LUDGATE CIRCUS TRIP
Tuesday 24th May 1994
This trip visits an area that is likely to have a passing familiarity for a number of HASSRALE members, leading on directly from Fleet Street, the infamous "Street of Shame". Those that have not been through the area recently are likely to be surprised by the large amount of office development resulting from the demolition required to provide access to the Thameslink railway tunnel at Snow Hill. The itinerary centres on the Ludgate Circus and Ludgate Hill area, extending finally up to Holborn Viaduct. The nearest Underground stations are Blackfriars (District & Circle), St. Pauls (Central) or Farringdon (Metropolitan and Circle), alternatively buses run along either Fleet Street or New Bridge Street. The first port of call is right on the North-East corner of Ludgate Circus itself. Approximate leaving times are shown in [ ].
1. The Old King Lud - Ludgate Circus EC4 [18.30]
Whitbread Porter, Pompey Royal, Fremlins, Castle Eden, Boddingtons Bitter and Mild; Wadworth 6X; Morland Old Speckled Hen; Brakspear Bitter; Taylor's Landlord; Theakstons Old Peculier; Marston's Pedigree; Fullers London Pride; Gales HSB plus numerous beers on stillage e.g. Hall & Woodhouse Tanglefoot.
So much for the beers! A prime example of the development in the area, this pub was all but demolished during the Thameslink construction. It is now incorporated into a large office block, but still retains much of its previous atmosphere. One long bar (see above) on the left with a large bare-boarded drinking area. This extends to the rear, but not as far as when there was no office block there. Opens out to a pleasant curved frontage with tables outside now separated from the Circus due to the raised road development. Very popular with staff from the many surrounding offices so may get busy after 5.30 pm. The huge range of beer was all available on the evening of the trial and those sampled were in good condition. On leaving, turn left then immediately (when traffic permits!) cross Ludgate Hill and continue on up to take the next right. Follow this down (sorry this is rather vague, all the names have changed from those on the map). Not far along on the right by the makeshift carpark is ...
2. The Queens Heads - 31 Blackfriars Lane [19.15]
Adnams; Youngs Ordinary; Wadworth 6X; Greene King IPA; Greenall's Original; Allsops.
As you may gather from the directions much has changed round here. (Pilgrim St. and Apothecary St on the map no longer run through, and the Ludgate Cellars pub on the latter was demolished). Despite the attentions of the Luftwaffe and the more concerted efforts of the "developers", this building still survives, perched precariously on the edge of a bomb site. Even the guide Real Beer In London (1981) reckoned it was due for demolition! A Taylor Walker house, this was refurbished about four years ago (it needed it), but still retains a comfortable atmosphere. It centres on a single horse-shoe shaped bar with the majority of the seating placed around it. Not unduly busy on the trial run, but you may need a shooting stick to lean on. Retrace your steps along Blackfriars Lane or whatever it is called, cross Ludgate Hill again, turn right across the bottom of Old Bailey and up on the left is ...
3. Ye Olde London - 43 Ludgate Hill EC4 [20.00]
Theakston's Old Peculier and Best Bitter.
Probable former site of a debtor's prison. Very "woody" two bar pub with a carvery downstairs. The upper i.e. ground floor bar is divided by wood and glass screens. There is a raised dais at the front centring on a classical style statue. The swivel chairs are not as well oiled as some customers. Plusher accommodation downstairs, but rather busier. From here exit left then walk along Old Bailey (avoiding the Rumboe which has no redeeming features at all). Cross at the junctio with Seacoal Lane and just up on the left is ...
4. The Magpie and Stump - 18 Old Bailey EC4 [20.45]
Bass, Worthington Best; Fuller's London Pride; Hancock's HB.
Another ex-demolition job, indeed Fleet Lane and the excellent George pub have disappeared completely. The original premises were 1930's mock-Tudor, but now it has no pretensions. A modern facade (base of an office block again) with a restaurant downstairs, the main bar on the first floor and a function room upstairs. Art Deco style with a sizeable seating area offering comfortable accommodation. In its previous guise this used to be a regular rendez-vous for The Curry Club's meetings, but sadly no more. Now turn left up to the traffic light junction with Holborn Viaduct and Newgate Street, on the North-East corner of which is ...
5. The Viaduct Tavern - 126 Newgate Street EC1 [21.30]
Ind Coope Burton; Tetley Bitter; Greene King IPA.
Normally a quiet establishment. Situated next door to a GPO sorting office and also handy (I have found) for those emerging from nearby jury service. A basic one-bar pub with a U-shaped bar counter replicating the shape of the exterior. Limited accommodation (a number of pillars in the way, that's my excuse) which can become very limited if one of the local city walk groups arrive. Apparently the pub is on the site of Newgate Prison cellars, unfortunately no longer available for incarcerating foreign tourists. Now turn left along Giltspur Street past the ambulance entrance, then cross over to find ...
6. The White Hart EC1 - 7 Giltspur Street [22.15 or whenever]
Worthington Best; Fuller's London Pride; Hancock's HB.
Handily almost opposite Barts Hospital, this is a pleasant narrow-frontage pub with an upstairs "bar" which is actually a restaurant. The main bar is woody, traditional and unspoilt although it is lit by imitation oil lamps. Seems to be off the beaten track, but quite convivial. Er, that's it! City Thameslink is across the main road, otherwise retrace your steps (more directly) to your arrival station or bus stop etc of your choice.
Trial run Tues 26th April 1994; Surveyors - John Wright (scribe), Edmund Featherstone & John Carter.
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