Previous forays to Liverpool Street have been a Rail-Ale day from Harold Wood, a formal trip in January 1992 and a visit to the newly opened Weatherspoon's Hamilton Hall in 1994. On this basis we have possibly visited half of the pubs in those 3 trips, but nothing stays the same. Accessibility is via tube, mainline or if you're patient I suppose, bus. Almost opposite the station escalators on Bishopsgate is the first port of call. Approximate leaving times are shown in [ ].
1. Dirty Dicks - 202 Bishopsgate EC2 [18.30]
Youngs Winter Warmer, Special and Ordinary.
Formerly a Finch's pub that has become part of the Young's empire. It used to have a cellar bar (long gone), but it is now a bare-boarded woody pub with a half-depth upstairs gallery area described as Hobson's Restaurant. Presumably those who eat there are partial to horse-meat! The eponymous Dirty Dick does not seem to have been that salubrious a character either. This is a busy, popular establishment with a number of nooks and crannies in which to lurk although I suspect that standing may be the order of the day.¶ On leaving, turn right along Bishopsgate where a little further along on the corner of Folgate St is ...
2. The Woodins Shades - 212 Bishopsgate EC2 [19.15]
Fullers London Pride.
Situated on the corner of Folgate Street, a traditional pub with a large bar area that extends down to a lower level at the far end. Small stained-glass partitions punctuate the area near the large glass windows that form one side of the building. The usual feature of bare floorboards (can nobody afford carpet?). Unfortunately on the trial run the beer was not up to scratch, but this establishment has a generally good reputation in this respect and a subsequent visit by "Postal Drinker" endorsed this opinion. Anyway to reiterate the CAMRA maxim, if the beer is off then so are we!¶ Now retrace your steps along Bishopsgate past pub No.1 until the junction with Middlesex St. Turn left and up on the corner on the right as the road widens out is ....
3. The Shooting Star - Middlesex Street [20.00]
Fullers ESB, London Pride and Chiswick.
A recently opened venue for Fullers, following in their trend for converting former business premises (usually banks or insurance offices) into licenced establishments. It comprises two bars with one at (slightly above) ground level and the other downstairs. The steps to both these seem to have had a lot of wear in the past. The ground-floor bar is L-shaped and comfortably furnished and carpeted, although Fullers have attempted to cram in too many tables and seats. (They have succeeded in a way I suppose, but at the expense of people being able to navigate the place without disrupting others there). The bar counter is tucked away in the far corner and incorporates a food servery. Decor somewhat library-like.¶ From here it looks as though we should turm left down Sandys Row (on the trial run we took a detour via a pub so excruciating that even we wouldn't inflict it on HASSRALE!) then cut down into Artllery Row, where on the left is ...
4. Williams - Artillery Lane [20.45]
Wadworth 6X; Marston's Pedigree; Flowers IPA; Castle Eden (perhaps) and Boddingtons (unfortunately).
Visited by HASSRALE on the 1992 trip when it was called The Ship, it has now reverted to the name under which it was listed in the Real Beer In London guide (published 1981). Evidently still a Whitbread establishment (although previously we did persuade Dave Saffery to enter) it does not seemed to have changed much. It comprises two bars running parallel lengthways, each with its own entrance. They are separated by a brick-walled barrier with fireplace shaped apertures and also a full height opening connecting them. Quite busy, but not too noisy. ¶Now go down to the junction with Bishopsgate, turn left. If this looks familiar it is because this is the third time we've been along here. 3 or 4 turnings (one may be an alleyway) on the left is Devonshire Row. Turn left into this and further along on the left is ...
5. The Bull - 4 ~ 5 Devonshire Row [21.15]
Everards Tiger; Charles Wells Bombardier; Courage Best & Directors.
This is now a T&J Bernard house, (part of the same group who run the Rising Sun and the Jeremy Bentham in the Tottenham Court Road area), but there is no evidence in local beer guides of it having previously been a pub. Unhelpful main door which opens straight from the street, without a lobby and had a habit of clicking open against the latch allowing in the inclement weather (and customers). Bare wooden-boarded floor and a number of chalk-boards proclaiming the wares on sale. Loud 'background' music i.e. not controllable by customers (as with a juke-box).¶ Return to Bishopsgate where we could cross over and call in at the White Hart (121 Bishopsgate) although not visited on the trial run. However the intended last port of call is at the entrance to Liverpool Street station on the left i.e. ...
6. The Hamilton Hall - Liverpool Street Station [10.00+]
Courage Directors and Best plus guest beer(s).
This huge Wetherspoons pub should be no mystery to most HASSRALE members, nor indeed to any traveller heading east in need of fortification (or the free use of a toilet!). Converted from the ballroom of the Great Eastern Hotel, the remainder of which has been undergoing refurbishment and restoration to its former glory prior to re-opening. Large mirrored walls give an even bigger impression of space. There is an upstairs no-smoking area which is generally used for dining, but quite often is commandeered for Private Parties. Can get quite busy and the majority of the accommodation is perching or standing by high tables, although the overflow area is outside if you're hardy.
¶ Well that should be enough for anyone. Hopefully the journey home will not be a problem (barring strikes, transport failures, cancellations etc). As you can hardly avoid noticing, Liverpool Street mainline and Underground station is pretty close. Alternatively there are many buses in the vicinity.