As you will deduce from the title, this trip was conceived to coincide with opening of the new footbridge across the River Thames. The much publicised failure of the "wobbly" bridge and the subsequent lengthy correction of the inadequate damping have delayed HASSRALE's attempt to conduct a visit, but at last here it is and if you detect the bridge swaying it will down to prior imbibing rather than structural instability! Blackfriars tube and mainline stations are closest to the start. Emerge the north side of Queen Victoria St then head east to St Andrews Hill and turn left where up on the left is our first port of call. Approximate leaving times are shown in [ ].
1. The Cockpit - 7 St Andrews Hill EC4 [18:00]]
Marston's Pedigree; Courage Best & Directors.
One-bar pub with a curved bar counter at one end and the drinking area at the front down two steps. Comfortable with banquette seating around the edge. It used to have the Observer newspaper's offices nearby (now co-located with the Guardian's on Farringdon Rd), but this source of clientele has been partially replaced by local office workers. However not as busy now as other pubs in the vicinity. Judging by the look of the interior it has not been redecorated in HASSRALE's lifetime. Note the shove-ha'penny board bolted vertically to the wall. Also beware that access to the toilets is either a steep descent to the Gents or a slightly less steep ascent to the Ladies.
Exit to the right past Shaw's Booksellers (visited on the trial, but discarded since it is more like a crowded wine-bar than a pub). Farther down on the left is ...
2. The Goose at The Castle - 148 Queen Victoria St [18:45]
Morlands (Greene King?) Old Speckled Hen; Fullers London Pride; Gales Jubilee Ale (4.5% & £1.75 per pint); Bass (£1.55); Highgate Bitter (3.5%); Tetley Bitter (£1.35).
Formerly the Baynard Castle, this has undergone extensive refurbishment and now provides drinking areas on three levels. The upper two are non-smoking (where do they expect the ground floor smoke to go?), but the ground floor is where the bar counter resides. This latter is the busy part, but upstairs there is plenty of seating. Huge clear windows illuminate all three levels, affording excellent views of the building site next door. There is a food menu and special offers for diners who like keg drinks with their bangers and mash.
So now for the bridge. Leave the pub by the front exit and turn left along Queen Victoria St. Keep going until you are level with the steps up to St Pauls churchyard then cross the road and proceed south between the gap in the buildings, to find the Millennium Bridge directly ahead. Traverse this towards Tate Modern, then descend to the riverside walkway and head east under Southwark Bridge and a little farther along is ...
3. The Anchor - 1 Bankside SE1 [19:30]
Courage Directors and Best; Wadworth 6X.
Also very recently re-opened after a cosmetic refurbishment. Presumably the venerable nature of the place precludes any structural changes, hence the internal layout has been preserved. There are a number of inter-connected bars with a labyrinth of corridors. Beware that many of them do not serve real ale, but these are unlikely to be staffed anyway. The "proper" bars are adjacent to the riverside walkway and also have extensive (and busy) seating areas, but no doubt HASSRALE's famous "flying wedge" will find accommodation. There is a restaurant upstairs and more tables etc outside (with overhead gas heaters) and possibly still a garden area through the pergola.
As we are now "sarf of the river, guv", the opportunity presents itself to revisit Borough Market, so continue east under the next railway arch, then round the harbour and through the precincts of Southwark Cathedral. We omitted the Mudlark since it was busy & smoky so walk through to the right towards the market to encounter the ...
4. The Globe - 8 Bedale Street [20:15]
Fullers London Pride; Adnams Bitter; Youngs Ordinary.
Excellent one-bar pub just on the periphery of Borough Market again within sight of Southwark Cathedral. The U-shaped exterior is matched by a U-shaped bar counter. There are etched glass windows containing the Globe symbol, bare floor-boards and the seating mainly comprises bar stools round the walls adjacent to the shelving where drinks can be perched. At the "public bar" end there is a dart board underneath which there is a cluster of low-level seats (brinkmanship?).
From here head on through the centre of the market towards Stoney St. Directly opposite you will find...
5. The Wheatsheaf Stoney Street [20:45]
Youngs Special, Ordinary/Bitter and Waggledance.
Those of you who have been following the fate of this establishment in London Drinker (or who observed it first hand) will be aware that it has been closed for several months. The previous owner/tenant/manager absconded and only when the financial mess had been resolved could Youngs purchase the pub. Needless to say the range of beers from this former free-house has been replaced by the brewery's repertoire, but at least the place has re-opened. Same narrow two-bar layout as before with limited seating and bare-boards, but now these are shiney and modern as is the new lighting. There is still the communal area at the far end which has a dartboard (in use on the trial run) and games machines, linking the two bars. Inevitably wine and lager drinkers now predominate, but the beers were all in good condition.
Since we are so close it would be churlish not to visit the pub just up Stoney St to the left which is ..
6. The Market Porter - Stoney Street [21:15]
A continuously varying range of beers (actually true, but the survey team were in no position to record the details anyway).
This is a regular entry in the GBG (Good Beer Guide). Extensive street-corner premises encompass two main bars, with a smaller snug just to the right of the main entrance. The bar area continues around to the back bar which has a dartboard and replicates the old-fashioned tables and chairs ( ye olde inne style) of the rest of the pub. Beware this hostelry often hosts players/supporters from rugby clubs who are not necessarily just rowdy, but tend to drain the available repertoire of beers. On the other hand if you've made it this far I doubt that you will worry too much!
Retrace your steps back down Stoney St to the main road. Turn left and farther along Borough High St on the left is ...
7. The Barrowboy and Banker - London Bridge [22:00 or whenever]
Fullers ESB, London Pride and Chiswick Bitter & Honeydew.
Only included for those who were heading north anyway and/or are still thirsty. By now the itinerary can be adjusted to accommodate those still upright anyway. Visited before by HASSRALE this is another of Fuller's conversions from a former bank. This was a NatWest that now provides a different form of life-support. As similar ex-bank developments this is a vast establishment with a very high, chandelier-festooned ceiling. There are large painted murals and a huge sweeping staircase which is an obvious replacement and partitions off the left-hand seating area.
Well that's it! London Bridge mainline, tube and bus stations are across the road, while Monument tube and Fenchurch mainline stations are over the bridge.
Trial details: Edmund & James Featherstone, John Wright on Weds 6th March & Weds 1st May 2002.