Earlsfield

Earlsfield returns me back to the South Western Main Line after my journey around the Hounslow loop from Wandsworth Town onwards. It opened in 1884 on a line which had been operational since 1838, when services had first started running between Nine Elms and Woking.

Coming here from Waterloo, I noticed so many trains on the departure board were stopping at Earlsfield. It is served by 16 trains an hour during a standard non-rush hour service during the week which must make it one of the most well served rail station outside of Zones 1 and 2. It is a busy station and was used by over 7million passengers in the 2015/16 financial year.

The station was upgraded in 2011 with a rebuilt entrance at street level as well as the installations of lifts up to the platforms. On leaving the station, there is a sign which reads ‘welcome to my world of fresh air and laughter’. Now I don’t know the area well enough to pass judgement on the laughter point, but given the amount of traffic coming down the main road I’m not too sure there is a world of fresh air here. It was installed as part of an art project called ‘Step Beyond’ in 2013 and was only due to be up until May 19 of that year however it still remains, nearly four years on…

The Halfway House, 521 Garratt Lane, SW18 4SR

Earlsfield is a lively Wandsworth suburb with a decent range of restaurants and pubs located on and around Garrett Lane, the main road running through the area. We went for The Halfway House, a minute’s walk from the station south down Garratt Lane.

The Halfway House has a smart, modern interior. There is a model house towards the front of the pub, it looks a bit like a grand doll house and I assume it is the Halfway House in question. The middle section of the pub has rather jaunty wallpaper depicting various birds like herons and puffins and the back area has ships and whales painted onto the wood-boarded area of the wall, with ‘have a whale of a good time’ written on the mammal. There is also a conservatory area which opens out to the pub’s garden which is quite small but is enlivened by a slightly psychedelic colourful mural under their wooden smoking shelter as well as seats thatlook like bottle tops.

Benefiting from a day off, we popped here mid-afternoon on a Friday afternoon. We were able to get seats although the pub was already fairly busy, clearly plenty of people had got that Friday feeling and clocked off early, starting their weekends here. We sat in the heron wallpaper area where there was also a roaring fire on the go, good for a cold winters day.Being back in Wandsworth, it’s not much of a surprise to find The Halfway House is a Youngs pub, being so close to their former brewery just up the road. It was their usual suspects on the ale front(bitter, special and winter warmer) and the familiar Youngs menu of classic dishes and gastropub offerings.

There are also pictures on the walls of historical figures with a connection to Wandsworth, I noticed a display commemorating Charlotte Despard who moved to Wandsworth in 1890. A suffragette and political activist who set up soup kitchens and health clinics for the unemployed, she also ran for Parliament in Battersea North in 1918 for the Labour Party, immediately after women had gained the vote. She lost but got 33% of the vote. She also has a pub named after her in Archway, perhaps I’ll visit it when I’m north of the river. There is also a similar display for Sean O’Casey, an Irish playwriter, film-making and poet who lived on Prince of Wales drive by Battersea Park.

The Halfway House is another solid Youngs offering and continues a run of fine pubs in South West London. One to check out if you’re in this neck of the woods and even if you aren’t, so many trains go to Earlsfield it’s very easy to visit!

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