Postal London - June 1999

Welcome to instalment five of Postal Drinker, my crawl of all the London postal districts. Firstly may I apologise for the delay in getting the articles to London Drinker but I have been temping since mid-June and have been very busy. I have been able to keep up my schedule of eleven pubs a month but the problem was getting the time to write it up.

Secondly thanks are due to John Wright of Hassrale, the DSS real ale society, for landing me a North London guide and for getting my articles on the Internet. All my articles may be viewed at which hosts the Hassrale web site. Anyway on to this months article.

On the first Sunday of June I was visiting a friend in Woodford so after I left I headed north up into Chingford (E4). This is one of the largest districts in East London and it extends right out into Epping Forest. In fact it extends further north than any other postal district and the northern most part (Sewardstone) is not in Greater London but is in Essex itself. As I have previously visited the most westerly pub with a London postal code I might as well do the most northerly which is the Plough, at the northernmost tip of E4.

This involves a walk through the suburban housing of Chingford then right into Sewardstone Road where the housing peters out and is replaced by farms, nurseries and riding schools backed by a reservoir. After a couple of miles I finally arrive at my destination. The Plough is a large one bar pub with plenty of benches outside. A wide range of food is advertised although none was available that Sunday night. Three beers were available and I had a pint of McMullens Millennium, a strongish bitter (5%).

Another mile north from here is Waltham Abbey, a small town with several McMullens pubs, which I described in an article about my Easter Monday crawl two years ago, but when I leave I head back south to Chingford Station. On the way back I try the Royal Oak in Sewardstone Road which is the secondmost northerly pub in the London postal districts. This is a small free house which was, and possibly still is, owned by Terry Venables. As well as Courage Directors on handpump it also sells Worthington White Shield so I have one to fortify me for the long walk back.

There is another Royal Oak in Chingford which is a two-bar McMullens pub with a traditional public bar with darts and a working bar billiards table. It is at the bottom of Kings Head Hill and is a lot nearer the station and other public transport links than the Plough. At the top of Kings Head Hill is a pub called the Kings Head. On checking the A-Z the next day I find that in walking from Woodford to the Plough and back to Chingford Station I covered over eight miles. Perhaps I should have taken the advice of the former M.P. for the area and cycled.

The next Tuesday is a fine day so I get the Gospel Oak line to Upper Holloway and then the Northern line to Mill Hill East. Mill Hill (NW7) has about ten pubs most of which are Allied. I head off in a north-westerly direction for a mainly uphill walk of about two miles to the northern end of the district where the built up area is finishing and the countryside begins. On the way I pass Mill Hill school which includes Denis Thatcher among its old boys. The walk ends at the Rising Sun, a small two-bar Allied pub which has the feel of a country pub. There are three real ales available and I have a pint of Young’s Ordinary which costs me £2. As I sit outside I hear a bell being rung so presumably they still shut for the afternoon.

Leaving the Rising Sun I head east through the countryside for another two mile walk into N20 Whetstone (N20). Just before the town centre is the Orange Tree, a large up-market pub with a heavy emphasis on food and wine. Two beers are available and I have a pint of London Pride which again costs me £2. Although it is mid-afternoon there are quite a few customers. An interesting touch is that the front and back pages of the days Daily Telegraph are stuck up in the gentlemens toilet. Enfield and Barnet branch have made it their pub of the year which I find slightly surprising. Although it is a good pub I would expect a little more from a branch pub of the year. However as I do not live in the area and this is my only visit is not really for me to criticise.

[ CORRECTION- Since I wrote this it has been pointed out to me that Enfield and Barnet Camra’s Pub of the Year is in fact the Orange Tree in N21 . My apologies for this error.]

After leaving the Orange Tree another half mile brings me to Totteridge and Whetstone tube station. As I have had enough walking I get the Northern Line tube to Tufnell Park. From here I head south into Holloway (N7) and to the Admiral Mann which is a small McMullens pub in a side street. Here I have the pleasant experience of a pint of McMullens Country and getting change from £2. The small front bar has a TV showing the days Cricket World Cup match and the larger back bar has a rings board although the landlady says it is hardly used.

From the Admiral Mann I head further south and get to Camden Road station and get a train to Dalston Kingsland station in Stoke Newington (N16). About a mile north of the station in Stoke Newington High Street is the Rochester Castle a large Wetherspoon pub with a conservatory at the back. A range of nine beers is available and I have one of the guests Brakspears Bee String which is a most interesting beer brewed with both wheat and honey. I would recommend the Castle as one of the best pubs in the area and one of the best Wetherspoons pubs I have been in. On the way back to the station I notice that several of the off-licences sell raki, a Turkish spirit, which is 50% ABV.

For the last pub of the day I get the train for one more stop to Hackney Central and walk into Homerton (E9). I remember drinking here in the eighties in the Chesham Arms ,a small free house.

While the pub is still pleasantly unchanged the beer range has declined to Courage Best which was in good condition but still a disappointment.

The next day I have to go to Romford which means I need an outer zone travelcard. When I leave Romford I get a train to Stratford and then get the Jubilee line to North Greenwich and walk down to Charlton. Before I can try a pub in Charlton I get to the station and a train to Abbey Wood (SE 2) is due. This is the most easterly postal district in London and has few pubs. I try the Harrow which is the most easterly pub but it has no real ale. Neither do the next two I try, the Abbey Arms and the Barchpole.

As I have not got the guide on me I am not sure where the other pubs in the district are so I head north to Thamesmead (SE 28) which is London’s newest postal district. It is a vast modern housing estate with only two pubs one of which, the Royal Arsenal, is closed and for sale. The only open pub is the Cutty Sark in the small shopping centre and the only real ale is Courage Best which is in poor condition. There is a separate area for darts with a large number of trophies.

For the next pub I get the bus back to Woolwich (SE 18) and visit the Prince Albert. This is a freehouse with a wide range of beers although only three are on at any one time. This ensures that the beer is always in good condition. The beer I have is Morlands Tanner Jack and the other two beers on are from the Flagship brewery in Chatham. The Prince Albert is sometimes called Rose’s after a previous owner to avoid confusion with another pub of the same name in Woolwich. The landlord is a Camra member and the pub is a regular entry in the Good Beer Guide. While finishing my pint I have the enjoyable experience of watching the Scotland football team lose to the Czech Republic.

To get back across the river I walk through the foot tunnel to North Woolwich (E 16) as the ferry has finished for the night. Unlike my visit to E 16 in February I manage to find a real ale pub this time. This is the Henley Arms a small two bar Bass pub with a mainly local clientele. One beer from the Bass range is served and currently it is Wadworth 6X. One interesting feature in the public bar is a sweet counter so if you fancy a Mars bar or a Crunchie with your pint this is the place for you.

The next week I have to pop up Central London to sort out my new job so I decide to go to the Catford beer festival afterwards. Before the festival I try the Crown in Lee (SE 12). This is a large Young’s pub with cricket on the television and I have a pint of Special to prepare myself for the festival.

On the longest day of the year, Jun 21st, I start my new job and after work I get the Bakerloo line out to Harlesden (NW 10). A couple of minutes south of the station is the Grand Junction Arms. This is a large Young’s pub on the banks of the Grand Union Canal. The front bar has two pool tables and acts as a public bar while the even larger back bar is the saloon bar. There is an extensive garden behind the pub with some steps down to the canal towpath so I take my pint of Special down and sit by the canal. There are several boats tied up so I imagine their crew are in the pub. The North London guide does warn of high levels of street crime in NW10 but in the two minute walk in broad daylight between the station and the pub and back I see nothing.