Hassrale 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]
Fullers London Pride; Adnam's Bitter; Greene King IPA.

Famous 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]
Fullers 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]
Youngs 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
Burton, 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
Present: E Featherstone, J Featherstone, J Wright

Back to 2001 Trips