yet another year passes, with this pre-Easter trip being the first HASSRALE event of the year For the second year running the committee set out on a formal trial run and actually visited some of the pubs on the actual trip (although not necessarily in the proper running order). Once again we have decided to adopt the Hole in the Wall as the first venue and rumour has it that the rival trip is also meeting up there. Anyway for those that will not be moving much farther we may return. In order to keep up with the itinerant/HASSRALE 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 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; Twickenham Crane Sundancer (3.7%); Youngs Ordinary; Everard's Tiger; Shepherd Neame Spitfire.
As mentioned above this has been retained on the itinerary to ensure that we all meet up at least at the start! 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 bendy-buses. Generally not very busy at lunchtimes although there is a good food counter serving both hot and cold snacks. Currently Twickenham replaces the Battersea Brewery due to the latter's brewer being incapacitated.
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 Christmas trip including the reported beer range. N.B. For those looking for the Christmas 2006 circular on the website, apologies as I haven't quite finished it yet. The front comprises two compact 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 Waggledance (5%); Charles Wells Bombardier.
This was visited on the trial and proved not to have altered since we last went in 2006 apart from the products now being brewed in Bedford following the Wells-Youngs merger. It is a very busy modern pub in the Coin Street development with the front open in summer although last year's windy, overcast weather precluded this. Generally busy due to being populated by employees of the various premises nearby including the South Bank ITV studios. 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. Stylish interior and as mentioned food is prominent, but the proper dining area is upstairs with a special balcony table for those who wish to combine a discreet intimate meal with a Nuremberg rally speech.
4. The Rose and Crown - 47 Colombo Street [16:30]
Beers: Shepherd Neame Masterbrew, Spitfire and Early Bird.
In 2004 and 2005 this was promoted to an earlier time slot so that those of us who wish to sit outside could avail ourselves of the weather, the usual dalliance resulted in very few visiting even by 5pm. Last year although on the itinerary it was omitted altogether due to late running. Similarly omitted from the trial run, if anyone makes it tell us what it's like now! It has a ground floor bar dominated by the U-shaped counter that ensures 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; Deuchars IPA + 2 other handpumps (with clips obscured).
Once again as in 2006 this was visited on the trial to confirm that it had kept trading and not changed drastically (as has The Hog's Head nearby). It hasn't and remains a fairly large corner pub with wooden floorboards and background music. The layout is in the form of an L-shaped area at the front opening out to a rear room with a dartboard replacing the pool table. Cricket on the TV for a change , not always one presumes, but the cricket World Cup is still in progress. There is an upstairs dining 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), presumably after 1st July this will change.
6. The Mad Hatter Hotel - 3-7 Stamford Street SE1 9NT [17:45]
Beers: Fullers ESB, London Pride, Chiswick and Discovery + seasonal Gales Festival Mild (4.8%) on the trial, but Fullers India Pale Ale (also 4.8%) due from 2nd 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 has been closed and brewing transferred to Chiswick). 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. Paper Moon - Blackfriars Road [18:30]
Beers:Harveys Sussex Best; UBU Purity Golden.
This has been included as a potential alternative to the next pub although it may be too crowded. For the meagre number who may still be in attendance decisions on the remaining itinerary can be made on the day. The building is opposite the Express offices nicknamed the Grey Lubianka as distinct from previous premises, the Black Lubianka on Fleet Street. It is a narrow one-bar pub with a red-surfaced pool-table and projection TV at the far end. These are located along with a number of tables on a raised dais. Down in the bar area there is a selection of bench seating leading from the front entrance. Reggae music was playing in the background on the trial. The floor was bare-boards, the tables were heavy marble-topped and overall there was a mixture of modern (bar-counter) and old (wine-bar style interior).
8.The Prince William Henry - 217 Blackfriars Road [19:15]
Beers:Youngs Special, Ordinary.
As usual last year the Mad Hatter proved to be the nemesis for nearly everybody else on the trip, so just three made it this far and again 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 2006, 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 topical as it is from this year's research, but our trial was done in reverse so we encountered it first.
8. The Ring - 72 Blackfriars Road [whenever]
Beers: Greene King IPA; Fullers London Pride.
Pretty much no change, but note the lava lamp on the bar. Beware the road works surrounding Southwark station which make it tricky to cross The Cut to the pub. The building diagonally opposite has been completed and has a deliberately crooked exterior belying a normal interior. Included on many a HASSRALE trip, notably the starting point for the Christmas perambulations. This famous one-bar pub was built to replace the former boxing venue destroyed during the Blitz on the site opposite. The pub is festooned with photographs of former boxers, but it is unlikely that the training ring upstairs remains. 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. Curiously these are cordoned off from passing pedestrians by a silk rope as used outside clubs and film premieres! 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 21st March 2007.
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