Woodford brings me back to East London for the start of a long run of stations on the edge of the Central Line. It was first served by Underground trains on 14th December 1947, serving as the northern terminus of the line until the full route up to Epping was electrified. These days it remains a terminus for services on the Hainault loop.
It originally opened as a rail station on 22nd August 1856 on the Eastern Counties Railway branch line from Leyton to Loughton. Much of the station seems to date from that period, especially the platform shelters and supporting iron structures with their decorative finishes.
The Pub: The Travellers Friend, 496-498 High Road, IG8 0PN
It’s quite suburban around the station and although there were a couple of options closer, we decided to go for the one with the best reviews which was just over 15minutes walk away. I figured if you’re going to come this far out, you might as well do it properly. The quickest way to get to the pub is to leave the station via the main exit and get onto Monkhams Avenue. Follow this up and along its various twists and turns until reaching The Green, carry on along here, turning up onto Inmans Row until reaching the High Road where the Travellers Friend is located a few doors on.
After a walk like that, the pub’s named seemed very appropriate. Inside its a small, cosy pub with plenty of wood panelling. There are a fine array of nik-naks dotted around the place, ranging from old adverts for Campari, pictures of Winston Churchill and a collection of beer jugs – I spotted a Bayern Munich one. The etched windows at the front are also another nice traditional touch.
The Travellers Rest had an excellent collection of ales available when we dropped in – Tribute, London Pride, Broadside, Bombardier and Bolt Maker from Timothy Taylor. I could have gladly had all five of those! Their great beer selection probably helps explain why they were named CAMRA pub of the year 2015 in the South West Essex region. The only food available here are traditional “huffer” rolls for £3.50, as well as crisps and pork scratchings aplenty. It’s quite reassuring to discover pubs that keep things simple in that regard.
It was pretty busy on the mid-week evening we visited with plenty of people enjoying a pint after their commute home from work and had a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. The pub seems to have really turned around under the current owners who took over in late 2013 when it had been at risk of closure. There is also has a garden for whenever drier times return and looked quite striking in the dark thanks to its colourful illuminated plants.
The Travellers Friend is another one of my favourites so far, especially in one of the outer suburbs. It was certainly worth the trek from the station. Well worth finding a reason to come to these parts and visit a great boozer!