Mill Hill East

Ah Mill Hill East, that little stub hanging off near the end of the Northern Line. In some of my recent entries, I’ve spoke about the Northern Heights project and Mill Hill East being left out on a limb is probably the most visual representation of the curtailment of that scheme.

The original plan, conceived in the mid 1930s as part of the Underground’s ‘New Works Programme’ would have seen it linked to Edgware, joining up the two northern branches of the line before an extension of the route to Bushey Heath.  These latter stages of the project were put on ice due to the war, the transfer of the short section of the line to Mill Hill East was completed in 1941 to allow access to the nearby barracks. When the rest of the programme was axed in the early 1950s with funds prioritised for repairing war damage and the Central Line extension, poor Mill Hill East was left out on a limb.

The Victorian station buildings here, like those at Finchley Central, date back to its opening on the main-line rail route in 1867 and add to the air of a quiet rural railway station.  As it mainly only served by a shuttle service to Finchley Central every 15minutes outside peak hours, it is perhaps unsurprising it is the least well used station on the entire Northern Line.

The Pub: The Adam and Eve, The Ridgeway, NW7 1RL

It is incredibly residential around the station with not a pub in sight. The only nearby option, The Adam and Eve, is a good 15-minute walk up the hill. It may be a fair distance from the tube, but at least it’s a straight forward walk, simply keep on Bittacy Hill until it becomes The Ridgeway and you can’t miss it. It’s set slightly off the road but should still be visible, especially at night thanks to the fairy lights that cover its car-park.

Inside, its a spacious pub with a mix of traditional and contemporary features. There are comfy leather sofas and old wooden looking seats. It also has a number of paintings of Adam and Eve on the wall – unsurprising given the name! We visited around Halloween, hence the Pumpkins and fake cobwebs you can make out in my photos! As well as the main bar downstairs, there is also an upstairs dining room which looked very smart(if empty!) on our visit.

The ales on tap here included Tribute, Abbott and Butcombe Bitter. The menu is towards the gastropub end of things,  with Linguine and Gnocchi on offer as well as burgers, steaks and seabass.  Prices range from around £11 to just under £20 for premium options such as the Steak and Lamb Shank,  which I’ve found to be in-line with similar pubs I’ve visited in the outer suburbs. A significant proportion of the menu is seasonal too.

The pub professes to be dog friendly and states that dog treats and bowls of water are available if you ask behind the bar, which I thought was a nice touch. There is a cupboard full of board games here as well as regular comedy and music nights. The Adam and Eve also has an ample back garden with plenty of seating and a covered area for those less clement rainy days.

I enjoyed our visit to The Adam and Eve. It was a welcoming pub with a good atmosphere. If you do find yourself in or nearby Mill Hill East,an unlikely prospect I expect for many, it is definitely worth popping in!

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Highgate

Highgate station was first served by the Northern Line on 19th January 1941. It had first opened as a rail station on the Great Northern Railway route between Finsbury Park and Edgware in 1867

Highgate was a station hit by the curtailment of the Northern Heights project as it would have become an interchange between new Northern Line services. The existing rail services from here to Alexandra Palace in the north and Finsbury Park in the south (which continued until 1954) would have been linked into the network,  as shown in this late 1930s map.

The cancellation of these aspects of the Northern Heights plan saw the station buildings, which eventually opened in 1957, scaled back from the original ambitious plans.  The plans by Charles Holden were due to include a statue of Dick Whittington and his cat at the top of the station building, much like the Archer at East Finchley.

Some of the buildings from the old rail station remain and have been documented on this excellent website of disused stations.  In a curious piece of trivia, Jerry Springer was born at Highgate tube station in 1944 when it was being used as bomb shelter during the war!

The Pub: The Wrestlers, 98 North Road, N6 4AA

Given Highgate’s reputation as a well-heeled area, I had high hopes of finding a good pub here. With a good selection of options coming up, I decided to go with The Wrestlers. To get there, head out of the station onto Archway Road, turning onto Southwood Lane.  Continue along here until reaching a small footpath/alleyway just before the junction with Jacksons Lane.  At the end of this footpath, you’ll be right outside The Wrestlers.

Inside, the pub, which is said to date back to 1547(!), has a cosy, traditional vibe to it with wood paneling throughout and stained glass windows. There was also a open fire when we visited which added to the atmosphere and will I’m sure certainly be welcome heading into the cold winter months. There is also a small back garden too.

On the beer front, there were a decent few ales on tap including London Pride and Tribute. Food wise, its towards the high end of gastropub fare with dishes such as sea bass and duck breast on the menu, as well as burgers and the like.  The bar snacks menu, including chips and other sides, are priced around £4 if you’re travelling on more of a budget! When we first arrived around 7 on a Wednesday evening, it was quite quiet but the place soon filled out with loads of people coming here for dinner so the food is obviously a hit with the punters.

The walls are decorated with a selection of local photos as well as various old trinkets. These include some deer antlers. On later research, I discovered these are used for a ceremony called ‘swearing of the horns’ – once you swear the oath – which includes lines such as ‘You must not drink small beer when you can get strong’ you become a freeman of Highgate. This was a custom throughout pubs in the Highgate Village area and was covered in this 2013 Ham and High article.

The Wrestlers is another excellent North London pub. I got so comfortable here I didn’t want to leave. Following hot on the heels of the Olde Mitre, it’s also another of my overall favourites and definitely worth the trip to Highgate to visit it.

(The only bad thing I can think to say about the place is there seems to be security issues with their website – so I haven’t linked to it – and google warns against accessing it!)

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High Barnet

High Barnet takes me to the end of this branch of the Northern Line and brings to a close my run of stations which all joined the Underground on 14th April 1940. It first opened as a rail station of the same name on 1st April 1872.

The design of the buildings here is very similar to those stops, with Victorian architecture, including platform shelters and canopies and a traditional footbridge, dating back to its initial period as a rail station

The Pub: Ye Olde Mitre Inne, 58 High Street, EN5 5SJ

The pub is a short walk up the hill. Head out of the station along the footpath that takes you up to Meadway, turning to onto the High Street where the Mitre is a few minutes up the road. Looking back as we walked up the street, I was reminded just how far we’d come from central London with the Shard and other central London tower blocks distant on the horizon.

Ye Olde Mitre Inne is a pub with incredible history. It is thought the current building dates back to 1785 when the pub was a coaching inn. The interior retains a real traditional character with low ceilings, wooden beams and exposed brickwork. There is an old ‘Ye Olde Mitre Inn’ sign displayed above the bar in the main room. The pub is divided into several rooms, all of which have the same historical feel to them. It is said that some of the oak beams in the Stable Lounge, one of the outer rooms, may even date back as far as the 14th Century!  Finally, there is an outside patio space which probably feels the most modern part of the entire building. Given all the history, it is unsurprising the pub is grade II listed.

Ye Olde Mitre doesn’t just rest on its historical assets, it gets the important aspects of being a pub right. There were at least six ales available on tap including Landlord from Timothy Taylor,  Adnams Southwold Bitter and Emerald Tiger. The food is good too, I had a particularly hearty burger with thick chunky chips and my friend was equally pleased with his with his mince scotch pie – a mix between a pie and a scotch egg! Other dishes available include Scampi and Chips and Lasagne.

The walls are decorated with some fantastic trinkets, I really liked the Allwin, an old gaming machine where the object was to ensure you fired the little ball bearing into one of the hoops. The collection of old taps were a tad more curious though.

Ye Olde Mitre Inne is a fantastic pub. It has preserved its own historic heritage so well while at the same time getting all the pub essentials right, something which is sometimes lacking in historic pubs found closer to tourist hotspots. Its definitely one of my favourite pubs I’ve visited for the blog and I highly recommend taking a trip up to High Barnet to experience it first hand!

(The pub has no website)

 

West Finchley

West Finchley was first served by the Northern Line on 14th April 1940, a mainline rail station having opened here seven years before on the LNER line to High Barnet. The rail services stopped the following year with the station exclusively served by the tube thereafter.

Wikipedia states that many of the station structures here were taken from stations in the North of England. It is said the footbridge, which looks very much the Victorian rail structure, came from a station in Yorkshire that closed in 1930.  In contrast, the ticket office is a modern non-descript brick building.

The Pub: The Elephant’s Inn, 283 Ballards Lane, N12 8NR

The pub is just over 10minutes walk from the station. Head out onto Nether Street, walking up the road until reaching Moss Hall Grove, head down the road and turn left onto Ballards Lane. The Elephants Head will then be a few minutes up the street.

The Elephant’s Inn is a traditional pub that has been well maintained, its wood panelling and stained glass windows are both in good condition. Its a spacious pub that has been subdivided into a number of areas flanking the main bar. Its a Fullers pub so has their standard range of ales – London Pride, ESB and Olivers Island being some of those on offer on our visit. There was also the Rugby themed ‘Front Row’, to tie in with the World Cup which was at the time still in full swing. Talking of sports, there are multiple TV screens dotted around and they have both Sky and BT Sports.

On the food front, The Elephant’s Inn has an extensive Thai menu with a selection of curries, stir fries, noodles and sea food. The upstairs of the pub is set aside for the Thai restaurant. There are also a few English dishes available too including bangers and mash and fish and chips. I’d had a Thai meal the day before coming here so went for the Burger which was excellent with proper chunky chips!

An interesting feature I noticed was plaques to former regulars on seating in the pub. Much in the way you see benches in parks and public places dedicated to people who had a connection with that area,  there are little plaques here to commemorate deceased regulars. I’ve not seen it in any other pubs before but thought it was a really nice touch.

The Elephant’s Inn is another fine pub – from my other stops on the trail, it seems like Finchley has a good little selection.  I’d definitely be keen to head back here again soon and its certainly worth a visit if you’re based nearby!

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Finchley Central

The Northern Line arrived at Finchley Central on 14th April 1940 – a station had first opened here in 1867 on the Great Northern Railway as part of their route from Finsbury Park to Edgware. It was transferred over to the Underground as part of the ambitious Northern Heights Plan which would have seen the full route to Edgware passed onto the Northern Line.  In the end it only got as far as Mill Hill East as the project halted during the Second World War before finally being axed in 1954.

Finchley Central was due to be rebuilt to the designs of Charles Holden but the shelving of the Northern Heights Plan put paid to that.  As a result, the station’s Victorian buildings remain, giving it the air of a rural rail station. The recent addition of step-free access here in 2008 saw the installation of a very modern looking oblong box containing the lift down from the footbridge to the platforms.

Finchley Central is the terminus of the Mill Hill East shuttle service – outside of the peak periods, no direct trains into Central London operate on that small branch so onward travel requires changing here.

The Pub: Catcher in the Rye, 317 Regents Park Road, N3 1DP

The pub is a short five minute walk from the station. From leaving the ticket office, walk up Chaville Way then turn left onto Regents Park Road where you’ll find Catcher in The Rye a few minutes along the road.  If nothing else, the pub certainly wins when it comes to originality – this is definitely the first place I’ve come across named after J.D Salinger’s 1950s iconic coming of age novel!

Inside, the pub is set on two levels with the area around the bar slightly higher than the room to its side. The walls have stripped back brick work with a mixture of modern looking art and pictures of Old Finchley hanging on it. There are plenty of plants and flowers brightening up the place. The Rye also has a good few comfy sofas which help give the place a cosy air to it.  It had a couple of TVs showing the BBC News channel when we dropped by. It was quite quiet here on our visit but then again, it was relatively early on a Saturday afternoon.

On the ale front, they had both Greene King IPA(China’s favourite!) and Old Golden Hen. Food wise, it was solid fare with the occasional gastropub line creeping into the menu – rustic cut chips with cheese being an example – but hey at least they do cheesy chips unlike some gastros which turn their noses up at them! I was also a fan of Sussex Pork Sausages being on the menu. Sadly we were unable to get food on our visit as the chef for the lunchtime shift was off ill, so the rustic cheesy chips had to wait.

Catcher in the Rye is a decent pub with a very memorable name. Certainly worth popping into if you live in these parts of North London.

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East Finchley

East Finchley first opened on the Northern Line on 3rd July 1939.  Mainline rail services originally started here in 1867, operated by the Great Northern Railway. It found itself transferred to London Underground and the Northern Line as part of the ultimately abortive ‘Northern Heights’ plan, which I briefly touched on when visiting Finsbury Park.

It was rebuilt to mark the arrival of the Northern Line by Charles Holden,  the tall station building is another fine example of art-deco design, while at the same time being distinctive from his other stations of the same period.  I particularly liked the Underground roundel at the centre of the three long windows in the ticket office. This looks impressive when the interior of the hall is illuminated!  There is also an ‘Archer’ statue, by Eric Aumonier on the station roof – sadly I couldn’t catch it in my photos but here it is in all its glory!

Pub: The Bald Faced Stag, 69 High Road, N2 8AB

This was my first trip to Finchley – the area around the station is very nice and the buildings reminded me a little of Hampstead. The pub is a couple of minutes up the road, simply head out of the station onto the High Street and head up the hill and you’ll see it.

Inside its a very smart gastropub with very clean, white walls. There are comfy, red-leather backed seats in a mixture of low and high tables.  As well as the main area around the bar, there is a slightly more cosy room towards the back of the pub called the ‘Thomas Grub’ room where there is board games. As you might expect from the name, there are some antlers on the wall! There is also a pleasant dining room at the back of The Stag in a conservatory type building. It also has a sizeable garden with a large tree at the centre of it, illuminating the garden with lights hanging from it.

On the beer front, there were solid ales available on tap including TEA from Hogs Back,  Old Dairy IPA and St. Austell’s Proper Job. The food menu is divided between a pub menu including burgers and fish and chips,  and the ‘Restaurant and Vinery’ menu with more restaurant type dishes such as Wild Duck. I went for the burger and it was excellent, very filling and fully justifying a £12.50 price tag!  They also have an open kitchen, if you like that kind of thing.

It was fairly busy on the Wednesday evening we visited and the pub was showing highlights from an earlier Rugby World Cup game. A pub quiz was also about to start as we were leaving, indeed a woman in the pub seemed slightly affronted when I said we weren’t doing it – I’m not even sure she was the quizmaster so I admired the dedication to the cause!

The Bald Faced Stag is a top pub. Another example of how to do a gastropub well. Its certainly worth staying on the Northern Line for a few stops after Camden to pop up here.

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Balham

Balham  – the gateway to the South! –  saw its tube station open a couple of months later than the rest of the stops on the Southern end of the Northern Line, opening its doors on 6th December 1926. Architecturally, it shares all the same features as the others on the line and is another Grade II listed Charles Holden building. Like Tooting Broadway, it has a ticket office building on two sides of the main road it passes underneath.

There is also a National Rail station here above and adjacent to the tube station, offering suburban train services across South London and into London Victoria. This first opened way back in 1863.

The Pub: The Regent, 21 Chestnut Grove, SW12 8JB

The Regent is located a couple of minutes away from the station, just turn out of the station onto Chestnut Grove and you can’t miss it.

It continues the theme I’ve found in the last couple of stops as a airy, open gastropub. The pub is split into two sections.  In the area closest to the main door, the large windows allow light to stream in from outside onto the walls which are painted in bright hues.  The back room feels a little darker, in part due to the red velvet curtain type things hanging from the ceiling. There is also a disco ball in this room and I think the tables and chairs can easily be moved away here come Friday and Saturday Nights. The Regent opens until 1am on Friday and Saturday nights.

Ale wise, there was only Wandle on tap when we visited – I think there are usually more available on tap but they were off on our visit. The food menu here is a mixture of your standard pub staples with additional variety coming from Thai Curries and Chinese Style Pork Belly. The Regent has a couple of TVs, they were unobtrusively showing Showjumping on Eurosport when we popped in. I don’t think anyone was watching. From what I recall, during the football season, a large projector screen is set up at the back of the disco ball room to show the games and it gets very busy. I’ve been to the Regent a fair few times over the years. One of the more memorable evenings came when a man who had clearly had a skinful decided to befriend our group. He thought I was Welsh and liked my hair.  We soon left for the safe haven of the nearby Wetherspoons!

If you want to see The Regent as I’ve described, you don’t have long to catch it. Its closing for refurb on the 20th August, scheduled to reopen in time for the Rugby World Cup. I don’t imagine there will be wholesale changes, so hopefully the gist of my review will still stand.

The Regent is a solid South London pub, spacious with a good atmosphere. Certainly worth a visit!

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