This trip must surely qualify as being central, considering that Charing Cross is taken as the point from which distances from London are measured. Needless to say access by public transport is potentially copious. The mainline and underground stations are close to the first port of call and numerous buses run along The Strand. The first port of call is up near the main post office by Trafalgar Square. From Charing Cross station, cross over towards Duncann St then up Adelaide St and it is straight ahead. Approximate leaving times are shown in [ ].
1. The Harp - Chandos Place WC2 [18.30]
Fullers London Pride.
Compact one-bar establishment, formerly called The Welsh Harp, on the edge of theatreland and in sight of St Martins-in-the-fields. There is no evidence of fields nowadays however. It has two entrances, the main one has a clear glass frontage that opens up completely in the summer enabling drinkers to chat to (or hurl abuse at) passers-by. The other entrance is at the back and doubles as a fire-exit onto the alleyway behind. It is also situated by the steep (upward) staircase to the toilets. The pub is usually fairly busy and can get crowded. Seating is restricted to bar stools round the periphery. Formerly there were some sagging banquettes and excruciatingly uncomfortable stools that looked as though they had been made from old tractor seats. The walls are festooned with various daubs of famous people including actors/actresses.¶ On leaving, turn left then walk a few yards in order to find ...
2. The Marquess of Granby - Chandos Place [19.15]
Adnams Bitter; Fuller's London Pride; Young's Ordinary.
Oddly-shaped (wedge) hostelry, which was until recently a Nicholson's Inn, but presumably is now owned by Punch Taverns, but still no sign of the return of Burton ale. There is an elaborate interior with three partitioned areas separated by wooden screens. There are clear glass windows, bare floor-boards and a number of tables in a very compact environment. There are remarkable gas heaters suspended from the ceiling like giant oil lamps, but beware they can fry you even from several feet away! A range of food is served including some two-for-the-price-of-one offers aimed at theatre goers who account for the pub being busy at 6.30, but emptying out by 7pm. Also is a "Coffee Sh@ck" (sic) with special coffees and Thai fish cakes.¶ Turn left and left up Bedfordbury to ....
3. The Lemon Tree - Bedfordbury [19.45]
Marstons Pedigree; Theakstons Best; Tetley Bitter.
Much changed from previous visits. The interior has been revised and the bar moved from along the right hand side to a location in the far left corner. There is much more of a wine-bar atmosphere than and this is endorsed by the predominance of oversized tables which restricts the opportunity to find somewhere to stand if no seating is available. It still has a theatrical theme which is borne out by the use of film posters as wall-paper in the Gents toilet.¶ We shall not dally here so retrace your steps to Chandos place, continue along to the left and across Bedford St to Maiden Lane then down the alleyway on the right (Exchange Ct?) where along on the right is ...
4. The Nell Gwynne - 29 Cornwall Street [20.15]
Courage Best & Directors; Marstons Pedigree; Theakstons Best.
Another compact pub where fortunately the overflow area is the pedestrian alley outside. It is a convivial L-shaped bar on two levels and very popular. Quite dimly lit, there are seats indoors so don't despair. Beware the steep descent to the toilets.¶ Go back up the alley to Maiden Lane then turn right up towards the junction with Southampton St. Cross over and along Tavistock St then at the junction with Wellington Place just across to the right is ...
5. The Coach and Horses - Wellington Place [20.45]
Marstons Pedigree; Courage Directors and Best.
This was not a pub twenty years ago when the venerable book Real Beer In London was published, although it may have been a keg-only establishment. Anyway now it is has one bar with limited seating and shelving along the walls to rest glasses on. Comfortably appointed with somewhat of a sporting feel to it. ¶On leaving turn right up to the crossroads where the road becomes Bow St. On the corner is ...
6. The Marquess of Anglesey - Bow Street [21.30]
Youngs Winter Warmer, Special and Ordinary.
This has been a Youngs pub and popular haunt for as long as I have been working in London (since 1969). The original part of the hostelry is on the corner which now has a door where seats used to be. After Youngs purchased the shop next door the premises were effectively doubled in size. In common with many Youngs pubs this has been modified to give it a "theme", so it now has cafe bar style tables and chairs and also music. Being close to Covent Garden and also the newly refurbished Royal Opera House it attracts many customers, but seating can usually be found.¶ The last pub is just a little further up Bow St to the right ...
7. The Globe - Bow Street [22.00+]
Old Speckled Hen; Fullers London Pride; Adnams Bitter, Tetley Bitter; Brakspears Bitter.
Almost next door to the last establishment, it is slightly newer than it. This also was a Nicholsons Inn, but may be a Punch Tavern now so beer selection may vary. One-bar pub with bare-boards and a separate seating alcove at the rear and other tables down the centre. Food bar at the far end of the counter. Other wooden partitions and shelving down the right hand side above which there is a rectangular glass skylight.¶ Well that's all folks. Back down to The Strand and Charing Cross mainline and tube, buses etc. so have a safe journey home!
Trial runs: Weds 10th March and Tues 7th December 1999 involving Edmund & James Featherstone, Mark Chambers and John Wright.