Wood Lane

So here we are, the final stop – Wood Lane. I intend to do a full post reflecting back on the journey and my experiences along the way so I’ll leave most of the reflections for then. The current Wood Lane station opened on Sunday 12 October 2008 on the Hammersmith and City Line, the day before my 21st birthday! It was also during a pretty tumultuous period for Britain as the plans for the initial wave of the bank bailout were being formulated that weekend. In some ways it is ironic then that Wood Lane itself opened due to the arrival of the Westfield, a massive shopping mall, at exactly the time the retail boom of the past 15 years was coming to a close. It has been served by the Circle Line since December 2009 when it was extended down to Hammersmith.

Building wise, it’s quite an interesting structure. As its built up on a brick embankment(delights of Hammersmith and City Line!), they have left the exposed brick arches within the concourse area. The ticket office building itself, with its very slightly slanted glass windowed frontage, reminded me a bit of nearby White City while another nice historical touch was the old Underground roundel logo on the glass wall by the steps up to one of the platforms.

There had previously been two stations of the same name – One being slightly further south on the same stretch of the Hammersmith and City/Circle Line. It opened in 1908 as the Olympic Games and the Great Exhibition both took place nearby. It then closed during WW1 and when it finally reopened in 1920, only operated on an ad hoc basis when events were taking place in the nearby exhibition centre. It was renamed to White City in 1947 and then closed permanently following a fire in 1959. The other opened as the Western terminus of the Central Line in 1908 and closed in 1947 when replaced by White City.  The station buildings for that stop remained in situ until 2003 when flattened for the Westfield, the development that in turn prompted the return of a Wood Lane station, albeit on a different line!

The Pub: The Defectors Weld, 170 Uxbridge Road, W12 8AA

Wood Lane is right near the edge of the Westfield and the former BBC Television Centre, the latter of which is now a building site. With no pubs right near the station, the best bet is walking south down Wood Lane to reach the edge of Shepherds Bush Green and the Defectors Weld. Now I know some people pointed out to me that the pub is closer to Shepherds Bush Market station, but it still showed up to me as the closest to Wood Lane, so for that reason it qualified!

Inside its a spacious, modern pub. With its big windows backing onto the street, the front section of the pub is suitably light and airy. I liked the lamps above the bar which reminded me of old Gramophones, the kind the HMV dog was listening into. The back section of the pub felt more cosy precisely because its away from the light coming in from the street. There are also a few comfy sofas dotted around the place too if you’re lucky enough to grab one of them! The Defectors Weld also has a small back garden with some rather funky painting on the wall as you can see from my gallery.

On the ale front, its a Youngs pub so you get their usual range of ales – Youngs Bitter, London Glory, as well as guest offerings Wandle, the appropriately named Red Wedge(no Ben Elton in site) – a defiant red ale – and finally Russian Winter from Itchen Valley, their Imperial Stout, complete with Hammer and Sickle on the the pump art. For lager fans there is Meantime and a wide selection of others including Gamma Ray, sadly no connection to the ’80s rock band. Food comes in the shape of contemporary pub grub at around the £11-£13, including the ‘W12 Burger’, Fish and Chips and Macaroni Cheese. I didn’t eat here but one of my friends had the burger and was very impressed.

As it was the last pub, I decided it would be only fitting to have a party to mark the end of it with friends who’d joined me in some far flung places.  In some ways it almost felt like a birthday party! As a result, this was the longest time I’ve spent in a pub on the crawl, around 8 hours in total!  The management also very kindly let me send over a playlist of music I’d like to hear on, and a number of the tracks made it. I was particularly happy when Careless Whisper by George Michael and its fantastic sax intro came on, I don’t think you hear that in many pubs…  I also got Crazy, Crazy Nights by KISS on, a tune which seemed appropriate to my endeavours.

The Defectors Weld is a top pub and was a fitting place to end the blog. Its well worth a visit and also an excellent place for a party. I had a great time here and truly ended the blog on a high note. While I will be doing a final post bringing the blog to an end, this is my last pub review so I’d like to thank everyone whose read any of them over the last three years – I hope I’ve inspired a few pub trips along the way. Cheers!

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Heathrow Terminal 5

This is very nearly the end! Heathrow Terminal 5 is the second newest station on the tube, it opened on 27 March 2008, a day before the first flight arrived at the new terminal in Heathrow.  It all feels very shiny and modern here with the blue colour scheme. Apart from that, there’s not much more to add here architecturally I’m afraid.

The Pub: The Five Tuns, Landside, Terminal 5 Heathrow, TW6 2GA

I’m normally not a huge fan of airports because I often find their buildings quite claustrophobic and chaotic. Heathrow Terminal 5 seemed very different to this with its open feel and large roof letting in lots of natural light. Admittedly I only saw the Departure Lounge but I think leaving from here would start a holiday off on the right foot.

The Five Tuns is on the main floor of the departure lounge. Like The Three Bells I visited in Terminal 3, its another Geronimo pub. As a result, the design of the place is fairly similar but the Five Tuns has got itself a better location in terms of being easy to find. It had two decent ales on tap in the shape of Youngs Best and Doombar. Food wise its standard pub fare at around £12 for a main – slightly higher than you might expect elsewhere but that’s the Airport premium for you! The Five Tuns feels light and airy as it doesn’t have any windows so just opens out onto the departure lounge.

There are old Underground posters on the walls, including the classic ‘For The Zoo’ featuring four penguins. The Five Tuns also has books dotted around the place. As well as approving of the posters, I was a fan of the music selection when Torch by Soft Cell came on – maybe a more obscure choice for an airport bar but a good choice in my eyes. This made for an interesting soundtrack for what was on TV with the sound off – the Roger Moore James Bond film ‘The Man With The Golden Gun.’ I’m not sure why, but Roger’s quips seemed even better with subtitles and facial expressions only.

I enjoyed my pint at The Five Tuns. I think I’d be in high spirits if I was having one last Doombar here before setting off somewhere exotic.

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Heathrow Terminal 4

Heathrow Terminal 4 station opened on 12 April 1986,  days after the new terminal itself had opened. It is one of the few stations on the network to only have one platform. It shut for a brief period between 2005 and 2006 to allow the construction of the new link to Terminal 5.

I quite liked the platforms here, the tiling has a slightly marble look to it which gives it a bit more identity than if it were merely plain white tiling. This is also true of the small ticket hall area.

The Pub: The Three Bells, Heathrow Terminal Three, UB3 5AP

When I started this mission, I had checked and found that there were ‘landside’ pubs for all of the relevant Heathrow Terminals and stations. Sadly shortly ahead of my visit here, I discovered that the Windsor Castle, the Wetherspoons I had planned to visit had subsequently closed down!  Therefore the nearest pub was in Terminal 3- well I’d come this far so I wasn’t going to back down now and headed over to the Three Bells.

Its located on the first floor of departures next to a Pret and above the Virgin Departures area. I was very relieved we found it! I quite liked the advertising on the hoardings outside it – ‘Last British Pub Before the Rest of the World’.

Inside, they’ve actually done a fairly decent job of disguising the fact you’re drinking in an airport. It’s a Geronimo pub and doesn’t feel too dissimilar to their pub inside the Westfield Centre which I visited for Shepherds Bush.  On the ale front, there were a couple available in the shape of Youngs Best and Doombar. There is food available in the shape of standard pub classics.

If your flight is delayed and you find yourself with time to kill, there was a decent selection of board games including Labyrinth – sadly not based on the 80s childs TV gameshow! There was also one of those table top old arcade game emulators which is always good fun if you fancy a bit of Pac-Man or Asteroids. The TVs here were showing BBC News.

As it shut at 10pm on weekdays, it was pretty much dead when we arrived. We didn’t have enough time to finish our drinks here but the staff were nice enough to let us pour them into coffee cups and head on our way – it’s certainly been a classy business doing this blog.

The Three Bells seemed like a decent option as far as airport pubs go. Terminal 3 and 4 really aren’t that close together(baffling world of airports again), so probably only worth going here if you are actually flying out from Terminal 3!

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Hatton Cross

Hatton Cross opened on 19 July 1975 as the first stage of the Piccadilly Line’s extension towards Heathrow and served as the lines terminus on that branch until 1977.  It certainly does feel very ’70s here, especially the colour scheme used for the platforms.  The central columns have the old British Airways ‘Speedbird’ logo on them.

The station building is a large brick box which also incorporates the bus station used by many of the routes from South West London which then head onto Heathrow.

The Pub: The Green Man, Green Man Lane, TW14 0PZ

When I first started the blog, I remember thinking what on earth am I going to do when it comes to Hatton Cross? I knew it was located right near Heathrow and therefore most of the buildings round here were industrial units associated with the airport. Certainly getting off here and the rather barren landscape didn’t look that promising. However there is a pub a ten minute walk away. From the station, you need to get onto Faggs Road, having crossed the very busy Great South West Road, turning onto Green Man Lane where you’ll find the pub.

Finding The Green Man was a surprise in itself and after going inside, I’m happy to confirm it was a pleasant one at that! It’s very much an old country pub with a low ceiling with wooden beams and cosy alcoves. It’s also got quite a history to it and parts of the pub date back as far as 1640. One of the locals there told us that the famous Highwayman Dick Turpin, who reportedly used to terrorise nearby Hounslow Heath, was allowed to hide here by the innkeeper at the time in exchange for a cut of the bounty. He pointed out a little hidden chamber behind the fireplace where Turpin would conceal himself. Near this alcove are old claypipes and also locks which had been discarded by Turpin.

Back to 2016, there were a couple ales on tap, Directors Bitter, Alan Partridge’s favourite, and Greene King IPA. I naturally went for the Directors. Its a John Barras pub, continuing their West London powerbase I encountered in Ruislip, so has their menu of reasonably priced pub classics – mains vary from around £6.50 to £8.50.  The Green Man also has a small garden too but can’t imagine its too peaceful!

The pub has a dart board as well as a TV Sports Licence. It was pretty busy here on the rainy, cold Wednesday evening we visited. Given there aren’t too many houses round here, it did make me wonder where the locals actually would live given how close everything is to Heathrow.

The Green Man was an alright pub in a location that seemed to promise little. I have to admit though, I’m not sure of the circumstances that would ever bring you to Hatton Cross but if you do ever find yourself here, at least you know there is a decent pub nearby!

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Northolt station opened on 21st November 1948. It began life as the rail station ‘Northolt Halt’ in 1907 but all mainline rail services ceased when it was transferred over to the Central Line.

Design wise, I’m afraid it’s another one of those dull brick box stations –  not much to see here sadly! There were a couple of plants on the platforms to try and add a bit of colour, although they were really getting a hammering from the elements on the icy evening we visited!

The Pub: The Crown, Ealing Road, UB5 6AA

The Crown is just over five minutes walk from the station. Head south on the main Mandeville Road, turning onto Eastcote Lane, following that along to meet Ealing Road where you’ll find the pub. The lane felt really residential and suburban so I was initially worried we were going the wrong way until we saw the glowing light of the pub and its mock tudor frontage.

The Crown is another fairly big pub and part of the Sizzling Grill chain – a regular site on these suburban stops- who are owned by Greene King. Ales on tap included London Pride, Greene King IPA(no surprises there) and ‘Old Engine Oil’, which from the name didn’t sound particularly appealing to me!  The food is cheap pub favourites, £4.99 for Sausage and Mash and £5.29 for Steak and Kidney Pie plus plenty of burgers and items from their ‘sizzling grill’.

Decor wise, it was pretty generic here as you might expect from a chain pub.  There were lots of TVs showing either Sky News and BBC One, the one nearest us must have had a loose connection as the picture kept going, reminiscent of when the tracking would go funny on an old VHS. They also have a garden which includes a smoking shelter.  The Crown has a quiz machine but we didn’t try our luck on this occasion. There were also adverts on the wall for an upcoming soul music night, as well as DJ Bigshot…

Overall,  The Crown was a pretty standard chain pub and while it’s not a terrible pub, I certainly preferred the pubs at West and South Ruislip and would recommend them if you need a drink in these parts.

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South Ruislip

South Ruislip is the fifth and final of the Ruislip stations I’ve visited for the blog. It opened on the Central Line in November 1948, having begun life as the rail station ‘Northolt Junction’ in May 1908. The station is still served by Chiltern Rail services today.

After a couple of dull stations architecturally, South Ruislip is more interesting from a design perspective. The rounded ticket office dates from 1960 and illuminated and viewed from outside, looked a bit like a glowing top hat! The interior is enlivened a concrete, glass and granite frieze which was designed by the artist Henry Haig. It’s a nice example of 1960s design on the Underground, sadly most others dating from this period fit more into the non-descript box category.

The Pub: The Middlesex Arms, Long Drive, HA4 0HG

The Middlesex Arms is just over a minute walk from the station. Staying on the same side of the road(Long Drive), simply head north up the road and you’ll find it!

It’s another John Barras venue who seem to be very big in the Ruislip area. Inside it’s a vast pub with various seating areas. There is a dedicated ‘games’ area with a pool table, dart board and even a batman pinball machine.

It was a similar ale section to the nearby Soldiers Return, so just Greene King beers available on tap and Ruddles County. This time we did choose to eat – I went for the standard burger which was only £5.29. Our food took a little while to arrive but when it eventually did, the portions were very hearty! A chap sat near us seemed to have an entire three course meal, including a dessert with an incredibly large bowl of custard!

While there were a fair amount of people here, it didn’t feel particularly busy because the place is so spacious. Its size also meant they are able to dot a number of TVs around the place, with parts of the pub showing different FA Cup replays. It also has a Sky/BT Sports Licence.

I quite enjoyed The Middlesex Arms. The fact it is so big means you’re almost always guaranteed a seat so it would be a good place to watch a football match. The cheap and cheerful food was also perfectly fine. I mean it is a chain pub so you’re not going to find anything earth shattering unique here, but it’s definitely a decent spot for a suburban pint.

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White City

White City opened on 23rd November 1947 on the Central Line, between existing stations East Acton and Shepherd’s Bush, replacing Wood Lane, which incidentally is now also the name of a Hammersmith and City/Circle Line stop which is currently the newest tube station and so my final calling point…

The station building has a large Underground Roundel in its windowed frontage,  slightly reminiscence of that seen at East Finchley. The design of the station also scooped an award in the Festival of Britain awards and is impressive in its own way.

The Pub: The Pavilion, Wood Lane, W12 0HQ

With so many tube stations clustered round here, it required careful planning not to visit a pub closer to one of the other stops here! The Pavilion is just over a 10-minute walk from White City but it’s a very simple route. Simply exit the station onto Wood Lane and head north up here until reaching the junction with North Pole Road where the pub is located.

Inside, its pretty large with several areas thanks to dividing walls – these have been opened up but perhaps back in the day partitioned the pub fully. It was just starting to get dark as we arrived and the brightness varied in the different sections – it seemed to get lighter closer to the back as you can see from the gallery. The decor is pretty generic yet inoffensive, including the often obligatory historic photos of the local area.

The Pavilion is part of Greene King’s ‘Flame Grill’ chain, so as you might expect the ales on tap are primarily from their brewery – Abbott, London Glory and their ubiquitous IPA. The food, as the name suggested, consists mainly of ‘flame grilled’ steaks and burgers, as well as other pub classics like Sausage and Mash and Fish and Chips. It also has a ‘Seniors Menu’ something which made me smile when I came across it at their pub near Brent Cross. Overall the food is very reasonably priced with ‘two main meals for £9.99’ applying to many dishes.

The pub has both Sky and BT Sports.  There was also a quiz machine, although as it was located right under one of the TV screens I was less keen on playing than I usually would have been!. There is also a patio back garden with a fair amount of space.

The Pavilion is a solid if unspectacular spot for a pint if you’re in the West London area.  Be warned though, it is apparently a popular haunt with QPR fans(Loftus Road is very nearby) so perhaps best avoided on matchdays.

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