It is time once more for HASSRALE's celebration of the festive season in the form of the customary evening, pre-Christmas trip. To save any confusion we shall adopt a similar route to that of previous years i.e. along The Cut then up towards Waterloo station. There have been one or two changes to the pubs which are almost the same selection as previously. By popular consent the Wellington has been omitted since it is invariably too crowded and no longer has a very good beer selection although the White Hart hangs on by the skin of its teeth. We now have six venues so we should have a good chance of completing the trip again. We shall start off at the junction of The Cut with Blackfriars Road at The Ring as usual. The nearest tube is Southwark Station on the Jubilee Line, alternatively arrive via Waterloo mainline or one of the many buses on Blackfriars Road. Approximate leaving times are shown in [ ].
1. The Ring - 72 Blackfriars Road SE1 [18:15]
Marstons Pedigree; Brakspears Bitter.
Famous one-bar pub built on the site of the former boxing venue destroyed during the Blitz. As alluded to above, Southwark Jubilee Line tube station is handily opposite. The pub is festooned with photographs of former boxers and there is still a training ring upstairs that can be heard in use on occasion. It has undergone a complete “make-over” in that the pub was closed for a lengthy period (noted on the Maundy Thursday trip). The etched-glass windows have been replaced and the overall seating arrangement is the same HOWEVER the original clientele has all been supplanted by young office workers. Obviously busy at this time of the year. You will also notice that above the hubbub of the customers chatter there is distinct background/middleground music. Plenty of seats outside!
¶ On leaving, cross the road at the traffic lights, then continue on down to the left along The Cut, to find ...
2. Bar Citrus - 36 The Cut [19:00]
Charles Wells Bombardier and Eagle Bitter
This was included on last year’s trip because it had re-opened on the site of the Anchor & Hope, although it seemed much like a wine-bar. It still resembles a wine-bar, but as it serves real ale it is worth a brief visit. Very popular, as will be all the pubs on this trip. Those of you who remember the previous incarnation will not recognise ANY of this (even the doors have been relocated). Now one large bar area with the counter along the back. The seating area is brightly lit with light pine-coloured furniture. Compare and contrast with the old Anchor & Hope (at least the staff are not so miserable now!).
¶ Now continue along The Cut for a short distance until you encounter ...
3. The Windmill - 86 The Cut [19.30]
Shepherd Neame Spitfire; Courage Directors + guest (Cains Doctor Duncan).
Having undergone extensive and much-needed refurbishment in order to meet the competition of the former Anchor & Hope, this has retained the original two-bar layout including the archway between the two areas, but the "glasses" rail above the bar is absent giving more of a wine-bar feel and emphasising the ceiling (dark blue/mauve). Good use has been made of the available space with a number of pine tables allowing customers to partake of the comprehensive Thai food menu. Very popular due to reinventing itself as a “theatre bar” (Young and Old Vic theatres nearby) and also a “sports bar” (i.e. projection TV).
¶ Turn right down Windmill Walk, cross Wootton Gardens under the railway viaduct, then over Brad St. On the left at the corner is ....
4. The Kings Arms - 25 Roupell Street [20.15]
Marstons Pedigree; Brakspears Bitter; Adnams Bitter; Tetley Bitter.
Decidedly popular (especially with Channel 4 employees) two-bar pub situated in one of the bijou back-streets of Waterloo. It has a further area at the back that used to be uncovered and housed a barbecue and bearing in mind the weather, was generally only suitable for occasional summer use. Nowadays being roofed in it is just as busy as the rest of the place.
¶ Continue straight ahead i.e.across Roupell St. then left along Whittlesey St. On the far corner is ...
5. The White Hart - 29 Cornwall Street [20.45]
Fuller's London Pride.
Still on the itinerary despite previous years’ disappointments due to the lack of real ale. This has been refurbished to the extent of replacement of the pool table in the front bar by table-football and the installation of leather sofas. Really all one bar now with a central island bar counter. There is still a token separation of the two bar areas by archways, but the pub has followed the continued trend towards gentrification of this part of Waterloo (including price hikes). Beware, if there is a lack of beer we will rapidly move on to the next establishment.
¶ Turn left down Cornwall Rd and immediately right down Sandell Street. At the junction is Waterloo Road. Cross using either the traffic island route or the pedestrian crossing farther down. Directly opposite is Mepham St. Continue up this and on the right-hand side ultimately is ...
6. The Hole in the Wall - 5 Mepham Street [10.00+]
Morlands Old Speckled Hen; Youngs Winter Warmer, Special and Ordinary; Everards Tiger; Adnams Broadside & Bitter; King & Barnes Sussex, Brakspears Bitter and Bass.
Increasing numbers have made it this far in previous years, but just in case you are one of the few people never to have visited it, this is a large two-bar pub right under the railway viaduct and overlooking Waterloo Station's Victory Arch. Beer generally in good condition, the rear bar has a juke-box, projection screen TV and several gaming machines, while the front bar is less noisy (no juke-box) and plusher. It has also (just about) survived recent re-decoration throughout making it less dingy, but less characterful. There have been some managerial changes, but fortunately the beer quality has been reasonable of late.
¶ Well that's all folks. Across the road is Waterloo Station with access to mainline Northern, Bakerloo and Jubilee tubes (N.B. there is also access to the station from the Tennison Way entrance next to the pub, the Jubilee Line entrance is back on Waterloo Bridge Rd and down to the right past the railway bridge). Buses will take you across Waterloo Bridge to The Strand and points north, so have a safe journey home! Oh - and have a Merry Christmas.
Trial run: Edmund & James Featherstone and John Wright on Thursday 12th December 2002.