What better place to start the second incarnation of INNside Track than Waterloo, the busiest rail station in London and indeed the entire country. There was an incredible 99.2million entries and exits from the station in 2014/15.
It first opened back in 1848 as ‘Waterloo Bridge Station’ and is definitely one of my favourite London terminal stations. Much of today’s station dates from an early 20th century rebuild that was puncuated by the First World War and finally completed in 1922. It remains a very impressive structure today with a number of sections Grade II listed. The main entrance is called ‘The Victory Arch’ and contains a memorial to railway staff killed in the two world wars.
The station also acquired a slick modern annex in 1994 in the shape of the Waterloo International terminal. This only had a very short life in its original guise with Eurostar trains diverted up to St Pancras from 2007 with the completion of the high speed Channel Tunnel Rail Link. Even when the first Eurostar services began arriving here in 1994, it was already planned for the UK’s high speed link to the Channel Tunnel to come into St Pancras. However that’s another story, one I hope is someday covered by the excellent London Reconnections blog…
After several years gathering dust, two of the four international platforms were reused for domestic services from 2014 onwards. These were closed off again from April of this year as a more comprehensive refurbishment programme is taking place to bring all four back into use. When it and other station upgrades are finally complete in 2018, Waterloo will have 24 platforms in active passenger use, the most of any rail station in the UK.
Just as a recap to my plan of action this time around. I am starting at Waterloo and then working my way out through all the stations in Greater London served by trains starting here.
The Wellington, 81-83 Waterloo Road, SE1 8UD
There are no shortage of pubs dotted around the streets to the East of Waterloo Station. However these are all closer to Waterloo East(the clues in the name) so I went to The Wellington, just opposite the Waterloo Road exit of the station. The walkway linking the two stations actually passes directly above it.
It’s very spacious inside, sub-divided into three sections with a long bar at the back of the pub spanning all the areas. There is plenty of wood panelling throughout and the seating is a mix of sofas and plush chairs as well as standard tables and chairs packed in. Living up to the name, there are two murals painted depicting scenes from the battle of Waterloo – one on the arched roof of the central section of the pub and another above the bar area.
There are TVs in all sections of the pub with both BT and Sky Sports. As well as having my old favourite, a quiz machine, there is also ‘Golden Tee Fore Complete’, a golf arcade machine which apparently dates from 2005 but has very ’90s graphics. Arcade machines in pubs are even rarer than quiz machines these days and I hope the management here don’t move it anytime soon.
Its run by Fullers so has their usual range of ales as well as a sighting of their seasonal offering, Red Fox, an autumnal ale. I had a London Pride which tasted particularly good as it was free. As it stands, if you sign up for the pub’s newsletter, you get a free drink in return. Not an offer to be sniffed at with drinks prices creeping ever higher in the capital. No surprises on the food front with the usual English pub food staples.
The Wellington is also a hotel, with a dozen or so rooms above the pub. We visited on a rainy Wednesday evening and the clientele was a mix of foreign tourists (some of whom were no doubt staying upstairs) and a sizeable post-work crowd. Kings College also has a few buildings round here so you also get a fair few students here too.
Overall The Wellington is a solid pub. It’s spacious and perfectly situated for onward travel beyond Waterloo!