Richmond

When it first opened in July 1846, Richmond served as the terminus of a short line which ran into Nine Elms, although it was only two years before the line was extends westwards towards Twickenham, resulting in the station being moved very slightly.

The present station building dates from 1937 in the Art Deco style and was designed by James Robb Scott. Its in Portland Stone which was also used for many of Charles Holden’s London Underground buildings, most strikingly the HQ building at 55 Broadway above St James Park station, as well as other memorable London buildings including the imposing Senate House.

There is also a tube stop here and the two are fully integrated with the District Line platforms at one end of the station. This was one of the first stops I visited for my underground blog way back in June 2013. You can compare and contrast how the station has changed over the last three and a half years – I didn’t have a chance to check whether the retro poster about Winnersh Triangle was still there.

The Old Ship, 3 King Street, Richmond, TW9 1ND

Richmond is an area blessed with loads of pubs so I was very happy to return here for a second outing. This time we decided to go to The Old Ship which is several minutes walk from the station, simply head south down The Quadrant until it reaches King Street and The Old Ship. If you’re visiting in the evening, it is very easy to spot because it has a glowing neon sign in what I’d call a ‘ye olde’ typeface.

The pub is grade II listed and believed to date back to the 18th century. These days its a Youngs pub. It is fairly spacious as the building extends back a fair way, this was very fortunate in our case because the place was absolutely heaving with England Rugby fans here for a post match drink (or ten) as the match with Australia had just finished. Despite it being rammed downstairs, we were able to find ourselves a few seats in the upstairs area which is divided into two rooms and is also fairly sizable. There’s also a back garden with a TV and sheltered areas.

In terms of decor, The Old Ship certainly lives up to its name with nautical touches throughout. There are stained glass ships in the pubs front windows and plenty of pictures of maps on the walls. Upstairs there is shipping rope in place of a window in the internal wall between the two rooms. They have even used a ship’s wheel as a chandelier, with lights hanging off each of the spokes. I think they’ve managed to pull the overall look off without it being too gimmicky and the upstairs area reminded me a bit of the main room from the Ocean Zone in the Crystal Maze – high praise indeed!

As a Youngs pub, it had their usual ales on tap(Special, Bitter etc) as well as a few guests – Grandstand from the nearby Twickenham brewery as well as the seasonal ‘Pirate Christmas Ale’, although sadly I can’t find any record of this beer online. The food menu is in keeping with other Youngs venues, primarily traditional pub classics. You can expect to pay over £11 for a main here,  with Fish and Chips at £11.50 and a Burger for £12.

The pub also has Sports licence, so as well as Rugby fans, there were plenty of people here watching the late kick-off in the Premier League. The pub also has a collection of board games too and I saw two people playing Scrabble, an impressive feat given how busy the pub was at the time. More generally I was also impressed that the service at the bar was still pretty quick even though the pub was incredibly busy. Given their proximity to Twickenham, they must be used to occasions like this but it is still nice to see everything running smoothly.

The Old Ship gets the thumbs up from me, another fine spot for a pint in South West London. In a place like Richmond which is worthy of a pub crawl in its own right, The Old Ship definitely deserves to be a stop on that journey.

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(For Richmond tube, I visited The White Cross in June 2013)

 

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North Sheen

North Sheen is a curious little station – it’s a fair old walk out of the station over a bridge and along a alleyway before you actually fully exit the station onto the street. It is definitely not accessible for wheelchair users and I imagine due to its various design quirks, may be quite difficult to make so. Because there isn’t a station building on the street entrance to the platforms, it isn’t the easiest place to spot either.

It first opened on 6 July 1930, in contrast to its immediate neighbours in either direction which had been in operation since the line itself first opened in 1846. It is also quite quiet by London standards, with 536,754 entries and exits here in 2015/16.

The Mitre, 20 St. Mary’s Grove, TW9 1UY

The Mitre is a quick 5 minute walk from the station. Once you’ve finally made it out of there, head over the level crossing and down Manor Road, turning onto Townshend Terrace. Continue along here until reaching St. Mary’s Grove and The Mitre.

The Mitre first opened in 1860s as a coaching house and soon became a pub. It’s an impressive Victorian building and forms part of a local conservation area. Inside, the pub was renovated in late 2015 and so still looks very smart and tidy, painted in fresh, light colours. It has many traditional features such as its stained glass windows, one of a Mitre itself appropriately, and old fireplaces. On the walls there are some nice photographs of nearby Richmond Park, as well as posters of classic bands and artists like Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones. It also has a small little back garden too.

Where the pub really comes into its own is the beer selection. There were twelve different ales available when we visited from a wide range of breweries. Some of those on offer on our visit included: Kipling by Thornbridge, both Hophead and the Oatmeal Stout from Dark Star,  Full Nelson, Three French Hens, Cloudwater BitteCloudwater BitteCloudwater BitteCloudwater Bitter and finally the excellently named ‘No Name Bitter’.  I went for the Cloudwater which was a very refreshing session ale. I don’t think they do food here as I couldn’t spot any menus.

The Mitre had a very nice chilled out vibe on our Saturday afternoon visit. Unlike other pubs nearby showing the Rugby and therefore packed out, they were showing Snooker and then Final Score on BBC1 here. Adding to the atmosphere here was a very friendly dog who called Rudy and who I think belonged to the landlord. Another one of the band posters here was of The Specials, so I may be putting two and two together and getting five, but maybe the dog had been named after that famous Specials song?

I loved The Mitre – I really wasn’t expecting to find such a great pub in quiet North Sheen. It just had such a welcoming atmosphere plus such a varied selection of beers. It is well worth going out of your way to visit – it isn’t really too far from Richmond so it isn’t as out of the way as you might imagine. A dream local, in the same dream world where I could afford to live in North Sheen!

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Mortlake

Mortlake is a moderately busy suburban London station. It has two platforms, both of which retain their Victorian platform canopies offering passengers some protection from the elements. I really liked the decorative supports for the roof of the shelters. It opened on 27 July 1846, the same date as the last few stations I’ve visited.

One of the interesting things about Mortlake is the fact it is located right by a level crossing. This is something you don’t encounter on rail routes in other parts of London where the line tends to be on a viaduct or embankment. The presence of a number of level crossings on this route are a cause of frustration for motorists and also in terms of improving frequency on the route because of the disruption additional closures of the crossing would cause.

The Pig and Whistle, 86 Sheen Lane, SW14 8LP

The pub is a short, easy walk from the station – simply head south down Sheen Lane for 5minutes where The Pig and Whistle is just before the junction with Upper Richmond Road.

The pub was very busy when we visited, a Saturday lunchtime crowd here to watch Manchester City v Chelsea. The low ceiling made the place feel quite cosy even though it is pretty spacious. There are a number of comfy looking seats here but as there was barely s spare seat in the house, we went out in the garden as it wasn’t that chilly.

The Pig and Whistle has an expansive back garden with TVs for live sport and a number of enclosed booths which looked a bit like smartly painted beach huts for me. On the mild December day we visited, there were a number of people out in the garden to watch the football. When the Rugby match started(England V Australia), it ended up being almost as busy as indoors.

It had a nice range of ales on tap including Youngs Bitter and Special, Doombar, London Pride as well as my old favourite Tribute, which I had and never disappoints. There is also a decent food menu here with pub classics like Sausage and Mash, Fish and Chips and a range of Burgers all available for under a tenner. I went for their classic burger which cost £9, it was a hearty portion and they even threw in a couple of Onion Rings too. During the week there are deals so its only £10 for a burger and a drink on Wednesdays with the same offer repeated for curries on Thursdays.

The Pig and Whistle is a good solid pub. An ideal spot for watching sports with a decent garden and reasonably priced food too. This new blog has certainly started off on the right foot as South West London is definitely proving to be a hotspot for pubs!

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Barnes

After the first few stops which took me through built-up South London suburbs, Barnes is very much a leafy interlude with an expanse of green on both sides of the station. Architecturally it also has the feel of a village railway station. Its main station building by Platform 1 was designed by William Tite and dates back to its opening in 1846. Tite was a prolific architect who designed many early railway stations in both Britain and France and was also behind London’s Royal Exchange. The brick ‘Tudor Gothic’ style construction on Platform 1 is now a private residence, perfect for a train enthusiast with suitably deep pockets – Michael Portillo perhaps? Nearby stations Putney, Mortlake and Richmond all had similar buildings from Tite but Barnes is the only one still standing.

Today it is served by eight trains an hour in each direction and is the last station before trains diverge on the Hounslow loop line.  There was a major rail crash near the station in December 1955 which killed 13 people and left an additional 41 injured.

The Brown Dog, 28 Cross Street, SW13 0AP

The area around Barnes Station is a bit of a pub desert so it was a little bit of walk to the pub here. Coming out of the station past the old station building by Platform 1, head along a path that follows the railway line until it reaches Vine Road. Going over the level crossing, turn into Vine Road recreation ground and keep to the path bordering the railway line, head straight on and out of the park until you come to a pathway on the left. Follow this until you reach Cross Street where The Brown Dog is located a few minutes down the road.

The Brown Dog is a smart Victorian pub which has a nice mix between traditional and modern. It retains heritage features like a nice old fireplace which is nicely complemented by the light and airy decor which gives it a more contemporary vibe. It also had a nice wreath and some other tasteful Christmas decorations. One side of the pub is effectively its dining room while the other is more cosy with some comfy leather seats  There are also lots of old adverts for Schweppes here which I always like when I see in pubs.

Two ales were available on tap when we dropped in,  Black Sheep and a beer whose name currently escapes me as I can’t make it out from my notes! As a bitter fan, I plumped for the Black Sheep. You don’t actually see it too often in London pubs these days so it was a nice treat. The menu here is updated regularly and is is high-end gastropub fare. A few of the dishes are north of £15(smoked haddock was £16, as was the roast hake) –  it looks like you get what you pay for from the dishes I saw people getting and there were plenty of people in the dining room area tucking in.

The pub is dog friendly, which is reassuring given the name, and there was a dog bowl just near the bar on our visit. It was fairly busy on our Saturday lunchtime outing here, primarily in the dining room area but there were also a few people having a couple of drinks propping up the bar.

I really enjoyed our visit to The Brown Dog. I also liked the fact that although the food is clearly one of its main selling points, we weren’t immediately accosted and asked if we were going to be dining with them today – some pubs are starting to get a bit pushy in that regard these days! A charming pub on a quiet street in Barnes. It is certainly well worth a visit if you’re round these parts.

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Putney

Putney rail station first opened on 27 July 1846 as part of the line from Richmond to Nine Elms. The station was rebuilt in 1885-6 at the same time as the line passing through here was quadrupled. The shelters on the island platform are incredibly well illuminated at night – the lighting seemed to be set to the level of one of those seasonally affected disorder lamps! The ticket office building is pleasant enough and its brick frontage has far less decorative finishes than other Victorian stations. To be fair,  these may well have been removed during 20th Century costcutting.

Putney also has two tube stations, one either side of the river, so it is an area that was already familiar to me from my previous exploits. In case you’d like a reminder, here are my reviews for Putney Bridge and East Putney, both from late 2013.

The Bricklayers, 32 Waterman Street, SW15 1DD

Putney is a thriving, affluent London suburb with plenty of major shopping chains on its high street and also within the Putney Exchange shopping centre. It’s also got no shortage of pubs, both on and around the high street and also closer to the river. In areas like these, I particularly like to find pubs that are a little off the beaten track. Down a quiet street, The Bricklayers fulfills that criteria perfectly. To get there, head down Putney High Street towards the river, then turning onto Lower Richmond Road before taking a left onto Waterman Street for The Bricklayers.

From the outside The Bricklayers seems quite small but it extends a fair way back so its more spacious than it might look at first. It was built in 1826 and still feels very traditional with wooden floorboards and panelling and plenty of black and white photos of Putney on the walls. The pub also has a lot of old school vibes as it’s cash only(a real rarity these days!) and doesn’t serve any food(which is also becoming rarer…).

The pub’s website says its ‘London’s Permanent Beer Festival’ and previous reviews I’ve read of the place say they have up to 12 different real ales available on tap. Sadly there were only 4 available when we visited but to be fair it wasn’t a busy period. Those available all came from the nearby Twickenham Brewery : Grandstand, Naked Ladies, Redhead and Sundance. I went for the Ladies which I always find to be a pleasant bitter when I’ve encountered it before. The Bricklayers is a firm favourite with CAMRA, scooping their South West London Pub of the Year on a number of occasions.

We sat in the back area which had a bit of a barn feel to me on account of its higher ceiling than the rest of the pub. In this section of the pub there are lots of posters advertising previous beer and cider festivals previously held here. Each one has a different animal dressed up in human clothes enjoying a pint, including a horse,pig, cow and badger. Also here are lots of traditional drawings of animals with various slogans encouraging a trip to Putney – i.e: ‘Don’t get the hump, come to Putney!’. The pub was pretty quiet when we dropped by, although it was an incredibly cold Tuesday evening.

I really liked the vintage old nine pin ‘table’ skittles which you can see in the gallery. They also have a fussball table which is always good fun. There is also a proper fire which was certainly needed. The Bricklayers even has its own cricket team. In the season just gone, I saw they had locked horns with another South London favourite of mine, The Traf Freehouse in South Wimbledon, winning both matches.

The Bricklayers gets a big thumbs up from me. If you’re looking for a change of pace from the hectic and loud pubs closer to Putney tube, The Bricklayers is the perfect spot for a pint in a friendly, traditional setting.

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Wandsworth Town

Wandsworth Town station first opened on 27 July 1846 as simply ‘Wandsworth’. It actually predates both Vauxhall and Waterloo as at that point the line simply ran from Richmond to Nine Elms. It was renamed as Wandsworth Town on 7 October 1903.

The station has four platforms with 8 trains an hour both into Waterloo and out to a variety of destinations in South West London and neighbouring suburbs. There is a traditional shelter covering the island platform of 2 and 3 in a style which is replicated across much of the South West routes. In the subway down from the platforms to the street I noticed an inscription on the wall that reads ‘1886 L&SWR’, London and South Western Railway being the station owners at that time. By contrast, the ticket hall is a modern affair and dates from the turn of this century.

The Grapes, 39 Fairfield Street, SW18 1DX

Wandsworth has long been synonymous with beer as Youngs operated their Ram Brewery here between 1831 and 2006. This closed on 25 September 2006 and brewing moved to Bedford at Charles Wells Eagle Brewery. A small microbrewery run by John Hatch, a former brewer at Youngs himself still operates here, continuing a brewing heritage on this site which is said to date back to 1533. Meanwhile Youngs stills lives on as a pub company and still maintains a strong showing across its old South West London heartland.

Being in Wandsworth, it would have been wrong to do anything other than visit a Youngs pub. We went to The Grapes, which is a short 5minute walk away from the station, heading South along Old York Road, turning onto Fairfield Road where you’ll find The Grapes nestling on the corner of the road with Barchard Street.

The Grapes is actually part of the Ram Pub Company, a small group of ‘individually run’ pubs within the Youngs family. Having visited a couple of theirs during the tube leg, I’ve found they seem to have retained more of a traditional atmosphere than some other Youngs venues which are now more focused on food. As a cosy one room pub, The Grapes certainly fits into the first category.

The Grapes, another Grade II listed pub, has many hallmarks of a classic old school boozer, wood panelled,carpeted with frosted glass windows and bar-stools. It also has a dart board and a couple of TVs with Sky and BT Sports. It will come as no surprise the ales on tap all come from Youngs, being represented by their Bitter, Special and the ‘London Gold’. It also features in the CAMRA good beer guide.

Food is served on weekday lunchtimes only so there were no sign of any menus when we got here on an evening shift. Their website suggests its ‘traditional pub food’. It was fairly busy on our Friday night visit and I got the vibe its the kind of place that has a solid crew of regulars.The Grapes also has a small back garden with covered booths.

I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to The Grapes. It’s really nice to have a no nonsense traditional pub here, keeping the Youngs flame flying. It also a welcome change of pace from the busy roads and heavy traffic of the surrounding area.

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Clapham Junction

If all roads lead to Rome, then it often feels in South London that all railway lines lead to Clapham Junction. It is Britain’s busiest railway station in terms of the number of trains travelling through it, although not on passenger numbers as that honour falls for nearby Waterloo. I’ve not counted them myself but Wikipedia informs mean there are well over 120 trains at hour which stop here in the off-peak.

Clapham Junction is where all the lines out of Waterloo and the Sussex-half of Victoria converge together. Every single Southern train out of Victoria stops here(well,when it isn’t cancelled..) and the majority of South West Train services do too. It has 17 platforms, with Southern services running from platforms 17 to 12, and then SWT trains from 11 to 3. Platforms 1 and 2 are served by London Overground.

With so many platforms and services, the sprawling and not altogether spacious nature of the station has seen it not viewed particularly favourably by commuters. In 2009 it was named in a report as ‘the second worst station in the country’ – some investment followed with an additional entrance and ticket hall in the old ‘Brighton Yard and new lifts down to several of the platforms. However there is still a lot to do here, as anyone who has used Platform 17 with its particularly large gap between the train and the platform will testify to!

The station first opened on 2 March 1863. Back then, Battersea was not considered a desirable area so the railway companies at the time decided to name it after Clapham which was considered more well-heeled. There are occasionally rather half-hearted campaigns to rename the station to Battersea Junction but the area around here has now taken on the name of the station, in many ways a distinct entity in its own right to the rest of Battersea.

The Falcon, 2 St. John’s Hill, SW11 1RU

The station has three possible exits so to reach The Falcon, head out of the St Johns Hill exit, this is the one with the mini shopping arcade before you reach the street. Head down the Hill on the same side of the road and you’ll come the pub on the corner of the street – it is a very distinctive building with clear signage so it is hard to miss. Sadly though the old style red sign above the windows doesn’t seem to be switched on anymore.

The Falcon is a very big pub and has the honour of being recognised as having the longest bar of any pub in the country in The Guinness Book of Records.  At the back of the pub, there is a small display which claims the Dutch artist M.C Escher – of tessellated patterns and optical illusion type artwork of ‘impossible stairs’ – helped to design the bar. I haven’t been able to find any concrete proof for this mind you.

It dates from the late 19th century and was originally built as a hotel with the pub on the ground floor. The whole building has been Grade II listed since 1974, the relevant architectural items of interest are highlighted on its entry on the Historic England website.  As you might expect, it has many preserved heritage features with plenty of cut glass throughout. I particularly like the wooden partitions between the back sections of the pub. The doorways on these two are both very narrow. I assume these were previously window panes that have been knocked through to allow people to pass through the various sections. Unless you have a small frame yourself, these can be challenging to pass through!

It’s a Nicholsons pub so had a decent selection of ales on our visit – 6 in total –  London Pride, Adnam’s Ghost Ship, their own IPA, Rising Tide by Sharp’s and Black Dog Mild by Elgoods. Apparently normally they have a fair few more available on tap as 12 were counted when the Londonist visited in July 2015. I guess I just hit it at a fallow time. As with other Nicholsons, their food menu is made up of traditional English dishes.

We visited on a Friday night so the place was very busy – its prime spot means its a really easy location for a drink before heading on elsewhere in London or braving a train home. That said, its size allows it to accommodate large groups and we managed to grab ourselves a table pretty easily. On this occasion and my previous visits here, the back area tends to be a bit quieter, perhaps as people as deterred by the narrow doorways. They were also showing the football on Sky, although I didn’t find the TV screens particularly intrusive even if it was my own team playing…

I know The Falcon divides opinion, I think this is probably due to the fact it’s got a bit of a busy thoroughfare feel to it, on account of being by a busy thoroughfare! I like it though, it’s a solid pub and worth a visit alone to admire its historic interior.

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