Hassrale Trips: Farringdon III

Date: Tuesday 11th June 2002

As with most areas of London, the boundaries are somewhat elastic, but this trip sticks fairly well to the definition of Farringdon rather than straying into adjacent Clerkenwell or Holborn. Obviously there have been a number of previous HASSRALE visits nearby and in fact "Farringdon II" (1/4/98) replicated some of the pubs, whereas "Farringdon Again" (1/8/94) which was the last in a trilogy starting at Blackfriars, Farringdon Tube Stn (Oct '87) and the No. 63 Bus trip (Sep '83) may have duplicated some pubs, but were too far ago to be topical. Start from Farringdon Station and turn right or arrive at the junction of Farringdon Road and Greville St. At this point you will be outside the first venue (with the entrance on the north side of Greville St). Approximate leaving times are shown in [ ].

1. Sir John Oldcastle - 29 ~ 35 Farringdon Rd EC1 [18.30]
Fullers London Pride, Courage Directors, Hopback Summer Lightning, Theakstons Best plus guest beers.

Large Wetherspoon's establishment that is one of the most popular in the vicinity. When it opened it seemed fairly expensive with London Pride @ £2.10, but now most of the beers are cheaper 4 years on! Substantial L-shaped bar with associated drinking area which has the usual tables designated for non-smokers. Note that all JDW’s pubs now have "children's areas" which permit their admission to dine with accompanying adults, but only up to 18:30. Anyway this is a good starting point. ¶ Back past Farringdon Stn then turn left up Turnmill St, cross over and enter Benjamin St on the right. At the junction with Britton St turn left and just up on the right is ...

2. The Jerusalem Tavern - 52 Britton St [19.15]
Fruit Beer (4.7%), Honey Porter, Golden and Best Bitter.

Small one bar pub with bare boards and a good range of beers provided by the St Peter's Brewery which owns the place. The company also owns Plymouth Gin and Caleys (of Norwich) chocolate factory. Now seems busy all the time especially due to the limited interior accommodation which accounts for the cliquey, but convivial atmosphere. For the hardy there are a couple of tables outside, which the survey team used despite the chilly weather (no room inside)! No longer has candles burning in the front windows or on the tables, presumably due to inevitable problems with fire regulations. ¶ Exit to the right and return to the top of the road then endeavour to cross Clerkenwell Rd and head left across the entrance to Clerkenwell Green and turn into Farringdon St where about 100 yards up on the right is ...

3. The City Pride - 28 Farringdon Street [20.00]
Fullers ESB, London Pride, Chiswick, Honeydew.

Certainly this has figured on previous HASSRALE itineraries and not only under its current name since it was formerly a Toby pub called The White Horse (or was it White Swan? Earlier circulars conflict over its name). It used to have a propensity to flood due to the position/poor street drainage, but hopefully this has now been corrected; well worth a visit. The left-hand bar mainly just has standing room around "bird tables", but the right-hand bar in what was once a newsagents has proper seating and opening front french-windows. ¶ Eixt to the right up Farringdon Lane past Peartree Ct and also the back of pub number 5 (see later). Continue past the Guardian building and take the next right into Bowling Green Lane. Up on the left past the NCP on the corner is ...

4.The Surprise - 32 Bowling Green Lane EC1 [20:15]
Brakspear's Bitter; Conniston Bluebird (contract brewed by Brakspears). Fullers London Pride; Adnams Bitter; Youngs Ordinary.

This has now been taken over by Brakspears and overall has had more renamings than a stray dog. It has now reverted to the last name but one and its previous incarnation was as The Little Litten (Surrey Free Inns), so before that it was in reverse order The Surprise, Charlottes and (initially?) the Harlem Yacht Club! One bar pub, separated into several areas, the main part by the counter has stools and tables off to the left, but for comfort one should migrate to the right then hrough to the back area where the plusher accommodation is to be found. This also has a raised area to the left up a couple of steps. Purportedly food is served all day, but not sure about the evening. ¶ From here return to the junction with Farringdon Rd and turn left. Where it splits with Farringdon Lane, the final pub is to be found ...

5.The Betsey Trotwood - 56 Farringdon Road [20:45]
Shepherd Neame Bishops Finger (5.4%), Spitfire & Masterbrew.

Many years ago this was the Butchers Arms, but it was renamed after the character in Dickens’ David Copperfield. No doubt another pub stumbled upon by many of you, possibly on the August 1994 HASSRALE trip. Apart from some redecoration and the replacement of the bar counter it will therefore be familiar. Its odd triangular shape affords limited room inside although there may be seats outside on the area between Farringdon Road and Lane). Apparently there is a wine bar downstairs, but this is open only rarely. The interior is all bare floorboards and wooden furniture. Uncannily the pub's website has an outward link to HASSRALE.

Only five pubs this time, but hopefully all enjoyable. From here return down Farringdon Road or Farringdon Lane and Turnmill St, (crossing Clerkenwell Rd) until Cowcross St to find the tube & mainline stations. Alternatively buses ply the routes along Farringdon Rd.

Trial details: Edmund & James Featherstone, John Wright on Tues 26th March 2002.
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