Norbiton station opened on 1 January 1869, having initially been bypassed by the London and South Western Railway when they were laying out their lines to the South West in the 1840s and 50s due to the strong coaching influence that still existed in the area.
It has retained a very pleasant Victorian era station building which was looking resplendent in the winter sun, the effect only slightly diminished by the dull modern platform canopy. By contrast, the other platform has a small, recent construction.
The Willoughby Arms, 47 Willoughby Road, KT2 6LN
It all seemed very nice around Norbiton on the sunny February afternoon we visited, so the 10minute walk from the station to the pub was an enjoyable stroll. The Willoughby Arms is located on the road of the same name.
The Willougby Arms is a traditional, old school pub. It’s carpeted throughout and has an interesting collection of taxidermy adorning the walls. They also have a fine selection of books by ’90s footballers and sporting personalities including Les Ferdinand’s(which I also own!), David Platt, Ian Rush, Ruud Gullit and Mr Grandstand himself, Des Lynam. Continuing on the sporting theme, there was even a golf themed board game called ‘Fore’. There were lots of cards, playing pieces and dice so we decided against playing.
The pub has won plenty of CAMRA awards before in the past and had several ales available on tap. For the first time on the crawl, I spotted Horsham Pale, Bingham’s Vanilla Stout(which I subsequently found out was CAMRA’s best beer of 2016!) Tower Special Pale Ale, Spirit of Kent XXX Pale Ale, Hop Art Golden IPA , in addition to three more familiar offerings in this part of town in the shape of Tower Special Pale Ale and Winter Warmer and Sundance from Twickenham Brewery. As I’m not the greatest fan of pale ales, I was initially stumped and opted for the Spirit of Kent Pale Ale, which I found a refreshing and enjoyable pint with a bit of a n edge to it. Food wise, they have pies and Chicago Town Pizzas if you’re feeling peckish.
There are lots of signed football shirts in The Willoughby and the whole back room of the pub was packed with people watching the Premier League lunchtime kick-off. There is also a pool table in this back area too. The Willoughby also has a back garden complete with a pond with fish in, so it felt more like someones back garden than a pubs. Their website also says they have turtles but sadly I wasn’t able to spot any when I looked over.
I enjoyed my visit to The Willougby Arms. It’s a quirky pub with bags of character. It’s good to see pubs like this with a bit of individuality surviving at a time where many gastropub offerings have an identikit quality to them. If you like traditional pubs, The Willoughby will definitely be for you!