Hassrale Trips: Duncan Hastings Memorial Trip

Date: Maundy Thursday 9th April 2009

As most HASSRALE members will be aware, Maundy Thursday signifies one of the two seminal events of the admittedly sparse social calendar of the Club. However this time last year will have been the last occasion that most people will have met up with Duncan Hastings, "a legend in his own lunchtime". Sadly he went off for an anticipated month-long sojourn to Turkey on 7th April 2008, but succumbed to a fatal heart attack while over there on the 29th of the month. (After repatriation of his remains to the UK, his funeral was held at Hither Green Crematorium on the 22nd May). This year's trip is a reverential tribute to his sybaritic lifestyle. Join us and drink to his memory. I shall omit the usual preamble, suffice to say that in the light of the experience from previously truncated trips this five to six pub itinerary should be ample. 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. As always approximate leaving times are shown in [ ].

1.The Hole in the Wall - 5 Mepham Street SE1 [14:00]
Beers: Adnams Bitter & Broadside; Hogsback Brewery TEA (Traditional English Ale); Greene King IPA; Youngs Ordinary; Everard's Tiger; Sharp's Doombar IPA.

Usually this is the last venue on our Christmas trip, but should still be recognisable in daylight. This is a large two-bar pub right under the railway viaduct 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 and several gaming machines, while the front bar is less noisy (no juke-box) and has upholstered bench seating, but is rather smaller. Fortunately the collapsed ceiling in the rear corner has been repaired (the area was cordoned off at the time of the Christmas trip), but the strings of hops have been removed. It has small-paned windows overlooking the road although the main view is likely to be of parked buses. The external hanging flower baskets are no more, but instead a continental-style canopy has been installed to shelter outside drinkers. Usually remarkably lacking in customers at lunchtimes although there is a good food counter serving both hot and cold snacks in the back bar which is where we gathered in 2007 (only two of us started here last year). The general ban on smoking contributes to it being quiet, although there is a courtyard with tables and benches through the door at the rear. The beer range does vary (luckily the inaccurate chalkboard advertising this range has also gone) so it is best to make your own inspection (in both bars, since the pumps are not replicated).

2. The Kings Arms - Roupell Street [14:30]
Beers: Adnams Bitter; Wells Bombardier; 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 since it was typically very busy. Fortunately experience tells us that the mid-afternoon period is acceptably quiet (famous last words). 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 in the evening at least. 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 Rose and Crown - 47 Colombo Street [16:30]
Beers: Shepherd Neame Masterbrew, Spitfire and Kent's Best.

As long ago as 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, but in 2008 prevailing conditions persuaded us to remain inside where fortunately we managed to acquire seats. You may note that the Mulberry Bush has been dropped from the itinerary as it creates too much of a detour and is generally overly busy. Not included on the trial run due to time constraints, but hopefully we should encounter more hospitable conditions today. 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. One point to note should anyone wish to visit at weekends, it does not open on Saturdays or Sundays.

4. The Stamford Arms - Stamford Street [17:15]
Beers: Harveys Sussex Best; Wells Bombardier and Courage Directors (now brewed by Wells and Youngs anyway).

Once again as in 2008 this was visited on the trial to confirm that it had kept trading and not changed drastically (as had The Hog's Head nearby). It still 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 (on the wall, not the floor of course). There may be sport on the TV for a change. There is an upstairs dining area which is now accessed using conventional stairs which replaced the spiral staircase in 2006. Food served until 8pm apparently. In addition the upstairs has a separate external entrance which is brightly illuminated and has steps reminiscent of an hotel. Can get busy in the afternoons, but there are aluminium tables and chairs outside for those who enjoy watching the world (and traffic) go by. This of course is where the smokers have been banished to following the 1st July 2007 change in legislation.

5. The Mad Hatter Hotel - 3~7 Stamford Street SE1 9NT [18:15]
Beers: Fullers ESB, London Pride, Chiswick and Discovery + another which I've forgotten due to the previous four pubs.

Large Fuller's 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. No mini-festival nor any sign of Gales' flagship HSB unfortunately. 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.

6. The Prince William Henry - 217 Blackfriars Road [19:15]
Beers: Youngs Ordinary and Wells Bombardier.

Last year the Mad Hatter proved to be the nemesis for everybody on the trip possibly due to having five rounds in there, so the description of this one has been included for completeness. Once again you will note that the Paper Moon does not figure on the itinerary, this is because it is still closed from late 2007 (The Albert just round the corner has real ale, but was not trialled). The PWH does not boast much seating, aside from the high tables and chairs at the front. There are a few seats in the raised area to the left, but fortunately nearly everybody will have gone home by now. Alternatively there are bench tables on the forecourt and also two heated areas with large parasols although even with British Summer Time it may be somewhat dim out there. As explained above no-one even made it this far in 2008 so a visit to The Ring would seem highly unlikely, but it is only a short distance down Blackfriars Road (to the left).

Well that's it, Duncan would be proud of you. Should you proceed to the left anyway you will reach Southwark tube station (Jubilee Line) on the corner with The Cut. However those heading back towards Waterloo Station can retrace their steps along Stamford St. Although Blackfriars Station is across the bridge to the right, the tube platform part of it is closed until 2010. Hopefully see you all at some stage and have a pleasant Easter, oh and remember at some point to drink a toast to absent friends.

Survey details: Edmund & James Featherstone and John Wright on Weds 25th March 2009.

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