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.