Elm Park

Elm Park station opened on 13th May 1935, another in-fill station on the District Line that was enabled by the construction of additional electrified tracks by London,  Midland and Scottish Railway. It also marks the end of my travels on the District Line – some 60 stations in total!

Building wise, its a generic grey brick box ticket office. It does have a wider ramp down to the platforms than usual, which you can see in the gallery. This is as far as I could get as the rest of the station was closed due to engineering works.

The Pub: Good Intent, South End Road, RM12 5NU

Sadly Elm Park is another area that has fared badly on the pub front. One of its former boozers by the station, The Elm Park, is now a Sainsburys, which has taken up a proportion of the building, the rest remains empty and rather forlorn. As a result, the only real pub option round here is just under 20minutes walk. To get there, head onto The Broadway, sticking on that road until it becomes Coronation Drive.  Stay on that road until you reach South End Drive, head right down here and you’ll reach The Good Intent after about 5mins.

Aside from having an excellent name,  The Good Intent is a ‘Flaming Grill’ pub. I’ve visited these a few times in the more suburban locations such as Wimbledon Park and East Acton. They pride themselves on their ‘Flaming Guarantee’ – if the food isn’t to your satisfaction, they’ll bring you another one.  Sadly they seemed to be a victim of their own success on our visit as there was an hour wait for food as a large group had just all ordered the steak, so I can’t testify this time whether the guarantee was needed! We made do with crisps and nuts instead. On the ale front, Doombar, Greene King IPA and Ruddles County.

Like their other venues we’ve been too, The Good Intent is a large, spacious pub. There are pictures of old Hornchurch on the wall but aside from that, its a pretty standard interior décor wise. There are various sections including a slightly raised area. A lot of families with children were here having their Sunday dinner. It also has BT/Sky Sports so there were also plenty of people watching the football here.  The pub also has a large back garden backing onto a nearby playing field. My disappointment from not being able to get a flaming burger was lifted somewhat by the quiz machine here. Not only was it in full working order, but we even managed to win a few quid on Pub Quiz!

Elm Park is a real pub desert and if you’re looking for a drink I’d doubt you’d be round these parts! But if for whatever reason you are, The Good Intent is a solid bet.

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Upminster Bridge

Upminster Bridge first opened its doors on 17th December 1934 on the District Line, following construction of additional tracks between Upminster and Barking allowing the opening of additional intermediate stations on this route.

When I visited Upminster Bridge, I fell foul of weekend engineering works and so had to get here on foot via Upminster due to engineering works – it had to happen again sooner or later! In many respects, the brick ticket office is very similar to other East London District Line stops but it is marked out by its hexagonal roof. Even though the station was closed, I was able to get into the ticket office and spotted an old red phonebox located within the hall.

The Pub: The Windmill, 167 Upminster Road, RM14 2RB

The Windmill is a a very short walk from the station, heading East along Upminster Road. In fact you can even make out the pub as you exit the station.

Inside, its a spacious pub with the main area seating around the bar as well as sections towards the back of the pub. Its a Green King ‘Pub and Flame Grill’, so it has their usual range of ales including Abbott and their IPAs and EPAs, in addition to Naked Ladies from the Twickenham Brewery. As the earlier prefix suggested, a lot of their food menu is orientated around meat with a a variety of burgers and steaks to choose from, as well as other ‘pub classics’. The Windmill was previously known as the Bridge House and sounded very unwelcoming from this review on beerintheevening – thankfully its put those days behind it.  There is a quiz AND curry night here on Wednesdays, one up on the usual Wetherspoons offer!

The garden here felt almost as big as the pub itself. There are a couple of tables outside the front of the pub, backing onto the road. In addition, there is a larger area in front of The Windmill’s side entrance, which is where we sat. Finally, there is also a back garden patio which includes seating under gazebos for smokers. In short, its vast!

As I said, we sat in the side garden catching some Autumnal sun. I very rarely document other peoples conversations while doing the blog but two gents opposite us were having a thorough conversation about creationism vs the big bang and when they agreed to disagree on that topic, they then moved onto particles that make up the Sun.  It seemed slightly out of place but maybe a few Abbott Ales on a Sunday brings out the philosopher in all of us?

Although nothing special, The Windmill is a solid enough spot for a pint.

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Dagenham Heathway

Dagenham Heathway first opened on 12th September 1932, the same day as Upney. It was known simply as Heathway until 1949, when it gained its present name. Like the other two stations I’ve just visited, it was initially owned by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, only passing into London Transport’s hands in 1969.

Its very similar architecturally to both Becontree and Upney, the same rather generic 1930s ticket office and structures at platform level too.  The walkway from the ticket hall to the platforms is nice enough I suppose.

The Pub: The Admiral Vernon, 141 Broad Street, RM10 9HP

The Admiral Vernon is a 10minute walk from the train station. Head south down Heathway until a left turning onto Broad Street. The pub is around 5minutes down this road.

The pub is split into two rooms which you cannot pass between internally, or at least you couldn’t on our visit. One room had pool tables in and was clearly the games room. The other had more seated so we placed ourselves in there. The pub has a pretty traditional interior with wood panelling throughout and is carpeted. There was an ale available on tap here – something of a rare bonus in most East London pubs I’ve visited –  Doombar, so that kept me happy! It wasn’t massively busy on our visit but the place did have a welcoming vibe. It also has a Sky Sports licence and there were a few TVs dotted around.

While I said the Vernon is essentially pretty traditional, there was a modern touch in forms of the rather sleek modern bar stools which I thought were rather good. The pub also has regular live music nights, with bands playing most weekend evenings.

On balance, The Admiral Vernon is a solid pub.  While there aren’t any features that really mark out from the crowd, it is still a decent enough place to grab a pint which puts it above some others in the outer zones!

(The pub has no website)

 

Upney

Upney first opened on 12th September 1932, as part of the electrification of the District Line. It was actually built and operated by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway and subsequently British Railways after nationalisation, it only passed into London Transport’s hands in 1969.

The station building itself is a rather dull rectangle brick box like Becontree’s. The shelters at the platform level are also fairly non-descript too.

The Pub: The Thatched House, Ripple Road, IG11 9PG

Upney is very much Zone 4 suburbia, so finding a pub wasn’t easy. The Thatched House is about a 10minute walk from the station, heading along Upney Lane until a turning onto Ripple Road. The pub itself is just past some warehouses/car lots and near a big road bridge – all in all it feels very industrial round here. There is a car wash and a petrol station right by the pub so if you’ve found that, you’re sorted.

Inside, its a really large place with various different seating areas, some raised, away from the main bar. In terms of décor, its truly unique – I’ve not seen another pub like it on the tour.  There are lots of vivid colours, some of the walls are painted purple and there are plenty of glittery mirror balls about. There is even one in the shape of a woman’s body – stay classy Upney!  This area also had a lot of little mirrors on the ceiling. I was really surprised to find a pub with these touches here, especially when you look out of the window and see a rather bleak, industrial landscape.  There were also large wheels attached to the alcove we were sat in, I’m not quite sure how they went with anything else here! Given the space here, its perhaps unsurprising there are a couple of pool tables – after all, they’ve got the room!

There aren’t any ales on tap here but that said, our two pints of Kronenberg came to £6 which is pretty remarkable for London. The pub’s website stated they did food but there was no sign of it on our visit.  There weren’t too many people here on our visit so the place felt rather empty.  Given how large it is and slightly off the beaten track location, I struggle to imagine it ever being rammed here. It has a Sky Sports Licence too.

While it might not have stellar qualities as a pub, I do feel like The Thatched House is worth visiting solely for its interior. I think you have to see it for yourself!

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Becontree

Becontree station first opened on the District Line on 18th July 1932, which coincided with the renaming of the existing mainline rail station on the site, previously known as Gale Street Halt, which had opened in 1926. These rail services were withdrawn back in 1962, but the derelict platforms still remain in situ.

The station building, which dates back to 1932, is a rather dull and unremarkable brick box structure. The shelters at platform level aren’t really anything special either.

The Pub: The Roundhouse, Lodge Avenue, RM8 2HY

When it was built in the 1920s and 30s, Becontree was at the time the largest publically owned housing estate in the world. One of the London history books I own states concerns were raised that for an area where 26,000 new homes had been built by 1939, there were only six pubs serving the estate! There are far fewer now but I managed to visit one of the survivors, The Roundhouse.  It’s about 15minutes walk from the station,  head along Rugby Road until you reach Lodge Avenue where you’ll find the Roundhouse.  It lives up to its name as its an impressive, circular art deco building designed by specialist pub architect Alfred W Blomfield. In some respects with its central tower, it reminds me a bit of a Charles Holden Piccadilly Line station.

It’s certainly a very large pub inside, divided into several circular rooms with names such as the games room and lounge room. It wasn’t that busy here so only a couple of the rooms were open.  We sat in the busiest room, backing onto the main bar. There’s a large picture of Muhammad Ali on the wall, although I’d be pleasantly surprised if he came here. The rooms all have that art deco feel to them – I really like the lighting but understand these aren’t original features. There weren’t any ales available on tap so I had to for a lager here. It felt like it was quite a locals place, but not in an intimidating way. We did visit during mid week where it was quite quiet. It has a Sky Sports licence, as is proudly advertised on the outside of the pub.

CAMRA’s London Pubs Group have done an excellent write-up of the Roundhouse here. When it opened, one of its rooms was given over solely for tea drinkers and there was even an indoor bowling green! I’d don’t think I’ve heard of any pubs that ever had that before! It then moved with the times in the late ’60s and was for a spell known as East London’s top rock music venue with legendary bands such as Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy and Pink Floyd all playing here. There is still regular live music here, with the chalk board displaying the ‘Flying Saucers’ would be playing here on that coming Friday.

The Roundhouse is a large and interesting building, indeed I think it has more going for it in architectural and historical merit than it does as a pub. That said, it still perfectly fine for a pint here!

(The pub has no website)

 

 

Stamford Brook

Stamford Brook first opened on 1st April 1912 on the District Railway, between the existing Turnham Green and Ravenscourt Park stations.

The station has a traditional ticket hall with old style lamps and the crest above the entrance way, like other stations on the District and Hammersmith and City Line in West London. A small claim to fame for Stamford Brook is it was the first tube station where ticket barriers were installed. This took place back in 1964 and is captured in this Pathe News film.

The Pub: The Cross Keys, 57 Black Lion Lane, W6 9BG

The Cross Keys is just under 10 minutes walk from the station. Head south down Goldhawk Road to reach Chiswick High Street, head east along it until you reach Black Lion Lane, the Cross Keys is a short distance down the road, nestling amongst very charming West London townhouses.

Despite looking rather small from the outside, it’s quite large inside. It was near-on packed to the rafters on our Friday night visit, but we just about managed to grab a table near the bar. The red ceiling, frosted glass windows and wooden bar give the interior a traditional feel.  The back rooms have a more spacious vibe, in part due to the higher ceilings. There is also an outside seating area for those sunnier days ahead.

Its a Fullers pub so you’ve got their standard range of ales available on tap. On the food front, I had a very tasty burger, the rest of the menu seemed like solid pub fare. There is a dart board in the main room and they have a Sky Sports Licence too. Talking of sports, there are a number of trophies above the bar.

What really stood out for me about the Cross Keys was how it seemed like a real neighbourhood pub, with plenty of regulars. Apparently it is also frequented by some famous faces including James May who himself starred in adverts for London Pride not too long ago. Lady Gaga also visited back in 2010, although I doubt she had an ale.

In short, The Cross Keys is a cracking pub. It’s friendly, lively and well looked after! It’s not too far from Hammersmith and well worth the trek.

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Barons Court

Barons Court Station first opened on the District Railway on 9th October 1905. On 15th December 1906 the newly opened Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway began calling here.

Barons Court is another fine example of station architecture. It was designed by Harry Ford, who was also behind other District Line stations such as Embankment and Earl’s Court. The station building, which is Grade II listed, is excellently preserved with its terracotta coloured exterior. The decorative metalwork above the station sign is very impressive, as are the distinctive green tiles in the ticket hall.

Traditional structures also remain at platform level, with the old ‘lightbox’ indicators for the destination of the next train. An interesting feature here is the station sign incorporated onto the back of the benches on the platforms. Barons Court is also one of those handy stations which offers a cross-platform interchange between the two lines it serves.

The Pub: The Curtains Up, 28A Comeragh Road, W14 9HR

The Curtains Up is a short five minute walk from the station. After heading south down Gliddon Road, turn onto Barons Court Road until you reach Vereker Road. The pub is located on the junction with Comeragh Road.

With a name like The Curtains Up, you will get no prizes for guessing this particular pub has the Theatre based downstairs. The Barons Court Theatre has been running since 1991 and according to my friends at Wikipedia, recent shows have included Crime and Punishment and A Doll’s House.  As we visited on a Sunday, the venue was playing host to ‘The Magic Cavern’, an afternoon magic show.

The pub itself has a spacious, modern interior. It all feels very light and open, thanks both to the white-painted walls and numerous windows looking out onto the outside world. There is also a selection of comfy chairs and sofas, items that no good gastropub could do without.

On the ale front, there was a nice mix on our visit. Trumans Runner, Doombar and Youngs Best.  Given our relative proximity to Wandsworth, I had to go for Youngs. Food wise, you’re looking at gastropub staples such as burgers and fish and chips, as well as a decent range of desserts.I was feeling a bit peckish and went for a side of chips. In retrospect though, I wish I’d have tried something from their bar snacks range like BBQ wings or Calamari, as I was still feeling a little hungry after the chips.

As an added bonus, The Curtains Up also has TVs and a Sky Sports licence. There is also a pub quiz running every Sunday with a nice chalk board advert for it on the wall asking would be participants whether they are Smarter than Homer Simpson.

The Curtains Up really felt like the kind of pub you could while away a lazy Sunday afternoon in. Definitely worth a visit if you’re based in West London.

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