Wednesday 7th March 2001
Looking back through the records, this will be the third time that HASSRALE has conducted trips in this area. The first was a visit to Paddington/Maida Vale on 19th Feb 1982 (anybody remember that?) and the only other one dedicated to Paddington itself was still 11 years ago on 21st March 1990. So is the time ripe for another foray to this area? Well you will have to join us to find out. There are just five pubs on the crawl and each exhibits a different style rather like the make-up of the area and population there. The nearest transport is not unsurprisingly Paddington mainline and tube stations themselves, although there may be some stalwarts who wish to tackle the journey by bus (or on foot?). The first port of call is in the new station shopping complex at the far end i.e. towards the low number platforms. Use the further escalators (near Dixons) and go up to the second level. Approximate leaving times are denoted by [ ].
1. The Mad Bishop & Bear - The Lawns, Paddington Station concourse [18.30]
Fullers ESB, London Pride, Chiswick + Honeydew (3.8%) + guest beer.
A new pub in the shopping development incorporated into the re-vamped station. Overall the complex is a large chrome and glass construction although the pub has a mock-traditional interior in sharp contrast to the outside. It is at the uppermost level, shared with an Asian Fusion restaurant and a number of pigeons! It is sufficiently insulated from the station to retain its identity, although helpfully there are screens to inform customers of train departures and arrivals. There is no music, but the hubbub from the many drinkers makes up for this. Tiled and polished floor, reasonable pub-style furniture, not only chrome chairs and tables although there are a number of these in the external drinking area. This latter does not benefit from any natural daylight however, merely a view of the pigeons.
2. Sawyers Arms (Ale House) - 8 London Street [19.00]
Courage Directors and Best; Theakstonís Best.
A busy street-corner pub, built on one and a half levels. The bar is a few steps below street level and to the rear of the place, whereas the seating accommodation occupies the half of the area at the front. Decorated in "traditional" 1930ís style with a wood panelled interior including a ship-board ceiling. Comfortable/cosy, depending on your interpretation, but the limited space can make it somewhat cramped. ∂Continue along London St and a little farther down on the right is Ö
3. The Sussex Arms - 21 London Street [19.45]
Marstonís Pedigree; Friary Meux Bitter; Ansellís Bitter.
Formerly a two-bar establishment (there are still two entrances) now combined into one area with a lateral partition separating the majority of the drinking space at the front from the bar counter and cramped associated area at the back, where a number of the regulars are perched (on bar-stools, they are not all parrots). The plain glass frontage and fairly new embossed mirrors indicate that this establishment has undergone a recent refurbishment. There are four televisions in evidence (with provision for a projection screen which would drop down onto one the side tables were it to be used) and recognising the usual pub-goers requirement for football 7 nights a week these are likely to be in action. There is a small alcove to the rear on the left (near the loos) which accommodates several gaming machines. ∂ Exit to the right, continuing along London St to Sussex Gardens. Cross into Sussex Place, then right into Sussex Square. Traverse one side of this then cross into Bathurst St where down on the right is ...
4. The Archery Tavern - 4 Bathurst Street [20.15]
Hall & Woodhouse Tanglefoot, Badger Best; King & Barnes Sussex Bitter and Mild (also brewed now by Hall & Woodhouse).
Very much as per the 1986 write-up in the West London Beer Guide, which for those of you who have not memorised it states "A cosy wood-fronted pub with a mews entrance next to a working stables". These are still operational, but fortunately none of the products associated with such premises are detectable in the various brews sold in the pub. There are also "Many prints with archery connections on view Ö". It is no longer a free-house, but Hall & Woodhouse provide a good range of beers. Quite a large pub with an L-shaped drinking area, the right-hand side was once obviously a separate bar with its own entrance. Plenty of seating comprising tables, chairs and banquettes. There is background music, but overall this is a pleasant alternative to the crush of the brewery's other well-known (to HASSRALE) establishment, the Ship & Shovell in Craven Passage by Charing Cross station.∂ On leaving, return to Sussex Square, then make your way round two sides of it to Stanhope Terrace (heading north-east). As you approach Gloucester Square, on the right is Strathearn Place where on the corner is ...
5. The Victoria - 10a Strathearn Place [21.00]
Fullers ESB, London Pride, Chiswick and Honeydew (3.8%).
Formerly a Bass Charrington pub and now a Fullerís tied house. It is rather small and was somewhat dominated on the occasion of our trial visit by an immense cinema-screen sized projection TV at the far end (showing football, what else?). The bar counter is U-shaped and rather prominent, occupying as much room as that made available for the customers. The pub is long and narrow with the area connecting the front and the back (where the majority of the standing room is) only wide enough for a cramped passageway when anyone is standing at the bar itself. True to its name it has a Victorian interior and apparently the eponymous monarch did visit here according to the West London Beer Guide, although I expect that she did not have to elbow her way to the bar or be subjected to some inane football commentary blasting out from the other end of the pub. Also beware of an old bloke, presumably a regular, who thinks he owns the place including the furniture and his specific place at the bar. You can't miss him, he will be the one emptying sachets of brown sugar into his beer. Bring on the men in white coats!∂ Well thatís the end of the trip, so should you wish to return via the route by which you arrived i.e. Paddington Station, retrace your steps to Sussex Place then along until you reach Sussex Gardens. Straight back along London Street, then cross over Praed St and back into the station. Good luck and thank you for travelling HASSRALE.
Trial details: Edmund & James Featherstone, Paul Tiffany and John Wright on Weds 8th November 2000 and again, but minus Mr Tiffany on Weds 17th January 2001.