Waterloo

What better place to start the second incarnation of INNside Track than Waterloo, the busiest rail station in London and indeed the entire country. There was an incredible 99.2million entries and exits from the station in 2014/15.

It first opened back in 1848 as ‘Waterloo Bridge Station’ and is definitely one of my favourite London terminal stations. Much of today’s station dates from an early 20th century rebuild that was puncuated by the First World War and finally completed in 1922. It remains a very impressive structure today with a number of sections Grade II listed. The main entrance is called ‘The Victory Arch’ and contains a memorial to railway staff killed in the two world wars.

The station also acquired a slick modern annex in 1994 in the shape of the Waterloo International terminal. This only had a very short life in its original guise with Eurostar trains diverted up to St Pancras from 2007 with the completion of the high speed Channel Tunnel Rail Link. Even when the first Eurostar services began arriving here in 1994, it was already planned for the UK’s high speed link to the Channel Tunnel to come into St Pancras. However that’s another story, one I hope is someday covered by the excellent London Reconnections blog…

After several years gathering dust, two of the four international platforms were reused for domestic services from 2014 onwards. These were closed off again from April of this year as a more comprehensive refurbishment programme is taking place to bring all four back into use. When it and other station upgrades are finally complete in 2018, Waterloo will have 24 platforms in active passenger use, the most of any rail station in the UK.

Just as a recap to my plan of action this time around. I am starting at Waterloo and then working my way out through all the stations in Greater London served by trains starting here.

The Wellington, 81-83 Waterloo Road, SE1 8UD

There are no shortage of pubs dotted around the streets to the East of Waterloo Station. However these are all closer to Waterloo East(the clues in the name) so I went to The Wellington, just opposite the Waterloo Road exit of the station. The walkway linking the two stations actually passes directly above it.

It’s very spacious inside, sub-divided into three sections with a long bar at the back of the pub spanning all the areas. There is plenty of wood panelling throughout and the seating is a mix of sofas and plush chairs as well as standard tables and chairs packed in. Living up to the name, there are two murals painted depicting scenes from the battle of Waterloo – one on the arched roof of the central section of the pub and another above the bar area.

There are TVs in all sections of the pub with both BT and Sky Sports. As well as having my old favourite, a quiz machine, there is also ‘Golden Tee Fore Complete’, a golf arcade machine which apparently dates from 2005 but has very ’90s graphics. Arcade machines in pubs are even rarer than quiz machines these days and I hope the management here don’t move it anytime soon.

Its run by Fullers so has their usual range of ales as well as a sighting of their seasonal offering, Red Fox, an autumnal ale. I had a London Pride which tasted particularly good as it was free. As it stands, if you sign up for the pub’s newsletter, you get a free drink in return. Not an offer to be sniffed at with drinks prices creeping ever higher in the capital. No surprises on the food front with the usual English pub food staples.

The Wellington is also a hotel, with a dozen or so rooms above the pub. We visited on a rainy Wednesday evening and the clientele was a mix of foreign tourists (some of whom were no doubt staying upstairs) and a sizeable post-work crowd. Kings College also has a few buildings round here so you also get a fair few students here too.

Overall The Wellington is a solid pub. It’s spacious and perfectly situated for onward travel beyond Waterloo!

(For Waterloo tube station, I visited The King’s Arms in May 2014)

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Southwark

Well now I’m very near the end – Southwark is the third newest station on the Tube Network. It opened on 20 November 1999 as the last phase of the Jubilee Line extension began operating when trains started running through to Green Park and onwards to Stanmore.

As with the majority of these stations, its another really impressive design. Instead of having a set of three escalators next to each other, each escalator is set on its own and it felt like we were heading up into a portal. You then get into the concourse level with its stunning blue glass wall. Its another design triumph and won BSkyB’s building of the year award in 2000.  If you’re an architecture fan, its well worth having a walk along the spacious upper concourse yourself to take it in – its great!

The exterior of the station building is rather small yet still remains an impressive building.

The Pub: The Ring, 72 Blackfriars Road, SE1 8HA

When I’ve been doing this blog, sometimes people ask me if its about going to pubs opposite tube stations? It isn’t, although in this case the criteria would certainly fit as The Ring is right opposite the station exit. You really can’t miss it.

The pub is filled with Boxing Memorabilia, this is due to its location opposite what was was the home of British Boxing – The Blackfriars Ring Boxing Arena – which was destroyed during the Blitz in 1941. The Arena had a fascinating history and you can find out more from this excellent article about it.  Now on the site is the modern office building The Palestra. Some of the trinkets on the wall include boxing gloves hanging from an antler(as you can see from the gallery), as well as plenty of photos of boxers from the Ring’s early days in the 1910s and 20s.  These old photos contrast nicely with the light, modern décor.

The Ring had a variety of ales on tap on our visit although sadly no Doombar but the barman said they usually have it on. The selection was more amber and porter based, I went for the Calif-oregon Amber from the Belleville Brew.  Although I generally prefer Bitters, this was a pleasant, refreshing pint – I’m not sure I could have a session on it though. They also had a Milk Stout if you’re into that kind of thing. On the food front, they are known for their hot dogs. On their menu it says food critic Giles Coren went so far as saying they are the best in London. After high praise like that, I decided I had to try one myself. I went for the Big Frank – a Frankenfurter – which was very tasty! They also do other food like burgers and sausage and mash. Their chips are great too, nice and chunky, as I tried some of the ones my friend ordered.

It was pretty busy on the Saturday afternoon we visited as the Six Nations was on but we were able to get a seat. By the time of England’s match though, it was very much standing room only!  The pub has a wide selection of board games including Connect 4, if you want to while away an afternoon on a quieter day here! The Ring also sell their own t-shirts for £15 a go, it’s definitely the first pub out of the 268 I’d done up to this point to do that.

The Ring is an excellent pub. Its very well situated as its very close to Blackfriars Bridge as well as Waterloo and London Bridge/Borough market aren’t far off either. I definitely recommend visiting here, especially if you’re a Hotdog fan.

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Bermondsey

Bermondsey station opened on 17 September 1999 as the Jubilee Line Extension edged its way into Central London and towards the existing section of the line. The platforms have the shiny metal finish seen throughout the extension. Compared to some of the other stops on the line, the station building here is a more modest rectangular box – the glass roof means it still feels light, airy and spacious.

The Pub: The Angel, 101 Bermondsey Wall East, SE16 4NB

The pub is just under 10 minutes walk from the station – head East along Jamaica Road, turning north up Cherry Garden Street until reaching Bermondsey Wall East, continue eastwards along here until you come to The Angel.

The Angel has a real history to it. Pubs have stood on the site since the 15th century, Samuel Pepys was a visitor to one of its earlier incarnations – the current building dates from the early 19th Century. If you’re into your art, Turner painted The Fighting Temeraire from the Angel’s upstairs room. I don’t blame him because the pub has excellent views of the River looking towards Central London – there is a small outside seating area on the ground floor which is where I took my photo from.

It’s a Sam Smiths pub, so that means cheap drinks and ales from their own brewery only so this includes their best and sovereign bitter. I went for the Sovereign and found it to be a solid bitter. They also do food, again reasonably priced and most under £10. I didn’t eat on the day I did the review but on my visit earlier this year I had a very nice fish finger sandwich with cheesy chips – again, my classy tastes coming through.

Its got a traditional interior with old school lights and curtains, as well as a sturdy stone floor. There was also a real fire on the go on our visit. The front room is divided into two sections with a small door that most people would have to duck to go through. If you don’t fancy doing the limbo, its probably easier to go out the pub and come back again. As I said earlier, their is an upstairs room which has fantastic views of the River Thames.  Sam Smiths pubs don’t play any music so this is the place for you if you want a quiet drink without any distractions, well bar the view!

The walls have old pictures of the local area as well as paintings/drawings of London bridges,  including a nice one of the old Hammersmith Bridge. I also liked the photo of a Vicar blessing the beer. The pub was quite quiet on the Thursday evening we popped by, there were a few tourists here but I suspect it might be slightly off the beaten track for most of them.

In my opinion, The Angel is the pub with the best riverside view in London that I’ve visited. Combine that with the agreeable Sam Smiths prices, it’s definitely worth a visit! Make the short journey on from London Bridge and give it a go!

(The pub has no website)

 

Canada Water

Canada Water is another station with an amazing design on the Jubilee Line Extension. It first opened on that line on 17 September 1999, having initially opened a month previously on the East London Line which is no longer part of the tube network.

I think its my favourite of the new Jubilee Line stations. I love the massive mass drum on the top of the station and how it lets the light into the spacious ticket hall and reflect off its metallic silverly finish. I also like the fact it pays homage to Charles Holden’s designs at Arnos Grove. For some reason it reminded me of the Crystal Dome when it was lit up at night!

The Pub: The Ship, 39-47 Saint Marychurch Street, SE16 4JU

Maybe its because I’m so dazzled by the station itself but I usually find myself getting lost when I get off here.  The best route to the pub is going past the Sainsburys Local and following the pedestrian paths until you reach Swan Road, stick on this street until you reach Brunel Road. From there head East until you reach Rupack Street which then turns into Saint Marychurch Street where you’ll find The Ship.

Inside, its a homely, welcoming pub. Its part of the Ram Pub Company, a small chain of pubs linked with Youngs – The Greyhound in Hendon was a Ram pub so my previous experience of them was very good. It has the usual Youngs beers on tap – Bitter, Special and London Glory. The food prices here are noticeably cheaper than other pubs in the area, the majority of dishes being under £10 – Sausage and Mash is only £8.10 while Ham, Egg and Chips is a mere £7.20. I had the burger here which was very tasty and really filling with excellent proper chips, for just over £8 it was a bargain. They also sell home made sausage rolls and scotch eggs for £2.50

Given the name, its probably not surprising there are some model ships as decoration here! There are also some old black and white photos of the area where the Docks were still going strong.  The Ship has a piano and hosts regular live music nights, I saw an advert for the ‘Flaming Sambucas’ coming up. I just hope the band are better than the drink. The pub also has a large collection of board games.

The Ship was fairly busy on our Friday night but there were still a fair few seats going spare. As well as having a row of leather backed seating, there were also some comfy sofas towards the back of the pub. For sunnier times, the pub also has a back garden.

I really felt at home in The Ship and could have easily spent all evening here. Its an excellent pub and well worth a visit. If you want an easier route here and aren’t doing a tube related pub crawl, its much closer to Rotherhithe Overground Station.

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North Greenwich

For many people, North Greenwich will forever be associated with Millennium Dome. It is the station closest to it and was built with sufficient capacity to deal with the hoped for hoards that would come flocking to the Millenium’s answer to the Festival of Britain. As we all now know, visitor numbers didn’t hit the expected levels and after the exhibition shut at the end of 2000, the building remained empty for several years. However, like one of its most vocal champions,  the building was a fighter and not a quitter and since 2007 has had a new lease of life as the O2 arena. In my few experiences of seeing gigs here, the station has coped admirably with the crowds!

The station opened on 14 May 1999, several months ahead of the Dome. It is a very impressive building, I especially liked the blue tiling and glass paneling which have a really striking effect as you leave the platforms and head up towards the ticket hall.

The Pub: The Pilot, 68 River Way, SE10 0BE

With the majority of the area cleared for the Dome or demolished when the old industrial uses for the area fell out of use, there aren’t many buildings here which date from before the late 1990s at the earliest! However the pub we went to was one of the few survivors from days gone by! On exiting the station and heading South away from the Dome, get onto Edmund Halley Way, getting onto West Parkway and heading down along there until you come to The Pilot.

Located at the end of a small row of traditional Victorian houses,its setting is incredible. It’s like they’ve been plonked down from a previous century into this landscape of ultra-modern developments. Inside The Pilot, which was built way back in 1801, is a smartly decorated pub with plenty of nods to its position by the river – porthole mirrors, tables in the shape of trunks and old shipping posters on the walls. There was also a big globe which I resisted the temptation to spin around. Another theme seemed to be old kids toys, as there was a large display box full of old Cowboy and Indian figures as well as posters for 1950s robot toys! The way the light was shining in through the windows on our mid afternoon visit also made the place seem very bright and airy.

Its a Fullers pub so has their usual range of ales along with the beer Black Perle which I haven’t seen before. I had a very pleasant tasting pint of Pride here. The food is standard pub fare at around the £11-£13 mark –  the chicken schnitzel burger looked interesting! The pub also has a small garden at the back and even has a few hotel rooms in its upstairs area. Seating wise, there are plenty of comfy sofas dotted around the place as well as a dining area downstairs.

Regarding the pubs survival, story goes that the property developer were ready to offer the owner a substantial sum to have it demolished in the early 1990s but he refused and stuck to his guns. As you might imagine, it did an excellent trade during the construction of the Dome and other nearby projects as the workers had somewhere to go after work, and we have his stubborness to thank for it still standing today!

The Pilot is a really nice pub – its quite the experience to stumble on this traditional building in the midsts of such a modern part of London. I definitely recommend you pop in and experience that contrast for yourself!

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Brixton

Brixton station opened on 23 July 1971 and is the southern terminus of the Victoria Line. There is also a National Rail station a short walk from the tube, complete with its slightly ominous statues of commuters..

The station motif here is very literal. It’s by Hans Unger and is lots of bricks, so in other words, a ton of Bricks – get it? The station building was extensively revamped in the early 2000s – there are now offices above the entrance and a huge Underground roundel on the glass frontage. It looks very different from how it did when it first opened, as you can see from this photo from the 80s.

The Pub: Effra Hall Tavern, 38 Kellett Road, SW2 1ED

Brixton is a very lively, colourful place – I worked here for over two and half a years when I was student so I’ll always have a soft spot for it.  The pub is five minutes walk south of the station – carry on down Brixton Road, passing the Ritzy Cinema where I worked and then onto Effra Road, turning down Kellett Road where you’ll find The Effra Hall Tavern.

The Effra has a nice mix of traditional and contemporary features. The old tiles on both the wall and floor and impressive wooden bar with its lights both seem suitably historic while the plain white walls and uncluttered interior have a modern feel. I really liked the framed collection of old football cigarette cards which are on one of the walls. There is also a clock in the shape of Jamaica on the wall, in homage to the Caribbean roots of many in the local area which I also thought was a nice touch.

On the ale front, two were available – Sharp’s Atlantic and their own Effra ale.  Given they make Doombar, I put my faith in Atlantic and found it to be a very refreshing pint. I didn’t look fully at the menu here but I hear they do a mean Jerk Chicken. The Effra had a good atmosphere here on the Sunday afternoon we visited with a friendly, diverse bunch of people here, in contrast to some of the pubs in Brixton which have become rather homogeneous and unrepresentative of the character of the local area.

The pub was showing both the Six Nations and a Premier League game and had managed to come up with the system keeping both groups of fans happy. The screen at the front of the pub was showing the Rugby and the one at the back the football. In the pub’s small garden there was also another TV screen showing the football.  They also have regular live jazz nights too.

The Effra Hall Tavern is a good solid pub. As I said, it retains the character and spirit of Brixton – long may that continue!

(The pub has no website)

 

Vauxhall

Vauxhall tube station opened on 23 June 1971 when the Victoria Line was extended down to Brixton. The tile motif on the platforms is by George Smith and is a representation of the old Vauxhall pleasure gardens. The tube station doesn’t have any buildings above ground, instead emerging from a number of subway exits.

The tube station is part of a busy transport interchange with the rail station serving the lines out of Waterloo and the bus station with its ski jump roof. This dates from 2004 and is equipped with photovoltaic cells which provide its electricity. The grim gyratory road system surrounding it is due to be completely remodelled by TfL which in turn will lead to sad demise of the bus station, from an architectural perspective anyway!

The Pub: Zeitgeist, 49-51 Black Prince Road, SE11 6AB

The quickest way to reach the pub is to head down South Lambeth Road, turning onto Tyers Street, passing the edge of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens and the City Farm, continue along here until you reach Black Prince Road. Here in an old Victorian pub building you’ll find Zeitgeist. Don’t be confused by signage that says this is ‘The Jolly Gardeners’, they are one and the same thing.

Now before I start the review, I’ll admit Zeitgeist is one of my favourite haunts. I’ve had birthday drinks here which all ended messily as well as work leaving drinks which almost did! But this pub is definitely here on merit for its uniqueness and I’ll outline why I picked it.

For starters, its a German pub. When I say a German pub, I don’t mean one of those ‘Bavarian Beerhouses’ with all the cliches and mandatory lederhosen for the barstaff. This is a pub staffed by Germans and frequented by Germans. I’ve always thought it’s incredible its ended up setting up shop here, on a side street behind Lambeth Bridge.

Inside its spacious with nice high ceilings and comfy, leather backed seats. It has a very vivid colour scheme with the dark walls complemented by a red ceiling. There are a couple of big projector screens where they show live Bundesliga games and the pub is always busy when these games are on. They also show English Premier League games too. They have a few tables outside on Black Prince Road, as well as a little backyard seating area too.

There are no ales here but they have a fine range of German beers. These include a number of varieties of Krombacher, Konig Pilsner and Paulaner. Pints aren’t cheap at £5 but you get what you pay for as they are cracking beers. The food is also authentically Germanic, with currywurst, schnitzel and the like as well as really German dishes like Schweinshaxe(pork knuckle!).

Zeitgeist is a fantastic pub. If you like German beer or food, you’ll love it here. Even if you aren’t, it’s still a great pub and well worth a visit!

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