Hassrale Trips: Red Lion Street

Date: Tuesday 15th February 2005

Since we managed to launch into 2005 with a proper trip it seemed appropriate to maintain the momentum with another that has been on the stocks for a while, as shown by the need for at least two trial re-runs. In effect it bolts together a number of others in the vicinity harking back over a decade. So with nodding reference to trips in 1994 (State House Hole - 7th July), 1998 (Kingsway II - 1st July) & 2003 (High Holborn - 9th July) although it is not July, here goes. Start at a point midway between Holborn and Chancery Lane tube stations along High Holborn where right on the corner of Great Turnstile (opposite the southern end of Red Lion Street) you will find the first port of call.

Leaving times are shown in [ ].

1. Penderel's Oak - 283-287 High Holborn WC1V 7PF [18:00]
Beers:- Courage Directors; Fullers London Pride; Greene King Abbot; De Konnick + various guest beers.

A Wetherspoon's conversion to a large pub with lots of stripped pine. Another extensive modification of a non-pub set of premises that snakes through from Great Turnstile to the family and no-smoking areas to the rear on the left. This building used to be Penderel House formerly occupied by the Inland Revenue and also by the London Weather Centre. The pub name is derived from Richard Penderel who helped King Charles to escape his pursuers and the oak tree in which the monarch hid. The acorn theme constantly recurs in the pub decor. Since HASSRALE’s last visit in 2003 this has been deemed a Lloyds Number 1 bar and has the background music to prove it. Busy as usual rather tardy bar service and beware the practice of not turning round the pump-clips for beers not currently available. Downstairs there is a large cellar bar which is often hired out for private parties. As with a number of JDW establishments the toilets are made into a feature (in the Gents the urinals are arranged round a central, illuminated column).

Cross High Holborn using the handily placed facility directly outside. Walk up Red Lion St then turn right, cross over and just down on the right is ...

2. The Old Nick - 22 Sandland Street WC1 [18:45]
Beers:- Hall & Woodhouse Tanglefoot, Badger Best and King & Barnes Sussex.

Situated on the corner of Three Cups Yard, this was formerly a Charrington's establishment (witness the advertising panel inside), but has self-evidently changed hands. Well that was the opening paragraph from the 1994 circular. Young's sold out in 2003 having closed the place for several months. The new owners amalgamated it with the former newsagents next door creating a slightly larger establishment. Always popular in previous incarnations, this has now become even more so due to the increased catchment area of new offices (it is directly north of the redeveloped area formerly occupied by the infamous State House Hole (1994 trip). As an opening gambit the till proclaims Friendliest pub in Three Cups Yard, but as it is a very short road (and there may be some punctuation missing) this is possibly true! There are a number of pictures featuring prisons of note and also Young’s Barley Wine. More usefully there are tables, but the place attracts large parties of customers so do not rely on finding a seat (I did, but my minders elected to stand, such is notoriety).

Return to Red Lion St. and turn right. Continue up where just before the cross-roads with Theobalds Rd, on the right is ...

3. The Enterprise - 38 Red Lion Street [19:30]
Beers:- Fullers London Pride and Greene King IPA.

Used to trade under the guise of the Highgate Brewery Company that was named after the Charrington's Brewery based in Walsall when branching out into the pub estate business. A large Victorian style establishment with a bare wooden-boarded public bar area at the front and a plusher comfortable lounge bar to the rear part of which is non-smoking. Well that was in 1994, but the layout hasn’t changed, although the farther end is often reserved for private functions (toilets are located between the two sections). Open clear glass front with external hanging baskets. There is a 3rd hand pump, but never seems to be in use also a water tap on the bar counter either for diluting whisky or watering the beer (not necessary - Ed). There is background music drowned out by the general hubbub (who they?). Note the nice tilework and the ornamental mirrors as wel as the white-boarded ceiling.

Now just cross the road where you will find ...

4. The Dolphin - 44 Red Lion Street WC1 [20:15]
Beers:- Young's Bitter and Fuller's London Pride..

One-bar corner pub rebuilt after being destroyed in 1915 by a bomb from a Zeppelin. Apparently the original clock still hangs in the bar, stopped at the time of the explosion. (Oddly enough the venerable RBIL (not GERBIL) Guide claims the same phenomenon for The Enterprise). Compact one-bar pub with limited seating around the periphery and the bar. Convivial, hopefully not too busy, but a distinct paucity of seats. Cosily furnished with coppers (?) hanging from the ceiling and window boxes outside. Beware the perilous descent to the Gents or the vertiginous climb to the Ladies. There is background music, but nowhere as intrusive as in the last pub. Apparently there are pictures of HM The Queen (gawd bless ‘er), but none of dolphins.

Now exit right and continue down Red Lion St to find the eponymously (for this trip) named ...

5. The Old Red Lion - 72 High Holborn WC1 [21:00]
Beers:- Greene King IPA and Abbot.

Much as on previous visits, this is a compact street-corner pub with a narrow bar on the ground floor and a second bar upstairs that occasionally is open for service, but this does not preclude taking drinks up (purchased from downstairs of course!). Seating accommodation comprises bar stools along the counter and also in niches by the windows. It can appear fairly busy, mainly due to its size (or lack of it). Previously referred to as The Red Lion, but now returned to its original name. On the trial visit only IPA was available (Abbot was temporarily off) and the third handpump may either be for seasonal beers or possibly just to fill a hole on the counter. There is a sushi restaurant across Red Lion Street with chefs ready to dismember customers who are disinclined to pay. Chop, chop.

Now walk west (right) along High Holborn crossing south at the junction with Proctor St then skirt round Holborn tube station and go down Kingsway. Just by the bus stops on the corner of Twyford Place (pedestrian only) you will find ....

6. The Shakespeare's Head - 64-78 Kingsway [21.45]
Beers:- Courage Directors, Theakston's Best, Fuller's London Pride + various guest beers

Traditional Wetherspoon's conversion i.e. not a Lloyds Number 1 establishment, last visited by HASSRALE in July 1998, this is situated on the ground floor of Africa House. Very long pub which stretches all the way from Kingsway where the main entrance is to Little Turnstile; you can walk the length of the pub along Twyford Place. Justifiably busy even after 9pm and although capacious, finding a seat cannot be guaranteed. However with our usual meagre attendance, there should be sufficient seats at the back in the no-smoking area. As with all Wetherspoon's, very strong on food. Nice black and white tiling for most of the length of the bar which turns to carpeting at the end section. For a change on this trip, the toilets are at ground level (for once).

On emerging from here onto Kingsway, Holborn tube station is up on the right and there is a selection of buses heading back towards The Strand/Charing Cross or Waterloo. Alternatively there are various northbound buses.

Trial Run Details:
Dates: Wednesday 3rd March 2004 & Weds 12th January 2005
Present: Edmund & James Featherstone, John Wright.

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