Trips: Lower Farringdon
Date: Tuesday 4th September 2001
This is a relatively short trip but the beer was in good condition in all the pubs visited. We start this trip at Blackfriars underground station, using the
subway leave by exit 1 which brings you very close to the front door
of our first pub:
1. The Blackfriar - 174 Queen Victoria Street [18:00]
Art Nouveau establishment, recently visited at the start of the West
Smithfield trip (part II of which anon). The external seating may be
occupied depending on the weather, but the interior affords good
views of the elaborate marble, alabaster and ceiling designs produced
by H. Fuller Clark in 1903. Try the pointed seating area at the front
to gain maximum ventilation, otherwise the backroom grotto should
have some somewhat more gloomy seats (with nursery-rhyme themes).
Leaving here we walk up New Bridge Street to Ludgate Circus, dodging the
traffic to cross over Ludgate Hill we come to:
2. Old King Lud - Ludgate Circus [18:45]
London Pride; Adnam's Bitter; Greene King IPA.
London Pride, Boddingtons, Breakspears Bitter, Gales Hampshire Glory;
Hook Norton Old Hookey.
Back on our trip in November 1992, the HASSRALE
write-up described this as "sensitively rebuilt, the whole block
was redeveloped about a year ago. Large pub tucked under an office
block, lots of wooden floors, barrels, copper pipes (look up). Fair
amount of seating but can get busy.". There have been some
changes which resulted in the beer emphasis being supplanted by wine
bottle and alcopop displays. Never mind the beer still seems OK.
Down-market tables and chairs, but good air-conditioning. This is a
Hogshead pub and the beer selection seems to change quite frequently.
On our trial run it wasn't too busy and there was no problem getting
a table in the dimly lit but extensive back part of the bar.
We now need to take the crossing over Farringdon
Street, and a short walk north will take us to:
3. Hoop and Grapes - 80 Farringdon Street (opposite
Old Fleet Lane) [19:30]
Hall and Woodhouse Tanglefoot, Golden
Champion & Badger Best.
This used to be a Courage pub which was under threat of demolition
along with the rest of the area. It has been preserved in another
office block, but in common with the surrounding buildings it is an
absolute mish-mash of architecture, although there is a splendid
Dutch-style building dated 1886 diagonally opposite. The pub has a
rear courtyard seating area built on a former carpark, which in turn
covered a 15th Century graveyard. Inside there is an L-shaped bar
area with limited seating i.e. the occasional "bird-table",
plus of course the grave, (sorry, court) yard. There was some sort of
canvas covering over this outside area but it was fairly busy on our
visit. We ended up sitting outside the pub watching the traffic
zooming up and down Farringdon Street and being amused by the antics
of spiders playing in the hanging floral decorations.
Press on up Farringdon Street till you reach Cutter Street on your
left, turn down here then right into Shoe Lane, cross the road and
with any luck you should see the exterior of:
4. The City Retreat - 74 Shoe Lane [20:15]
Bitter, Special and Waggledance.
Formerly The Two Brewers then Dizzies, this is due in
September to celebrate its 10th anniversary of being a Young's pub.
Compact one bar establishment with an L-shaped interior. Quite
comfortable, but inclined to be warm so instead resort to the
external seats (beware the bench allows one to crack one's head
against the window-sill). Tends to have football on the TV inside the
pub which is another good reason for sitting outside.
We now have to keep moving north onto St Andrew street
which will lead us to Holborn Circus. We now have to take our life in
our hands and cross over this major road junction and attempt to
reach Hatton Garden. A short walk up Hatton Garden and a small
alleyway will appear (might be marked as Ely Court), walk down here
to our last pub.
5. Ye Olde Mitre Tavern - Ely Court EC1
Adnams Bitter, Tetley.
We have now moved from EC4 to EC1, but still within the catchment
area of by the venerable ELAC guide (1991) which suggests that
visitors should ask for the handout. Suffice to say that there
appears to be a tree growing in a case in the front bar (honestly!).
Both front and back bars are miniscule (cramped) although the
majority of people stand in the courtyard (which used to have
seating) or just perch in the alleyway.
Walking back to Holborn Circus you have three choices of tube station, walk
west along High Holborn for Chancery Lane, south down St Andrew St
back to Blackfriars station or east along Charterhouse street then
turn left onto Farringdon road, crossing over and turning right into
Cowcross street for Farringdon station.
Trial run Details:
Date Tuesday 14th August 2001
E Featherstone, J Featherstone, J Wright
Back to 2001 Trips