HASSRALE Trips: West Smithfield II

Date: Wednesday 19th September 2001

As promised in the itinerary for the previous foray to the West Smithfield area, here is part two of the trip. We shall be visiting pubs in the vicinity of the famous meat market, but since many of them adhere to the opening hours of the traders they will have been shut for hours by the time our trip starts, so alternatives have been found. To maintain continuity the first pub on the crawl is the same as the last one on part one's itinerary. To reach it from Barbican tube necessitates covering some of the return route, but does give a central starting point. Approximate leaving times are shown in [ ].

1. Butchers Hook and Cleaver - 63 West Smithfield EC1 [18:30].
Fullers London Pride, ESB, Chiswick, Summer Ale.

Large recent conversion, one of Fullers Ale and Pie chain. Fairly busy, but still plenty of seating. Projection TV showing tennis on our visit. Background music drowning out the TV sound. Food available most of the time. Large balcony area (no bar counter though) with extra seating upstairs, but nobody appeared to be using it, however sometimes it is closed later anyway. Large clear windows looking out onto the square, you can watch the world go by. On leaving, turn right then right again into Long Lane. Not very far up on the right still is ...

2. The Barley Mow - 50 Long Lane [19.15]
Marston's Pedigree, Wadworths 6X, Flowers IPA, Rebellion Mutiny.

A Whitbread Hogshead pub with one main bar. Extensively wood-panelled with bare wooden floor boards. Long narrow pub with lots of wood and dimly lit. There is pew-style accommodation by the front windows, which overlook some tables located outside on the narrow pavement. The remainder of the interior seating is in alcoves and also at the far end in a raised area. Various bits of brewing memorabilia stuck on the walls. Fairly loud music, presumably for the benefit of the (very slow) bar staff. In keeping with the "narrow" theme, there is an alleyway down the side (Barley Mow Passage) for the slender only. ¶ Rather than get wedged continue along Long Lane until Rising Sun Passage appears on the right. At the end on the left is ...

3. The Rising Sun - Cloth Fair [20.00]
Sam Smith's Old Brewery Bitter (£1-64p per pint).

Old fashioned and not too busy, this is a compact wood-panelled pub on a street corner down the back street complex just off Long Lane. St Bartholomew the Great's Church looms outside. Windows using suitably opaque glass to complement the decor. This is comfortable with old-style banquette seats and cast-iron based tables. It is mainly populated by locals instead of the ubiquitous City officer workers. Now retrace your steps along Rising Sun Passage then at the end turn right back onto Long Lane. Nearby you will find ...

4. Ye Olde Red Cow - 72 Long Lane [20.45]
Shepherd Neame Spitfire, Master Brewand IPA.

Apparently very old premises (c1400), but now the 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? Continue along Long Lane to the right, then turn right into Cloth St and right into Middle St (there may be a short cut using East Passage - good luck!). Down on the left is ...

5. The Hand and Shears - 1 Middle St [21.30]
Courage Directors and Best.

Visited by HASSRALE, but not for quite a few years. Fairly big premises, but split up into a number of bars (4 apparently). Underwent extensive repair work 10 years ago. This was essential due to its listed status. Very attractive wood-pannelled iterior (just to be consistent with other pubs on the trip). Central island bar dominates the ground floor area and upstairs there is a restaurant with another bar with its own counter. Very few customers on the occasion of our trial run, but as recalled from previous visits (not just with HASSRALE) the place tends to close at10pm anyway. Having found our way into this warren of back streets the best way out for Barbican direction is up to Cloth Mill then right onto Long Lane again and Barbican Station is on the left at the junction with Aldersgate. Other routes are at your discretion. Bon voyage.

Trial details: Edmund & James Featherstone, John Wright on Weds 27th June 2001

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