Hassrale Trips: Kingsway II

Date: Wednesday 1st July 1998



An excuse to try some new pubs in the WC2 area and also revisit two others that have figured in previous jaunts (one probably 10 years ago!). We start on Fleet St near its junction with The Aldwych, so aside from the buses that ply the area, Temple Tube provides access after a walk up Arundel St to the South side of Aldwych. Just past the Royal Courts of Justice i.e. to the East of Bell Yard is ...

1. Old Bank of England - Fleet Street EC4 [18.45]

Fullers Chiswick, London Pride, ESB, Honey Ale (Seasonal Brew).

Large imposing building, former bank premises. Ornate interior, very high ceiling with elaborate detail. Central island bar. Upper balcony area with extra seating plus a number of extra rooms off the main bar, these are usually reserved for private parties. Toilets are a fair climb upstairs. This is one of Fullers Ale and Pie chain so it does cater for those who wish for food. The beer has always been in good condition on HASSRALE visits. Very busy, some tourists but mainly suits and legal types from chambers across the road.

Exit from here turn West round the Aldwych to ...

2. Columbia Bar - 69 Aldwych (Corner of Houghton St.) [19.30]

Youngs Bitter, Special, Dirty Dicks, Double Chocolate (on keg).

This is a foray by Young's into the Continental Bar style. Very new and stylish, bar upstairs has lots of glass, chrome and stainless steel. Modern (minimalist) with exposed cabling, girders, ventilation pipes (hence the air-conditioning) and odd light fittings. Bar snacks available. In the Columbia Vault downstairs they were offering £1 off a four pint jug of any Youngs beer. The decor downstairs was starker with bare brickwork and even more pipework visible below the ceiling. Good range of wine and bottled beers (obviously mainly from the Young's range). Young smart clientele (all from Andersen Consulting). Very few drinking the real ale, even though the beer was in good condition. Orange juice was all freshly squeezed by a machine on the bar. Very good range of spirits though only a few were on optics. Upstairs bar is much busier than the Vault bar but the latter is only open 12-3 and 5.30-11pm. A notice outside says that breakfast is served between 7.30 and 10 in the morning. Toilets are in the downstairs bar area.

Up past the LSE into Clare Market, then across Portugal St to ...

3. Ye Olde White Horse - 2 St Clements Lane WC2 [20.15]

Flowers Original, Brakspear's Special, Boddingtons Bitter

Compact one-bar pub near te London School of Economics maybe familiar to those who have worked in the New Court area. Apparently it used to comprise 3 Bars and even more inredibly boasted just one urinal as the entire toilet facilities (I can vouch for the latter). The majority of seating is on the periphery and consists of bar stools (as it's very narrow). The only table is in the window bay although in the summer, tables reside outside. Has a pleasant ``locals'' feel to it, but this may be due in part to the board outside that dispays the phrase ``No Students''. So much for subtlety! It may shut at 8 pm or whenever the management decide to call it a day. Small black pub cat investigated us. Toilets are now downstairs. Background music, but fairly quiet. Raised dais at the back of the pub.

Out towards Lincolns Inn Fields. Walk along the West side then cross Remnant St to Twyford Place. Along here 9ois the side entrance to ...

4. Shakespears Head - 64-78 Kingsway [21.00]

Courage Directors, Theakstons Best, Fullers London Pride, Hopback Summer Lightning (£2.30), Sundance (5%).

Another recent Wetherspoon's conversion, this is situated on the ground floor of Africa House. Very long pub which stretches all the way from Kingsway where the main entrance is to LittleTurnstile, you can walk the length of the pub along Twyford Place. Very busy on our visit but we still managed to get seats. As with all Wetherspoon's, very strong on food. Large non-smoking area at the back of the pub. Nice black and white tiling for most of the length of the bar which turns to carpeting at the end section. Toilets on the ground level (for once).

Exit back the way we came in then walk along Whetsone Park, turn left into Great Turnstile and right onto High Holborn to find on the corner ...

5. Penderel's Oak - 283-287 High Holborn [22.00]

Boddingtons, Courage Directors, Fullers London Pride, Morrells dark mild, Cains Bitter

Another recent Wetherspoons conversion, large pub with lots of stripped pine. This building used to be Penderel House as occupied by the Inland Revenue and also by the London Weather Centre. Another extensive (and no doubt expensive) modification of a non-pub set of premses that snakes through from Great Turnstile to a pseudo hotel reception area in the no-smoking area. Strong smell of food pervaded the area that I was sitting in. The acorn theme constantly recurs in the pub decor. Downstairs cellar bar, large and mostly empty on visit. Toilets which are downstairs need to be viewed, urinals are arranged round a central, illuminated column (presumably in the Gents only).

Well that's it! From here turn left along to Kingsway Underground station, now is that why the trip is so called?.


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