Heading out from Waterloo, the first station all trains pass through and the majority stop at is Vauxhall – 26 trains an hour call here in the normal off-peak schedule. It opened the same day as Waterloo, 11th July 1848 and was initially called Vauxhall Bridge.
It is also the eighteenth busiest rail station in the UK, with over 20million entries and exits in 2014/15 and has eight platforms. It’s built on a viaduct so one of its most interesting aspects is the views you get from the platforms out across the River Thames, although this is increasingly being obscured by high-rise luxury housing. You can also see the distinctive roof of Vauxhall Bus Station although as I wrote when I visited Vauxhall tube, its days seem numbered. The MI6 Building also looms very close by.
I’m sure there used to be some quite ’80s mosaics in the staircases up to the platforms, a bit like the one at Kings Cross Thameslink, but these now seem to have vanished. Does anyone else remember them?
The Vauxhall Griffin, 8 Wyvil Road, SW8 2TH
Vauxhall was actually one of the last stops I did on my Underground crawl, visiting here in February 2016, although in many ways that feels a lifetime ago given everything that’s happened since then. This time around I headed West out of the station to The Vauxhall Griffin. To reach the pub, navigate the delights of the traffic system outside the station to get onto Wandsworth Road. A few minutes down the road and opposite the Sainsburys, take a turning off onto Wyvil Road where you’ll find the pub.
It had a cosy and homely atmosphere on our Wednesday evening visit. Its an independent pub which may help to explain some of the eclectic decorations and trinkets dotted around the place. These varied from old newspaper front pages, magazine cuttings from music magazines like Melody Maker and photos of old rockers like Rod Stewart through to the collection of slightly creepy(think Chucky…) plastic dolls above the main door. Lots of pubs these days try and do the whole ‘random bric a brac’ but its clear they have just ordered all the stuff in one go, here I could definitely tell all the paraphernalia had been been collected organically over time. A far better approach!
As well as the main seating area which has a few comfy sofas and chairs, The Griffin also has a pool table – increasingly a rarity in pubs these days – and small DJ booth in the back area. It also has a small outside seating area. The pub also boasts a lively events schedule with regular quiz and games nights. There is a TV above the bar showing the BBC News Channel on our visit. Another nice touch here is the fact they sell dog treats at the bar with all the money raised going to the nearby Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.
On the ale front, we had three to choose from, Brains SA, Hobgoblin and the Autumn Brown Ale from The Park Brewery based down in Kingston.My friend gave that one a go and found it to have an almost chocolaty taste. I went for Hobgoblin which I have mixed views on, I didn’t really enjoy it this time but that may have been to do with nursing a small hangover… They had previously had Doombar on but regrettably it had all run out by the time we got there, they had bottles though if you really needed that West Country fix.
Food wise, the main attraction is their burger selection, especially on Fridays where you can choose from options like pork belly and apple and a ‘fish finger stack’ alongside the more conventional options, the majority of which are all just under £10. The other dishes on the menu are generally solid pub fare like ham,egg and chips and a pie of the day. I actually decided against a burger on this occasion and went for some cheesy chips to push me on. One of my friends had one though and it looked suitably hearty.
Overall I was really taken with The Vauxhall Griffin. I found it to be a very friendly and welcoming pub and well worth a visit, especially given its so easy to get to. Like much of Vauxhall, the area around Wyvil Road is changing at a rapid pace with new blocks going up right beside the pub. I do worry a little how long it can hang on before developers start eyeing it up but it’s a great little pub so hopefully it’s not going anywhere!