THEOBALDS ROAD TRIP
Wednesday 1st May 1996
Nearly two years ago (7th June '94) HASSRALE had a trip in the area of State House (then recently demolished, still in the same "State"). More correctly designated the Red Lion St. trip, this supposedly finished at the Queens Head on Theobalds Road, but nobody made it as far as there. This trip will not be calling there either, but the first pub (the Enterprise) proved popular so we will restart from there. As before access is best by tube, using either Holborn or Chancery Lane. Walk to Red Lion Street then head up towards the junction with Theobalds Rd. On the right is the first port of call. Approximate leaving times are shown in [ ].
1. The Enterprise - 38 Red Lion Street WC1 [18.30]
Bass, Stones Best Bitter, Hancocks HB; Morland Old Speckled Hen; Harveys Sussex Best; Highgate Dark.
One bar corner-pub rebuilt after being destroyed in 1915 by a bomb dropped from a Zeppelin, the clock in the bar has stopped at the time of the explosion. Quite busy, there may be some seats left, but note that the former no-smoking area at the back is no longer designated as such. Smaller beer range than in 1994, with most handpumps being duplicated rather than unique. No more "Guinness-style" 1/2 pint glasses and sadly no Belgian beers now either. Food menu until 10pm, but seemed to be Tex-Mex (very traditional). Now turn right and cross Theobalds Road to Lambs Conduit St. Continue up past the first set of shops and bow your head as you go past what used to be that mecca of pubs, The Sun with its huge range of real ales, now converted to an Irish theme pub (Finnegans Wake - how appropriate) which seems all keg! Further up on the right however is ...
2. The Lamb - 94 Lambs Conduit Street WC1 [19.15]
Youngs Ram Rod, Special, Bitter (Ordinary) and Best Mild (3.2%).
A haunt not unknown to HASSRALE expeditions, seems even busier than before possibly due to the presence of disgruntled ex-patrons of The Sun. Traditional Victorian-design of hostelry that probably had three bars, now all merged into one. Horse-shoe shaped bar counter with much old wood panelling and the famous snob-screens above the counter. Also has a polyphon which I assume is a type of music box with metal disks. Potentially more room down the left-hand side especially if the weather allows use of the small "garden area". Squeeze your way out, turn back to the left across Gt. Ormond St again then next left into Rugby St. at the end just to the right on the corner is ...
3. The Rugby Tavern - 19 Great James Street [20.00]
Fullers ESB, London Pride, Chiswick & maybe by now, IPA (4.8%).
Used to be a fairly boisterous Nicholson's pub, but has calmed down into a pleasant back-street local, with no more than 10 people in on the day of the trial run. Comfortable with plenty of room in the one bar area. Fairly modern decor in late 1950's style. Boasts a mixture of etched and reinforced glass windows, the latter a testament to the pub's former character perhaps. Come out of the pub and from the street corner turn right along Northington St. A little way down on the left is ...
4. The Dickens - 16 Northington Street [20.45]
Ruddles County; Boddingtons.
Refurbished in 1985 apparently, this is a one-bar establishment with the counter at the far end access to which is hindered by a large number of tables set out for diners of which there were none in evidence since the prominant food bar is shut in the evening. The refurb seems to have concentrated on the Charles Dickens link, relying mainly on plastering the walls with prints from his works. On emerging turn left and further along on the opposite side is ...
5. The Kings Arms - 11a Northington Street [21.30]
Fullers London Pride.
Normally should have more than just one beer on since it is owned by Charringtons so may have Bass and Adnams as a guest. Large single-bar establishment which was fairly busy surprisingly, seats should be available though. There is a dining area upstairs which used to be a meeting room, but was serving Thai food until 10pm (also has a keg only bar). Hopefully the roaring real gas fire will be superfluous to requirements on the trip. Turn right down to Grays Inn Road then turn left and continue on down. I cannot remember how far the next pub is, but it is on the right. (If you are impatient you could always turn down Theobalds Rd to the Yorkshire Grey Brewery at number 2, unless it's become another Finnegans Wake, they are both now owned by S&N retailing!) Anyway you should soon find ...
6. The Old Monk - 39/41 Grays Inn Road [22.15 or whenever]
Marstons Pedigree; Morland Old Speckled Hen; Wadworth 6X; Theakstons Old Peculier, XB.
Claims to be a "Free" house and apparently with some justification as it is run by Gerry Martin of the Old Monk Pub Co. (he is the brother of Tim Martin who is Managing Director of the J D Wetherspoon chain although G Martin is no longer involved with JDW). Used to be Cheers wine bar and looks it! Large open glass frontage from floor to ceiling and stripped pine interior with a number of bar stools arranged around high tables. Horseshoe-shaped bar counter, fairly busy but seems OK for a final drink en route home. Well it looks like we have still missed out on Theobalds Road, third time lucky perhaps. From here there are buses North (and South) along Grays Inn Road or a short walk to the right will bring you to the junction of Holborn with High Holborn and hence Chancery Lane tube.
Survey details: Trial run Tuesday 6th February 1996; participants - Edmund Featherstone, Paul Tiffany (unexpectedly) and John Wright.
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