Hassrale Trips : Christmas 2004

Date: Monday 20th December 2004

There has been some debate about changing the itinerary for the HASSRALE Christmas trip along the lines of including the Stage Door in Webber Street (behind The Old Vic), but as this necessitates a detour from the traditional route we have taken the easy option i.e change nothing. Hence as for the past 8 years since 1996 this year's trip starts at the eastern end of The Cut, SE1 then ambles its way along to Waterloo station. On the trial run the various pubs were not crushingly busy, but don't expect a quiet evening (bah humbug). If we have a mind to the Stage Door might be shoe-horned in, just keep up with flow. As you might expect, those arriving by tube are best-served since Southwark's Jubilee Line station is directly opposite the first venue (this is also accessible from Waterloo East mainline). Alternatively bus routes along Blackfriars Road or Waterloo mainline are fairly close by. Approximate leaving times are shown in [ ].

1. The Ring - 72 Blackfriars Road SE1 [18:15]
Beers: Fullers London Pride; Adnams Bitter.

The usual starting point and a useful landmark in an ever-changing area, Union Street opposite The Cut is a building site on its north side. Famous one-bar pub built on the site of the former boxing venue destroyed during the Blitz. 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 underwent an internal refurbishment subsequent to its closure prior to the 2002 Maundy Thursday trip. The etched-glass windows were replaced and the overall seating arrangement is the same, however the original drinkers (pensioners from the estate opposite) have all been supplanted by office workers and students. Discovered on the trial that it is now run by the former owner of the Kings Arms (pub number 4). Busy all the year round, but you may be lucky and seize seats indoors, however there are plenty of picnic table seats outside!

On leaving, cross the road at the traffic lights, then continue on down to the left along The Cut, to find ...

2. The Anchor and Hope - 36 The Cut [19:00]
Beers: Charles Wells Bombardier and Eagle Bitter

Having been re-introduced on the 2001 trip after being closed for a while it gave the appearance of re-opening as a gastro-pub with one large area instead of the former two bars. It has gained emminence for its cuisine after winning awards and diners now have to book, but are separated by partitions from the drinking side although they share the long bar counter which runs along the top. There are bar snacks on sale, notably plates of olives favoured by our Chairman. 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]
Beers: Shepherd Neame Spitfire; Fullers London Pride; Youngs Bitter (Ordinary).

Very popular due to styling itself as a theatre bar (Young and Old Vic theatres nearby). Over a year ago it was given an extensive and much-needed refurbishment in order to meet the competition of the Anchor & Hope. This retained the original two-bar layout including the archway between the two areas, but the "glasses" rail above the bar was removed giving more of a wine-bar feel and emphasising the ceiling (dark blue/mauve). The latter is covered in posters advertising previous theatrical productions. Note the effigy of Elvis Presley at the right-hand end of the bar, with the neck of his guitar tipping into a fake burning crucible. Good use has been made of the available space with a number of pine tables allowing seated customers to partake of the comprehensive Thai food menu. The more hardy amongst us can also use the picnic-style benches outside.

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]
Beers: 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]
Beers: Fuller's London Pride.

Suprisingly empty on the trial run; perhaps its reputation for occasionally having no beer lingers on. Somebody who shall remain nameless (but likes olives) was told that there was no Scotch (whisky not bitter) only Jameson's whiskey. Apparently there is a chalkboard on the way to the Gents that advertises strawberry beer and also a brew called Fruhli. It really is all one bar now as the central archway has been removed, with a central island bar counter and the front area contains leather sofas. 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+]
Beers: Morlands Old Speckled Hen; Youngs Special and Ordinary; Everards Tiger; Adnams Broadside & Bitter; Brakspears Bitter and Bass. (Range of beers may vary, according to availabilty).

Unfortunately the trial committee ran out of time (and stamina) so here follows a precis of last year's description. 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 various attempts at re-decoration throughout making it less dingy, but less characterful. As on previous visits there have been some managerial changes, but fortunately the beer quality is generally reasonable.

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 very Merry Christmas.

Trial run: Edmund & James Featherstone and John Wright on Monday 6th December 2004.

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