Tuesday 7th July 1998


A well trodden part of London especially by HASSRALE. This trip follows on from the Ludgate II jaunt, not unsurprisingly and starts out at Ludgate Circus which is by St Pauls Thameslink and Blackfriars Tube is just down New Bridge Street. As usual approximate leaving times are shown in [ ].


1. The Old King Lud - Ludgate Circus EC4 [18.45]

Brains Dark; Buckleys Bitter; Boddingtons Bitter and Mild; Wadworth 6X; Morland Old Speckled Hen; Brakspear Bitter; Gales HSB; Marston's Pedigree; Fullers London Pride; Adnams Regatta; The Reverend James plus numerous beers on stillage.

Last visited 4 years ago after the pub had been all but demolished during the Thameslink construction prior to being rebuilt and incorporated into a large office block, but still retaining much of its previous atmosphere. This has now become a Hogshead pub with one long bar on the left and 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. F On leaving, turn left up Ludgate Hill cross Old Bailey to find on the corner ...

2. All Bar One - 46/48 Ludgate Hill [19.30]

Bass; Fullers London Pride.

Very much in the café/winebar style (similar to Young’s new Columbia bar, but not as plush). It is rather like the interior of submarine or a ship’s hold, but with windows. There are exposed ventilation ducts as well as open external doors and whirling fans and also suspended light fittings from a very tall ceiling. The walls are bare and pastel coloured, the floor is stripped wood and the glazing is clear shop-window style. Poor acoustics were exacerbated by a useless sound system making the whole place clamerous. An intriguing monorail track for ferrying food orders to the kitchen was moving very slowly at the time of our visit. Not many people eating (but they may have been waiting since lunchtime) mostly wine and lager drinkers. Large railway clock dominated, apparently a hallmark of the pub chain. F Now retrace your steps to Ludgate Circus and attempt to cross to the diagonal corner, the junction of Fleet St and New Bridge St. Just back down the latter is ...

3. The Forster and Firkin - 2 New Bridge Street [20.15]

B’Ale (3.5%), Forster Bitter (4.3%), Incarceration (5%), Dogbolter (5.6%).

Formerly the Albion, this then became a Nicholson’s Inn, along with many others in the area, but retained its name. No longer a fishy-smelling establishment, this been revamped with a smaller bar counter and the usual large signs explaining where everything is in true Firkin style. Well air conditioned and the ubiquitous large projection screen TV no doubt in readiness for the World Cup football coverage. Food available in the evening, but the range seemed limited on the evening of the trial run. Not sure what the significance of Forster is, certainly the pump clips dwell on prison. F Back up to Fleet St then left to almost immediately find ...

4. The Punch Tavern - 99 Fleet Street [21.00]

Everards Tiger; Fullers London Pride; Bass; Wadworth 6X.

This old establishment is so called because the idea for the magazine Punch was conceived here. Recently re-opened after an acrimonious dispute over ownership of the premises which Bass/Nicholson’s seem to have won (in part). Remarkably it has retained its trade despite now being bisected. The Sam Smith’s half is redundant and all internal evidence of its existence has been hidden. The bar counter finishes just short of the wall built between the two "pubs". The Bass half contains the downstairs toilets, thus precluding Sam Smith’s ability to operate, so the half along St Brides Lane is sadly derelict. In an attempt to increase the internal space there is now an extra bar at the back, accessible only from the main one. It has a flat roof below the level of the glass embellishment of the original and must occupy part of some former premises along New Bridge St. F Now turn left along, cross St Brides Lane to find next door ...

5. The Old Bell - 97 Fleet Street [21.45]

Marstons Pedigree; Popes Bitter; Brakspears Bitter and Tetley Bitter.

A much-visited haunt for those working at Ray House and New Court in the past, this is another Nicholson’s Inn with a lengthy tradition of keeping reasonable beer. A previous landlady went to run the former Queens Head pub up near the Old Bailey, before she departed on her broomstick to pastures new. Many years ago the floor was carpeted accentuating its old and uneven surface, but now it is naked still exhibiting the upward slope to the back door. Seating is limited, mainly church pews and odd cheese-slice shaped stools.. At the rear is St Brides church separated by a narrow passageway which affords the option of standing outside if it is too busy or warm inside. F Well that concludes a fairly compact trip. On emerging from the Old Bell, Ludgate Circus is just up to the right. Buses travel East along Fleet St to Liverpool St or up New Bridge St to Farringdon and points North.

Back to 1998 Trips

Trial Details: Present Edmund & James Featherstone, John Wright.

Date: Tuesday 18th May 1998