GIPSY HILL & CRYSTAL PALACE TRIP
Tuesday 14th March 1995
This is an area previously tackled by HASSRALE over five years ago (9/10/89), however it was one of those trips that had the distinction of attracting fewer attendees on the event itself than on the trial run. (The retrial had two, so who knows?). Gipsy Hill was a gipsy encampment within the then Great North Wood, now Norwood. It borders Crystal Palace where the air is more rarified i.e. everything seems uphill. Trains to Gipsy Hill station run from Victoria at 17.07, 17.22 and 17.37 taking 21 minutes. Alternatively from London Bridge at 17.18, 17.26 (change at Norwood Junction) and 17.46 taking about the same time. On emerging from the station the first port of call is just up the hill on the right on the same side of the road. Approximate leaving times are shown in [ ].
1. The Gipsy Hill Tavern - 79 Gipsy Hill SE19 [18.30]
Courage Directors and Best.
Persevere at gaining entry as the Public Bar (nearer) doors may be locked, if so use the Saloon Bar entrance further up. A large late Victorian pub with three interconnected bar areas radiating from the central counter. Seems popular even in the early evening although there should be sufficient accommodation for our party (see above). Comfortable interior relatively untampered with, certainly since 1989 anyway. On leaving we will need to continue on up to the right and also to cross Gipsy Hill at some stage, probably opposite the tantalisingly aromatic fish and chip shop (recommended). Take the second turning on the left, then down on the right is ...
2. The Railway Bell - 14 Cawnpore Street [19.15]
Youngs Bitter, Special and Winter Warmer.
This was the London Evening Standard's first ever Pub of the Year, back in 1981. Always popular it has retained its attraction. It has a fairly compact U-shaped bar which has recently received another refurbishment with new carpeting and the replacement of the original bench-style seats with individual tables and chairs. There is a darts area at on end of the "U" and a raised area sometimes used for dining at the other end. In addition there is a "garden" seating area which has now been covered in against the elements. A notice referring to their telephone answering service is above the bar. Leave the pub and turn left back to Gipsy Hill. Turn left, steel yourself and continue on up the hill (possibly by now regretting having taken on extra ballast, you will also now realise why the traffic moves slowly). After a short eternity you will reach the cross-roads, then turn left into Westow Hill where a little way down on the left is ...
3. The Queen's Arms - 23 Westow Hill [20.00]
Bass; Boddingtons Bitter; Websters Green Label.
Formerly a free house this is now a "Magic Pub Co." establishment i.e. ex-Chef & Brewer now owned by Michael Cannon (ex-Devenish boss). It comprises one long bar area dominated at the far end by a pool table. It was considerably less busy than on previous visits with plenty of seating. Live music at the weekend, but not Thursday thankfully! Now continue along to the left and at some stage cross Westow Hill. At the far end by the roundabout which leads to Crystal Palace Parade and Anerley Hill on the right is ...
4. The Cambridge - 2 Church Road [20.45]
Courage Best and Directors; Ruddles Best.
Sizeable one-bar pub (no, the 2nd bar is a mirror) with an extensive seating area most of which was unoccupied on the trial. As on the previous trip the walls are festooned with rugby rosettes and numerous photos of the Crystal Palace both before and after the disastrous fire on 30th November 1936. Now turn left back along Westow Hill where a little way along on the left is ...
5. The Royal Albert - 42 Westow Hill [21.30]
Bass; London Pride.
Two-bar hostelry with a small, basic public bar at the front and a larger, better appointed saloon bar accessed via an entrance down the side on the right. Popular place, a former Good Beer Guide entry with a traditional feel to it. Pub games include crib and shove ha'penny. Sadly the jug collection which used to hang from hooks in the ceiling has now gone. From here you have a choice. The previous trip's sixth pub was The Holly Bush, but this is now a busy karaoke bar so for those heading back to Central London follow directions for pub no. 6. Alternatively some way wish to return from Crystal Palace Parade, in which case retrace your steps to number 4 where on the opposite side of Westow Hill is The White Swan serving Bass & Charrington IPA. The Parade is then along to the left. OTHERWISE turn left down to the crossroads again, cross back to Gipsy Hill and follow down on the right past the station where on the right near Colby Street is ...
6. The Colby Arms - 132 Gipsy Hill [22.15 or whenever]
Two-bar pub that appears to have remained untouched for several years. It has a small front bar (public) which is slightly basic and a saloon bar to the rear, rather cosier. Also has etched windows of note. Handy for the station. Now fall out of the establishment and diagonally opposite is Gipsy Hill station of course with trains back to Victoria at 21.31 22.01 etc. Good luck!
Survey details: Trial run Thurs 24th October 1994; participants - John Wright & Edmund Featherstone.
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