Hassrale Trips: Old Street to Barbican

Date: Wednesday 19th November 2003

For a change not only has there been no HASSRALE trip in the vicinity since 20th June 1995, but with the exception of the first and last pubs we are breaking new ground. The nearest tube station is (unsurprisingly) Old Street and no doubt many buses stop nearby. For those arriving by Underground take exit 6, then walk down Old Street on the left-hand i.e. south side. You will pass the second pub, then on the corner by Bunhill Row is the first port of call. Approximate leaving times are shown in [ ].

1. Masque Haunt - 168 ~ 172 Old St EC1V 9BP [18:30]
Hopback Summer Lightning; Shepherd Neame Spitfire, Courage Directors etc.

For a change we start in a large Wetherspoons pub. Typically the range of beers will inevitably have changed by the time of the actual trip. It is decorated in JDW's "traditional" style i.e mainly woody rather than all chrome and glass. Large corner premises with the rear area slightly raised. There is also a non-smoking section tucked away at the far end. On the trial run the doors were propped open which negated the effect of the air-conditioning. Presumably this will not be necessary on this visit.

Now exit onto Old St and turn right. As mentioned above the next pub is not far along ...

2. The Litten Tree - Old Street [19:15]
Litten Bitter (brewer unknown); Charles Wells Bombardier.

This looks like a recent conversion or possibly a refurbishment. It is a very similar format to that of Wetherspoons, although not as well-worn of course. Certainly it covers a similar area, but not being on a corner extends directly back from the main road and appears deeper. At the front there is a small non-smoking area which boasts "at table service". The seating accommodation comprises settees and easy chairs plus standard tables and upright seats. Televisions abound (including a projection screen) and there is also background music. The chain replicates JDW's offers e.g. curry nights, bottled beer promotions and meal/drink bundles.

Now retrace your steps past the first pub and turn left down Bunhill Row keeping on across Featherstone St. Continue down (hopefully the stranded car, which had fallen into a hole created by a collapsed water main on the trial run, has been removed). Diagonally across on the corner of Dufferin St is ...

3. The Artillery Arms - 102 Bunhill Row [20:00]
Fullers ESB, London Pride, Jack Frost, Chiswick Bitter.

Named after the Honourable Artillery Company (regiment not trading firm) headquarters and cemetry which are opposite. Interesting street-corner pub with a traditional feel to it. Probably several bars originally, but now consolidated into one. The bar counter serves three sides of the drinking area and the windows have been replaced with clear glass, but internally the stained-glass panels and mirrors have been retained. This is a combined local and after-work pub with the resulting mixture of customers. Well worth a visit.

Continue down to the T-junction with Chiswell St, turn right, cross over and on the corner of the Milton St on the left is ...

4. St Paul's Tavern - 56 Chiswell Street [20:30]
Greene King Abbot; Fullers London Pride; Brakspear Bitter + guest beers.

Yet another street-corner pub (aren't they all around this compact part of the City?), almost opposite the southern end of Bunhill Row. The building is in sharp contrast to the extensive modern developments of the surrounding area, which house offices of course. This has obviously been redeveloped into a retro "bare-boarded" establishment with hefty wooden tables and kitchen chairs. Don't look for carpets unless you have brought your own! The pub extends back past the L-shaped counter and can accommodate quite a few customers seated, standing (or lying).

Cross over Chiswell St and walk down to the left. At the junction with Whitecross St is ...

5. The Kings Head - 49 Chiswell Street [21:15]
Greene King Old Speckled Hen; Fullers London Pride; Adnams Bitter.

Surprisingly large (yes, you've guessed it) street-corner pub, with a single drinking area that previously must have been several bars, probably three. The interior comprises a sizeable L-shape, opening out at the far end where the majority of the comfortable seating exists. The front bar would normally be fairly quiet, but as one might expect there was a football match on the somewhat intrusive TV system. This is a hazard that is likely on many evenings, but hopefully will not prevail on this trip.

Continue left along into Beech St. Sadly this is no pleasant tree-lined boulevard, but a road tunnel into the Barbican development which has rather narrow pavements, so beware. Anyway carry on through out into the open air again, cross over at the traffic lights by Barbican tube and walk down Long Lane. Not far along on the left past Cloth St is ...

6. Ye Olde Red Cow - 72 Long Lane [22:00 or whenever]
Shepherd Neame Spitfire, Master Brew and Best.

Formerly a Watney Combe Reid hostelry, but that was back in the 1980's. It was incorporated into the West Smithfield II trip (19/9/2001) and had not long been re-opened as a Shepherd Neame establishment. I quote from that circular (since my trial notes are rather sparse). "Apparently very old premises (c1400), but now a standard bare-boarded pub with plain glass windows and a small bar counter down one side. There is an upstairs area, but this is probably more a restaurant although there may be a bar (unable to check on the trial since closed off). Surprisingly empty on our visit and plenty of seats. The toilets are downstairs where you can hear the creaking of the floorboards in the bar or was it ghosts?". Cannot vouch for the ghosts, but the rest still seems accurate.

Well that's the last venue. On leaving here retrace your steps, should you require Barbican tube station. Otherwise a short walk to the left across West Smithfield will take you to Farringdon Rd for buses. Have a safe journey home.

Trial run: Wednesday 10th September 2003
Present: John Wright, James & Edmund Featherstone.
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