Highgate

Highgate station was first served by the Northern Line on 19th January 1941. It had first opened as a rail station on the Great Northern Railway route between Finsbury Park and Edgware in 1867

Highgate was a station hit by the curtailment of the Northern Heights project as it would have become an interchange between new Northern Line services. The existing rail services from here to Alexandra Palace in the north and Finsbury Park in the south (which continued until 1954) would have been linked into the network,  as shown in this late 1930s map.

The cancellation of these aspects of the Northern Heights plan saw the station buildings, which eventually opened in 1957, scaled back from the original ambitious plans.  The plans by Charles Holden were due to include a statue of Dick Whittington and his cat at the top of the station building, much like the Archer at East Finchley.

Some of the buildings from the old rail station remain and have been documented on this excellent website of disused stations.  In a curious piece of trivia, Jerry Springer was born at Highgate tube station in 1944 when it was being used as bomb shelter during the war!

The Pub: The Wrestlers, 98 North Road, N6 4AA

Given Highgate’s reputation as a well-heeled area, I had high hopes of finding a good pub here. With a good selection of options coming up, I decided to go with The Wrestlers. To get there, head out of the station onto Archway Road, turning onto Southwood Lane.  Continue along here until reaching a small footpath/alleyway just before the junction with Jacksons Lane.  At the end of this footpath, you’ll be right outside The Wrestlers.

Inside, the pub, which is said to date back to 1547(!), has a cosy, traditional vibe to it with wood paneling throughout and stained glass windows. There was also a open fire when we visited which added to the atmosphere and will I’m sure certainly be welcome heading into the cold winter months. There is also a small back garden too.

On the beer front, there were a decent few ales on tap including London Pride and Tribute. Food wise, its towards the high end of gastropub fare with dishes such as sea bass and duck breast on the menu, as well as burgers and the like.  The bar snacks menu, including chips and other sides, are priced around £4 if you’re travelling on more of a budget! When we first arrived around 7 on a Wednesday evening, it was quite quiet but the place soon filled out with loads of people coming here for dinner so the food is obviously a hit with the punters.

The walls are decorated with a selection of local photos as well as various old trinkets. These include some deer antlers. On later research, I discovered these are used for a ceremony called ‘swearing of the horns’ – once you swear the oath – which includes lines such as ‘You must not drink small beer when you can get strong’ you become a freeman of Highgate. This was a custom throughout pubs in the Highgate Village area and was covered in this 2013 Ham and High article.

The Wrestlers is another excellent North London pub. I got so comfortable here I didn’t want to leave. Following hot on the heels of the Olde Mitre, it’s also another of my overall favourites and definitely worth the trip to Highgate to visit it.

(The only bad thing I can think to say about the place is there seems to be security issues with their website – so I haven’t linked to it – and google warns against accessing it!)

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High Barnet

High Barnet takes me to the end of this branch of the Northern Line and brings to a close my run of stations which all joined the Underground on 14th April 1940. It first opened as a rail station of the same name on 1st April 1872.

The design of the buildings here is very similar to those stops, with Victorian architecture, including platform shelters and canopies and a traditional footbridge, dating back to its initial period as a rail station

The Pub: Ye Olde Mitre Inne, 58 High Street, EN5 5SJ

The pub is a short walk up the hill. Head out of the station along the footpath that takes you up to Meadway, turning to onto the High Street where the Mitre is a few minutes up the road. Looking back as we walked up the street, I was reminded just how far we’d come from central London with the Shard and other central London tower blocks distant on the horizon.

Ye Olde Mitre Inne is a pub with incredible history. It is thought the current building dates back to 1785 when the pub was a coaching inn. The interior retains a real traditional character with low ceilings, wooden beams and exposed brickwork. There is an old ‘Ye Olde Mitre Inn’ sign displayed above the bar in the main room. The pub is divided into several rooms, all of which have the same historical feel to them. It is said that some of the oak beams in the Stable Lounge, one of the outer rooms, may even date back as far as the 14th Century!  Finally, there is an outside patio space which probably feels the most modern part of the entire building. Given all the history, it is unsurprising the pub is grade II listed.

Ye Olde Mitre doesn’t just rest on its historical assets, it gets the important aspects of being a pub right. There were at least six ales available on tap including Landlord from Timothy Taylor,  Adnams Southwold Bitter and Emerald Tiger. The food is good too, I had a particularly hearty burger with thick chunky chips and my friend was equally pleased with his with his mince scotch pie – a mix between a pie and a scotch egg! Other dishes available include Scampi and Chips and Lasagne.

The walls are decorated with some fantastic trinkets, I really liked the Allwin, an old gaming machine where the object was to ensure you fired the little ball bearing into one of the hoops. The collection of old taps were a tad more curious though.

Ye Olde Mitre Inne is a fantastic pub. It has preserved its own historic heritage so well while at the same time getting all the pub essentials right, something which is sometimes lacking in historic pubs found closer to tourist hotspots. Its definitely one of my favourite pubs I’ve visited for the blog and I highly recommend taking a trip up to High Barnet to experience it first hand!

(The pub has no website)

 

Totteridge and Whetstone

Totteridge and Whetstone is at the outer fringes of the Northern Line, the penultimate station on this branch before the terminus at High Barnet. Like other stations I’ve visited north of East Finchley, it originally began life as a mainline rail station, opening in 1872 as Whetstone and Totteridge on the Great Northern Railway’s line between Finsbury Park and Edgware.

It transferred over to the Northern Line on 14th April 1940 and retains Victorian station architecture harking back to its mainline rail days, bearing similarities to neighbouring stations on the line.

The Pub: The Griffin, 1262 High Road, N20 9HH

The Griffin is a short walk from the station. Head onto Totteridge Lane and walk up the street until reaching the main High Road where the Griffin is located on the other side of the road.

Inside, its a decent sized pub. The bar is located towards the front of the pub with seats around it, there is also an area towards the back which has an impressive domed roof with a modern interpretation of a chandelier hanging from its ceiling!  The general decor is a mix between old and new, with floorboards and traditional wood paneling being complemented by white walls and some vivid modern paintings.

The Griffin has a strong ale selection with six different options available on our visit including old favourites Tribute, London Pride and Old Peculiar as well as Deuchars, the Griffin’s own ale and the Rugby themed Drop Kick.  The menu here is made up of good solid pub favourites like sausage and mash, burgers and fish and chips, as well as light bites including Lamb Koftas.

Its a shame I’m writing about The Griffin as we’re headed towards winter as it has an extensive garden and outside seating. This includes the Heineken sports bar under an awning but at the same time open at the back so I assume smoker friendly? The garden then extends out further towards a section gazebo type structure, the ‘Jungle Hut’, at the very back.

The pub has a Sky Sports licence for Football and Rugby. In addition there are also regular quiz and open mic nights, as well as live music at weekends. On our Saturday afternoon visit we were able to find seats easily – the pub was quite busy and had a friendly atmosphere.

I was really taken with The Griffin, it has so many good things going for it – strong ale selection, nice interior, big garden and decent looking food. Trust me, its well worth making the trip out to the outer reaches of the Northern Line to go here!

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Woodside Park

Woodside Park continues my run of stations where the Northern Line first arrived on 14th April 1940. Like its neighbouring stations, it was previously on the mainline rail network, opening as Torrington Park on the Great Northern Railway on 1st April 1872. A mere month later it was renamed Torrington Park, Woodside before gaining its present title in 1882.

Like West Finchley and Finchley Central, the structures here pre-date the arrival of the tube and again feel like a Victorian rural railway station. I don’t think anything here was taken from any stations in the north mind you.

The Pub: The Malt and Hops, 891 High Road, N12 8QA

Its all very quiet around Woodside Park tube, there are no shops or pubs in the immediate vicinity of the station. As such, its just over a 10minute walk to the pub. Head out of the station onto Woodside Park Road, continue along here until the junction of the High Road. Turn left along here and the Malt and Hops is a couple of minutes down the road.

The Malt and Hops is fairly threadbare inside, there isn’t too much by way of decoration on the walls and the place feels as if it has seen better days. There weren’t any ales available so I went for a pint of Kronenberg which certainly wasn’t the best I’ve had either. There is no food available here which doesn’t come as a great surprise.

When we first came in, there was loud music blaring out from the speakers here – this seemed a little odd given there were only a handful of people here on a quiet Saturday afternoon. It was later switched off thankfully! There were a couple of TV screens showing the Rugby World Cup, the pub also has both a pool and snooker table. There was also live music and open mic nights advertised. There is also a beer garden too but I didn’t venture into it.

Overall, the Malt and Hops is a pub that has clearly seen better days, an impression certainly reinforced by a couple of their upstairs windows being boarded up! I didn’t find it a particularly nice place to drink, if you live nearby I’d suggest going to one of the pubs slightly further down the line which are far better.

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West Finchley

West Finchley was first served by the Northern Line on 14th April 1940, a mainline rail station having opened here seven years before on the LNER line to High Barnet. The rail services stopped the following year with the station exclusively served by the tube thereafter.

Wikipedia states that many of the station structures here were taken from stations in the North of England. It is said the footbridge, which looks very much the Victorian rail structure, came from a station in Yorkshire that closed in 1930.  In contrast, the ticket office is a modern non-descript brick building.

The Pub: The Elephant’s Inn, 283 Ballards Lane, N12 8NR

The pub is just over 10minutes walk from the station. Head out onto Nether Street, walking up the road until reaching Moss Hall Grove, head down the road and turn left onto Ballards Lane. The Elephants Head will then be a few minutes up the street.

The Elephant’s Inn is a traditional pub that has been well maintained, its wood panelling and stained glass windows are both in good condition. Its a spacious pub that has been subdivided into a number of areas flanking the main bar. Its a Fullers pub so has their standard range of ales – London Pride, ESB and Olivers Island being some of those on offer on our visit. There was also the Rugby themed ‘Front Row’, to tie in with the World Cup which was at the time still in full swing. Talking of sports, there are multiple TV screens dotted around and they have both Sky and BT Sports.

On the food front, The Elephant’s Inn has an extensive Thai menu with a selection of curries, stir fries, noodles and sea food. The upstairs of the pub is set aside for the Thai restaurant. There are also a few English dishes available too including bangers and mash and fish and chips. I’d had a Thai meal the day before coming here so went for the Burger which was excellent with proper chunky chips!

An interesting feature I noticed was plaques to former regulars on seating in the pub. Much in the way you see benches in parks and public places dedicated to people who had a connection with that area,  there are little plaques here to commemorate deceased regulars. I’ve not seen it in any other pubs before but thought it was a really nice touch.

The Elephant’s Inn is another fine pub – from my other stops on the trail, it seems like Finchley has a good little selection.  I’d definitely be keen to head back here again soon and its certainly worth a visit if you’re based nearby!

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Finchley Central

The Northern Line arrived at Finchley Central on 14th April 1940 – a station had first opened here in 1867 on the Great Northern Railway as part of their route from Finsbury Park to Edgware. It was transferred over to the Underground as part of the ambitious Northern Heights Plan which would have seen the full route to Edgware passed onto the Northern Line.  In the end it only got as far as Mill Hill East as the project halted during the Second World War before finally being axed in 1954.

Finchley Central was due to be rebuilt to the designs of Charles Holden but the shelving of the Northern Heights Plan put paid to that.  As a result, the station’s Victorian buildings remain, giving it the air of a rural rail station. The recent addition of step-free access here in 2008 saw the installation of a very modern looking oblong box containing the lift down from the footbridge to the platforms.

Finchley Central is the terminus of the Mill Hill East shuttle service – outside of the peak periods, no direct trains into Central London operate on that small branch so onward travel requires changing here.

The Pub: Catcher in the Rye, 317 Regents Park Road, N3 1DP

The pub is a short five minute walk from the station. From leaving the ticket office, walk up Chaville Way then turn left onto Regents Park Road where you’ll find Catcher in The Rye a few minutes along the road.  If nothing else, the pub certainly wins when it comes to originality – this is definitely the first place I’ve come across named after J.D Salinger’s 1950s iconic coming of age novel!

Inside, the pub is set on two levels with the area around the bar slightly higher than the room to its side. The walls have stripped back brick work with a mixture of modern looking art and pictures of Old Finchley hanging on it. There are plenty of plants and flowers brightening up the place. The Rye also has a good few comfy sofas which help give the place a cosy air to it.  It had a couple of TVs showing the BBC News channel when we dropped by. It was quite quiet here on our visit but then again, it was relatively early on a Saturday afternoon.

On the ale front, they had both Greene King IPA(China’s favourite!) and Old Golden Hen. Food wise, it was solid fare with the occasional gastropub line creeping into the menu – rustic cut chips with cheese being an example – but hey at least they do cheesy chips unlike some gastros which turn their noses up at them! I was also a fan of Sussex Pork Sausages being on the menu. Sadly we were unable to get food on our visit as the chef for the lunchtime shift was off ill, so the rustic cheesy chips had to wait.

Catcher in the Rye is a decent pub with a very memorable name. Certainly worth popping into if you live in these parts of North London.

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St. John’s Wood

St. John’s Wood first opened on 20th November 1939, the same day as its neighbour Swiss Cottage. It was initially served by Bakerloo Line trains until being transferred to the Jubilee Line along with the rest of the Stanmore branch of the line.

Its opening lead to the closure of two nearby stations on the Metropolitan Line. While Lords station was demolished in the 1960s,  Malborough Road’s, ticket office building is still standing as you can see from the gallery. St John’s Wood was Grade II listed in 2011 and has an interesting, curved station building. It was designed by Harold Stabler who was also behind the decorative tiling patterns seen at Swiss Cottage, Aldgate East and elsewhere.

The Pub: The Lord’s Tavern, Lord’s Cricket Ground, St. John’s Wood Road, NW8 8QN

For many, St. John’s Wood station is synonymous with cricket, being the closest stop to that iconic ground. With that in mind, I decided to visit The Lord’s Tavern which is part of the ground complex. To reach it from the station, head straight down Wellington Road until you hit St John’s Wood Road(by this point you will be able to see the ground).  Head along here to find the pub at the end of that section of the ground.

Despite Lord’s itself being built in 1814, the Tavern is in a modern building without any real historical merit. The Old Lord’s Tavern was demolished a number of years ago during ground redevelopment, it can be viewed here.  On our visit here, it felt a bit like a corporate lounge as a local estate agents were having some sort of do here, so suits everywhere. There is obviously plenty of cricket memorabilia about the place – I think the most interesting touch here though is their cricket themed cocktails, including LBW – Long Buffalo Whiskey rather than Leg Before Wicket! On the beer front there was Bombardier Golden Dawn, Marstons EPA and Pedigree – the latter is perhaps no surprise as they used to sponsor the England cricket team.

The Tavern also does food with a menu of standard pub dishes. There is also a outside seating area to the front of the pub protected by an awning. They also have a Sky Sports licence too.

While the Lord’s Tavern was perfectly acceptable,  it seemed to lack a bit of character to me – I think this was due to it being in a modern building. I had visions of visiting an old inn steeped in history and tradition. I suppose semi-crashing a party of estate agents probably didn’t help either. That said, I assume it could be an entirely different experience after a hot summer’s day enjoying the cricket!

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