Brentford

Brentford Station first opened by the London and South Western Railway in 1849. It was called Brentford Central for a period between 1950 and 1980, reverting to its previous name after that.

The station was significantly modernised at the turn of the century with lifts to the platforms and a new footbridge and entrances. These refurbishments to the station were paid for by Glaxo Smith Kline following the opening their new headquarters(following the merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham) in GSK House near the station in 2002.

The Pub: The Griffin, Brook Road South, TW8 ONP

As well as being home to the huge pharmaceutical company I just referred to, Brentford also is the location of a football league club of the same name, based at Griffin Park a short walk from the station. Brentford has not previously been a happy hunting ground for me – many years ago, before I’d moved to London, I saw my local team Brighton lose here 4-0 in a midweek fixture. I think it is relentlessly unsuccessful evenings such as those which are actually good preparation for some of the disappointments life can throw at you. On a happier note, the ground is also famous for having a pub by each of its four corners. We chose to go to The Griffin, sharing its name not only with the ground but also the nearby Fullers brewery. It’s located on the Braemer Road edge of the ground.

Inside, its very much a traditional pub, complete with carpet, old red seats and wooden bar. There are shelves with a variety of trophies on(one or two very large) in one corner of the place – they also have a dart board which make explain the trophies.There were two ales available on tap during our visit, London Pride and Olivers Island. I went for Pride and it was a particularly good pint which perhaps isn’t surprising given how close we are to the brewery. They also have a back garden with a couple of yukka plants in it My friend told me that on match-days they can serve pints out there via a serving hatch out of the pub.

The Griffin does food everyday bar Mondays – the weekday we visited sadly so had to make do with some pork scratchings.  The rest of the week you can get pub staples like Fish and Chips for £11.50 and a range for Burgers for £10.50. However there is more variation on the menu than you might expect, with Basil Pappardelle with chargrilled artichoke available and even a ‘Lobster Specials’ Menu. Finally, they also have a ‘bar snacks’ menu too with cheesy chips, ribs and the like. Quite frankly, providing you aren’t here on a Monday you’re spoilt for choice.

Being here on a Monday evening, the pub was fairly quiet but there were still a few people here enjoying a quiet pint. I very much enjoyed the fact they had Absolute 80s on, playing classics like ‘The Sun Always Shines On TV’ and ‘Cuddly Toy’ by Roachford,  the latter of which now always makes me think of the Alan Partridge film. Talking of TV, The Griffin was used for the pub scenes for the 2005 movie about football hooliganism, ‘Green Street’, starring everyone’s favourite Hobbit Elijah Wood as an American student who gets involved in hooligan culture. My advice if you’re thinking of seeing the film is come down the pub instead…

With plans for a new stadium progressing, Brentford’s time at Griffin Park will soon be coming to an end. It will be interesting to see how The Griffin and indeed the other pubs here cope without the large matchday incomes. I asked a similar question back in March 2014 when visiting The Boleyn Tavern by Upton Park, I’ve not been back since the Hammers move out so do wonder how its getting on.

The Griffin is a great old school pub with character. Whatever happens once Brentford leave Griffin Park, I hope Fullers(or whoever owns the place in the future) don’t change this traditional boozer.

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Syon Lane

Syon Lane station first opened in 1931. There is very little of note here building wise, the only station structures being some small modern non-descript shelters (in need of a good clean) on either platform – the rest is exposed to the elements. There is a quite open, green feel here in part due to one of the platforms backing onto the sizeable playing field of a local school.

The Coach and Horses, 183 London Road, TW7 5BQ

Syon Lane is a leafy part of West London suburbia which isn’t particularly well served by pubs nearby. However there is one in short walking distance, The Coach and Horses, which is found at the end of Syon Lane(heading South) on London Road. It’s a tall, imposing building so you won’t miss it.

The pub has a nice historic tiled frontage which I always think is good to see when it has been retained. Inside the pub is light and spacious with several different rooms, primarily with a contemporary feel but also retaining some heritage features including some cut glass and an old sign directing people to the Saloon Bar. It also has a modern conservatory type room, laid out as a dining area on our visit as well as a decent sized back garden and patio too.

We visited on a Saturday afternoon and the pub was fairly busy, although due to its size there was still plenty of seats available. I was very pleased as we were able to sit in some of their comfy leather armchairs which is a particularly relaxing way in which to enjoy a decent ale. With the large Syon Park pretty much next door to the pub, there were also a fair amount of dogs (and their walkers!) here too.

It’s a Youngs Pub so had their usual offerings of Bitter and Special as well as the seasonal ale ‘Winter Warmer’. When available, I always go for the Special as the Bitter can be a bit too light for me. The food menu is also what you’d expect from one of their pubs, with an emphasis on pub classics. The prices may have risen across the board in their establishments but have found Youngs pubs around these parts to have slightly pricier food menus, with few mains below £11.50. I went for the Sausage and Mash which was suitably hearty for the aforementioned price!

The Coach and Horses is a good quality Youngs pub in this pleasant part of London. Certainly worth popping in if you’re nearby, especially if you can get one of the comfy armchairs…

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Isleworth

Isleworth station first opened on 1 February 1850 and was then renamed a few years later in 1855 as the cheery sounding ‘Spring Grove & Isleworth’, reverting back to its original name in August 1911.

It’s a fairly small station served by four trains an hour. The station/platform buildings here are solid if unremarkable – the anti-vandal spikes(or whatever you’d call them) on the roof of one of the canopies look particularly foreboding. I actually don’t think I’ve come across such fierce looking protection at a quiet station like this before, maybe there were previously a spate of incidents of people climbing on the roof here. However it seems far too quiet a place for that!

The Red Lion, 92-94 Linkfield Road, TW7 6QJ

It’s a quick four minute hop from the station to the pub which is located halfway along Linkfield Road, the first turning off you come to after crossing under the railway bridge. In amongst the row of pleasant surburban housing, The Red Lion is very easy to spot with its green-tiled frontage.

Inside, the pub is very spacious, with room for a pool table, small peformance stage as well as two bars. The Red Lion has some traditional features intact like the stained glass on some of its front windows. Some of the decor seemed to be in a state of transition, with some of the walls papered while others are bare and exposed. I’m not sure if the latter is intentional as many pubs go for the rustic ‘distressed’ look, or if it is just part way through a refurb. It also has a sizeable back garden too.

We visited The Red Lion on a Saturday afternoon and the place had a real Marie Celeste feel to it. There were only a couple of customers and no sign of any bar staff in sight! After initially scouting around for someone, I spotted someone in their back garden chopping wood with an axe. After checking with one of the customers who had successfully got drinks that he was indeed the barman, I went outside and politely asked whether we could get some drinks. To his credit, he then came in and quickly served us. That said, it was the first time I’ve ever had to interrupt someone chopping wood with an axe to get a pint and I hope the last…

Talking of beer, The Red Lion had a decent selection of ales including the Atlantic from Sharps which I went for as well as Conqueror from the Windsor Brewery and Inferno from Oakham Ales. Food wise, Pizzas were available but I didn’t see any menus about. The pub does regular live jazz nights. There are also a couple of TVs here showing some sport on BBC as the pub doesn’t have BT or Sky. Another thing that added to the slightly odd atmosphere here on our visit was the fact part of the pub was being used to make costumes, with a sewing machine in tow. The nice woman who was working on them explained it was for the pub’s pantomime, a fixture here for nearly 20 years.

When I researched The Red Lion, I was really looking forward to it, it had a very high score on other sites and the prospect of a community pub with lots of ales really appealed. Sadly I didn’t really enjoy our visit here. It just felt a bit weird to go into a pub and actually have to find the barman – I appreciate places get quiet and it must be really boring for someone working behind the bar in those times, but to leave the whole thing totally unattended just felt a bit odd. It also felt eerily quiet for a Saturday afternoon when you’d expect most pubs to be buzzing or at least fairly busy. Perhaps I just hit it on a bad day and clearly others think highly of it, but on the basis of my experience here I won’t be rushing back.

(While the pub has a website, it says it is no longer updated by the new management and none of the links work)

Hounslow

Hounslow is a London suburb that I feel has been particularly well covered by this blog. I’d been here three times before for each of its tube stations and as it also has a National Rail station, I’ve returned for one last visit.

The rail station here first opened on 1 February 1850. There is an old Victorian looking station building on Platform 1, sadly travellers on platform 2 are afforded far less protection from the elements. Fans of concrete will appreciate the footbridge that link the two which I assume dates from the 1930s. The station presently is served by four trains an hour both into and out of London.

The Cross Lances,236 Hanworth Road, TW3 3TU

I will readily admit I wasn’t massively looking forward to returning to Hounslow. It was nothing against the place itself but none of the three pubs I’d done for the tube leg had been particularly memorable – I visited Hounslow West in August 2013, Hounslow Central in September 2013 and finally Hounslow East in November 2013. However my searching before I set off suggested there was a friendly pub near the station so we decided to give that a go.  The Cross Lances is at the end of road of the same name, the second left off the main Whitton Road heading North out of the station.

The Cross Lances has a dark tiled frontage with a similarly traditional interior complete with original etched glass windows bearing the pubs name, wood panelling throughout and carpeted areas. There are photos of the 1966 World Cup winning team on the wall, as well as old sepia tinged pictures of Hounslow. Its quite a long, thin pub with two bars – we sat up at the top end of the pub by the quieter bar.

It’s been a Fullers pub since way back in 1891 and has their usual range of ales, Pride, HSB, the seasonal offering Jack Frost as well as a non-Fullers beer in the shape of ‘Old Number 6’ from Joules Brewery, a dark beer listed as a winter warmer. Food wise, I saw a sign on the bar advertising cheese and ham rolls for £2 so its very much more towards the snack side of things. There were a decent amount of people here on our visit, the majority of which were sitting around the bar in the main section of the pub.

The Cross Lances has a pool table and dart board, as well as a piano in the corner.They have a few TVs with both Sky and BT Sports, showing a third round FA Cup game on our visit. There is also live music here every Saturday, the piano being a bit of a giveaway, as well as a jukebox. Continuing again the theme from the last two pubs, there are also has sporting trophies above the bar here too. There is also a small garden although this was looking a little weather-beaten.

I really enjoyed our pint at The Cross Lances. A traditional, friendly pub in an area of London I previously had down as a pub desert. Its also great to find a Fullers pub which hasn’t been overly ‘modernised’, as has occurred in a number of their venues closer to Central London. If anyone from Fullers HQ is reading this, leave The Cross Lances as it is – it must be doing something right to survive out here in Hounslow!

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Feltham

Feltham is the last station on the Windsor/Reading lines to be within the Greater London boundary, the next stop westwards, Staines, is in Surrey. It is also where Oyster validity ends, so don’t be caught out if you’re heading further west and were just relying on your card.

The station first opened on 22 August 1848. Today its a mix of old and new, one platform has a tradition ticket office building whereas the other has a much more modern construction. This dates from a 1990s rebuild where the station was given a substantial rebuild to coincide with the provision of a new bus link from here to Heathrow Airport. These blocky buildings haven’t aged or weathered well and have the look of uninspired airport architecture.

The Red Lion, 49 High Street, Feltham, TW13 4AB

When doing the research for pubs in Feltham, my hopes weren’t very high. Few options were appearing and those that did had bad reviews on various sites. In the end, we decided to go to The Red Lion, 5minutes south of the station, just off the High Street. As I said, Feltham is pretty close to the Greater London boundary and walking down its High Street of mainly modern buildings and big supermarkets, it didn’t really feel like London at all.

Inside the pub was fairly quiet as it was early on a Saturday afternoon. The Red Lion didn’t have any ales so I went for a Kronenberg instead. They did have ‘Coast to Coast‘ by Caledonian, one of those beers called a pale ale but effectively a lager really. They had a TV on showing Football Focus on BBC1 as they don’t have Sky Sports. They don’t do food here.

Decor wise, its pretty old school in here and is carpeted throughout. Its not grotty but does look like it could do with a bit of TLC in places. It also had its own trophy cabinet, continuing the trophy theme from the Prince Albert in Whitton. There is also a pool table and dart board too.

The Red Lion also has a decent sized back garden which looks like it would be a pleasant spot in the Summer. It was as I was headed out here I got chatting to the current landlord of the pub. He said he’d taken over a few months back and was determined to get the place back on track given the problems pubs in the area have previously experienced, kicking out troublemakers and the like.He said its due to get a bit of refurbishment in the next few months and also will start doing food. Apparently the big tree in the back garden(captured in my gallery) also has some form of protection, although I can’t find any details of that online.

In areas like Feltham where the pub scene is shrinking or non-existent, I am glad The Red Lion is still going. If you ever find yourself in Feltham, it’s not a bad spot for a pint

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Whitton

Whitton Station opened on 6 July 1930, the same day as North Sheen a few stops up the line closer to London, at the same time as the lines running through here were first electrified.

Like Twickenham, Whitton was given a major rebuild ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup  – it all looks very functional and at platform level, has a slightly unfinished look to it. Where are the walls for the platform shelters – in its current form I can’t imagine it offers great protection from the elements.  Prior to this, the station had a rather utilitarian look with steel platform canopies, a far cry from the decorative styles seen at the Victorian stations on the route although still more interesting than what’s here now.

The Prince Albert, 66 Hounslow Road, TW2 7EX

Whitton is much quieter than the previous stop Twickenham, but there are still lots of cafes and independent shops on its high street, including a couple that looked like those useful shops that sell odds and ends but you never really find in London these days, you know, somewhere where you could get new keys cut for £1 or something.

The Prince Albert is several minutes walk north of the station, past the high street and on the residential Hounslow Road. It has a glowing green sign which makes it easy to spot. The sign also says it is ‘McCarthy’s freehouse’, and with a name like that it should come as no surprise it is an Irish pub. The interior is full of Guinness flags and there is a picture of the Toucan, the brewery’s old mascot, above the bar.

Inside, it’s a very traditional pub and some respects feels like someones front room, complete with carpet and gas fireplaces. There are several trophies above the bar which I assume are from the pub’s darts or football team.It was very busy when we visited so we ended up standing near the bar. Unlike many of the Irish pubs I came across in North London, they did ale here, three were available in the shape of Doombar, London Pride and Redhead from the local Twickenham Brewery. They don’t do any food so its nuts or mini cheddars if you’re feeling peckish here.

Talking of Twickenham, there is again plenty of Rugby memorabilia here – something of a staple for pubs in this area – as well as a large painting on one of the walls of an Irish Rugby player beating several English ones to score a try. The other wall has another big painting, this time of the pub in full swing. The painting didn’t look too old so I imagine at least a couple of the regulars in it were also in the pub on our visit. On the ceiling, I spotted an Irish and Scottish flag(for the Six Nations I assume), as well as other European countries flags like Slovakia which I assume have been left over from Euro 2016.

As I said, it was very busy on our visit. There are plenty of TV screens as well as two large projectors, here so lots of people were in to watch the football, one projector was showing the BT Sport game and the other covering the Sky game. As in often the way in London, there was a very loud cheer when Man Utd scored in their respective game. While it is clearly a pub which has a lot of regulars, we still felt welcome.

I enjoyed our drink at The Prince Albert. It’s great to see traditional pubs like this still doing well in suburbia. If you like a good old fashioned boozer, you’ll be well served here – and they do a few ales too, what more could you want?

(The pub has no website)

 

Twickenham

On top of being the nearest stop to the home of English Rugby, Twickenham station also holds a place on the railway history books. It was from this station on 4 February 1996 the first privately operated train following the privatisation of British Rail in the mid 1990s began its journey and therefore the first privately run scheduled train since nationalisation in 1948. It was the 05.10 South West Trains service to Waterloo, in case you’re interested…

Twickenham station first opened on 22 August 1848 and was resited in 1954. The present ticket office and platform buildings are rather plain and modern. The station has been adapted over the years to cope with the huge crowds who descend on match days for the nearby Rugby stadium. The latest of these only took place a few years ago to ensure the station could cope with the crowds for the 2015 World Cup. I have no doubt it works very well for these big occasions but visiting at less busy times, there is a bit of a soulless feel to the place. However I understand aesthetic preferences rightly come second to the pressing task of getting thousands of Rugby fans in and out of here as quickly and easily as possible.

The Eel Pie, 9-11 Church Street, TW1 3NJ

With an 82,000 seater rugby ground in its midst, it isn’t really surprising there are plenty of pubs in Twickenham – a perfect example of supply and demand. We chose to go to The Eel Pie, about 5 minutes south of the station on Church Street, a narrow road off King Street,with the character of somewhere from a small market town rather than a London suburb.

The Eel Pie was absolutely heaving on our Wednesday evening visit, as you’ll see from the gallery.  After initially sitting at the bar, we managed to swoop in for a couple of seats quite quickly. Due to its low ceiling, the pub feels deceptively small but it spans back a fair bit, as well as having a dining area towards the back of the pub and a outside patio area too.There is no shortage of Rugby mementos and paraphernalia on the walls, from old match programmes to cigarette cards of players and newspaper cuttings the day after England won the 2003 World Cup.

The pub is owned by Hall and Woodhouse, a brewery based in Dorset, so had a selection of their ales available including First Call and Fursty Ferret. My usual pick from their range, Tanglefoot Bitter, wasn’t on as it had been replaced by the festive ale ‘Pickled Partridge’. I decided to get into the spirit of things and give it a go. I found it to be a good solid malty bitter and would definitely have it again.

Food wise, its mainly pub classics like Fish and Chips and a selection of burgers. Price wise, the mains vary from £8.55 for Ham, Egg and Chips to £12.75 for the H&W(that stands for handmade and wonderful) burger. There are also a selection of ‘light bites’, between £3 and £5. These include lamb kofta skewers, something I’m partial to and would have probably have given a go had I not eaten at the previous pub.There is no Eel Pie on the menu, the pub’s name coming from the privately owned island which is immediately south of the pub. Famous former residents of the island include William Hartnell, the first actor to play the Doctor in Doctor Who.

I very much enjoyed visiting The Eel Pie – it was a lively pub with a friendly atmosphere. A definite one to visit if you’re in these pub blessed parts of London.

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