Hassrale Trips: Maundy Thursday 2006

Date: Thursday April 13th 2006

Another year passes, but it would appear that this pre-Easter trip IS the first HASSRALE event of 2006. As usual the committee set out on a formal trial run, but for a change actually visited some of the pubs not reviewed for up to two years (since not even achieved on the 2005 “real trip”). This year we have decided to return to adopting the Hole in the Wall as the first venue. It is likely that some members will be also going to the Duke of Sussex (and possibly not moving much further). We are not sure what if any rival attractions this alternative route may offer, but as before in order to keep up with the itinerant group contact via mobile 'phone will be necessary. As always approximate leaving times are shown in [ ]. The first port of call is just to the east of Waterloo station overlooked by the main Victory Arch entrance. Alternatively if arriving by tube exit onto Waterloo Road then turn left up Mepham Street to find the pub on the right (past the currently closed-off exit 4 from the mainline station concourse). That's the end of any instructions so those unfamiliar with the location of subsequent pubs will have to resort to an A-Z.

1.The Hole in the Wall - 5 Mepham Street SE1 [14:00]
Beers: Adnams Bitter & Broadside; Battersea Bitter; Youngs Ordinary & Special + others.

As mentioned above this has been re-instated on the itinerary not necessarily at the expense of the Duke of Sussex, but to visit both will entail some juggling of the schedule. Usually this is the last venue on our Christmas trip, so it may be a new experience to see it in daylight. This is a large two-bar pub right under the railway viaduct and near to Waterloo Station's Victory Arch. Beers are generally in good condition. The rear bar features solid wooden bench seating along the back and has a juke-box, a large plasma screen (replacing the ancient projection screen TV) and several gaming machines, while the front bar is less noisy (no juke-box) and has upholstered bench seating, but is rather smaller. It has small-paned windows overlooking the road although the main view is likely to be of parked buses.

2. The Kings Arms - Roupell Street [14:30]
Beers: Adnams Bitter; Brakspears; Marstons Pedigree; Tetley Bitter.

A regular on the trip, but once again this is the preferred second pub since neither the Wellington nor the White Hart merit inclusion, the former is very noisy and the latter often over-crowded. The committee did not visit this on the trial, but it is unlikely that any changes have occurred since the last Christmas trip including the reported beer range. It comprises two bars separated by a period (1930's?) screen, with the saloon to the left and a narrow "public" to the right. Both lead, via a short connecting corridor, to the rear covered courtyard which has large tables reminiscent of a school dining hall and is usually just as hectic. Should you wish to partake, the menu favours Thai food. The 1981 Real Beer in London (RBIL) Guide enigmatically mentions piano and spoons on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, sadly no more we assume.

3. The Mulberry Bush - 89 Upperground [15:30]
Beers: Youngs Special, Ordinary and St Georges Ale (4.5%).

This was visited on the trial and proved not to have altered since we last went in 2004. It is a very busy modern pub in the Coin Street development with the front open in summer (which could be today) and populated mainly by South Bank TV employees. There is a slightly quieter back area, which is non-smoking and doubles as a dining area, but has a glass roof that can make it rather warm on a sunny day (perhaps summer won't put in an appearance just yet though). Stylish interior and as mentioned food is prominent.

4. The Rose and Crown - 47 Colombo Street [16:30]
Beers: Shepherd Neame Masterbrew, Spitfire and Early Bird.

By mutual consent, in 2004 this was promoted to an earlier time slot so that those of us who wish to sit outside could avail ourselves of the weather (bring your umbrellas), however the dalliance that resulted in very few visiting that year was replicated in 2005 when only a handful made it and that was at about 5pm. We will do better this time. Not visited on our trial (this pub doesn't do too well by HASSRALE and beware it closes at weekends too), but experience has proved that available inside seating can be limited. In addition there are the tables outside in the garden by the precinct of the church. There is also an upstairs bar, but generally open only for lunchtime diners.

5. The Stamford Arms - Stamford Street [17:00]
Beers: Harveys Sussex Best; Grand Union Special + 2 other handpumps (with clips obscured).

Not visited in 2005 on either the trial or even the main trip, but you will be pleased to know that it is still in operation. Fairly large corner pub with wooden floorboards and background music. The layout is as before i.e. an L-shaped area at the front opening out to a rear room with a pool table. Football on the TV, not always one presumes, but don't bet on it. There is an upstairs drinking area which is now accessed using conventional stairs which have replaced the spiral staircase. Food served until 8pm apparently. Can get busy in the afternoons, but there are picnic-tables outside (no longer just wrought iron chairs etc) for those who enjoy watching the world (and traffic) go by. Oddly it is described as a Smoking Pub (no designated no-smoking area).

6. The Mad Hatter Hotel - 3~7 Stamford Street SE1 9NT [17:45]
Beers: Fullers ESB, London Pride, Chiswick and Discovery + seasonal London Porter (5.4%) on the trial, but Gales HSB from 3rd April).

Large Fullers pub and hotel in former Midland bank premises on the corner of Stamford St and Blackfriars Rd. It can get very busy, but the seating area extends right through to the back. On the trial this once again proved to be an excellent comfortable venue. The beer as always for Fullers houses was in good condition and both the trial and main trip coincide with a mini-festival which also includes beers from the Gales range (as Fullers now own the company, although the brewery's future is in doubt). This festival is merely three beers in rotation each for a 3 week duration. Seating in the front bar incorporates a number of booths above each of which is a display case of what appear to be hats for people with rather small heads. This area can be very busy and populated by customers reluctant to return to their offices after lunch. If this is the case then as on previous years it is recommended that you head straight for the tables at the back.

7. The Prince William Henry - 217 Blackfriars Road [18:30]
Beers: Youngs Special, Ordinary and St Georges Ale.

Once again last year the previous pub proved to be the nemesis for nearly everybody on the trip. In the event just two made it this far, but this time we had only arrived at 8pm (note the time-slip). It does not boast much seating, aside from mainly standing perches at the front. There are a few seats in the raised area to the left, but fortunately nearly everybody had gone home. Alternatively there are bench tables on the forecourt, for the hardy with nocturnal vision, although this year with BST already in operation supreme eyesight should not be necessary especially if the timetable is adhered to (some hope)!. This pub also proved to be the final port of call in 2005, but it is only a short distance (to the left) to the final one, where the return travel instructions connect. For those that persevere, the following description is actually from this year's research, but our trial was done in reverse so we encountered it first..

8. The Ring - 72 Blackfriars Road [19:15 or whenever]
Beers: Greene King IPA; Fullers London Pride.

Included on many a HASSRALE trip, notably the starting point for the Christmas perambulations. Famous one-bar pub built on the site of the former boxing venue destroyed during the Blitz. The pub is festooned with photographs of former boxers, but it is not certain whether there is still a training ring upstairs. It underwent an internal refurbishment subsequent to its closure prior to the 2002 Maundy Thursday trip. You will also notice that above the hubbub of the customers chatter there is distinct background music from the video screen (MTV). Always busy at this time of the day, but there are plenty of seats at the picnic-tables outside! Despite the paucity of seats and cramped nature of the place, each table displays an extensive thai-food menu under the brand Bamboo. Hardly the venue for a quiet oriental dining experience! At this point we are at the corner of The Cut opposite Southwark tube station (Jubilee Line). However those heading back towards Waterloo Station who have cast-iron internal organs may wish to call in at the Anchor and Hope (still trading as a gastropub) or perhaps the Windmill (also with a Thai menu). For an update on these, see the Xmas 2005 trip itinerary. Hopefully see you all at some stage and have a pleasant Easter.

Survey details: Edmund & James Featherstone and John Wright on Weds 29th March 2006.

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