day of the month and details of what was taking place. In addition to Monday being free hot dog day, Tuesday is two pizzas for a tenner, the offer replicated on Thursday but with burgers. Sunday is allocated as Jazz Club – nice! – with Comedy Club and Folk Club also taking place once a month.

The side room is clearly the music and games room with a small stage and various musical instruments adorning the walls. Just nestling beside the Piano is a snooker table and adjacent to that a dart board. In that regard, all that was missing was a Quiz Machine! Talking of games, there were also a selection of board games towards the back of the main room.  The Chandos also has a small back garden. There are speakers fixed to the wall here and music playing lightly in the background. I wonder if they can hook it up so you can enjoy Jazz Club alfresco?

I was really impressed by The Chandos Arms. Its refreshing to see a pub in the suburbs with so much life to it and its own unique charm. Its definitely worth a visit!

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