Kew is one of my favourite spots in London and is served by two separate National Rail stations which is great as it means two more visits here for me, having already visited Kew Gardens tube station back in June 2003. Kew Bridge station is first of the two stops I’ll be making here for the second leg of the blog and first opened in 1849. Originally served solely by the London and South Western Railway, from 1862 until 1940 the station also had services from the North and South Western Junction Railway, heading up to South Acton and beyond. These platforms, a short distance from those currently in operation, were still visible in the mid 2000s as these photos show.
The original listed station building here at Kew Bridge, designed by Sir William Tite(whose station building also survives at Barnes) is sadly no longer in railway use. At the platform level, its more of the modern triangle shaped roof bus shelter type constructions that have been a regular fixture across the South West Trains stations I’ve visited so far.
The Express Tavern, 56 Kew Bridge Road, TW8 0EY
The Express Tavern is a very apt name for the pub here as its a mere one minute walk from Kew Bridge station. It’s on the same side of the road as the station exit so simply head south and you’ll find it.
Its an expansive pub with a number of different sections, the front of the pub is divided into two rooms, both of which are served by the same bar which spans them both, as well as back room too. It also has an equally expansive beer selection. There were 10 ales on tap on our visit, for the purposes of completeness I’m going to list them all. Bass, Lock Keepers, Harvey’s Best(hurrah!), Routemaster Red from Southwark Brewery, Summer Down Under from Twickenham, Grumpy Guvnor from Franklins, Copperleaf Red from Wimbledon Brewery ,Anvil from Allendale Brewery, Frostfair from Reunion Ales and finally, the Four Chimneys from Sambrooks. A great range of beers from mainly local breweries. I was feeling old school so I went for Bass initially but of course couldn’t resist a Harveys for the road.
There’s also a good range on the food front too – from ribs and piri piri chicken through to pie and mash and fish chips, as well as a range of burgers and pizzas. On Mondays, its buy one get one free on the pizzas which we took full advantage of, I had a great stonebaked pepperoni pizza which was really tasty. On Wednesdays, you can get a rib-eye steak, chips and a drink for £12.99
According to a fact sheet at the back of the pub, it is thought that The Express Tavern was built way back around 1794 to 1797. Decor wise, it certainly does have a historic feel with its stained glass, old fireplaces, traditional leather backed seating and paintings of Kew when it was still all countryside round here. I really liked the old clock and Express Tavern sign near the bar, as you can see from the gallery. They also have a record player here and plenty of vinyls beside it too. The music had a very 60s/70s theme with Joe Cocker, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie all playing during our time here. At the top of one of the walls of the back room there are caricatures of ’70s politicians including Tony Benn, Denis Healey and Jim Callaghan.
On top of all this, The Express has a decent sized beer garden as well. On the chilly January evening we visited this was unsurprisingly empty but the majority of the seating was covered by an awning and with electric heaters provided too, adding further protection from the elements.
The Express Tavern is an excellent pub. It serves up both a great beer selection and good food in a pub with real character. The Express provides yet another reason to visit Kew. If people living round here weren’t already lucky enough, they have a top pub like this on their doorsteps too!