Balham

Balham  – the gateway to the South! –  saw its tube station open a couple of months later than the rest of the stops on the Southern end of the Northern Line, opening its doors on 6th December 1926. Architecturally, it shares all the same features as the others on the line and is another Grade II listed Charles Holden building. Like Tooting Broadway, it has a ticket office building on two sides of the main road it passes underneath.

There is also a National Rail station here above and adjacent to the tube station, offering suburban train services across South London and into London Victoria. This first opened way back in 1863.

The Pub: The Regent, 21 Chestnut Grove, SW12 8JB

The Regent is located a couple of minutes away from the station, just turn out of the station onto Chestnut Grove and you can’t miss it.

It continues the theme I’ve found in the last couple of stops as a airy, open gastropub. The pub is split into two sections.  In the area closest to the main door, the large windows allow light to stream in from outside onto the walls which are painted in bright hues.  The back room feels a little darker, in part due to the red velvet curtain type things hanging from the ceiling. There is also a disco ball in this room and I think the tables and chairs can easily be moved away here come Friday and Saturday Nights. The Regent opens until 1am on Friday and Saturday nights.

Ale wise, there was only Wandle on tap when we visited – I think there are usually more available on tap but they were off on our visit. The food menu here is a mixture of your standard pub staples with additional variety coming from Thai Curries and Chinese Style Pork Belly. The Regent has a couple of TVs, they were unobtrusively showing Showjumping on Eurosport when we popped in. I don’t think anyone was watching. From what I recall, during the football season, a large projector screen is set up at the back of the disco ball room to show the games and it gets very busy. I’ve been to the Regent a fair few times over the years. One of the more memorable evenings came when a man who had clearly had a skinful decided to befriend our group. He thought I was Welsh and liked my hair.  We soon left for the safe haven of the nearby Wetherspoons!

If you want to see The Regent as I’ve described, you don’t have long to catch it. Its closing for refurb on the 20th August, scheduled to reopen in time for the Rugby World Cup. I don’t imagine there will be wholesale changes, so hopefully the gist of my review will still stand.

The Regent is a solid South London pub, spacious with a good atmosphere. Certainly worth a visit!

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Clapham South

Clapham South brings to a close my run of stations which all opened on 13th September 1926 on the then City and South London Railway.  As you’ll have come to expect by now, the station building is another fine Charles Holden design and again, also Grade II listed.

The ticket hall itself felt slightly wider than its contemporaries, giving further prominence to the hexagonal roof contained within the centre of it. Clapham South was also the location of one of the eight deep level shelters built during World War Two on the tube network and briefly housed Jamaican immigrants arriving for work in the UK in 1948 when no accommodation was available.

The Pub: The Nightingale, 97 Nightingale Lane, SW12 8NX

As an the area around the tube and the south side of the Common is generally populated with rather uninspiring bars, so we went a little further afield. The pub is about 10 minutes along Nightingale Lane. It’s a very pleasant 10 minute walk past some very impressive houses – just keep heading along the Lane until you reach the pub. It looks charming from the outside with its old cut glass windows and tiles. The building dates from 1853 and is Grade II listed.

Inside, its a cosy, traditional pub with a low ceiling. There are lots of nice comfy seats – the walls are decorated with photos and maps of Old Clapham.  The Nightingale also has a dart board near the front of the pub. Towards the back is a more open conservatory area, just before you reach the garden. The garden itself is a decent size, including a covered area and heaters, ideal for when the weather takes a turn for the worst.  The pub also has a small outside seating area at the front.

The Nightingale is a Youngs pub, so it had all their usual ales available as well as Doombar and appropriately Wandle, named after the nearby river. They and other Youngs pubs currently have an excellent offer running, sign up to their mailing list and get a free drink – whats not to like? It has a decent food menu of primarily classic pub meals like Fish and Chips and Sausage and Mash. It was pretty busy on our visit as you can see from the photos. Quiz night was just starting as we were leaving and there were plenty of teams packed in and taking part!

I really liked The Nightingale. Its a lovely, traditional pub tucked slightly away from the main hustle and bustle of Clapham. Well worth the walk from the station!

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Tooting Bec

Tooting Bec first opened as Trinity Road(Tooting Bec) on 13th September 1926 – it wasn’t until 1950 that it acquired its current name.

Like all stations on this stretch of the Northern Line, its another Charles Holden classic. It is also Grade II listed.  What I found more rare for a suburban stop is that it has two station buildings, allowing access to the station from different sides of the road. I think I prefer the smaller of the two, which is very much wedged at the middle of the road junction and as a result significantly thinner than the main building opposite.

The Pub: The Wheatsheaf, 2 Upper Tooting Road, SW17 7PG

The Wheatsheaf is right opposite the main station building, simply cross over the road and you’re there. It really occupies a prime location for a pub.

Inside, you’ll find a big, spacious pub, compromised of two similarly sized rooms. Its only recently changed hands and been redone so everything still feels very fresh. The front room although having a ceiling painted in dark hues, still managed to feel light and airy thanks to the large windows backing out onto the street. The back room, now dedicated to dining following the revamp, has a lighter colour scheme, with a white ceiling and plenty of mirrors reflecting a view of the garden. It all feels pretty modern with some traditional aspects remaining like the impressive details flanking the door connecting the two bars. There is also a decent sized decked back garden, a small area of which is enclosed under a shelter.

The Wheatsheaf had a varied collection of ales on our visit, including Trumans Swift, Trinity Redemption and Northern Lights. As you might expect, it has an extensive food menu with more restaurant type dishes such as sea bream alongside pub classics like burgers and fish and chips. The prices are towards the higher end of the pub spectrum, varying between £12 to £16 for a main.

As I said earlier, The Wheatsheaf occupies an ideal location for a pub, right opposite a tube station. Its for that reason back in 2013 its future looked threatened with existing tenants Antic in trouble and rumours of Tesco keen to swoop in. Thankfully a concerted campaign, backed by local MP Sadiq Khan, secured the pub’s future with its listing as an Asset of Community Value. Now I’m no fantasist who believes every pub must be preserved, some will inevitably not survive changing times. But then, as now, The Wheatsheaf was a busy, thriving pub serving its local community well. It would have been perverse to see it lost due to business failings elsewhere.

The Wheatsheaf is a buzzing pub that seems in good health under new ownership. I’ve always found it to be a good place for a pint. Its an ideal spot for both onward travel or the last one of the evening. With its future now hopefully secure, long may that continue!

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Tooting Broadway

Tooting Broadway shares much in common with the other stations I’ve just visited. It opened on the same day, 13th September 1926,  was designed by Charles Holden and is effectively the same design as both South Wimbledon and Colliers Wood. There’s not much more I can add to how I described those stops! Its also a Grade II listed building.

Also of note, there is a statue of Edward VII outside the station taking pride of place right in front of the station.

The Pub: The Tram and Social, 46-48 Mitcham Road, SW17 9NA

The Tram and Social is a couple of minutes up Mitcham Road, but you have to look out clearly to see it as its down a small alleyway and you wouldn’t spot it unless you knew it was there. Its just past the McDonalds

In a former life, the Tram and Social was, as its name suggests, an old Tram Shed. The scale of the place is certainly impressive with its high ceiling, as well as the ‘mezzanine’ level which looks down on the rest of the bar. With chandeliers hanging from the wall and alcoves set away from the bar, it has always reminded me of the Ocean Zone(sadly not being featured in the upcoming remake!) from the Crystal Maze for some reason.

As we went on a Sunday afternoon, it was really quiet but having been a number of times before,  I know from experience how busy it gets on Friday and Saturday nights. With DJs and bands here, the main floor has its seats swept away and turned into a dance floor. The seating was in place on our visit, as was a Table Tennis table, which must be a nightmare to move every night! The entrance way also serves as a small outside seating area. Beer wise, there were no ales on tap with lagers such as Krusovice and Brewdog’s Dead Pony Club IPA. They don’t do food but like I said, there is a McDonalds a few doors away.

I’ve always liked the Tram and Social as its such a unique venue – had a fantastic birthday party there a few years back, from what I remember of it. I don’t think there is anywhere else quite like it in London. I love the fact a building like this has been preserved and put to good use. It is definitely worth a visit to take it in yourself. Just bear in mind it gets incredibly busy on weekend evenings, so might be best to pop in earlier in the night if you’re in the mood for a quieter drink!

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Colliers Wood

Colliers Wood continues my journey through the Southern stations of the Northern Line which all opened on 13th September 1926. Like the others on this stretch of the line, the station was designed by Charles Holden and is very similar to its neighbours with the Portland Stone block. A feature of these buildings I really like are the chandelier style lighting grids, albeit updated with modern bulbs, but as you’ll see from the gallery, it still looks distinctive.

The Pub: The Charles Holden, 198 High Street, SW19 2BH

With a name like that, there simply couldn’t be any other option for the pub I visited here – combining a pub with a leading figure in the Tube’s history is completely in tune with what I’ve been trying to do on this blog! Its very easily found from the station, being located on the opposite side of the road barely a minute or two away.

Inside, its a spacious, modern gastropub that has thankfully retains some traditional features, especially around the bar. The big bay windows looking out onto the street help to make it feel light and airy inside. As well as the main area by the front entrance, there is also a side room as well as a section at the back of the pub. It has a decent sized garden with a fair amount of greenery dotted around it. Some of the seating is underneath awnings offering protection against the elements.

It has a solid range of ales with Tribute, Adnams Ghost Ship, Dizzy Blonde and the pub’s own specialty, the Charles Holden IPA. The food menu is what I’d call pub classics for the gastro generation – sausage and mash, fish and chips, burgers and steaks. As it was a Sunday, lots of people round us were having roasts but I went for the burger and my friend had sausage and mash. Both were hefty portions, very tasty and certainly hit the spot for an afternoon of pub exploring!

You can tell from the interior that the Charles Holden is very much a Rugby pub. The wall of the back area we were sitting in is decorated with photos of Rugby players, with a collection of Rugby balls perched above them. With a few months to spare, they were also giving patrons the option of reserving their seats now for the Rugby World Cup which starts in earnest in September.  The pub also has a Sky/BT Sports Licence and it will come as no surprise to hear they were showing Rugby on our visit! Continuing on the gaming theme, there was also a selection of board games including a special edition of Trivial Pursuit focused on the 1980s – certainly up my street!

The Charles Holden is a top pub which gets all the important things right. Its certainly worth a visit if you’re based in South London!

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